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Karna & Ekalavya.


Both Karna and Ekalavya are symbols of self-taught highly skilled persons who were defeated because they lacked the MENTAL PRESCIENCE to foresee the consequences of their WORDS and their COMMITMENT to keep their word even to their detriment.

Karna was thought of to be a charioteer’s son and Ekalavya was born to a then thought to be a lower caste woman. But both were highly self motivated INDIVIDUALS who believed that through planned and sustained hardwork they would be able to achieve the highest distinction in their chosen field. Coincidentally the chosen field of both of them was ARCHERY. We all know that Ekalavya had shot off a string of arrows on the mouth of a barking dog and thereby silenced the dog without killing the dog. Likewise Karna was able to shoot not just one eye of the wooden bird, but both the eyes with 2 arrows strung in a a single bow shot. It was these display of their skills which alarmed the GURUS.

The gurus were DRONACHARYA for Ekalavya and Bhagwan Parashurama for Karna.

Ekalavya had not been taught by Dronacharya yet his discipline and his ‘will to skill’, just like Nietzsche‘s  “WILL TO POWER” , was so consuming that he made a statue of Dronacharya and believed in his blessings and learnt the skill of ARCHERY. When Drona meets and asks for the right thumb of Ekalavya, he does not THINK why on earth would Drona want his right thumb? In his passion for learning the skill of ARCHERY, Ekalavya had ignored developing his PRESCIENCE. There was no BALANCE in his EDUCATION. His skill was not tempered with the higher knowledge that anyone who asks for your life or your tools of life is your YAMA.

In KARNA’S case it was the curse of Parashurama which did him in. Karna had lied to Parashurama that he was a Brahmin (and Parashurama hated Kshatriyas) and when the endurance of Karna, while offering his lap for a pillow raised Parashurama’s doubts regarding Karna’s varna, Karna admitted that he was NOT a Brahmin and earned the CURSE of Parashurama.  But it was not the CURSE per se which did Karna in, but his promise to Kunti that he would not use the astra a second time which did him in. It is the lack of PRESCIENCE, again- like Ekalavya.

ALL THE TALK ABOUT DESTINY IS NOTHING BUT A PACKAGED STORYLINE POST-FACTO THE EVENTS. BUT THE WISE KNOW THAT DESTINY IS BUILT THROUGH PROMPT, EFFICIENT AND PRESCIENT ACTIONS.

The point to be made in this blog is that SKILL in unsuited hands is quickly deprived by the ACHARYAS. These Acharyas are the final arbiters to decide whose hands are suited and “unsuited”!

NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE TELLS YOU, THERE ARE THREE THINGS ONE SHOULD NEVER EVER FORGET:

1. THERE IS A HIERARCHY EVERYWHERE.

2. EVERYONE IS FIGHTING FOR THE RESOURCES (capital, land and labour of fellowmen)

3. THERE IS SOMEONE WATCHING, WHO HAS PLANS TO FIT YOU TO SUIT HIS INTERESTS.

Ekalavya and Karna were victims of lack of ADVISERS. Had Karna gone to Duryodhana and asked him about the promise which Kunti wanted him to make, Duryodhana would have advised him to falsely promise Kunti and NOT to keep it in the battlefield when other LIFE issues are at stake. Likewise, if Ekalavya had asked an adviser, he would have enlightened Ekalavya to tell Drona, ” As Drona was only his MENTAL GURU and was not directly involved in mentoring him, Drona could have Ekalavya’s right thumb MENTALLY too!”.

Contrast this with what Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the battlefield: DO NOT FAIL IN YOUR DUTY. A statement which is disguised in NOBILITY but the underlying principle is that EITHER YOU KILL OR GET KILLED. CHOOSE LIFE OR DEATH. It is that choice of LIFE over “oaths” and “promises” and “respect for elders” which is recommended. ARJUNA chooses LIFE as if he was merely doing his DUTY.

But Karna and Ekalavya fall victims of their “WORD”.

What the GURUS teach the pupils are different things. A guru knows that a WORD given, is to be honoured, but not at the cost of one’s LIFE. There is a primary “DUTY” one owes to oneself.

But that is a lesson to a Kshatriya, what is taught to a Vaishya is that DO NOT HAVE FALSE MEASURES, DO NOT MAKE UNCONSCIONABLE PROFIT. What is taught to a Sudra is: BE OBEDIENT; RESPECT ELDERS; GIVE YOUR LIFE FOR THE DUTY ASSIGNED TO YOU. So one could see that the same Guru teaches different things to different classes of people. That is why the Gurus were apprehensive about taking and mentoring pupils outside a particular class. Drona did not want the self taught Ekalavya to use even his self taught skills. Parashurama did not want a Kshatriya to have the skills which could be detrimental to his BRAHMIN class. In effect each GURU has his niche pupils. To overcome the WORD, PRESCIENCE is needed.

A good example is King Solomon. He was truly PRESCIENT. Solomon’s mother Bathsheba asks Solomon to give the Shunamite for wife to his half brother Adonijah. Solomon tells Bathsheba, ” Why do you ask for the Shunemite and why don’t you ask for the kingdom instead?” Solomon foresaw that Shunamite having been with King David in his last days had been witness to the machinations of Bathsheba and if she were to become Adonijah’s wife she might, in all probability, squeal about the intrigues conducted by Bathsheba, Benaiah and Nathan. So Solomon not merely denies the Shunamite’s hand, but gets Adonijah killed for having asked!! That is PRESCIENCE. When one has been raised in palaces one knows the CONSEQUENCES of one’s decisions and to FORESEE that and to decisively act is DESTINY.

AMONG THE MANY FACTORS WHICH DID EKALAVYA AND KARNA IN, IT WAS LACK OF ADVISERS WHICH I BELIEVE WEIGHS MOST. beware OF GURUS. THEIR MESSAGES COULD BE CONFUSING, IF NOT DETRIMENTAL, IF THEIR MESSAGE IS NOT ADDRESSED TO THE CLASS TO WHICH YOU BELONG

MOSES & THE MOUNTAINS!


Moses, the DELIVERER of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt, had a special relationship with the mountains. Moses according to his own confession was the MEEKEST man on the face of the earth, while he was still alive. If one were to go by the Hollywood flick, TEN COMMANDMENTS, it would seem as if he was the underdog with a mission not only to resist the cruel treatment meted out to the Jews, but also to get them the liberty.

But underlying the portrayal,if  one could place oneself in his shoes and imagine, it was all about a man who was raised as a prince in Pharaoh’s palace, & lost his position either due to a discovery of a fact and a consequent choice or to the palace intrigue of Ramses. The discovery was that he did not have the royal blood coursing thru his veins, but was an offspring of a Jew! A dim prospect for a man with that lineage in those times, in Egypt.

Many discoveries of parentage had led to great Tragedies.

Like in the case of Oedipus (king of Thebes). He killed (although inadvertently) his father and married his mother Jocasta. The oracle had decreed that the plague in the land was a consequence of the taboo committed. Oedipus was not able to wash away the guilt  thru his penance or any other means, and the end is truly tragic as it unfolds  man’s helplessness in the light of a discovery, that could not have been imagined when the deeds were committed.

Oedipus is laden with PATRICIDE & INCEST. Both ABSOLUTE SINS, one for not knowing one’s father and yet killing him unknowingly, and the other for having sexual relationship with one’s own lineal ascendant- also unknowingly. The forms in which both the acts were committed were LEGAL. Oedipus’ father was killed in a fight with him and Oedipus got married to Jocasta, as she was the prize for having aided in destroying the Sphinx which was troubling the Thebans. The  TRUTH could have lain hidden and  the plague  regressed, but  his imagined non-involvement in the DEATH OF LAIUS (Oedipus’ real father and husband of Jocasta) emboldens him to search out, even against the opinion of TIRESIAS. But his arrogance led him to the discovery, without recourse.

But in the case of Moses, it was not any of those ABSOLUTE SINS, but a MISTAKEN PEDIGREE! The storyline is the reverse of KARNA in the Mahabharata. Karna (Karan, to the Sanskritized) was thought of to be from the hoi polloi, whereas Moses was imagined to be from the Royal stock. Moses’ discovery leads to his abandoning the comforts of the Pharaoh’s palace and consequently takes him to the ghettos of the Jews.

IT IS FROM THIS POINT THAT THE REVOLUTION WITHIN MOSES STARTS. The conflict was WHETHER TO RECONCILE WITH HIS PEDIGREE & TO ACQUIESCE IN THOSE REALITIES OF SQUALOR, SLAVERY, WHIPLASHES, TOIL & IGNOMINY or TO TAKE UP CUDGELS AGAINST THE SYSTEM THAT TREATED MAN IN SUCH BRUTISH WAYS?

Karna’s conflict was that he had the skill fit to be a king, but without the pedigree to rise there. He could at best be a WARRIOR but never a CONQUEROR. The skills that he had in him was pushing him higher, but his supposed humble origins – like gravity- was pulling him down.

To clarify in Christian terms, the distinction between a WARRIOR & a CONQUEROR is the difference between JOAB and DAVID. Joab, the commander of the Israeli army during King David’s reign, used to subjugate the enemies with the strength of his sword, but when the City was to be taken, David used to be called for, by the same Joab and the city gates were flung open for the CONQUEROR KING to make his TRIUMPHAL ENTRY. A warrior has to DO IT HIMSELF EVERYTIME, but for a CONQUEROR things were DONE FOR HIM IN HIS NAME. History RECOGNIZES the CONQUERORS but the warriors are mere footnotes. A KING is mostly a WARRIOR, but a WARRIOR need not become a KING.

Moses’ conflict had to be resolved. But how can it be?

In the movie TEN COMMANDMENTS, Moses’ wife tells the Queen U LOST MOSES WHEN HE WENT LOOKING FOR HIS GOD, AND I LOST HIM WHEN HE FOUND HIS GOD! (one sane inference that could be drawn is that, God and Woman are not simultaneously compatible!), but the pertinent point is that MOSES DISCOVERED GOD. His first tryst with God was in the Mountains of Sinai (Horeb).

IT WAS ALWAYS IN THE MOUNTAINS THAT MOSES MET JEHOVAH. Moses met his maker also in the Mount Nebo.

I am left wondering, as to why God had to meet Moses in the MOUNT and not in the plains.

The Psalmist says I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES UNTO THE HILLS FROM WHENCE COMETH MY HELP. (Ps.121).

Is it because that the AIR is RARER and the PRESSURE is DOWN that the mortals start hallucinating better there?,

Or is it because of the geographical elevation that a person’s perception is raised above the occupants of the valleys and plains?

Or is it truly that God’s attention is drawn quicker on the hilltop that the mortals made it a habit to get to the mountain top?

The answer is not certain and whether the question was right at all, is a bigger question!

In any case, the resolution for Moses came from the discovery of his God. A God who believed in what Moses himself believed in, but couldn’t do anything about. He saw that the burden of slavery was so heavy, that thoughts of LIBERTY, FREEDOM & HAPPINESS did not dawn in those embittered hearts, worn down thru slavery and bondage.

It isI here that he invents ways of explaining the GOD, he had discovered. The God who names himself as “I AM WHO I AM“. This God I AM shakes the Pharoah and the Jews alike, from their logic and understanding of their EXTERNALIZED OMNIPOTENT GOD.

This wordings used bu Moses, to define God, brought God to Man. Since the time he was chased out of the garden of Eden, it is for the first time that the first person pronoun  “I” was used to SIGNIFY GOD. The space of “I”, was made DIVINE and men were given a foretaste of the possibility of God becoming Man and also residing in MEN. This definition of God, marks the beginning of the end, to the Externalization and outer experience with God. Even though this tradition continued in the Jewish history. NOW MAN HAD TO MAKE WAY FOR GOD IN HIS “I” CONSCIOUSNESS. The nameless desert God straight made an ENTRY into the JEWISH hearts, through that definition of Moses.

A QUANTUM SPIRITUALISM DAWNED!

MOUNTAINS WERE NO MORE NEEDED TO MEET GOD, ONE HAD TO LOOK WITHIN AND EXPERIENCE GOD.

HOW TRUE, I AM WHAT I AM.

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