The Action, the Actor and the Director

September 24, 2015, Chennai

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KrishnaIt was a sleepless night for Krishna.  He consoled his sister, her daughter-in-law, Panchali, Kunti and others and returned to his tent, prepared the bed for Arjuna with his own hands and spent some time in meditation.

  With the sole exception of Arjuna, none else could wink for a sleep that night.  From the description of a dream that Arjuna had, in which he has a darshan of Mahadeva, we understand that he had a peaceful night’s sleep.  

Krishna rose up from his meditation.  He could not remain idle.  This was the time for action.  He had nothing in mind other than the victory of Arjuna, the next day.  And in case.  In case he failed to achieve what he had vowed, the Lord thought that He should be ready with an alternate plan of action.   The all knowing Omniscient planning for an alternate mode of operation!  That is the mystery behind what Krishna did that night.  He summoned Daruka, his own charioteer.  Though what had passed was well-known to every single soul around, like any other thoughtful task-manager, leaving nothing to chance or assumption, he quickly summed up the situation to Daruka and told him—

na hi dārā na mitrāṇi jñātayo na ca bāndhavāḥ
kaś cin nānyaḥ priyataraḥ kuntīputrān mamārjunāt

anarjunam imaṃ lokaṃ muhūrtam api dāruka
udīkṣituṃ na śakto 'haṃ bhavitā na ca tat tathā

(Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 56 – Chapter 79 in English)

“My wives, my kinsmen, my relatives, none amongst these is dearer to me than Arjuna. O Daruka, I shall not be able to cast my eyes, even for a single moment, on the earth bereft of Arjuna.”

‘Arjuna is dearer to me than anyone’.  “Know that Arjuna is half of myself”.  ‘And therefore, Daruka, though I know that Arjuna would be the victor, it is necessary that we should be prepared for a possible situation that might become a reality.  In that event, I will take the lead.  I will myself kill all the kings that stand on the other side, and kill Karna and Duryodhana as well.  Therefore, be prepared.  Get my chariot ready.  Prepare the chariot for war, filling it with my weapons.  Take my mace Kaumodaki, my bow and arrows.  Let my Garuda standard fly high.’    

Let me quote from Vyasa.  Read the details.  Note how meticulous Krishna is about minor details.  He even names the horses that are to be yoked to the car.  

“When morning comes after the expiry of this night, thou, O Daruka, equipping my excellent car according to the rules of military science, must bring it and follow me with it carefully, placing on it my celestial mace called Kaumodaki, my dart and discus, bow and arrows, and every other thing necessary. O Suta, making room on the terrace of my car for my standard and for the heroic Garuda thereon, that adorns my umbrella, and yoking thereto my foremost of steeds named Valahaka and Meghapushpa and Saivya and Sugriva, having cased them in golden mail of the splendour of the sun and fire, and thyself putting on thy armour, stay on it carefully. Upon hearing the loud and terrible blast of my conch Panchajanya emitting the shrill Rishaba note, thou wilt come quickly to me”. (Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 79)

It was not the first time that Daruka prepared the car for war!  Krishna leaves nothing to chance and tells Daruka in detail what he already knew himself!  ‘I need these weapons, I am particular about the horses that are yoked to the car and these are their names.  Let my flag fly on the chariot, letting everyone know that it is I who am waging the battle from that point of time onwards!  And, Daruka, do not miss my point.  You be encased in your armour and stay awake all the time.  In case of an emergency, I will sound my conch in the Rishaba note.  You will understand the urgency and will rush to me wherever I am, quickly.  

This particular scene in the Epic evades logic, logic in the sense we understand the term.  Krishna, the all knowing one, need not have planned so elaborately—the important point to note here is that he did not let Arjuna know of his plan at all—when as he himself says, “By every means shall I strive so that Bibhatsu in battle may slay Jayadratha in the very sight of the Dhartarashtras. O charioteer, I tell thee that Bibhatsu will certainly succeed in slaying all these for whose slaughter he will strive” (Chapter 79).  (Bibhatsu is one of the names of Arjuna.)  All that I can deduce is that no situation in life is to be taken lightly and in the case of an emergency, even the very Lord has to stay prepared with alternatives.

But there is one message that comes out loud and unmistakably clear.  When Krishna said that he would not take weapons in war and would just function as a charioteer, he was not serious about what he meant.  What I have narrated above adduces enough proof, if proof were needed, that Krishna was mentally prepared for taking to arms, if the situation so demanded.  I have another portion from Krishna’s speech to cite, to substantiate what I conclude.  Krishna addresses Uluka (the son of Sakuni) when the latter comes as an ambassador of Duryodhana in these words:

"Krishna said, 'My words also, O gambler's son, should be communicated unto Suyodhana. Let that morrow come to thee on which the battle is to take place. O thou of wicked soul, be a man! O fool, thou thinkest Janardana will not fight, since he hath been chosen by the Pandavas to act only as a charioteer, so thou art not alarmed. That, however, will not be, even for a moment. If my wrath is excited, I may then consume all the kings (assembled by thee) like a fire consuming a heap of straw. At Yudhishthira's command, however, I shall only discharge the functions of charioteer to the high-souled Falguni, of senses under complete control and who alone, (amongst us two) will fight! If thou fliest beyond the limits of the three worlds, if thou sinkest into the depths of the earth, thou shalt, even at these places, behold Arjuna's car tomorrow morning. Thou thinkest that Bhima's words have been spoken in vain! But know that Dussasana's blood hath already been quaffed. Know this also that although thou hast uttered such cross and perverse words, yet neither Partha, nor king Yudhishthira, nor Bhimasena, nor any of the twins, regardeth thee as straw!'" (Mahabharata, Book 5, Uluka Dutagamana Parva, Chapter 163).

I am not able to trace the Sanskrit version of this particular portion until now.  I go by the authenticity of the translator’s judgement.  Anyway, this is only an additional proof.  The situation that we have seen is ample enough to substantiate my point.  The War really belonged to Krishna, rather than the Pandavas.  It was His Will that the War should take place.  It was He, the inimitable Actor that was acting through Arjuna, and it was He who directed the course of it.  He was ever prepared to swing into action, if the situation demanded that.  

Now, let’s take the instance when our Actor Nonpareil rushed in anger against Bhishma.  Was it His intention to finish off Bhishma himself?  Or did He have anything else in mind?

(To be contd.)
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