Monday, September 8, 2008

Teacher's day special: stories from the great epic


On the occasion of teacher's day, here are some less popular stories from Mahabharat about teachers and their students.
Parashuram and Bheeshm:
Lord Parashuram was the teacher of DevVrata. DevVrata was the only Kshatriya prince ever taught by Parashuram. Due to a terrible vow of celibacy he has taken, DevVrata becomes "Bheeshm". When the king of Kashi (modern Banaras) brought the proposal of marriage of his sister with Bheeshm, he declines this offer and the Kashi king takes it as serious insult towards his kingdom. Bheeshm's half-brother Vichitraveerya was crowned as the king of Hastinapur. At that time the king of Kashi organises the swayamvar (ritual for bride to choose groom of her choice) for his three daughters, Amba, Ambalika and Ambika; he did not invite anybody from Hastinapur. This infuriates Bheeshm and he attacks the kingdom of Kashi alone and abducts the three princesses for his brother. Ambika and Ambalika agree to marry Vichitraveerya while Amba refuses as she was in love with king of Salwa. When Bheeshm comes to know about this, he apologises to Amba and sends her respectfully to Salwa king but the latter refuses to accept her as she had been abducted by other man. Amba then asks Bheeshm to marry her, who refuses because of his vow. Amba, thus enraged goes to all the powerful kshatriyas present at that time and asks them to fight for her against Bheeshm. But everyone was so afraid of Bheeshm that no one helps her. Then, in the end, Amba goes to Parashuram and complains to him about his student. Furious Parashuram calls Bheeshm for a fight at the famous Kurukshetra.



From Mahabharat


When Bheeshm comes at Kurukshetra on his charioteer, he see that Parashuram did not have a chariot. He asks his Guru, "How can I fight with you teacher? I am on a chariot and you are on ground." Parashuram replies that the mother earth is his chariot. Bheeshm gets down from his chariot and then the great fight begans. After a terrible fight, the gods from heaven ask Bheeshm to stop the fight as there was no end to that war, as Bheeshm was capable to defeat his own teacher. Parashuram is pleased with his student and says, "O great Bheeshm, you have made me proud today. But I cannot leave the battlefield" to which Bheeshm replies, "And I cannot disgrace my guru by defeating him so I will leave the battlefield". Parashuram is pleased. He blessed Bheeshm but warns him that he had to pay the price of the injustice he had brought upon Amba.
Parashuram and Karna:
King Shoorsen had a daughter named Pritha whom he gives to his brother, king of Kuntibhoj (somewhere in modern Madhya Pradesh) who had no children. King Kuntibhoj renamed that girl as Kunti. Once the sage Durvasa comes to Kuntibhoj and he is very pleased with the attendance he recieved from Kunti. He gives Kunti a boon that she can call various Gods from heaven and can get children from them. Excited Kunti tries to experiment that boon and calls God Surya (Sun). At once the God appear and grant him a son born with an armour and earrings attached to his body. Kunti gets frightened as she was still unmarried that time. She puts that child in a basket and throws it in the river Ganga. The basket is spotted by Adhirath, a Suta by caste, and who was the charioteer of King Dhritrashtra (elder son of Vichitraveerya) of Hastinapur. He names the child as Radhey, but he later becomes famous as "Karna".
Great archery teachers like Dronacharya refuse to teach Karna as he was Suta by caste. Karna then goes to Parashuram to learn warfare skills. He knew that Parashuram hates Kshatriyas. He lies that he is a brahmin and begans his education. Parashuram becomes so impressed with Karna that he starts comparing him with Bheeshm.
One day when Parashuram was sleeping with his head on the lap of Karna, a blood sucking insect comes there and starts sucking blood from Karna's thigh. The pain was unbearable for Karna but he still bears it as even a little jerk could disturb his teacher's sleep. When Parashuram wakes up and looks at the blood stained thigh of Karna, he asks him why he didnt defended himself. Karna replies that this could have disturbed your sleep. Parashuram gets furious. He says, "No brahmin can bear such pain. You are definitely a Kshatriya, you lied to me. I curse you that you will forget all what you have learnt when you will need it most"
From Mahabharat

Kripacharya and Yudhishthir:
Kripa was the chief Guru of Hastinapur, but he was never biased towards any of his student. His sister Kripi was married to Dronacharya, but he was not at all partial like Dronacharya was. He taught martial arts and vedas to the 100 Kauravas (sons of King Dhritrashtras) and 5 Pandavas (sons of younger brother of Dhritrashtra, Pandu whose wives were Kunti and Madri) princes alike. Yudhishthir, the eldest Pandav, was the eldest among all 105 brothers. Kripa was very much impressed with his righteousness and his inclination towards Dharma. He later advocated Yudhishthir's right to be the king of Hastinapur.

From Mahabharat

The eldest Kaurav prince Duryodhana however was jealous of his cousins Pandavas and one day he decietfully humiliates them all and their wife, Draupadi. This results in a war between Kauravas and the Pandavas in Kurukshetra. Bheeshm, Karna and Kripa had to fight from the Kauravas side.
Before the war, Yudhishthir goes to all the elders Bheeshm, Dronacharya and Kripacharya. Bheeshm bless him, "Victory will be yours Dharmaraj, ask for a boon" Yudhishthir asks, "How can we defeat the mighty Kuru like you who have defeated his own teacher?" Bheeshm replies that "when my time will come, I myself will tell you how will I die". Yudhishthir then goes to Dronacharya for benediction. Drona says, "Victory shall be yours Yudhishthir, ask for a boon" Yudhishthir asks the same question to him. Drona replies "I can only be killed when I will leave my weapons and when I will hear lie from a man who always speaks truth" Yudhishthir then goes to Kripa. Kripa says "If you hadnt come to me for benediction, eldest son of Pandu, I would have cursed you with defeat. But I am pleased with you, ask for a boon". When Yudhisthir looks up to his first teacher's face, he suddenly feels ashamed of himself. Tears start gushing out from his eyes. He could not speak more.

From Mahabharat
The wise Kripacharya realising what he was trying to ask, says, "Dear Yudhishthir, I cannot be slain in this battle. I have to fight from Duryodhana's side and also have to obey the commands of our commander-in-chief because our Dharma says so, and you too should follow your dharma. So go ahead and fight against me. With every rising sun I shall pray for your victory"

In the Kurukshetra war, all warriors defeated their teachers (Pandavas-Drona and Kripa, Abhimanyu-Kritvarma), which ultimately means victory of the teachers.
For the first ten days, Bheeshm was the commander-in-chief of Kauravas. He did not allow Karna to participate in the war under his command as he was suta by caste. Bheeshm created havoc for nine days as he was invincible. On the tenth day, Arjun, the third among the Pandavs, with Shikhandi (brother of Draupadi) as a shield, attacked Bheeshm as advised by Bheeshm himself on the previous night. Shikhandi was actually reincarnation of the Kashi princess Amba disgraced by Bheeshm long ago. Bheeshm recognises Amba inside Shikhandi and did not attack him as it was against the Kshatriya dharm to fight against a woman. Bheeshm thus paid the debt of Amba as instructed by his teacher and was slain by Arjun.
From Mahabharat
After Bheeshm's fall, Dronacharya becomes the commander-in-chief and Karna too joined the war. By that time he knew that Pandavas are actually his own brothers but he still had to fight from Duryodhana's side as he was his friend. On the thirteenth day of the war, Drona forms a military formation called Chakravyuh and Abhimanyu, the son of Arjun, is killed mercilessly by six warriors including Drona, Kripa and Karna. Drona himself is killed on fifteenth day.

After Drona's death, Karna becomes the commander-in-chief and decides to take on Arjun on 17th day of the battle. A night before he saw his guru Parashuram in his sleep. He asks his guru, "O teacher, please relieve me from your curse just for one day" to which Parashuram replies, "The coming day is the only day for which I cursed you. Dear Karna, you have already paid the debt of friendship of Duryodhana by asisting in unjustful killing of Abhimanyu. Now you should accept your own fate".
The next day, Karna fought against Arjun. But suddenly the wheel of his chariot gets stuck in mud. He gets down from his chariot to lift the wheel. Lord Krishna, the charioteer of Arjun asks him to shoot an arrow at Karna, as he had killed defense less Abhimanyu. Karna realising that Arjun is going to slay him tries to call his Brahma-astra but he forgets it on such a crucial time as he was cursed by his guru. Arjun takes out his Anjalika-astra and chops off Karna's head.

On the eighteenth day of the war, Duryodhana is also killed but before dying he makes Ashwattama, the son of Drona, his commander-in-chief. The only three survivors from the Kauravas side were Aswatthama, Kritvarma (Lord Krishna's cousin) and Kripacharya. Ashwatthama plans to kill the remaining army of Pandavas that night. Though Kripacharya pursuades his nephew not to commit such a horrendous act, he finally had to aide him. The three warriors destroy the remaining army of Pandavas while in their sleep and inform it to dying Duryodhana. Only the five pandavas along with Lord Krishna and his cousin, Satyaki survive.



From Mahabharat

Lord Krishna curses Ashwatthama to wander on the earth forever alone. Kritvarma is forgiven by Krishna. And Kripacharya not only returns to Hastinapur, he is also made the chief advisor by Yudhishthir after he becomes the king.



Now the question is, what was the learning?
1. Parashuram was a wise and knowledged teacher. He knew that even a Kshatriya like Bheeshm had to pay for his deeds which knowingly or unknowingly had affected somebody else's life. Thats why he fights with him for Amba to show that one of the most important duty of a warrior is to protect the respect of a woman.
2. Parashuram also knew that mighty warrior Karna who lied to him was not aware of the story of his birth at that time but still he cursed him that he will forget his knowledge at the time he will need it most. This is because a true teacher is one who knows his student well. And Parashuram had knowledge that when the war between dharm and adhrama (right and wrong) will happen, Karna may side with adharma.
3. Kripacharya was a wise old teacher. He was accepted by Pandavas as their teacher even after the war and even after being involved in killing of their own sons in the sleep. This is because of the impartiality he showed throughout his life. While he was a teacher of both Kauravas and Panadavas he supported Yudhishthir to become king but while in war, not only he fought fiercely for Duryodhana, he was also involved in killing of Abhimanyu and Draupadi's sons. He was respected throughout for his unbiasness and has been granted immortality. He is believed to be still alive.
Great are the true teachers and greater is the aura of knowledge they emit!!

1 comment:

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