Dec 15, 2013

On Krishna’s chariot also stands the opportunistic liar Yudishtira...

Read this first to make some sense of the post. Not that it'll help, but at least you'd have read one good article before this tripe.


It was the 14th day of the war. While Bhisma had fallen, the Pandavas still did not have the upper hand. All thanks to Dronacharya, the Kaurava commander and the guru of the Kuru princes. Dhristadhyumna, the Pandava commander, and the son of Drupada, was getting impatient. He had a personal score to settle. He had been brought into the world, through a yagna conducted by his father, for the sole purpose of killing Drona.

"Do you love them so much that you don't kill them?" Duryodhana asked his commander, "Are you no different from the sentimental Bhisma?"

"Tomorrow, I'll finish the war for you. I have certain weapons, which I haven't taught Arjuna. He'll be no match for me tomorrow", answered Drona.

Discussions were on in the Pandava camp too. "He is simply too skilled. He cannot be defeated", bemoaned Arjuna, "After all, he taught us everything we know".  

"Then, we'll have to make him withdraw from the battle" said Krishna.

"He won't. He is too loyal to the Dhritrashtra. The Kaurava king gave him respect when he was a poor brahmin struggling to meet ends", said Yudishtira.

"He was not a poor brahmin, he knew Kripa before he approached the king. Don't worry, we'll find a way tomorrow" said Krishna.


It was the 15th day of battle. Drona was decimating the Pandava army. Yudishtira brought his chariot alongside Arjuna's, looking very agitated and said "We must find a way to stop him"

"There is a way. We'll have to tell him that his son Aswattama is dead," advised Krishna, "He is so fond of his son that this news will paralyze him and he'll lay down his bow."

"But how do we kill Aswattama. He is well guarded behind the Kaurava flanks." queried Arjuna.

"We don't need to actually kill Aswattama. All we need to do is convince Drona that Aswattama is dead" said Krishna.

"You mean, we'll utter a lie?" asked a shocked Yudishtira.

"Not we. You'll tell him. He won't believe it otherwise. But it need not be a lie. There is a war elephant named Aswattama. Ask Bhima to hunt it down. That way, you could convey the message without it being a lie" said Krishna.

"Using such devious methods is not consistent with Dharma" said Yudishtira.

"Don't forget, he is a brahmin who exceeded his role. He craved not knowledge, but power. He sought to be equal to kings, which is why he made you capture Drupada. He was partial in his teachings, which a good teacher is not supposed to be. He was among those who attacked an unarmed Abhimanyu. He uses celestial weapons against mere mortals. He has violated Dharma in every stage of his life. There is no Adharma in taking him out of the battle, by whichever way possible" urged Krishna.

And it was done. Bhima killed the war elephant and proclaimed victoriously "Aswattama is dead! Aswattama is dead!" Drona heard him, turned to Yudishtira and asked him "Is this true? Is my son, the light of my life, dead?"

And Yudishtira, as advised by Krishna, muttered, "Aswattama, the elephant, is dead". Conches were blown at the exact time when Yudishtira mentioned “the elephant”, which he also said under his breath and Drona could not hear that. He laid down his bow and sat down in samadhi. Immediately, Dhritadhyumna pounced on Drona’s chariot and severed his head. 


Yudishtira embarrasses us today. Harishchandra who willingly gave up his wife and child and kingdom frightens us today. But neither Yudishtira nor Harishchandra embarrassed or frightened Krishna or Vyas. Both included Yudishtira in the great narrative. But modern writers have chosen to represent him in a different way, decrying his opportunistic lie. 

That is the story of fraudsters in human society. Fraudsters have always existed in God’s world but more often than not manmade society has chosen to ignore, suppress, ridicule, label them aberrants, diseased, to be swept under carpets and gagged by laws such as 420. They have been equated with robbers and murderers, simply because they can only lie differently.

Indian society, however, has been a bit different from most others. Like all cultures, Indian culture for sure paid more importance to the dominant honesty policy. But unlike most cultures, Indian culture did not condemn or invalidate the minority fraudster altogether. Hence the tale of Yudishtira’s white lie, placed so strategically. Hence the legend of Chanakya, whose skills in manipulating men around him is so highly regarded.

Western socities have, and will, look upon India’s conniving fraudsters as vulgar cheats. The British mocked us so much during the Raj that we went into apology and denial. Now an entire generation does not even know about these tales and these deities and these rituals. Westernization did not change boardroom habits; it has led to an embarrassed denial of our sacred scriptures.

One thing we must grant the fraudster – he has united the apathetic middle class. He has done what the constitution of India could not do – bring the tax evading businessman, the work-shirking government servant, the subsidy-consuming salaried class to the same side of the table. Together these self-proclaimed guardians of morality would like the fraudsters to be made invisible once more.

Anna Hazareji would for sure celebrate the honesty of Harishchandra. If he would have his way, he would, perhaps, drag Yudishtira to the nearest flagpost and flog him until he admits his fault and he chokes and gasps into honesty. But not Krishna. On Krishna’s chariot, Yudishtira – as the opportunistic liar he is – will always be welcomed.


PS1: Done more as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Devdutt Pattanaik's post. No offence intended to Mr. Pattanaik (a writer I really admire), or Mahabharata (a story I admire even more), or to war elephants. Of course, miscellaneous fanatics who don't have a sense of humour and want to take offence, please feel free.

PS2: In the midst of all that irreverent satire, also hope to make the point that there is no logic in going back to scriptures or what was acceptable hundreds of years back to justify whether something should be accepted in today's world. As I have tried to show above, a case can be made for providing divine sanction to white lies, miscellaneous 'conditions apply' clauses in fine print and other subtle misrepresentation. In fact, scriptures sanction anything that you have a fancy for (including coitus with a dead horse, as shown in the Aswamedha Yagna). A position which Mr. Pattanaik acknowledges when he tweeted "it is dangerous to seek scriptural approval of homosexuality. Many of our scriptures are anti-woman, anti-Dalit, and anti-homosexual." 


  1. Good one Siva ! The duality or plurality of Indian society in terms of morality is often disguised as required for greater good of the society...

  2. Nice. Thoroughly enjoyed. Mid-way I was confused though, if you were actually condemning Yudhistira. Also comparing virtues of (wo)men from different yugas is not an ideal way to compare. :-)

  3. @ Rav's:
    Thanks. Not just Indian society. Every interest group represents their needs couched in language of "But it's good for you..."

    @ Kanthu:
    Why confused? I was condemning Yudi. It's like a batsman who always walks when he nicks, suddenly decides not to...
    and am not comparing people across different yugas... where did you get that from?