Thursday, 22 March 2018

Why do some Arjuna fans support his worst act of abandoning Lord Krishna's wives to the mercy of the robbers by fleeing cowardly?

My Answer:

Arjuna did not “abandon” Krishna’s wives by fleeing. When they came to abduct these wives, Arjuna went to fight them. However, he soon realized that he forgot his mantras for the divine astras, and since his arrows were all exhausted (i.e. no more arrows were left in his quiver), he was only able to use the horns of his Gandiva bow to attack the robbers, like one uses a sword or spear in a one-on-one fight. In an ideal situation, in order to deal with the thousands of robbers, Arjuna would have used the bow to release arrows… we are told in the Mahabharatha that Arjuna could fire hundreds of arrows at a single time (obviously an exaggeration, but just shows his skill with the bow and arrows and how quickly he could release many arrows). Hence, with a few draws of the bowstring, Arjuna would have exterminated these robbers. However, since these arrows were exhausted, Arjuna had to fight them one on one, using the sharp horns of his Gandiva, to attack the robbers, like one uses a sword. There is a limit to how many men one man can kill fighting in such a manner. It is not possible to kill the thousands of robbers, one after another, in a one-on-one fight. Even if one attempts to do so, the remaining robbers (that are not engaged in the one-on-one combat with Arjuna) would grasp the women and flee while Arjuna is engaged with one robber in a fight. Hence, there was really no way for Arjuna (or anyone for that matter) to save all the women.
However, despite this rather bleak situation, Arjuna fought the robbers with the horns of his bow, and due to the valor he showed, the robbers grabbed whatever women they could and then fled from the area. They did not stay back to “teach Arjuna a lesson for resisting them”, nor could they afford to stay back and capture all of the women. After they fled, Arjuna took the remaining women (that the robbers were not able capture) and went to the Kurukshetra. Hence, the only thing that could be considered a failure of Arjuna was that he could not save all the women. He did save some of the women because, seeing his valor, the robbers dared not to continue the fight and fled with only a portion of the total women that Arjuna set out to Kurukshetra with.
But is this really a failure, in the truest sense, of Arjuna? We have a man without arrows and weapons. All he had was a bow, and using the horns of this bow forced a force of thousands of robbers to flee without capturing all of the women. So whose defeat is it really? It is really a matter of shame if the robbers could not deal with a single man, and had to flee without taking the entire loot. Hence, the failure really belongs to these robbers, not Arjuna.
Below is the entire translation of the incident by Kisari Mohan Ganguly:
"After all the people had set out, the ocean, that home of sharks and alligators, flooded Dvaraka, which still teemed with wealth of every kind, with its waters. Whatever portion of the ground was passed over, ocean immediately flooded over with his waters. Beholding this wonderful sight, the inhabitants of Dvaraka walked faster and faster, saying, ‘Wonderful is the course of fate!’ Dhananjaya, after abandoning Dvaraka, proceeded by slow marches, causing the Vrishni women to rest in pleasant forests and mountains and by the sides of delightful streams. Arrived at the country of the five waters, the puissant Dhananjaya planted a rich encampment in the midst of a land that abounded with corn and kine and other animals. Beholding those lordless widows escorted by Pritha’s son alone O Bharata, the robbers felt a great temptation (for plunder). Then those sinful wretches, with hearts overwhelmed by cupidity, those Abhiras of ill omen, assembled together and held a consultation. They said, ‘Here there is only one bowman, Arjuna. The cavalcade consists of children and the old. He escorts them, transgressing us. The warriors (of the Vrishnis) are without energy.’ Then those robbers, numbering by thousands, and armed with clubs, rushed towards the procession of the Vrishnis, desirous of plunder. Urged by the perverse course of time they fell upon that vast concourse, frightening it with loud leonine shouts and desirous of slaughter. The son of Kunti, suddenly ceasing to advance along the path, turned, with his followers, towards the place where the robbers had attacked the procession. Smiling the while, that mighty-armed warrior addressed the assailants, saying, ‘You sinful wretches, forbear, if ye love your lives. Ye will rue this when I pierce your bodies with my shafts and take your lives.’ Though thus addressed by that hero, they disregarded his words, and though repeatedly dissuaded, they fell upon Arjuna. Then Arjuna endeavoured to string his large, indestructible, celestial bow with some effort. He succeeded with great difficulty in stringing it, when the battle had become furious. He then began to think of his celestial weapons but they would not come to his mind. Beholding that furious battle, the loss of the might of his arm, and the non-appearance of his celestial weapons, Arjuna became greatly ashamed. The Vrishni warriors including the foot-soldiers, the elephant-warriors, and the car-men, failed to rescue those Vrishni women that were being snatched away by the robbers. The concourse was very large. The robbers assailed it at different points. Arjuna tried his best to protect it, but could not succeed. In the very sightof all the warriors, many foremost of ladies were dragged away, while others went away with the robbers of their own accord. The puissant Arjuna, supported by the servants of the Vrishnis, struck the robbers with shafts sped from Gandiva. Soon, however. O king, his shafts were exhausted. In former days his shafts had been inexhaustible. Now, however, they proved otherwise. Finding his shafts exhausted, he became deeply afflicted with grief. The son of Indra then began to strike the robbers with the horns of his bow. Those Mlecchas, however, O Janamejaya, in the very sight of Partha, retreated, taking away with them many foremost ladies of the Vrishnis and Andhakas. The puissant Dhananjaya regarded it all as the work of destiny. Filled with sorrow he breathed heavy sighs at the thought of the non-appearance of his (celestial) weapons, the loss of the might of his arms, the refusal of his bow to obey him, and the exhaustion of his shafts. Regarding it all as the work of destiny, he became exceedingly cheerless. He then ceased, O king, to make further efforts, saying, he had not the power which he had before. The high-souled one, taking with him the remnant of the Vrishni women, and the wealth that was still with them, reached Kurukshetra. Thus bringing with him the remnant of the Vrishnis. he established them at different places. He established the son of Kritavarma at the city called Marttikavat, with the remnant of the women of the Bhoja king. Escorting the remainder, with children and old men and women, the son of Pandu established them, who were reft of heroes, in the city of Indraprastha. The dear son of Yuyudhana, with a company of old men and children and women, the righteous-souled Arjuna established on the banks of the Sarasvati. The rule of Indraprastha was given to Vajra. The widows of Akrura then desired to retire into the woods. Vajra asked them repeatedly to desist, but they did not listen to him. Rukmini, the princess of Gandhara, Saivya, Haimavati, and queen Jamvabati ascended the funeral pyre. Satyabhama and other dear wives of Krishna entered the woods, O king, resolved to set themselves to the practice of penances. They began to live on fruits and roots and pass their time in the contemplation of Hari. Going beyond the Himavat, they took up their abode in a place called Kalpa. Those men who had followed Arjuna from Dwaravati, were distributed into groups, and bestowed upon Vajra. Having done all these acts suited to the occasion, Arjuna, with eyes bathed in tears, then entered the retreat of Vyasa. There he beheld the Island-born Rishi seated at his ease."
From the above narrative, we also have to note that some women went with the robbers of their own accord. This would allow the robbers to take the women away quicker than they would have been able to do if all the women did not go with the robbers willingly. Hence, this is also a factor that needs to be taken into account. Now, I have bolded an above passage from the above narrative. The corresponding sanskrit verses, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguly, are the same that Bibek Debroy translated in his critical edition. However, the translation of Bibek Debroy reads as different from the translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguly. Below is Debroy’s translation of that passage:
O Janamejaya! However, in every direction, while Partha looked on, the mlechchhas seized the best of the Vrishni and Andhaka women. The lord Dhananjaya thought that this could be nothing other than destiny. He was full of sorrow and grief and sighed deeply. The weapons had disappeared and the valour of his arms had been destroyed. The bow was no longer under his control and his arrows had been exhausted. Partha was cheerless and thought. ‘O king! He started to retreat and said, “This is nothing but destiny.” The immensely intelligent one collected the remaining wives and the remaining jewels and went to Kurukshetra.
Upon analyzing the actual Sanskrit verses that were translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguly and Bibek Debroy, we would notice that Bibek Debroy made some mistakes in his translation of some of the Sanskrit verses. For example, let us look at his first sentence in the above passage (corresponding Sanskrit verse provided below as well):
prekṣatas tv eva pārthasya vṛṣṇyandhakavarastriyaḥ
jagmur ādāya te mlecchāḥ samantāj janamejaya
O Janamejaya! However, in every direction, while Partha looked on, the mlechchhas seized the best of the Vrishni and Andhaka women.
As can be seen above, Bibek Debroy translates the word “samantāj” as “in every direction”. However, samanta means “in every direction”, not samantA (samantā). Instead, samantā means “round about”, and hence connotes the retreating of the robbers. Hence, Kisari Mohan Ganguly’s translation of this Sanskrit verse is more apt:
Those Mlecchas, however, O Janamejaya, in the very sight of Partha, retreated, taking away with them many foremost ladies of the Vrishnis and Andhakas.
In addition to that verse, we have one more verse that Bibek Debroy translated incorrectly to indicate that Arjuna fled from the robbers (corresponding Sanskrit verse provided below as well):
babhūva vimanāḥ pārtho daivam ity anucintayan
nyavartata tato rājan nedam astīti cābravīt
Partha was cheerless and thought. ‘O king! He started to retreat and said, “This is nothing but destiny.”
In this verse, Bibek Debroy translates “nyavartata” as “retreat”. However, this translation is incorrect because “vartata” means “to perform an action" and “nyavartata" means "to cease (from doing that action)". “vartata” can be translated to mean “to revolve” or “to turn around” as well, and if translated in that manner, “nyavartata" would connote ceasing from performing that action of turning around. Hence, it becomes very evident that in any case, “nyavartata” cannot mean “to retreat”. Instead the more appropriate translation would be “to cease (from doing an action)”. In this case, the action would be the resisting of the robbers (i.e. Arjuna ceased to resist the robbers any further once they fled, taking the women along with them).
Hence, the verse's proper translation would be as Kisari Mohan Ganguly had translated:
Regarding it all as the work of destiny, he became exceedingly cheerless. He then ceased, O king, to make further efforts, saying, he had not the power which he had before.
Hence, the correct translation of the entire paragraph would be as follows (using Bibek Debroy’s translation for the verses he translated correctly, and Kisari Mohan Ganguly’s translation for the verses Bibek Debroy translated incorrectly):
Those Mlecchas, however, O Janamejaya, in the very sight of Partha, retreated, taking away with them many foremost ladies of the Vrishnis and Andhakas. The lord Dhananjaya thought that this could be nothing other than destiny. He was full of sorrow and grief and sighed deeply. The weapons had disappeared and the valour of his arms had been destroyed. The bow was no longer under his control and his arrows had been exhausted. Regarding it all as the work of destiny, he became exceedingly cheerless. He then ceased, O king, to make further efforts, saying, he had not the power which he had before. The immensely intelligent one collected the remaining wives and the remaining jewels and went to Kurukshetra.
Hence, even the Critical Edition suggests that the robbers had fled/retreated from Arjuna, instead of vice versa. The evidence is crystal clear for one who is interested in facts. For someone who wants to reject the evidence and continue to believe that Arjuna fled, it is their loss…
[Image Source: Arjuna - Wikipedia]

3 comments:

  1. I have been banned from Facebook again for a month also where is the who killed karna post now part 2?

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    1. Jaideep, that article is still under preparation... By the way, are you planning on using another facebook account in the meanwhile?

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