To mistake the hilarious to be malicious is ridiculous
The Bhagavad-gita is spoken before a fratricidal war between the Pandavas and their cousins, the Kauravas. What caused cousins to fight till death?
Their enmity began with the oldest Kaurava brother, Duryodhana, mistaking the hilarious to be malicious.
As kids, the cousins would play with each other. Once, when they were swimming in a lake, Bhima, the most well built Pandava, picked up the other kids including Duryodhana and threw them into the water. This infuriated Duryodhana.
Since his birth, Duryodhana had grown up as a pampered prince, who felt entitled to become the next Kuru king. During that period, the Pandavas had been living in the forest with their father, Pandu, who had voluntarily adopted a reclusive lifestyle. But when Pandu suddenly passed away, the Pandavas came to the Kuru kingdom. Soon, their virtuous behavior attracted the courtiers and citizens. Finding that he was no longer the center of attention, Duryodhana felt threatened. And when Bhima threw him around in the water, he read into that hilarious action a non-existent malice – he presumed that Bhima was making fun of him, whereas Bhima was just having fun with him.
Inflamed by his disastrous presumption, Duryodhana became increasingly envious of the Pandavas, even going to the extent of trying to assassinate them, repeatedly. His unrelenting, unrepentant atrociousness made the fratricidal war inevitable.
On the battlefield, at the start of the war, Duryodhana’s vision gravitated towards Bhima, the trigger for his deep-rooted envy. He began his assessment of the two armies by stating that several opposing warriors equaled Bhima and Arjuna (Bhagavad-gita 01.04).
The Gita’s backstory demonstrates how mistaking the hilarious to be malicious can be ridiculous or even disastrous. When others do something that we find offensive, instead of presuming malice, we can pause deliberately and inquire dispassionately, thereby minimizing unwarranted hostilities.
Think it over:
- Why did Duryodhana feel threatened by the Pandavas?
- How did Duryodhana misperceive Bhima’s actions?
- What does the Gita’s backstory demonstrate?
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