Jeystha or Shreshtha ?

Who should inherit - Eldest or Best ?


This has been a question asked time and again in Indian mythology.  Who should inherit – the eldest, by virtue of being born first, or – best, by virtue of merit ? 

Countless battles have been fought on this basis over the years and even now, courts of India are clogged with inheritance cases where the siblings are arguing as to who should inherit – the eldest or the most favourite child ?

In Ramayan, Rama, the eldest, is exiled so that Bharat, son of the favourite queen, gets the throne.  Though the brothers want to rise above such petty matters, politics and family issues hinder this and Rama spends 14 years in exile.

Even the great Mahabharat was fought on the basis of who should have inherited the throne of Kurus – Dhritarastra or Pandu ?  And as an extension of that – Duryodhan or Yudhishthir ?

Duryodhan believed that as the son of the eldest Kuru (Dhritarastra) he should have been the king.  He could not brook Pandavas any quarter for being sons of the younger Kuru.

View of the Pandavas and Yudhisthir is very clear – it’s the eldest that should rule.  Despite the fact that the Pandavas were made “slaves” through Yudhisthir’s recklessness, Pandavas continued to let him lead them through the second game of dice and even the exile.  When Yudhisthir finds out that Karna was his elder brother, he laments and proclaims that had he know, he would have given the throne to Karna and been his faithful subject.   

Shri Krushna was of a completely different opinion.  He considered merit to be the guiding rule on who should lead.  Different situations require different leaders with different skills.  Shri Krushna chose the right people for the right task and did not stand on ceremony or “order or precedence”.  For example, when he needed to defeat Jarasandha, he took Bheema and Arjun with him.  When Khandav-van needed to be burned, he took Arjun and when Rajasuyagna had to be performed, he fully supported Yudhisthir as the emperor of India.


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