In Mahabharata Gods are fathers of the Pandavas. Why were particular Gods chosen?
|WHY WERE PARTICULAR GODS CHOSEN TO BE THE PANDAVA-FATHERS?
The Pandava fathers came in the order – Dharma/Yama, Vayu, Indra, and the Ashwins. But, conspicuous by his absence is another important God – Varuna!
YAMA/DHARMA - “Yima Xšaēta is .... based on a proto-Indo-Iranian heroic figure Yamas, from whom Vedic Yama also derives. In the Avesta, Yima was the son of Vivaŋhat, who in turn corresponds to the Vedic Vivasvat, "he who shines out", a divinity of the Sun. In the second chapter of the Vendidad of the Avesta, … Ahura Mazda charges him with a … mission: to rule over and nourish the earth, to see that the living things prosper." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamshid)
In the story of Yima we find a clear metaphor for Yudhishthira's 'Dharma-rajya".
Vyasa, in his attempt to bring about a Deva-Asura cultural synthesis, conceived of Yudhishthira as the son of Yama/Yima. Yima is the first man of the 'Asuran' culture. Yama was accepted in the Ri-veda towards the end of the Vedic age. In Rig-veda some mentions are –
1) 7.33.9 –They with perceptions of the heart in secret resort to that which spreads a thousand branches. The Apsaras brought hither the Vasisthas wearing the vesture spun for them by Yama.
2) 7.33.12 - He thinker, knower both of earth and heaven, endowed with many a gift, bestowing thousands, destined to wear the vesture spun by Yama, sprang from the Apsaras to life, Vasistha.
3) 1.83.5 – Atharvan first by sacrifices laid the paths then, guardian of the Law, sprang up the loving Sun. Usana Kavya straightway hither drove the kine. Let us with offerings honour Yama's deathless birth.
The first two hymns show Yama’s connection with Vashishtha, and the last one shows Yama’s connection with Bhrigu. We know, Vyasa was a Vashishtha, and Krishna had Bhrigu blood. Vyasa gives Yama/Dharma priority over Vayu and Indra, the foremost among Devas. It is also noteworthy that Vyasa, Krishna and Arjuna - the three Krishnas, who worked for this Synthesis, had Asura-blood in them!
Another interesting thing is that, according to the Avesta, Yima was the son of Surya! That makes both father and son (Surya and Dharma/Yama) have intercourse with Kunti. This is grossly immoral. Perhaps, it is another reason, why Karna’s father is Surya, thereby hinting at an immoral act by a father-figure like Durvasa on adolescent Kunti!
VAYU - Vayu is Kunti’s choice. 'Vayu is the Hindu god of wind. In Vedic times he was much revered as one of the Hindu Triad. After that age, in the Brahmanic era, he was reduced in status but he still continues to occupy a certain eminent position in the Hindu pantheon. Vayu roams all over the earth and the heavens though his home is in the north-west, a quarter which he rules exclusively. He is featured as a destructive god who has an intemperate character and is often subject to violent desires which he never strives to repress….. He is called "the bearer of perfumes" and is credited with being a benign force who is a constant companion of Vishnu' (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/v/vayu.html)
In Yoga, ‘Naga-Vayu’ carries out the function of belching, and it raises the conscience. (www.sakuratakekan.org/YogaIngles.htm)
The description fits well with Bhima. He is the ‘breath’, the life-force of the Pandavas, the ‘vital-force or Prana’ (in Upanishadic sense) of the Pandavas. Without him, the Pandavas as a ‘body’ won’t survive! He also ‘raises the conscience’ of the Pandavas, when they mistake their ‘tamah’ to be ‘sattwa’!
INDRA - Indra is relegated to the third choice of Pandu. In fact, in conceiving so, Vyasa has a double purpose. The Rig-vedic age saw the marginalization of Varuna by Indra. Vyasa (bearer of Varuna’s blood!) himself wanted to give birth to ‘children that shall be like unto Mitra and Varuna’ (SECTION CV of ADI PARVA), when Satyavati called upon him for ‘niyoga’, yet he knew that Varuna had lost appeal to the popular mass. That is why none of the Pandavas is Varuna’s son. Besides, Vyasa himself being a Varuni, could hardly make it appropriate that his son Pandu’s wife gave birth in the semen of Vyasa’s own great-great grandfather! The new Mahabharatan age needed new hero in the form of Vishnu, one who blended in him Indra and Varuna – the protector-achiever and the preserver! Krishna fitted into that role. Arjuna was conceived as Indra’s son not only to relive the Vedic Indra myth by appealing to the tradition-adhering psyche of the mass, but also to drive home the point that Indra’s son in friendship with Vishnu’s avatara superseded Indra in might. The myth of Indra’s defeat at the hand of Arjuna in Khandava-prashtha was created later, to serve that purpose. Krihsna too was anti-Indra! He stopped Indra-worship in Vraja. In other words, Indra’s days were over. Vyasa drove the final nail in Indra’s coffin by painting him as a scandalous character in the Puranas and weak character in the Mahabharata!
Several hymns in the Rig-veda pre-shadows Krishna-Arjuna friendship and might! Some of the hymns are as follows – (Griffith’s translation)
1) 1.22.19 - Look ye on Visnu's works, whereby the Friend of Indra, close-allied, Hath let his holy ways be seen.
2) 1.155.1 - To the great Hero (Indra), him who sets his mind thereon, and Vishnu, praise aloud in song your draught of juice,--Gods ne'er beguiled, who borne as 'twere by noble steed, have stood upon the lofty ridges of the hills
ASHWINS - The birth of Nakula and Sahadeva resembles the mythical birth of the Ashwins! Many hymns in the Rig-Veda particularly of 1st and 10th Mondala (of the age just previous to Mahabharatan age) pre-shadow activities of the Pandava twins! Let’s see some such hymns –
10.17.2 – ‘From mortal men they hid the Immortal Lady, made one like her and gave her to Vivasvan. Saranyu brought to him the Asvin brothers, and then deserted both twinned pairs of children.’
- The Pandava twins were also ‘deserted’ by Madri. She committed suicide!
RV 1.116.21 - With Indra joined ye drove away misfortunes, yea foes of Prthusravas, O ye mighty.
- Prthusravas was a Yaduvamshi ruler and ancestor of Krishna. This hymn pre-shadows Nakula and Sahadeva aiding Arjuna against enemies of Krishna.
The Pandava fathers have rich symbolic significance. In my opinion they are as follows
1) Dharma/Yama – Religion – Dharma & Mokhsa – Yet locked in Kama-Artha
2) Vayu – Strength & Passion – Kama & Artha – Yet search for Dharma
3) Indra – Authority & Power – Artha & Dharma – Yet search for Mokhsa
4) Ashwins – Commonness & Treatment – Service – Yet exist in Kama-Artha-Dharma
Vyasa perhaps, wants to depict the Pandava-rulers as embodiment of all those aspects.
There is one hymn in the Rig Veda – 10.25.14 – written by Vyasshwaputra Vaishhwa Rishi of Angira gotra - which clearly pre-supposes the Pandavas and Krishna – ‘And may the Sindhu of the floods, the Maruts, and the ASvin Pair, Boon Indra, and boon Visnu have one mind with us’ (Griffith’s Translation). Except Yama, we find all others here, but if we take Sindhu as representing the ‘Asura-culture’, then ‘Yima’ of Avesta is certainly there! The Bengali translation (of Ramesh Chandra Dutta) of ‘Sindhu of the floods’ is ‘Parjanya.’ If that meaning is taken, then we get the idea of ‘slaying demons (as Indra did)’, and ‘chastising the wicked (as Varuna did)’! In Rig-Veda 5.63, ‘Verse 2 and 9 describe Parjanya as a violent god, slaying demons like Indra and chastising the wicked like Varuna. Verses 3 to 5 describe thunderstorm and torrential rain (Monsoon) as a gift from a benevolent god, feeding plant and animal life, and "liberating the streams", an important mythological motive of the Rigveda.’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parjanya) The description fits with Yima and therefore, Yudhishthira!
The Pandavas are also collectively the ‘Purusha’ of the ‘Purusha-sukta’ (Rig-Veda – 10.90), considering their ‘mentality’ or ‘temperament’.
RV 10.90.12 goes as follows –‘The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made. His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was produced’.
Yudhishthira – Brahmana – The mouth – Mouthpiece and face of the Pandavas – ‘I’ll speak on behalf of the Pandavas’
Arjuna – Kshatriya – The arms – The protector, acquirer and achiever – ‘Action always! I always want to be on the move!’
Bhima – Vaishya – The thigh – The main Support of the Pandavas, as well as breaker of others’ Thigh (like that of Duryodhana), i.e. enemies’ support! – ‘We must think in terms of gain. We must always avoid loss.’
Nakula and Sahadeva – Shudra – The feet – Serves and carries the Pandavas – ‘No questions! We’ll follow the footsteps of our elders and obey them’.