Wandering in the ancient jeta vihAra of koshala where tathAgata spent a considerable part of his life, we came across a group of four muNDaka-s under an arjuna tree whiling the warm afternoon discussing amongst themselves the fragments of collective memories of old. Besides the other amusing stuff, their talk had a clear strain of aversion towards the hindU itihAsa-s, in particular towards the great bhArata, laughing at its events and ridiculing its Heroes.
We were later reminded of the following ridicule of mahAbhArata written by dhanapAla, the 11th century jainist nAstika from gujarAta country, which thus went:
कानीनस्य मुनेः स्व बान्धववधू वैधव्यविन्ध्वंसिनो
नेतारः किल पंचगोलकसुताः कुण्डाः स्वयं पाण्डवाः
तेमी पंच समानयोनिनिरताः ख्यातास्तदुरकीर्तनं
पुण्यं स्वस्त्ययनं भवेद्यदि नृणां पापस्य कान्यागतिः?
Roughly: Whose sage-writer is himself born from an (unmarried) girl’s womb and who later blemished the widowhood of his younger half-brothers’ wives, (natural it must be to have for) its heroes the pANDava-s, not only whose father pANDu was conceived after the demise of his own father, but also who are themselves result of the vIrya of someone other than their father even when he was alive; and even further, who all five collectively enjoy the rati with a single woman; If such be the book reading which gives so much merit, one wonders what would be the path to sins.
mahAbhArata has been consistent in causing, as it seems, much udarashUla to all hindU-dviTa parties just as it does today. It is just a continuity that the hostile mlechcHa-s and svadeshI-drohins alike finds it necessary to ridicule or trivialize this grandest itihAsa, like done by the bahupuMsachAlI of kraunchadvIpa in her recent vaikalpika hindU itihAsa.
Knowing one’s attitude towards the hindU itihAsa-s, and in particular towards the Great bhArata, is we think an effective though crude way to tell one’s overall memetic stand towards the hindU-s.
That reminds us of the great turuShka’s fascination for the Hindu itihAsa-s during the kAfir phase of his life, so much so that he got bhArata translated into persian, under the title of razm-nAmah (‘the History of the Great War’), and which, for over a decade, his associates used to daily read out to him before he retired for the night. He seems to have been most impressed by the character of yudhiShThira who occupies most copious space among the hundreds of illustrations he got made on bhArata’s themes. Knowing the great turuShka’s mind it seems likely that he looked at himself as the present-day-dharmarAja, if the likeness in the illustrations of the appearance of the eldest pANdava to his own appearance is any indication!