We often say that the only thing constant is change. We also say that more things change more they stay the same. Although seemingly contradictory, they are both equally true. Nature is constantly changing. The cycle of life is constant. Everyday nature evolves into more viable species, while some others become extinct because of inability to sustain their kind while life and death remains constant.
Nature’s topography is changing everyday. Natural and unnatural forces constantly trigger and foster these changes. Hurricanes, volcanoes, blizzards, avalanches, floods, nuclear bombs, radiation, deforestation, wars, etc can all change our external environment permanently. While these forces seemingly remove any trace of life in that area, eventually new life sprouts with time. The loss and change is soon forgotten. Nature embraces and accepts these changes graciously. The fight for survival is only at the moment of the calamity. Flora and fauna that perish eventually rejuvenate without lamenting the past losses (Chernobyl or in the volcanic islands in Hawaii). Nature works tirelessly there to regain lost grounds with increased lushness. Moving forward without being stuck in the past.
On the other hand humans with a higher level of consciousness and conscience often get caught in past. The despair over the losses is so over powering that moving forward is just not possible. The fear of the unknown keeps us stuck to the past. The fear of change keeps us from moving forward. We in our infinite abilities and capabilities are unable to accept change because we inherently seek stability in life. We are not able to accept and embrace change graciously just as well as nature around us. Any action and inaction that result from this resistance stems out of fear is often self-preserving at the cost of others peril. This human nature has not changed since the history of mankind.
Mahabharata and Ramayana. are 2 ancient Sanskrit epics of ancient India. They contain a conglomerate of stories of human behaviors based on a set of main characters. It was aimed to help mankind live a full life while pursuing the four goals* by the morals and lessons provided in these stories. Both epics emphasized the idea of divine intervention in everyday events. However the stories themselves were intended to illustrate the basic fact that every action or inaction, seemingly good or bad, has a consequence that can follow the doer for a long time. Times have changed, external appearances have changed, however these stories illustrate that basic human nature has not changed. Actions of impulsivity, greed, avarice, power, lie, deceit, oppression, lust, coveting, envy etc have remained the same. The cycle of life, diurnal rhythm, seasonal cycles, etc have remained the same, but the flora and fauna have changed. The world outside has changed, but the humans internally have stagnated.
Repeating History since ancient times:
Teen Pregnancy: Kunti- Queen Mother of the Pandavas in Mahabharata accidentally bore Karna. Afraid of being an unwed mother, she placed the baby in a basket and set him afloat on a river. This impulsive action haunted her later when she was unable to save her son in the deadly war of Kurukshetra. It was too late when she realized that Karna was her own son. At that time Karna was not prepared to join the Pandava camp due to his own internal conflicts. Eventually Karna was killed in the war by his own brother. Consequence of Kunti’s innocent action was so grave that even God could not save Karna’s death.
Gambling: Yudhishtra the oldest Pandava son was the most honest and just human but gambling was his greatest weakness. Yudhisthira succumbed to a challenge in the game of dice by his cousins the Kauravas. He gambled his kingdom, and even his wife in the end. He lost all his kingdom in the game and was forced into exile for 13 years, which included one year in anonymity. Fortunately his wife was saved from disgrace of Kaurava atrocity because of her undying love for God and invoked his protection.
Blind love: Gandhari was the Queen Mother of the Kauravas in Mahabharata. Gandhari’s major flaw was her love for her sons, especially her first-born, Duryodhana, which often blinded her to his flaws. She was never able to reprimand him for any of his atrocities including lying, deceit, cheating, even his attempt to rape his cousin’s wife Draupadi. Her love made him into a monster. Blinded by her love, she was never able to advice him about Dharma (righteousness and moral ethics). This later cost his life in the war where he was left powerless by God’s powers. Duryodhana and most of his brothers are not seen on the same level as the Pandavas in their adherence to virtue, duty, and respect for elders
Corruption of Power and vengeance: Duryodhana had become so blinded by the money and power he amassed in the gambling game that he was unable to see the light of truth. He had started to feel invincible. He was focused on taking his revenge and destroying the Pandavas his cousins, because he was not the crown prince to the thrown which he believed to be rightfully the next heir. After he won in the gambling game, Duryodhana encouraged his brother Dushasana to drag Draupadi into the court because he claimed that she was Duryodhana’s property after Yudhisthira had gambled everything away to him. Corrupted by power and money he justified his actions.
Coveting: Ravana is the primary antagonist in the Hindu epic Ramayana. a great scholar, a capable ruler and a musician. His ten heads symbolically represent his knowledge of the six shastras and the four Vedas. Despite his accomplishments he invited his demise because he kidnapped Rama‘s wife Sita to exact vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister Surpanakha.
Lusting: Surpanakha is the considered the catalyst of the chain of events leading directly to her brother’s demise in the Battle of Lanka. She was so enamored by Lakshmana- Rama’s brother. She kept pursuing him despite his many attempts to discourage her. Lakshmana was a married man and loyal to his wife and had no interest in another woman. Surpanakha blind and lustful pursuit cost her nose.
Weakness of mind, jealousy, envy: In the Epic Ramayana Kaikeyi was one of King Dasharatha’s three queen-wives and a Queen of Ayodhyā. Dasharata selected Rama to be crowned King, Kaikeyi was delighted and as happy as she would have been had it been her own son, Bharata’s, coronation. However, Manthara her aide, worried that Kaikeyi would lose her status as Chief Queen at Court if Rama ascended the throne decided to instigate trouble. She fueled Kaikeyi’s dormant jealousy. Finally, Kaikeyi’s ardent desire motivated her to demand Dasharatha to make her son Bharata as the crown prince. To ensure that Rama would be no threat to her son Bharata, Kaikeyi further demanded the exile of Rama from Ayodhya for 14 long years. But Kaikeyī’s desire never bore fruit. After sending his son into exile, a grief-stricken Dasaratha died of a broken heart six days after Rama left Ayodhya. She came to blame herself for this death. Furthermore, Bharata swore never to ascend the throne as it was his older brother’s birth right. He further blamed her for his father’s death and is said never to have addressed her as “mother” again. Realising her mistake, Kaikeyi repented for sending her most beloved son away for 14 years. After Rama’s return, she apologized him for her sin. Rama touched her feet her and insisted Bharata to forgive his mother.
There are thousands of such stories around the world of human foibles and weaknesses. All of these stories indicate that humans have always been subject to such sins. The only way to overcome it is by changing ones behavior internally. It is easy to change the external environment in the hope of improving behavior (abstinence versus promoting birth control in teens, compassion versus promoting gun control, love versus promoting religious wars, universal spirituality versus promoting secularism). These changes can only be effective if humans learn to fill their internal voids of insecurity. The fear of loss of what they have or fear of change of the life as they know it triggers the basic sins of life. Focusing on something larger than themselves, accepting their circumstances graciously, not being self-indulgent, not lamenting over their loses and moving on in the hope of building a stronger self is essential for self-improvement and promoting a morally strong and loving society.
(*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puru%E1%B9%A3%C4%81rthaPuruṣārtha (pronunciation: , Sanskrit पुरुषार्थ) literally means an “object of human pursuit”. It is a key concept in Hinduism, and refers to the four proper goals or aims of a human life. The four puruṣārthas are Dharma (righteousness, moral values), Artha (prosperity, economic values), Kāma (pleasure, love, psychological values) and Mokṣa (liberation, spiritual values).All four Purusarthas are important, but in cases of conflict, Dharma is considered more important than Artha or Kama in Hindu philosophy. Moksha is considered the ultimate ideal of human life.Historical Indian scholars recognized and debated the inherent tension between active pursuit of wealth (Artha purusartha) and pleasure (Kama), and renunciation of all wealth and pleasure for the sake of spiritual liberation (Moksha). They proposed “action with renunciation” or “craving-free, dharma-driven action”, also called Nishkam Karma as a possible solution to the tension.)