Peace vs Hate



Most people see Mahabharta as an epic of war, hate and bloodshed.  They can not understand why this mega epic is given the status of a “Shastra” by Hindu sages.

Most people see the epic war of Mahabharata.  What they do not see is the opening scene where peace is established between nagas and humans.  Rest of the epic is recited as “flashback” – almost as a prequel to the peace process.

Most people do not see that the bulk of the epic is Shanti Parva – book of Peace.  Shanti Parva is a repository of ancient wisdom taught by Bhishma pitamaha from his unique “bed of arrows”.

Most people do not see that the overwhelming message of the epic is – “War is futile.  Live and let live.”



It took an incredible amount of effort and understanding for king Janmanjay to stop the Sarpa satra at the last min and spare the killer of his father from being consumed by the flames of his hatred.  King Janmanjaya embarked on an all out genocide against all snakes.  His sarpasatra was designed to kill off all snakes – regardless in their culpability for having killed his father.  Over the course of the yagna, countless thousands of snakes were consumed by the flames of agni.


Sage Vaishampayan recited the epic Jaya (later called Mahabharata) to the king during the sarpa satra of King Janmanjaya.  While the Brahmins were reciting the mantras, king and his court were listening to the Jaya.  The king listened attentively to the great saga of his family. 

Listening to “Jaya”, Janmanjaya realised how Arjun killed Takshat naga’s family and friends in the great conflagration of Khandava-van. 
Protected by Shri Krushna, Takshat and his son were unable to kill Arjun. 

So they took their revenge on his grandson – Pariksheet. 

His own sarpa-satra was 4th generation vendetta, oscillating between nagas and humans.


Like politicians of today, Agni and Indra stood on opposite sides in this war. 

Indra gave “moral and material” assistance to Takshat.

Agni was virulently opposed to the nagas.  He engineered the first genocide of the reptilian race by asking Arjun to burn and kill EVERYTHING in the Khandav-van.  Second time, Agni was happy to gorge on the nagas Janmanjay consigned to his flames in the sarpa-satra.

When Indra refused to let Takshat be consumed by Agni, brahmins recited mantra to consume Indra along with Takshat in the great yagna.  At the very last minute, Indra abandoned Takshak to save his own skin. 


You could almost see the reflection of flickering flames, desperate to lick Takshak’s ancient scales, and just at that last moment, in a dramatic twist, befitting Bollywood, king Janmanjay decided to suspend the yagna.  Janmanjay, king of the Kurus, son of Pariksheet, grand-son of Abhimanu, great grandson of Arjun, great-great grandson of Pandu, great-great-great grandson of Veda-Vyasa, decided to heed the advise of the epic Jaya and stopped the Sarpa-satra yagna !  .


Vyas’s mega family saga of “Jaya” (Mahabharata) is an epic of enormous proportion.  He taught it to Vaishampayan and asked him to go and recite it at the yagna of Janmanjaya. 

Sage Vaishampayan recited the epic, bringing to life incidences the king had heard from other members of his family and the royal bards.

Muni Aseet, with naga and human blood in his veins, came to advise the king on the value of prudence and peace.

It was the combination of Vyas muni’s powerful words, Vaishampayan’s expert rendition and Aseet muni’s sagely advise that eventually calmed the king’s blood lust. 


Nagas and Humans could now live in peace after all.

Hatred of four generations – dissolved in timely, sagely advise.



Can this miracle of bringing peace to warring generations happen again ?  Can warring generations, warring people, deep hated of hundred years be dissolved ?  Is this simply an epic tale or is it really possible ?



Fast forward to 28th June 2012 –

Incredible work must have taken place behind the screens to get a British queen shake hands with Michael McGuiness a life long republican ! 


Decades of misunderstanding, mistrust and full on “hate” has divided the people of Ireland.  Countless lives have been blighted by feelings of vengeance and vendetta over several generations.  Ireland, the green isle, has been soaked in blood of royalists and republicans for decades.  Terrorists, soldiers, spies and politicians have been arguing their case with pen and plastic explosives while citizens of several countries died from bombs planted in shopping centres, trains and other public places.  There seemed no end to this bitter war between Catholics and Protestants, Irish and British.


Over the last few years, great reconciliation efforts have gone into removing the poisonous barbs that have pierced the hearts of nationalists and republicans over several decades.  Amazing amount of soul searching and balm of understanding has been applied to both sides to sooth the pain of thousands in Northern Ireland and beyond.  All this culminated in a handshake that seemed improbable at one time.  During her Diamond jubilee year, Queen Elizabeth II has started the process that will help eventually dissolve the poison of hate in her realm.


We can only hope that the same level of reconciliation, understanding, desire to “live and let live” will come to India and Pakistan, the two Koreas, Tibet and China, Israel and Palestine, the two Sudans, various Congos and all other places where blood relatives are spilling blood in the name of peace.


Mahabharat, and recent events in Northern Ireland, offer us hope for peace.




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