This is a split board - You can return to the Split List for other boards.

Anyone think the Mahabharata provides justification for eye for an eye?

#1EricsboroughPosted 8/5/2011 12:02:04 AM
I could provide examples, but perhaps they won't make sense. Here are some anyway for discussion sake

*spoilers* (it is an epic, afterall...)

(1) Dushasana (a bad guy) tries to disrobe one of the heroines (Draupadi). He ultimately fails because Krishna (an incarnation of god) makes her sari of "infinite length". Nonetheless, Bhima (one of her husbands--yeah---and one of the heroes) vows to tear open Dushasana's chest and drink his blood. He later succeeds in doing this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dushasana

(2) Karna, one of the villains (but a noble villain for the most part) takes part in the dishonorable killing of Abhimanyu (son of one the heroes, Arjuna). Specifically, he violates the rules of combat in that he gangs up on Abhimanyu with several other warrior--the honorable thing to do would be to engage in one-on-one combat. During part of the war later on, Karna and Arjuna are duking it out when Karna falls victims to sum of the curses he received. One of them is that his chariot will get stuck in the Earth when he needs it the most. So he gets of his chariot and tries to pull it out, and asks Arjuna to stop fighting him for the time being. Arjuna is about to comply, but Krishna himself tells Arjuna to kill Karna, asking rhetorically where Karna's sense of honor was when he dishonorably killed Abhimanyu. And Arjuna complies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karna#Seventeenth_day

So in both examples, a "hero" partakes in eye for an eye. There are plenty more, but those are probably the two most famous examples. The second one particularly basically involves God himself saying that someone who has violated a universal code of ethics (here, combat) no longers deserves the benefit of such a code. Of course, many Hindu scholars will say this was "justified" by the Mahabharata signaling a relative "dark age" in terms of ethics...but since we are still in that age, it would seem to me that the epic provides a religious justification for eye for an eye in Hindu terms.
---
Heel turn.
#2OrangeWizardPosted 8/5/2011 12:21:48 AM
Disrobing a woman = tearing open someone's chest and drinking their blood?

How is that an eye for an eye?
---
"this game is about reality. ... when you fire a gun you are not like "what is this am i shooting sausages?""
-General_Dong on Black Ops
#3Ericsborough(Topic Creator)Posted 8/5/2011 12:27:11 AM
Yeah #1 wasn't the best example for a literal "eye for an eye." However, there was a #2, so no need for a snarky reply.
---
Heel turn.
#4OrangeWizardPosted 8/5/2011 12:35:22 AM
Yes, #2 seems like a good usage of an eye for an eye

I wouldn't say it "justifies it", because, in Christianity, God did away with "an eye for an eye", because the law in which it was contained had served it's purpose, and was never meant to be for all peoples anyway.
---
"this game is about reality. ... when you fire a gun you are not like "what is this am i shooting sausages?""
-General_Dong on Black Ops
#5Ericsborough(Topic Creator)Posted 8/5/2011 8:10:20 AM(edited)
That's fair--to Christians, the entire epic/religious work of the Mahabharata is meaningless. It would only have relevance as a cultural piece.

However, to Hindus, it should remain real.

The other interpretation for #2, of course, could be not that of an "eye for an eye", as presented, but of an "end justifies the means". Karna was a fearsome warrior who could have defeated the "good guys" easily, and needed to be killed for the war to be won by the "right side". Knowing this, Krishna allowed the rules to be bent to ensure the triumph of "good."
---
Heel turn.
#6DagorhaPosted 8/5/2011 8:38:37 AM
It really isn't an eye for an eye, although the rules of karma do state that what goes around comes around, you don't really have to be the one to impose it. One of the main themes of the Mahabharata is that there is good and evil in all of us. One of the things Krishna says to the main antagonists after he sort of protests his defeat by saying that he was a good man, a good ruler was, "No man is entirely good, nor is any man entirely evil" Krishna in a sense was being extremely pragmatic in event #2 and sometimes to get what you want you have to do things that aren't right. Someone later says that Krishna will someday die, betrayed by the ones he cared for and Krishna pretty much nodded and said, "yup, I know, but that's ok"

Pretty much what Ericsborough said. Probably why i like Krishna so much is because instead of running away from humanities bad side, he embraces it in a way.
---
You don't get a gold star for being less bloody stupid than another bloody stupid person when you are still demonstrably bloody stupid. -the final bahamut
#7Ericsborough(Topic Creator)Posted 8/5/2011 12:29:01 PM
Dagorha,

Well said. I just think it's pretty interesting how, during the war phase of the story at least, Krishna dabbles in a lot of underhanded-esque tactics to "ensure" victory for the Pandavas. I think it would make a pretty good case study in ethics to discuss some of them, but so few people in the West have a passing knowledge of the Mahabharata, let alone have read the Mahabharata, to make it feasible.
---
Heel turn.
#8DagorhaPosted 8/6/2011 4:50:32 AM
It's something to keep in mind that Krishna, being Vishnu's Avatar (iirc), pretty much acted as a karmic balance in of himself. Evil constantly gets a bad rap for ya know... being evil but it is also one of the forces that keeps the world in balance and is an essential good for that reason even if it causes suffering which seems to be the ultimate evil. Instead of an eye for an eye, the evil man should probably be pitied if anything else which is how i feel the main antagonist should have been viewed and how the story wanted people to view him. I remember a line after his defeat that said something like this, "He is like a block of wood, speak of him no more." Which really pours on the idea that, while he had issues and used underhanded tactics to get the kingdom, he wasn't a "bad" man. Which follows on to Krishna's no man is good, no man is evil line. Heck, I feel like the entire point of the story was to illustrate the humanity of both sides of the story. I found myself unable to really take sides since the antagonists really didn't do any more wrong then the protagonists when it came right down to it. The ending only exemplified this when it was foretold of Krishna, arguably the most righteous of the group, would meet an unfavorable end, implied in part because he ended up causing many deaths of the antagonists. The main antagonist seems to be life itself, a series of events that cause pain to many, in general, good people. A series of events that causes old friends, brothers even to fight it out and cause the deaths of many others.

Sorry i don't remember their names. It's been 2 years since i studied it.
---
You don't get a gold star for being less bloody stupid than another bloody stupid person when you are still demonstrably bloody stupid. -the final bahamut
#9KNessJMPosted 8/6/2011 7:52:02 AM
I prefer not to base my ethics upon mythology, and I am opposed to retribution in general.
---
Quote of the Week: "Just thought I'd be a pal and bring you your butt medicine. You know, for your butt."
#10AganarPosted 8/6/2011 10:56:39 AM
The thing to remember about the Mahabharata is that Krishna does alot of dickish things. I can't remember the exact justification for it, but he does like five of them (I'm forgetting all the names, but off the top of my head--lying about _____'s son dying so he will quit fighting, telling Bhima to summon his son so that _____ will waste the dart on him, telling Arjuna to kill Karna while his wheel is stuck, and telling Bhima to strike ______ on the thigh; probably one more I'm forgetting). The impression I got was that pretty much everyone else refuses to do them because they know it's dishonorable until Krishna gives them a pass. Krishna, being Vishnu in disguise, can do whatever the hell he wants. It's not a model behavior for mankind to emulate, it's a god getting to do godly things.
---
http://www.last.fm/user/Aganar