A little more knowledge



Read my post  A little knowledge before you read this one, in case you have not already read it.

My earlier post “A little knowledge” [Link to post] seemed to have stir up quite the debate and question among readers as to why Arjuna did not impart the complete knowledge of entering, destroying and exiting the Chakravyuha to his son Abhimanyu when he was in his mother, Subhadra’s womb.

In the comments section, I had referred to two different versions of stories for this lapse on the part of Arjuna.

One version had it that Subhadra actually feel asleep when Arjuna was narrating the portion of how to destroy and then exit the Chakravyuha and that is why Abhimanyu was not equipped with this knowledge.

The second version was that if Abhimanyu were to learn the complete technique of entering, destroying and then exiting the formation, that would tilt the strategic advantage of this particular war in the favor of the Pandavas. And as Krishna wanted the war to be a reasonably fair one, he distracted Arjuna and prevented him from imparting the entire knowledge to Subhadra and his son, Abhimanyu in her womb.

As if these versions were not enough, and as luck would have it, one of my all time favorite mythological expert and authors, Devdutt Pattanaik recently publicized one of his earlier blog posts which dealt with the exact same topic [Link to blog post].

Devdutt cites three different folktales to provide the reason as to why Abhimanyu was not given the complete knowledge of destroying the Chakravyuha.

The first folktale has Abhimanyu who was actually a Rakshasa and that his demonic qualities would emerge if he survived the Kurukshetra war. That was the reason that Krishna prevented Arjuna from imparting the entire knowledge so that his son could be killed during the war.

The second folktale has that Abhimanyu was actually the son of the Moon god, who was cursed to live on the earth as a mortal. Since the Moon god missed his son too much, he requested Krishna to find a way to end his mortal life and the only way that Krishna could do that was by preventing Abhimanyu from learning the whole truth about the Chakravyuha and consequently be killed in the war.

The third, and probably the most morbid of the tales cited by Devdutt states that Krishna allowed Abhimanyu to be killed in the Chakravyuha as that would be the only way that Arjuna would take the Kurukshetra war more personally and fight more intensely.

One way or the other, all the folktales cited by Devdutt have Krishna as someone who emerges as the main sutradhar or puppeteer who pulls the strings of this memorable episode in the epic.

What heartened me the most was the fact that Devdutt also ends his post with “beware of half knowledge” which kind of corresponds to the title of my earlier post “A little knowledge”. I guess I must be doing something right with all these mythological posts and my understanding of these tales.

Image courtesy: devdutt.com  This is one of his sketches, a man of many talents, the good Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik

24 thoughts on “A little more knowledge

  1. A very knowledgeable post on the war. It’s beautifully written for the soul and I am enriched on the Mahabharata. Very well written as we get to be acquainted with the different versions.

  2. I love the sketch and Devdutt is truly a great talent. You my friend are not far behind 🙂
    Thanks for this round up of diffft versions that could have been…I think the last reason that Abhimanyu’s death was imperative so that Arjuna took this war to its fated end holds strong with me.

    • @Rickie, that Mahabharata is much much more than what we have seen on TV or have even read, and I intend to bring out more such short posts on various incidents from this great epic

  3. Krishna must be declared the man to turn to know how to turn situations around and how to manipulate circumstances to suit one’s needs… And I mean it in a good way!

  4. I was never aware that there are so many tales regarding why Krishna did not let Arjuna narrate the complete information regarding chakravyuha. I new the version where subhadra falls asleep after half the information is shared.
    This post provides new dimensions along which one can delve deeper into the infinitely deep tatva of the Mahabharata. A great post jam.

  5. Its interesting to know all these versions. We would not really know the truth actually. As kids we were told the story of Subhadra falling asleep when Arjun was narrating the story. However, I asked my mom (I was very inquisitive) that if Abhimanyu really wanted to know the real truth, why did he not ask his father about it ever from his time of birth till his death. He could’ve learnt all this time, right?

    Anyway, I love reading your tales. You surely are doing great. Long back I had read Devdutt and was impressed by how he connects his posts with our life today. Thanks for this Jairam

    • @Kajal, don’t even compare me to Devdutt, his knowledge in the Indian epics and mythology is something that I cannot even think of achieving in a few years…

    • @Rachna, that is precisely the point of these posts. There are so many versions of the epic that nobody can honestly tell that they have read and understood all the versions in their entirety. These posts are intended to just give a brief highlight into particular incidents and characters from the epics, that’s all.

  6. Wow that was wonderful. Mahabharata is one of the most interesting stories ever. So many people have interpreted it in so many ways and they all make for good reading. Incidentally, have you read Palace of Illusions?

  7. All my grandmother told me was that Subhadra fell asleep. Your post, literally helps me with my half knowledge. By the way it is very smart of you to integrate the mythological tales with the writing challenges, they make for an interesting read 🙂

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