Thursday, August 21, 2014

Death, Sorrow & Self-Pity

In one of my favorite passages in the Mahabharata, the great sage Brihadaswa stops by to visit the hermitage of the Pandavas, within a few months of their being cheated of their kingdom and exiled to the forests. The Pandava princes are full of self-pity and they keep brooding about their lost riches.

Sage Brihadaswa's response is rather interesting. He says, "You say that there is no one in the world who is as unfortunate as you. Now that is not true, though everyone, tried by adversity is inclined to claim pre-eminence in sorrow, because things directly experienced are more than things heard or seen..."

Later, in the Aaranyakanda chapter , a forest spirit demands from Yudhistira, answers to a few questions as the price for reviving his siblings who have died of thirst and poisoning. One of them is:

'What is the greatest wonder in the world?'

Asareearvanini - asked Yudhishtira what is the strangest thing in life. His reply - "People die everyday and those who are alive go on as though they will live for ever!"


Kanda, Mohan (2012): A VOICE OF WISDOM LOST - Obituary to S.K. Rau, Indian Express, 28 Nov 2012
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