Hindu thought sharply contrasts Western thought. A central theme in the Hindu religion is following one's dharma, which is an individual's "spiritual duty" (McCrae October 30 2003). This duty is "not bounded by a law code, and there is not one path to salvation" (McCrae October 30, 2003). Because there is no law code, morality is ambiguous. Its definition is unique to each individual. In The Mahabharata, fate (which works interchangeably with dharma) presides over what is traditionally right. Yudhisthira performs avariciously in the dice games under the rationale of fate. In the Mahabharata, fate is often predicted as it is in the dice games. Sakuni predicts, "If he is invited to a game, he will not be able to resist" (Narasimhan 48). Yudhisthira gambles all his possessions away to the cheating Sakuni, but he knows he is "submitting to the will of fate and the will of the Creator" (Narasimhan 50). The consequences of the games, exile, is usually not considered beneficial, but Dhartarastra "considers them [Pandavas] to be more powerful know then ever before because of their practice of asceticism" (Narasimhan 66). This shine a positive light on the Pandavas exile, which was a consequence of Yudhisthira's irrational gambling. War becomes inevitable through fate. Initially, there is an attempt to avoid war. Yudhisthira realizes that war is wrong has a cyclical nature: "In all cases war is evil. Who that strikes is not struck in return? Victory and defeat, O Krsna, are the same to one who is killed" (Narasimhan 99). Duryodhana, who "follows the dictates of desire and anger" (Narasimhan 104), does not concede to the Pandavas' request for land because it is not his fault "that the Pandavas were defeated at another game of dice" (Narasimhan 106). He believes that the Pandavas lost the land through their fate and thus he must follow his dharma in order to attain what is rightfully his. Fate is used to justify war....
Cited: McCrae, Susan. "Rebirth and Karma- An Introduction to Early Buddhism." Honors
Humanities Project. Ozark Hall, Fayetteville. 11 Nov. 2003.
The Mahabharata. Trans. Chakravarthi V. Narasimhan. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1965.
Good, Bad, or Both: An Examination of Fate Over Morality in The Mahabharata
Maria La Near
November 25, 2003
Honors Humanities Project
Dr. Susan McCrae
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