Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya: Chapter 14: Part 4

  • 61) The Pandavas, along with the Kauravas and other princes, obtained maha astras from Kripacharya. All of them were engaged in a lot of tantrums and playing. However, all of them used to get defeated by Bhima.
  • 62) The princes used to climb trees to pluck big, ripe, ready to eat fruits. Seeing them on top of the trees, Bhima used to kick the trunk of the trees causing all of them to fall. Bhima then used to eat the fruits.
  • 63) In all competitions including fights, duels, running, jumping and swimming, it was Bhima, the one who always did pious activities and had the complete blessings of Lord Vishnu, who would win against the princes.
  • 64) Bhima, the one who was complete and had great valor, used get hold of all of them and drown them in Ganga. When they got tired, he used to release them and laugh at them. On other occasions, he used to carry them across the overflowing Ganga.
  • 65) Without developing hatred against Lord Hari and Vayu, the ayogyas never obtain tamas. Therefore, the two of them took avatara on Earth and did things that led to the ayogyas developing hatred against them. This is always the work of the two excellent and valorous devatas (Lord Hari and Vayu).
  • 66) Noting the limitless activities that Bhima, the son of Vayu, was engaging in, and realizing his limitless strength, the hatred of the princes kept increasing. They got together and secretly devised a plan.
  • 67) Those amongst the princes who were amshas of devatas, all of them developed great affection for Bhima. The others in the royal lineage were daityas born as princes and they colluded and decided to kill (Bhima).
  • 68) “If Bhima dies, then all others are as good as dead. It is not possible to kill this powerful Bhima by strength. Let us eliminate him through deceit, kill Arjuna through valour and keep the rest in captivity”
  • 69) “If we do this, the Kingdom of Duryodhana will be rid of problems. Otherwise it is not possible. Bhima must be killed. Arjuna must die. Then the others will become servants of Duryodhana”
  • 70) Having thought this way, they gave Bhima the poison called Kaalakoota – the poison which was terrible, the one which came about during the samudra manthana, the one which was obtained by Shukracharya from Shiva and which was then obtained by Shakuni from Shukracharya after a lot of pleading.
  • 71) Having discussed with the other princes, the Kauravas, through their cook, poisoned all the sweets and other dishes with the Kalakoota. Yuyutsu informed Bhima of the same. The powerful Bhima, having known of the poisoning himself as well, was able to digest the entire poison due to the grace of Lord Vishnu.
  • 72) Having realized Bhima was able to digest the poison, the evil minded Kauravas were distraught and they then built a mansion on the Ganga very quickly. Bhimasena got to know of the same through Yuyutsu and went and slept there with the Kauravas on his own.
  • 73) In order to show the defects in the Kauravas, Bhima, the best amongst men, slept there in the mansion. The Kauravas tied him up with iron ropes on which spells were cast, and they dropped him into the Ganga.
  • 74) Bhima, who had entered the water which was a crore yojanas in depth, was able to break the shackles by merely shaking his body. Bhima, whose mind is always at the feet of Lord Vishnu, the One with infinite attributes, came out of the water and stood along with the sajjanas, giving great joy to them.
  • 75) Seeing Bhima escape from death once again, the Kauravas’ mind became even more poisoned. They had discussions once again and brought to their city eight great Nagas (serpents) using the mantras given to them by Shukracharya. They kept the snakes in secure cells and handed them over to their charioteer.
  • 76) The charioteer of Duryodhana picked up those snakes which were obtained by Duryodhana through mantra-bala and released them on the broad chest of the sleeping Bhima. As soon as they bit him, all their teeth were broken.
  • 77) After that Bhimasena picked up the snakes belonging to the 8 groups of nagas and threw them far away. He crushed many other snakes with his fists and killed them. Using only his forearm, he killed (Duryodhana’s) charioteer. And then he slept on the bed just like before.
  • 78) The princes saw the incomparable natural strength of Bhima and felt extremely grieved. “Even those snakes, whose mere breath and bite are enough to burn down the lokas, proved to be futile in Bhima’s case”.
  • 79) “Even though the snakes bit Bhima with a lot of effort, they could not cause any distortion in him. We had never heard of anyone this strong earlier; Naturally there is no question of having seen any such person. Even Hiranyakashipu’s son did not have such capability”
  • 80) “For his protection, Prahlada had made special prayers to Sri Hari and hence was rescued. It wasn’t his natural strength. Were not the attendants of his father forcefully taking him away? On the other hand, this Bhima’s strength is natural”
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Dharma According to Desha and Kala

While it is true that the foundation of sanatana dharma is built on the infallibility and universal applicability of shrutis, it is equally true that the shrutis themselves offer great flexibility in how it is interpreted and applied based on various factors.

This truth is reflected in the various smritis and shastras which draw completely from the shrutis (and therefore serve as valid pramanas for dharma nirnaya).

Unlike the abrahamic faiths which mandate that their core texts are interpretable only one way, and therefore must be adhered to IN LETTER, irrespective of the time, place or occasion, our shastra has allowed a great amount of flexibility in this area.

Thus, various smritis touch upon the topic of *applicability* and give clear guidelines on what constitutes dharma. Let us look at the two aspects of this – viz applicability from a desha (region) point of view and kala (time) point of view i.e. desha dharma and kala dharma.

desha dharma:

The unequivocal and clear message from our smritis is that the the place, its culture and law play an important role in determining what is dharma. A blind interpretation or application of any rule is disallowed.

brihaspati smriti says:

देशजातिकुलानां च ये धर्मास्तत् प्रवर्तिताः |

तथैव ते पालनीयाः प्रजा प्रक्षुभ्यतेsन्यथा ||

“desha dharma, kala dharma and jaati dharma are different at different places. these dharmas must be adhered to, and practised, as is. If done otherwise (imposing other dharma), there shall be great kshobha (deprivation)”

devala smriti explains this further:

येषु देशेषु ये वेदाः येषु देशेषु ये द्विजाः |

येषु देशेषु यत् तोयं या च तत्रैव मृत्तिका ||

येषु स्थानेषु यच्छौचं धर्माचारश्च यादृशः |

तत्र तान् नावमन्येत धर्मस्तत्रैव तादृशः ||

यस्मिन् देशे पुरे ग्रामे त्रैविद्ये नगरेsपि वा |

या यत्र विहितो धर्मस्थं धर्मं न विचालयेत् ||

“In every (different) place, whatever is the knowledge, whoever are the knowledgeable, whatever is the appropriate water and soil, whatever constitutes cleanliness, whatever constitutes the right practice – these must never be rejected. They alone are dharma in those places. Whatever is acceptable as dharma to the knowledgeable (of that place), those alone must be practised as dharma – be it a country, town or a village”

Not just in smritis but even in our ancient works on astrology, a similar approach has been indicated with respect to applicability of dharma.

mihiracharya has this to say:

देशाचारस्तावदादौ विचिन्त्यो देशे देशे या स्थिथिः सैव कार्या |

लोकद्विष्टं पण्डिता वर्जयन्ति दैवज्ञोsतो लोकमार्गेण ||

“One must examine the ways of the land very deeply. After that, whatever is the most appropriate dharma to follow, those must be adhered to. The knowledgeable, and indeed the daivajnas (astrologers), always stay away from that which is against the dharma of the land”

Thus, we can see that our scriptures give us great flexibility, and practical outlook, towards appropriateness of a practice, ritual or rule in a particular place.

kala dharma:

This same line of thinking has been conveyed by our rishis with regard to applicability of dharma shastra from a temporal point of view. Thus, even though the smritis were composed as books of law, the rishis made it clear in those works themselves, that applicability was subject to the yuga (or generation).

parashara smriti says this:

कृते तु मानवा धर्माः त्रेतायां गौतमाः स्मृताः |

द्वापरे शङ्खलिखिताः कलौ पाराशराः स्मृताः ||

“In the kruta (satya) yuga, it is manu smriti that is applicable while gautama smriti is the one for treta yuga. In the dvapara yuga, shankhalikhita smriti must be adhered to, while the parashara smriti is the book for kali yuga”

The definition of sin itself was subject to kala dharma. Knowing fully well that kali yuga propagates evil, our shastras have been kind enough to provide the proverbial long-rope to sinners in this age.

parashara smriti says this about what constitutes sin:

कृते सम्भाषणादेव त्रेतायां स्पर्शनेन च |

द्वापरे त्वन्नमादाय कलौ पतति कर्मणा ||

“In the kruta yuga, one acquires sin merely by talking to a sinner. In the treta yuga, coming in contact with a sinner accrues sin. In the dvapara yuga, one accumulates sin by eating the food of a fallen while in the kali yuga sin accrues only by the actual act (of killing, hurting, etc)”

The Mahabharata provides beautiful guidance on this topic. It describes how the nature of various objects themselves vary over time and hence how they must be kept in mind while deciding on dharma.

In the aranya parva, it is said:

भूमिर्नद्यो नगाः शैलाः सिद्धा देवर्षयस्थथा |

कालं समनुवर्तन्ते तथा भावा युगे युगे ||

“Be it the soil, rivers, trees, hills, the siddhas, devatas or rishis – all of them are according to kala. Their dharma and nature varies according to time”

Thus, we see how our most knowledgeable rishis have foreseen the varying guNa of all matter, and lives, according to desha and kala and recommended that these factors be fully accomodated before deciding what is right or wrong or appropriate. Of course, it goes without saying that the decision of what is right or wrong MUST BE taken by knowledgeable people who have both scriptural and practical *jnAna*.

The flexibility our shastra offers, as highlighted above, is also one of the important reasons why sanatana dharma has survived from time immemorial.

References:

  • smriti muktAvali – by shrI krishnAchArya, shishya of shrI guru rAghavEndra swAmiji
  • Various smritis.

shrI krishnArpaNamastu