Mahabharata is not only the biggest epic in the world, it is also the most complex. One story winds into another and before you know it, you have known more people and events that you can remember. Elaborate and panoramic, it reflects life.
Mahabharata is also quite mysterious. It is rife with politics, economics and sociology yet it has its own set of mystifying people and places. For the common herd, this colossal epic has been made into an oversimplified good versus evil moral tale.
The story of Mahabharata is more than just being good or bad or battles and spoilt princes. The story is too big to explore and it has many layers. These layers tell us a lot more. Sometimes these baffle us and sometimes it all makes sense.
It is said that the way you interpret a great epic like the Mahabharata – varies at different stages of your life. At some point of your life, your heroes and villains will vary and you will ask questions. However at a later time in your life, you will see the characters in a different light. Perhaps how we interpret it – also interprets us. Our maturity, our understanding, our priorities.
There are many interesting facets in Mahabharata that show things in a different light. Some are deeply rooted in spiritual ideas whereas others show that making the right choice is the best power we have. Some other facts sound quite unbelievable. However you decide what part of the Mahabharata story is fact and then whatever remains, becomes fiction.
#1 Not all Kaurava brothers were bad
Emperor Dhritarashtra’s 100 sons, collectively called the Kauravas epitomize villain hood. But the truth is there was one son born of this king who did not side with the wrongdoers and instead fought with the Pandavas in the battlefield. His name was Yuyutsu. However unlike Kauravas his mother was not Gandhari.
Sughada was the maid of Queen Gandhari. While Gandhari was in pregnancy for a period of two years, Dhritarashtra grew impatient. Wondering about the fate of his heir, he copulated with Sughada who bore him his son Yuyutsu. He was born at the same time Duryodhana was born giving Dhritarashtra’s lineage a total of 101 sons.
Yuyutsu is somewhat similar to Vibhishan in Ramayana. Both did not support their evil brothers and followed their heart. Yuyutsu, like Vibhishana fought against his own family in Kurukshetra and supported what he felt was right. He protected and helped the Pandavas when Kauravas went too far with their unfair scheming.
Yuyutsu is an example that we make our lives by our choice. We can choose to stay unhappy and whine our life away or we can follow our heart and do what makes us happy.
#2 Test tube babies and advanced technology known by the few
While speaking of the Kauravas, one has to wonder about their odd birth. A hundred sons a daughter born – all at once! The story is as weird as unbelievable.
Gandhari, wife of Emperor Dhritarashtra once met the great ascetic Vyasa. Ved Vyasa worded the Mahabharata and is also a character in this epic. Pleased with Gandhari’s devotion to her husband he promised her a boon. Perhaps out of her insecurity or ambition, she asked for sons who were each as powerful as her husband. She asked a hundred sons and just one daughter, possibly as a means to secure her future. Vyasa gave her the boon but interestingly all her children were to be born at once.
When Queen Gandhari became expectant, her pregnancy was unusual and continued for more than two years. When she heard Kunti has had a son, her frustration became apparent. In a temper she hit her belly and that resulted in a miscarriage. Weird as it sounds, when the embryonic mass was about to be thrown away Ved Vyasa did something that sounds like a high tech lab. He divided this mass into 101 parts. What happens next sounds like an advanced level of test tube baby making. He arranged cool earthen pots with some materials and placed the mass to grow into babies in time.
It seems that Ved Vyas knew something more than the common people of that time. Nobody actually knows how he had the knowledge which was so ahead of his time.
#3 The strange town of Indraprastha
Speaking of unexplained advancement in a comparatively primitive era, Mahabharata has more than one instance. Indraprastha was the capital city that Pandavas built. The story goes that their uncle Emperor Dhritarashtra decided to grant them the land near Khandava Forest. This land was not suited for agriculture or habitation and it was run over by demons and Nagas, the reptilian race.
With the help of Shri Krishna and Vishwakarma, the Pandavas were able to build an amazing palace in this area. The place transformed and people came and settled in this charming town of Indraprastha. What is most amazing is its description of amenities and comfort. It seems that Indraprastha not only had the aesthetics that would put any modern construction to shame but even the facilities were too modern to be true.
Almost every comfort and luxury technology and various entertainments were present, some of which are not yet invented till date. It sounds so good in advanced facilities that it was called magical.
#4 Draupadi was not the damsel in distress
Draupadi has always been presented as a damsel in distress in popular culture. She has been shown as a woman who was married to five men without any say as such or as a victim of abuse by the Kauravas.
What most people miss here is the complete picture. Draupadi was never the weak and the abused victim. On the other hand, she knew perfectly what she was dealing with. She was herself the deity Vishnumaya, who could control all the five elements. She was powerful enough to be a warrior who could take care of her enemies well. But the stage was set for a different play and she played her role.
Draupadi was Shri Krishna’s sister and we see her earlier too in the Mahabharata. She was the baby girl born to Yashoda who was destined to be replaced with baby Krishna in the prison. When Kamsa tried to kill her, she flew from his hands and announced the dictator’s death.
She was reborn as Draupadi later but here again the story of her birth confirms her divinity. She was not born from a human womb. Draupadi came out of the fire as a blessing from the deities to her father King Drupad. This shows her complete control over the fire element.
More humanly, even being a normal princess she had the qualities of an extraordinary warrior. She was too wise for her age and too composed in the difficult times. She gave guidance and support to her five husbands, the Pandavas in a superhumanly yet gentle way.
Draupadi’s character is too deep and divine to be understood in an ordinary way. True that she made a lot of sacrifices and had hardships. Yet she was never the teary eyed damsel in distress she had been shown to us.
#5 Hollow earth theory
Scientists today debate and study the theory whether the earth is indeed hollow and not solid inside. If it is hollow, the implications are huge. It means living space down belowm water and hence life. New plants, new creatures and intelligent civilizations – all teeming below our feet. Many researchers and books speak of explorations and incidents that arise from the earth’s subterranean world.
Mahabharata was written four thousand years ago. In this epic we find clear and detailed descriptions of people and their palaces living below the surface level of the earth. In the epic we see that these civilizations live without interacting much with the common people but their existence was not a secret. People knew.
Arjuna, one of the heroes of Mahabharata once had such an interaction with a subterranean dweller. He was swimming in the Ganges River when he felt being pulled down by a powerful force. He is carried to the underground city of Kourvaya, the serpent king. Arjun was brought here by the princess Ulupi who had fallen in love with him. There are entire descriptions of this underground civilization run by civilized humanoids that are part serpents.
Ulupi and Arjuna went on well and they got married. Their son Iravan comes up to the surface and supports the Pandavas to vanquish their evil relatives.
#6 Remote viewing and ESP
Remote viewing is not considered a normal thing. You just cannot see what is hundreds of miles far away from you. But in Mahabharata remote viewing was not only looked as a gift but also was coveted for it.
Remote viewing is a controversial topic. Science says you cannot see with your eyes closed. But experiments have shown that people with Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) can do just that. They claim to see with their ‘mind’s eye’. They can see impressions or things any distance away. Some call it pseudoscience as remote viewers can only get impressions instead of clear images and that too not every time.
However, what happens in Mahabharata is too clear and too detailed to be listed away. Sanjay was the charioteer of Emperor Dhritarashtra. While his one hundred sons went away to the battlefield of Kurukshetra the blind Emperor stayed back at the palace. The battle went on for 18 days and during this time it was Sanjay who would sit in front of the Emperor and told him all that happening hundreds of miles away. Sanjay would tell the eager king in real time who was fighting whom and how was a warrior defeated. His remote vision was so clear that it seemed he was present personally in the battlefield observing each and every warrior’s move. In fact his points were more accurate than what the soldiers would repeat. Most surprisingly, no one batted an eyebrow on Sanjay’s ESP and considered it absolutely normal.