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Chapter 4: Beyond Justifications

China keeps saying that India attacked her. India keeps saying that China attacked her. It will never be clear who attacked: to date it has not been ascertained who was the invader. Yes, the one who wins writes the history and the one who is defeated is branded as the invader. The loser is not able to write the history. But is being defeated in itself the proof of being the invader?

It is always easy to make a judgment after the event, because by then the picture is much clearer. But it is not so easy to do this in the middle of a situation.

Mistakes are always made on both sides. There can be a difference of degrees, but the mistake is never one-sided. It is not that only the Kauravas are responsible for all this evil and the Pandavas have no responsibility for it. It isn’t so. The differences are only of degrees. It is possible that the Kauravas are more responsible - but even that is decided long after the event when the perspective of distance becomes possible.

Arjuna’s mind has become anxiety-ridden in this dense moment of a war. Nothing is clear. What is going on, and to what extent is it right? And even if it becomes very clear that the other side are the tyrants, the aggressors, then still all his loved ones are standing with them too. Duryodhana may be a tyrant, but what about Drona? Drona is not a tyrant. What about Bheeshma? He is not a tyrant. In fact, both Kauravas and Pandavas were raised and cared for by him when they were children. The enemy is not just one person, it is a host of people. It is difficult to make a concrete decision in the light of this fact, and this is the cause of Arjuna’s anxiety.

The socio-ethical laws created by Manu are very ordinary - useful in ordinary situations, but in a special situation like this, Manu will not do. He would only have done under one circumstance: if Arjuna had denied the uniqueness of the situation and quoted Manu to rationalize his action, saying, “Manu has said it is all right to kill the tyrant and so do I.” But that would not have been a very intelligent step. And it would certainly have not been a very intelligent step for one more reason - because then the Gita would not have become available to you. The Gita was born out of Arjuna’s deep inquiry, thought and reflection - out of his quest. If he had accepted the situation in a simplistic way, then all that would have happened would have been the war taking place, one party emerging victorious, the other being defeated.the usual scene. When there is a war, somebody wins, somebody loses - and this gives birth to a story, to a plot.

The Mahabharata has not proved to be as significant as the Gita has. The Mahabharata happened and came to an end, but it is very difficult for the Gita to come to an end. The Mahabharata was just an event, and as time passes, it keeps fading from our memories. Actually, the truth is that the Mahabharata has only remained in our memories because the Gita was born through it - otherwise it was not even worth remembering.

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