But At the same time, you could say that the philosophy of the Mahabharata itself is more a stoic philosophy of endurance and survival rather than of religious knowledge. It is not a prescriptive text unlike the Ramayana, which is very clear that it tells you what to do and what not to. It is a deep and encyclopedic study of human nature, character and motivation.
The holy text of Mahabharata mentions the city of Hastinapur which has its own deep meaning in Indian culture. In Sanskrit the word for an elephant is Hasti and in ancient Indian history, elephants represented wisdom. Even the story of Lord Ganesh in ancient Indian history having an elephant head represents him having immense wisdom of an elephant. Looking at it this holy text shows that, metaphorically the word Hastinapur means the city of wisdom. So reading the story of Mahabharata, each one of us can draw our own inspirations with our own understanding of Indian culture. That’s the way of approaching and understanding this holy text. It has famously been said that whatever is in Mahabharata, is found elsewhere and whatever is not in Mahabharata is not to be found anywhere.
The main text of the Mahabharata is the pervasive search for Dharma. It has been enormously disliked by the scholars of the modern age too when people connect Dharma with religion. The word Dharma is used in different contexts in Indian culture whether it is Verna, good conduct and governance(Raj Dharma). In this holy text (Mahabharata) Dharma is the last resort and individual choice. There is no absolute notion of what is right and what is wrong. You make your decisions and face the consequences. There was an endless number of events that led to war. So, the reason why the war happened was, mainly DISOBEDIENCE OF DHARMA
SHALOKA:- धर्मानामं गतीम सूक्ष्म The way of Dharma is Subtle and Elusive.
SHLOKA:- धर्मसे तत्वम निहितमं गुहायमं The truth of dharma lies in the dark cave. We are all constantly struggling to know what’s the right cause of action in any situation.
The Mahabharata literally means Historical facts of India or Bharata. Hence this holy book of India is an authentic History of our past. The Kurukshetra War is a war described in Epic Mahabharata. According to this holy book and historical facts, Shri Krishna had preached Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna in Kurukshetra where the battle took place. The Mahabharata war was between Kauravas and Pandavas, for the dynastic succession, in which lots of warriors were killed from both sides. This was the fiercest war that has ever been fought. Never before has there been such a war nor is there any possibility of such a war, like Mahabharata.
Ancient Indian history narrates a story of Pandu, Dhritarashtra, Bhishma and Vidur. They were the four sons of Kuru King Shantanu from different mothers. Bhishma, was the eldest son of his second wife (Ganga), vowed not to marry and dismissed the throne. Vidur being a maid servant’s son was never offered the kingdom. Although Dhritrashtra was elder, still Pandu was declared the King. Reason Dhritrashtra was born blind. Pandu’s sons popularly known as Pandavas (Yudhishthira, Bhima and Arjuna, Nakul and Sahadeva) were the Princes of Hastinapur. Pandu was a great warrior, who expanded his kingdom during his rule. After his death Pandavas were brought up by his wife Kunti.
Now Dritharashtra was the new successor to the throne. He fathered a hundred sons with his wife Gandhari. She sacrificed her eyesight by blindfolding herself for her entire life following Indian culture. His eldest son, Duryodhana including the other ninety-nine sons came to be known as Kauravas.
Reasons That Led To The Battle Of Mahabharata:- DHRITARASHTRA
If we need to pick a reason for the battle of Mahabharta, then it is none other than Dhritrashtra. He himself was always greedy for the throne. According to historical facts of India, his elder brother Pandu went into exile with his family and let Dhritrashtra rule in his absence. He became a de facto king after Pandu’s death in exile. He never guided his sons on the right path. His blind love and silence attributed to their misdeeds and become the reason that led to the battle of Mahabharta. Yudhishter being the eldest son of Pandu was supposed to be the next King but Dhritrashtra favoured his eldest son Duryodhana to be his heir.
Brahmin Council, Vidura and Bhishma pressured him to declare Yudhishtara as a king. He agreed, keeping the grudge within. But Considering Pandavas dead in the Laksharahaya incident, Dhritrashtra quickly crowned his son. But when Pandavas were back he did not force Duryodhana to surrender the throne. Instead divided the kingdom into two parts and intentionally gave Pandavas, Khandavaprastha, which was a ruined land and surrounded by forest “Khandav”
Historical facts of India proves that sadly his silence on Draupadi’s humiliation and disrobing her in the assembly hall was the worst part of his character. He had more authority because Duryodhana was still not king. But no protests were made by anyone against the injustice. He kept quiet when Duryodhana’s conspiracy of dice game led to the exile of Pandavas for 13 years. Had he advised his sons, the Path of Dharma, the war could have been averted. It was his inability that led to war.
Reasons That Led To The Battle Of Mahabharata:- DURYODHANA
The eldest son of Dhritarashtra directly became the prime reason that lead to the battle of Mahabharata. He was ambitious, cunning, greedy and jealous of his cousins who were better than him in many ways. He conspired with Shakuni (his maternal uncle) and built a palace made of lacquer and invited them to stay there for a while. The house was meant to be a death trap since lacquer is highly inflammable. The plan was that no one would suspect foul play and the eventual death of Pandavas would be declared as an accident. But fortunately, Vidur saved them. When Pandavas turned the hired place Khandavprastha into a great kingdom called Indraprastha, he grew more jealous. He schemed a corrupt dice game with Shakuni to usurp everything from Yudhishtira by defeating him. This game also witnessed the assault of Draupadi by him. ane
Reasons That Led To The Battle Of Mahabharata:- Shakuni
Shakuni, brother of Gandhari was the mastermind behind the happening of war. He is considered to be the main villain who manipulated Duryodhana. His main enmity was against Bhishma Pitamah, who once invited Shakuni’s family to a meal and locked them up with a minimal amount of food. Bhishma does this on Dhritarashtra’s order who was upset with Gandhari’s father (King Subala) who gave a false horoscope when Gandhari was married to him. In prison king, Subala pleaded to his son in law to set his son Shakuni free.
Dhritrashtra agreed and which proved his biggest mistake in history. Shakuni had promised his dying father that he would destroy the whole kuru clan, which he did with his devious tricks. He started poisoning Duryodhana and provoked him to fight. He always knew that although Pandavas will win, the war which will have a catastrophic effect on the Kuru family.
Every misdeed done by Duryodhana, the schemer was Shakuni, whether it was poisoning Bhim, giving Khandavprastha to them and burning of Pandavas, disrobing Draupadi and sending them to exile. Krishna during his peace talks with Kauravas demanded only 5 villages for Pandavas, which Duryodhana refused and insulted Krishna for favouring them. Mainly it was Shakuni who brainwashed his nephew and blundered all peace talks. To get his own revenge, he destroyed Hastinapur. He had always acted against Kauravas by physically being present with them.
Reasons That Led To The Battle Of Mahabharata- KRISHNA
This might surprise the reader, But it has been a controversial question from the time of Mahabharata itself. Lord Krishna knew that war is bound to happen to establish Dharma in this world, he tried many times to avert the bloodiest war on the planet. In Fact, he even tried to persuade Duryodhana and talked to the senior officials of Hastinapur including Bhishma to avoid war. But it was the arrogance and ego of Kauravas, especially Duryodhana that destroyed all possibilities of averting the war. The reincarnation of Lord Vishnu on earth in the form of Krishna, undoubtedly had all the powers but at that point, war was the only option to save mankind and aimed at clearing the land of evil, and at the same time make people realise the value of good virtues.
A few more people could not be spared as the reasons that lead to the battle of Mahabharata. Bhishma was completely trapped in his responsibility of being the eldest son of the Kuru dynasty. He vowed his entire life to save the throne of Hastinapur. People like Bhishma, Vidur, Dronacharya etc too were obliged enough towards the royal family and were also somehow silent at the Adharma which was going on with Pandava.
In the end, I would like to say that whosoever reads this holy text of Mahabharat shall read and comprehend it with his own understanding but it shall not be read literally. This write-up is also the result of a few historical facts of India and my own contemplations.
NOTE:-I fully dedicate my love for Bhagwat Gita to my teacher and Guru Shail Bihari ji. Listening to her with full faith and trust, followed by the contemplations of those teachings has helped me to understand the right way of performing actions and develop some degree of wisdom.