Friday, April 12, 2013

The experienced hunter

Yudhishtara had won the war....It was over....As Yudhishtara was walking up to his palace he remembered the words of the Dhirdharashtra the blind king. Don't fight the war son! Don't fight for the kingdom. Go back to the forests. Even if you win the kingdom, all that will be left for you is your remorse and guilt.....

Now that the war was over and Yudhishtara was sitting on the throne of Hastinapur, Yudhishtara acknowledged to himself the truth of the blind king's words. He had won the war, and now all he had with him was remorse...remorse that he had killed all his relatives. Remorse that he had killed his own elder brother Karna....he now had a kingdom with no one to share it with.

Yudhishtara with sudden clarity realised that for him the war would never be over and he could never win against the feelings of the guilt which washed through him everyday. Dhirdharashtra had specifically told him that he would never be happy even after he had won the war. With utter despair washing over him, Yudhishtara realised that the blind king was right. 

His brothers and Krishna slowly helped Yudhishtara feel better. Krishna realising that Yudhishtara was going to rule over the huge kingdom asked Yushishtara to obtain the guidance from Bhishma who was lying in the bed of arrows. Krishna knew that Bhishma did not have much time. The wealth of information which lay with Bhishma had to be made available to the entire world before it was too late. So Krishna sent Yudhishtara to Bhishma.

Bhishma on his death bed told Yudhishtara many anecdotes and incidents on how best to rule the kingdom. On the topic of why not to fight with one's own kinsmen, Bhishma narrated the following story....

Two doves were flying over a jungle. As they were flying through, one of them pointed to the other. 'Look! Over there!' The other dove turned and his eyes widened in surprise. There were grains lying scattered all over the ground.

Both the doves happily dived to the ground and were amazed to see plenty of grains in coarse jungle sand. Without suspecting anything, the two of them started eating the grains.

Obviously it was a trap. A very clever hunter had laid a net and on top of it, he had spread a lot of grains. As the two birds started eating the grains, unknowingly the two of them got caught in the net.

By the time they had finished eating the two of them were inextricably stuck inside the net with no way of getting out.

The two birds realized the mess they were in. The first bird yelled. 'This is all your fault! You and your hunger! Can you never control your eating?'

'Me?' The second bird shrieked. 'Listening to you someone may think I dragged you with me to eat. If you were so wise, you could have just left me alone to eat!'

The two birds were fighting and cribbing when suddenly they heard the crunching noise made by the human feet on the forest ground.

'That is the hunter! It is because of you....' The first bird yelled.

'Can you keep your mouth shut and let me think for a few seconds...' The second bird angrily shouted as he studied the net. The first bird fidgeted but with great difficulty kept its mouth shut.

The second bird then turned to the first bird. 'Look here! This is a small net and it has not been fastened very well....If we both fly together, we may be able to fly with the net....understood?'

Hearing the closing footsteps of the hunter the first bird fearfully nodded his head. The second bird lifted his wings and the first bird copied it...Heaving and giving it their best effort, the two birds were soon able to fly with the net....

The first bird saw this and gave a whoop of joy! 'I am free! I am free!'

The net started to wobble as the first bird forgot to fly as it was shouting in joy. Apologizing, the bird kept its mouth shut and flew like the second bird lifting the net.

The birds saw the face of the hunter looking surprised as they flew higher  and higher  in the sky.

The hunter looked at the two birds and looked unhappily at them. But then he started running after the two birds, following them on foot....

As the hunter was running, a sage met him. The sage looked at the hunter very strangely. 'Son! You are chasing two birds who are flying away with your net! They have flown away...gone! Why are you still chasing the birds?' The great sage asked the hunter.

The hunter smiled. 'Great Sage! These two birds are not friends. They have made a temporary friendship....They do not trust each other....'

The sage was intrigued. He looked at the wise face of the hunter. 'How do you know that and what does that have to do with you running behind the birds?'

The hunter smiled as he saw the birds and the net still wobbling. He knew he could comfortably reach the distance and spoke. 'I heard the birds squawking as I was near....So I know that they are not friends....'

'So?' The sage asked.

'The birds are flying without a definite direction. They would definitely fight with each other before they reach anywhere....And when they fight...' The hunter smiled, 'They cannot keep the net flying....they will fall!'

The great sage looked at the hunter and then at the two birds. As if on a cue, the two birds started squawking at each other. They looked so busy shouting at each other that neither of them seemed to realize that they were falling on the ground.

The sage watched as the two birds fell to the ground with a thump! Before the two birds knew what hit them, the hunter caught the net along with the two birds with a smile on his lips...

'That is why, my son, fight between the people of the same tribe can be disastrous!' The wise Bhishma told Yudhishtara...


- From the Mahabharatha

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