The world is searching for a perfect book, a book that contains all you need to know. May be the key to this search lies in the pages of the Mahabharata . Vyasadeva boldly states the glory of this great text: What you will find here you may find elsewhere, but what you don’t find here, you will never find anywhere.” Mahabharata is called an itihasa, or history. Indeed, being the history of a great country like India, it teaches us life lessons – what one should and shouldn’t emulate.
When ambition crosses the fine line of ethics, it metamorphoses into greed. The Bhagavad-gita (7.27) says, iccha-dvesa-samutthena dvandva-mohena bharata:
when desire and hatred combine in one person it, amalgamates into envy. The envy of Duryodhana resulted in not just his inability to celebrate the Pandava’s success but in his desire to bask in their failure and humiliation. And instead of being a vigilant parent, Dhrtarastra chose to remain a blind one; not just in physical vision but also in moral vision.
Handling one’s success with balance and celebrating others’ success with dignity is possible only when there is an inner strength of humility. Therefore the Vedic aphorism says, vijayi vinayi bhava; may you be victorious but remain humble. Humility is born out of dependence. The Pandavas embody humility when, at the peak of their success (during the rajasuyayajygan), they decided to give all the credit to the one who was their eternal guide, Krishna . When one is ready to set aside the ego and hear with the desire to follow, knowledge transforms to wisdom.
Wisdom is the magic pill that helps you handle reversals positively. By digesting this magic pill, Arjuna was able to convert a humiliating curse of becoming a eunuch into a blessing, by using it during his one year of incognito exile.
Depending on the type of person you are, you attract similar people into your life. The unhealthy competition in the Kuru dynasty reached its peak when Gandhari became envious of Kunti who had given birth to Yudhisthira first. In a fit of rage, she pounded her womb that resulted in birth of Duryodhana’s envy. On the other hand, Kunti prayed for a child that would personify dharma and she attracted Yudhisthira into her life. Yudhisthira could only see good in everyone and defects in himself. This is the mindset needed for personal growth. Duryodhana on the other hand could only see bad in others and good in himself. The fly mentality is to always seek out dirt and rummage through it and the ‘bee’ mentality is to seek out nectar even in a heap of garbage. Who you are determines what you see, how you see others and how you see life itself.
Good attitude does not guarantee success, but bad attitude definitely guarantees failure. The difference between the Pandavas and Kauravas was not variety of skill, not magnitude of strength, not sharpness of intelligence, not lack of practice, but it was the attitude towards life and people. Mahabharata was not a war of militaries, but a war of attitudes. The Gita (18.78) ends by saying yatra yogesvarah krsno yatra partho dhanur-dharah, which means wherever there is the combination of Krishna and Arjuna, there is surely opulence, victory, power and morality. In other words, when we employ our skills and talents with a humble attitude for the highest welfare of humanity, then divine help and empowerment will naturally follow that will ensure permanent success and happiness.
Subha Vilasa Dasa is a motivational speaker and a spiritual lifestyle coach. He is also the author of the six-volume series Ramayana – The Game of Life (Book 1). He conducts corporate training programs on relationship management and work-life balance for leading corporations like Aditya Birla, HUL, Edelweiss, IOCL, MTNL, and several others. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org