Story of Gandiva- Arjuna’s Bow | What is the Dharma of a Kshatriya? | Yaksha Prashnam-05

What is the Dharma of a Kshatriya

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The truth about Gossip

Modern man is unable to control his tongue, somehow. A man spends about 8 to 9 hours in bed. He works for another 8 hours. About 3 hours for things like eating, traveling and some other miscellaneous activities. Having covered about 20 hours, he is left with at least 4 hours of free time. Unfortunately he spends the rest of his time by interfering with other people’s jobs. He would at least pass comment some about others or spend his time gossiping about useless worldly topics or find fault with others.  One should not waste time complaining about others. Instead if somebody sees that someone else is on the wrong path, that person should take the initiative to confront the other individual and boldly express his views. This is the right way to express one’s discontentment, if any. This then shall never qualify as fault-finding. Fault finding is back-biting about others. Talking low about somebody to someone else, is gossip. The main driver behind gossip is not the intention to see others walking on the right path, rather it is in feeling happy to see others treading the wrong path and celebrating it, by talking about it to others. Such an attitude places man in the lowest rungs of consciousness.

What raises a Kshatriya to high-levels?

This was the next question raised by the Yaksha to Dharma Putra, Yudhishthira. To this he said, the weapons owned by the Kshatriya, raises him to the level of Gods. Now, this appears to be a strange answer. We know of Arjun’s Kshatriya nature because of his great bow known as Gandiva. There is a nice story attached to the Gandiva.

Arjun vows to kill the one who belittles the Gandiva

Before the battle of Mahabharata at Kurukshetra, Arjun had sworn to finish the Kauravas in a matter of minutes. He had also vowed that he will set afire anyone who would say anything objectionable about his great bow Gandiva. It was now the 17th day of war and the war did not appear close to coming to a finish. Yudhishthira felt annoyed and anxious because the war seemed to be wiping away a major population of the warriors of those times. In a state of extreme frustration Yudhishthira said “Oh, Arjun your Gandiva is a waste, you boasted too much about the Gandiva. This war is going nowhere.” This was a word against the Gandiva and true to his vow, it was the need of the hour that Arjun put an end to the man who swore against the Gandiva thus. The Lord, Sri Krishna was disgusted at the emerging situation. Instead of trying to win over the Kauravas, here was Arjun trying to fulfill his vow, by trying to burn his elder brother Yudhishthira alive, for having spoken against the Gandiva. Sri Krishna had to plunge in, to save the situation. Sri Krishna said “You cannot kill Yudhishthira.” Arjun said “My vow then shall be falsified.” To this the Lord said “Alright, then you kill Yudhishthira, but he should not die.” How was this possible? In the olden days, all the younger ones would address elder people with respect. Unlike the English word “You” that is the same to be used to address the younger ones as well as elder ones, in Sanskrit the word “Tvam” (त्वं You), if used by the younger ones to address the elders, was considered a great insult. In the olden days, before Kaliyuga, even if the younger ones addressed their elders with Tvam, it was considered killing, murder of the elder ones. Hence this option was provided by Sri Krishna, in line with the Shastra, so that Arjun could keep up his promise as well as a means to save the life of Yudhishthira. Thus, there is a chapter in the Mahabharata called the “Tvam Adhyaya” (त्वं अध्याय the chapter of swearing), where Arjun demeaningly addresses Yudhishthira and calls him names suffixed with Tvam to fulfill his vow, instead of physically murdering his elder brother, at the behest of Sri Krishna.  

Just like for a Brahmana, the sacrificial altar and the implements to conduct the Yajna are considered to elevate the Brahmana to a high level of Dharma, by using them in the performance of his daily duties, for a Kshatriya, the weapons held against the enemy in the execution of his Dharma, are considered to be the very tools that shall elevate the Kshatriya to the level of Gods.

What is Dharma for Kshatriyas?

This was the next question that was raised to Yudhishthira by the Yaksha. “Performing Yajna”, replied Yudhishthira. To go for war, falls in the category of Yajna for a Kshatriya, in addition to Yajna like Ashvamedha and other fire sacrifices. Many people, unfortunately do not respect the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, assuming it to be a scripture that was born out of the violence, an outcome of the war at Kurukshetra. This is an extremely distorted opinion. The battle of Kurukshetra is regarded as Dharma Kshetra (क्षेत्र area), the place where Dharma is being established, by even Dhritarashtra, the man behind the Mahabharata war. Hence the Bhagavad Gita is the outcome of pure Dharma alone, the Dharma of the Kshatriyas. The Ahuti (आहुति raw material), required to perform the Yajna of War, for the Kshatriyas is their lives and valor in fighting the enemy. When war is taken as a Yajna, by the Kshatriya, through that Yajna, the warrior reaches Liberation or Moksha. This was the very advice that Lord Sri Krishna gave to Arjun through the Bhagavad Gita. He said “Oh Arjun, you need not worry, fight the war, since this is your Dharma. If you are slain, than you shall be liberated because you have died performing the Yajna of war. If you survive you shall enjoy this world, which you shall receive since you would have won the war of Dharma.”

What makes the Kshatriya human?

This is the next question that Yaksha raises to Yudhishthira. To this, Yudhishthira replies “It is fear alone, which brings down a Kshatriya from the level of a god to the level of a human.” During the course of the Bhagavad Gita conversation, Arjun was about to leave the battlefield, overcome by emotions, for the love of his brothers and other relatives, Lord Sri Krishna gave a totally different picture, reading the emotions of his friend. The Lord said, “Although I trust your emotions and your inner feelings, the entire world views you as a committed Kshatriya. The Kshatriya, who deserts the battlefield, while facing the enemy, is viewed as timid and consumed by fear. Hence, your emotions do not hold any significance. In fact this unnecessary sentimentalism can only be translated as fear. If at all you had to pull back, you should have pulled back days before the finalization of the war. Now the situation is precarious and shall only be translated as a response to fear and not as a response of love or attachment.”