The Common Man’s Gita much like the Bhagavad Gita is a journey to decipher one’s life purpose that is passed on from an experienced veteran to the naive.
The Kingdom of Malini waited with baited breath the return of their brave Champions. Though the news of the defeat had already reached every one of them, the bereaved villagers stood night and day to comfort the battered troops that passed through their Village. The losses were huge and the grief was immense yet the kind-hearted villagers had found the strength to smile and offer food, water and shelter to those in need.
It was not a large kingdom yet at the behest of their wise king, each family had pledged to send at least one of their able-bodied men to the war. And on the first day of the war when the mighty warriors and their large armies stood waiting for the bugle, the proud army of commoners stood behind their King Karna. It must have the very first time that they had been in the presence of the great legendary Kings and Princes such as Bhisma, Drona, Duryodhana, Dushshasana and others. For 11 days they were made to stand in the scorching sun like they had always waited for the Royals to grant them approval. Even their King, the son of a charioteer, was denied to fight on the battlefield as Bhisma, the great exalted one, refused to fight beside him. Yet when the time came, the army of Malini felled more Pandava Soldiers than any other army. But very few of these brave commoners returned.
Suryasen had returned with the remains of his eldest son and many others. He had received a hero’s welcome and though the old limping subedar could have retired in grief, he prepared his horse, his armor and sharpened the blade of his sword. His daughter, a girl of ten, watched closely as she saw her father prepare to serve the royal army under the new king.
“Father, are you a traitor?”
“Traitor…” smiled Suryasen, “Now who told you that?”
“The other kids tease me…they say that you will be serving the Pandavas.”
“Yes, my dear child, I will join the royal army under the new King Yudhistir. But that doesn’t make me a traitor…”
“But father…didn’t the Pandavas kill our King Karna.” Protested the child” Don’t you respect our King now that he is dead.”
There was a long pause before Suryasen spoke. He looked at the eager angry eyes of the innocent girl, “ I am grieved as anyone else. I have lost a son and have seen the Mighty Karna fall. But I have made decision to serve the Pandavas and represent our kingdom Malini.”
“But why can’t you stay here with us? And what purpose would fighting for the unworthy Pandavas serve. I overheard that our King was the eldest brother of the Pandavas and was still killed by them. One of the young soldiers told us the ghastly tale of Bheema rejoicing after drinking Dushasana’s blood. And the new king Yudhistir is the same person who gambled away his land, his brothers and his wife while he slowly succumbed to his addiction.”
“Everybody sins. The Pandavas, The Kauravas, the soldiers, the Warriors everyone has sinned. Each one of them will be brought to justice for their wrong doings. But should that stop us from doing what is right? Can we use the sinners as an excuse to not perform our duties?”
“You talk of sins and sinners. But how could you forget the people whose sins are the greatest and cannot be justified. The famed Prince Arjuna froze to death at the sight of the battlefield and it was only after Sri Krishna motivated him with the coveted Bhagavad Gita that he was able to pacify himself. Tales of his deceit in killing an unarmed warrior are now hailed to be the greatest victory. How can you forget all this and join these unworthy sinners?”
“It is true that Sri Krishna chose Prince Arjun to narrate the Gita. Even I have sent my only son to the war, am I not a sinner then? Was I right in fighting for the King in the first place? I will be judged when the time comes but till then I am sure that the lessons learnt from this Great War cannot be ever forgotten.”
“Tell me, father what have you learnt?”
“The War is a great teacher that doesn’t differentiate between its pupils. Dronacharya and Sri Krishna must have chosen Prince Arjun but it is Karna who is remembered and revered after the war.
It has taught me even the mighty like the immortal Bhisma and the enormous Ghatotkach can perish.
It has shown me that the fiercest protectors of the laws can suddenly become numb at the darkest hour as in the case of the young Prince Abhimanyu.”
“But there is something more that I will never forget. I witnessed the incident when King Karna’s chariot fell into the ditch. He had appealed to Prince Arjun to not attack him as it would be against the etiquette of the war to attack an unarmed warrior. Yet when Arjun pulled the bow string and the lightning fast arrow propelled towards Karna, I saw the man smile.” gasped Suryasen.
“I will never know if others like Sri Krishna or Arjun or even King Karna’s charioteer, King Shalya, had seen what I saw. I have heard Bhisma lay on the bed of arrows repenting and Dronacharya mourned for his son as he lay his weapons before he was killed. Most Kings and soldiers died shouting in pain and fear. But each day I remember the smile of the man who died with a pure conscience.”
“ Do you realize that most Kingdoms have lost their treasures in the war of kins. But look around, the kingdom of Malini has enough food for everyone in need. Our treasuries are full despite us helping others with both hands. Each family has lost their young ones, a feat that no other kingdom could boast. Yet look at the compassion on the faces of our people. Like them, King Karna would never have turned away from his duty and would never resign to any selfish desires. If not anyone else, I owe it to him for giving me a chance to fight this war. It is now my duty to serve his younger brother till my last breath. Do you still think I am a traitor?”
Saying this, the old warrior mounted his horse and the little girl looked up towards her father. It was in that very brief moment, she saw what Arjun had seen during the darshan of Krishna in his full Virat Form.