A Guru for All
In Indian thought, the word for anyone or any force that is capable of lifting – people, things, thoughts etc. is denoted by the root word Gur from which we get
- Guru for a teacher and guide – one who lifts one’s quality of life and thoughts,
- Gurutva Akarshana for gravity – that which attracts and prevents lift off / drift away,
- Gaurav for pride – which is a form of a lifted ego, etc.
3 Women and Their 3 Ways To Their Guru
3 Strong Women of the Kuru Dynasty
The Mahabharata, in many ways can be seen to have been steered by the influence of 3 powerful women.
- Satyavati – the widowed wife of King Shantanu, who strove hard to revive the Kuru lineage when both her sons died with no heirs
- Kunti – the daughter-in-law of Satyavati and widowed wife of King Pandu, whose return to the Kuru kingdom with the 5 sons of King Pandu, the 5 Pandava, post her husband’s death in the forest, sparked off jealousy and feud between heirs of the Kuru lineage
- Draupadi – the daughter-in-law of Kunti and wife to the 5 Pandava, whose physical abuse and ensuing vow kept the fires of revenge raging among the heirs of the Kuru lineage, finally leading to one of world’s most bitter wars for the throne of the Kuru kingdom, that too within the very same Kuru lineage, at the end of which, were hardly left any offsprings in the next generation to carry on the lineage.
Satyavati, Kunti and Draupadi
It then needed Krishna, to work out ways to revive atleast one offspring from an entire Kuru lineage of over 108 descendants who went to battle.
The rest is history. It is indeed the history of this land called Bharat, India.
Each of these 3 women were the daughters-in-law of the Kuru dyanasty.
Each of these 3 women had turned to a Krishna then, for counsel.
Satyavati had turned to her premarital son Krishna Dwaipayana, more popularly and reverentially known as Veda Vyasa, for help.
Krishna Dwaipayana is considered in Indian thought as an incarnation of the Divinity Vishnu. Across the last 5 millennia since the Mahabharata period, this Krishna Dwaipayana has been held as the Muni Sreshta and Guru Sreshta, by all, for His compilation of the Veda and Purana, the guiding works of India. His birthday has since, been celebrated as Guru Poornima.
But, Satyavati had turned to Krishna Dwaipayana, not as a great seer alone, but as an affectionate mother who was in despair. It was a grave situation then in the light of absence of heirs to the Kuru lineage and it gave way to intense discussions on the course of Dharma to be followed by Bheeshma, Satyavati and Krishna Dwaipayana inorder to find a way out.
It was a situation that had pitted marriage and Dharma into contrasts where,
- in the case of Bheeshma, it was the decision to stay celibate, conflicting with Dharma to break the vow and create progeny, for the sake of extending the Kuru lineage.
- in the case of Satyavati, it was the ambitious condition of right to the Kuru kingdom in return for marriage, conflicting with Dharma to release Bheeshma from his already effected vow, for the sake of extending the Kuru lineage
- in the case of Vyasa, it was his vows give in marriage to his wife conflicting with the Dharma of having to heed to the request of his mother Satyavati, to create progeny through other women, for extending the Kuru lineage.
It was finally the Guru Sreshta, Veda Vyasa, who had resolved the problem for Satyavati, Bheeshma and the Kuru dynasty through his selfless action.
Kunti had turned to her nephew Krishna, the eighth son of her cousin Vasudeva and his wife Devaki, for help. This Devakiputra Krishna was held by all as a Maha Acharya, a great teacher since He was a Veda Acharya and a Yoga Acharya. This is why Krishna was also referred to as Yogeshwara. He always showed the way out, to whoever approached Him with sincerity and humility.
Kunti had approached Krishna with awe and humility, as a Divinity. For a continued association with this Divine Yogeshwara, she was also prepared to keep facing ordeals one after another, which would give her the chance to seek Him out each time.
Draupadi too had turned to Devakiputra Krishna for help.
Devakiputra Krishna was held by a few as a trustworthy, dependable, unfailing friend. Draupadi and the 5 Pandava were among the select few who enjoyed such a relationship with Krishna and Draupadi led the list with her complete surrender and faith in her friend, Krishna.
Krishna had never failed her.
Myriad Ways To The Divine Counsel
We thus see the 3 prime movers of Mahabharata, themselves turning to the Guru Tattva in the form of one Krishna or the other, for help. But each had approached for guidance in their own way, from their own perspective and their own emotion.
The Guru Tattva too, had heeded to all their varied pleas, in its own way –
- as a philosopher cum seer with Satyavati,
- as a Divine counsel with Kunti and
- as a soul friend for Draupadi, answering even silent calls from the heart.
Mahabharata has thus placed before us various ways in which someone who is sought after for counsel and help, has been approached – with commanding love, with awe and humility and with total faith.
In all 3 cases, the counsel and help rendered, has lifted them up from that doom.
Though Satyavati, Kunti and Draupadi had been the 3 strong women of the powerful Kuru dynasty, they had also needed a Guru and through their conduct towards such a guide, they had shown how a Guru, the Guru Tattva can take the form of a friend, a philosopher and a guide depending on each one’s mental makeup, how each one relates to the Guru Tattva and approaches his / her Guru.
Is it with commanding love, is it in despair, is it with awe and humility, is it with admiration, is with respect or is it with complete trust?
There is a Guru to answer all such calls and there will always be a need for a Guru by all.
Arjuna’s Need for a Guru
As the narrations of Mahabharata go, when Arjuna throws down his bow in despair on seeing that the army he has to fight with, comprises of none others than his Guru, elders of his family, cousins and friends, it puts Krishna in greater despair.
Krishna finds Himself in a fix now.
He had promised Draupadi, that even though He would not lift any arms in the war, in accordance with the word He had given to Duryodhana, He would ensure that the wrong done unto Draupadi is set right.
Now, if Arjuna refused to fight with the Kaurava, how would the world see right from the wrong?
How would Krishna be able to face Draupadi?
A Guru’s Need Too
Traditional narrators cite here, how it is the thought of Draupadi at this instant, which makes Krishna resolve to teach Arjuna the concepts of the 4 principles that sustain existence namely, Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.
This motivation, resolution and trigger for Krishna Himself, is what makes Him liver the greatest of all counsels, the Bhagavad Gita, the song of the Divine.
Bhagavad Gita Upadesha
This episode shows that a Guru too needs atleast one soul who looks up to him / her.
For otherwise, where is the outlet for all the selfless love, knowledge, counsel and help that a Guru is a reservoir of?
Who can the Guru lift then?
With the advent of every Guru, also arrives on earth atleast one worthy follower.
A Guru-Sishya pair is an eternal, ever complementing one.
This is why there had to be a Nara for Narayana and an Arjuna for Krishna.
The pinnacle however has been the case of a Draupadi for Krishna, who signified a total surrender with faith and got an unfailing upliftment in return.