Mahabharat anecdote for the week: Here is our lesson on forgiveness from the Battle of Kurukshetra

Modern psychology defines forgiveness as a conscious decision to let go of resentment and the need for revenge

author_img Gaurav Yadav Published :  24th April 2022 05:31 PM   |   Published :   |  24th April 2022 05:31 PM
Forgiveness_Mahabharat_Representational image only

Representational image only

The world operates on trust. Sometimes that trust can be broken. If it is broken by someone who is very close to us like a friend, sibling or parent, it is natural to feel hurt. However, holding a grudge takes an incredible amount of energy and can weigh us down. So, at some point, we have to think about moving on. This is very hard. Nevertheless, forgiveness is a power that we should exercise for our own well-being. Mahabharata gives us a great example of this.

The Battle of Kurukshetra resulted in great carnage. It was caused by Duryodhana and his brothers going back on their words, given after the gambling match, to restore the kingdom to the Pandavas once they had lived out the exile. To avoid war, the Pandavas were ready to settle for as little as five villages but Duryodhana did not agree to even that. Dhritarashtra was unable or unwilling to restrain his sons from doing evil deeds.

After the war, when all hundred Kauravas had been killed, Yudhishthira thought about the matter. For the sake of his own peace of mind, he decided to forgive Dhritarashtra. As a victorious king, when he entered the city of Hastinapur, he kept Dhritarashtra at the forefront. Later, when Yudhishthira paid his respects to the Brahmanas, again he kept Dhritarashtra at the forefront. After he was instated as king, Yudhishthira called Vidura, Sanjaya and Yuyutsu and told them, ‘Accomplish every task for the king who is my father. With the King’s permission always follow dharma.’

If Yudhishthira could forgive Dhritarashtra, because of whom he had to suffer so much for so long, certainly we can forgive people too. Modern psychology defines forgiveness as a conscious decision to let go of resentment and the need for revenge. Forgiveness does not mean simply forgetting what happened to us or pretending it did not happen or making excuses for the offender’s behaviour. It means reflecting to understand why things happened the way they did.

The next step is to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person to see their perspective; even if we don’t agree with it. We must try to see if we can learn something from the experience and then let it go. Finally, we can decide whether to try to repair our relationship or distance ourselves. There is no single answer to this. It depends on the place the other person has in our life, how badly they have hurt us and whether they are sincerely sorry for their actions. Remember, forgiveness is a power that we should practice for our own sake, not for the sake of the offender.