The essence of the Mahabharata is carved out through two beautiful verses explained by the story-teller Sauti. He said he would describe the quality of two trees which yield everlasting fruits and flowers. These flowers are full of beauty and the fruits are tasty, enjoyed by the gods too. Veda Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata, gave birth to three children through the two wives of Vichitravirya. Thus were born Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura.
The Mahabharata was written ony after the three sons died. When Janamejaya asked Veda Vyasa and thousand other exhalted beings, Veda Vyasa taught the Mahabharata to his disciple sage Vaishampayana. The student kept narrating the story of the Mahabharata during the intervals at fire sacrifices. When he stopped, the listeners would entreat him and he would continue with the story.
Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, was like a big tree. The quality of that tree was anger. Karna, the estranged eldest son of the Pandava family, born to Kunti through Surya was the trunk of that tree. The scheming Shakuni who was behind all the evil plans of Duryodhana spread out like branches of that tree. Dusshasana, the younger brother of Duryodhana who was even more enthusiastic than his brother in executing obnoxious schemes, was the fruits and flowers of this tree of anger. Guess who was at the root of this tree from which all sorrowful qualities were born? It was Dhritarashtra, the father of a 100 sons and one daughter, Dussala.
There is another tree, described the Suta. This tree is Yudhishtira who was of the nature of dharma or righteous actions that aid in quietening the body and mind. He is also compared to a big tree. The solid trunk that stands as an expression of the tree was the powerful Arjuna. The son of Vayu, the wind God, Bhima is the branches of the tree. He is the one that gave expression to the raw power of dharma. The sons of Madri, Nakula and Sahadeva were the fruits and flowers. And the roots of this tree were composed of three factors that were steady and strong—Krishna or the creative power called Ishwara, Brahma, the supreme truth, and all the brahmanas who served and worshipped the brahman.
We need not go through the one lakh verses of the Mahabharata. If the essence is comprehended, the purpose is achieved. The basis of good human nature is dharma as represented by Yudhishtira. If we live a life of dharma—controlling the sense organs and the mind—the universal truth will be on our side and we can achieve everlasting success in all our ventures as the Pandavas did. If we choose to be the tree of anger like Duryodhana, then filled with desires which is the basis for anger, we can only sprout forth evil and yield the fruits and flowers of sorrow which the world will detest.
The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; firstname.lastname@example.org