In the previous episode, we had witnessed Balarama getting more and more impatient and as Bhagawan Krishna finishes His lengthy accord, Balarama urges Yudishtra and Co. to get ready for the war with Duryodhana at this moment itself! Balarama expresses his thoughts that if “Dharma” prevails, Yudishtra should easily win the war, given his capabilities and his brothers’, and hence, a solution for the problem will come by immediately. However, Bhagawan Krishna is not convinced with Balarama’s wish. Bhagawan Krishna explains to Balarama that if the ruling has come from the king of the land that Yudishtra has to finish thirteen years of exile, it is his “Dharma” to obey it and finish it without any hiccups. Going for an all-out war is always an option, but that should not be exercised at this point. It is too early for that. If in future, Duryodhana once again plays spoilsport, we shall think about the war. But for now, we’ve to give Duryodhana a fair chance. Of course, Duryodhana has committed a huge blunder, but still, there are chances that he can correct himself and mend his ways. Hence, Yudishtra has to accommodate Duryodhana and Co. because they are also his brothers. Hence, let us see what happens in the future.
As Bhagawan Krishna explains thus, Balarama is still not convinced. He still thinks that Yudishtra should go for an all-out war immediately without prolonging the situation too much. Balarama is talking so much in favour of Yudishtra now, isn’t he? But when the situation of war comes later on, he is not going to be with the Paandavas at all! Actually, if we look at the sequence of events that took place before the war, Balarama was the first person to rule himself out of the entire war affair, and he went off for a “Teertha Yatra”! He never came back and supported neither Bhagawan Krishna nor the Paandava brothers! We’re going to see all of this in detail later on. But just to set the context here, Balarama at this moment is highly in favour of Yudishtra and Co. going for an all-out war immediately, and he was steadfast that he would be of great support to the Paandava brothers. However, Bhagawan Krishna decisively says thus, “Oh Balarama! More than the war and winning it, “Dharma” is first in the list for Yudishtra! He will definitely finish these thirteen years in exile and then will go for a war and win it for sure. At that time you come and support Yudishtra if you can!” As Bhagawan Krishna asserts thus, Balarama did not want to talk further and he accepted Bhagawan Krishna’s words. Yudishtra and Co. too acknowledge Bhagawan Krishna’s words along with Sage Saathviki and the others.
Moving on thus, we’re going to witness the next important “Charitra” of a famous king who came as part of the “Ikshvaaku Dynasty” – King Usheenara or King Shibi. We might have heard about this king as to how he stood for “Dharma”, at all times, even when he was put to brutal tests! King Shibi was a “Dharma-Atma” and just like Yudishtra, he made sure that he followed the “textbook” of “Dharma” exactly as it is. He will not deviate even an inch from it. Once upon a time as King Shibi was meditating on the top of his terrace, the “Devatas” wanted to test King Shibi as to how he is meticulously following “Dharma”. Indra and Agni Bhagawan took the forms of an eagle and a pigeon respectively and went near King Shibi. The eagle was chasing the pigeon and both were making rounds near King Shibi. There was a great sound that was emitted by the pigeon as it was desperately calling for help to save its life. Finally after going around King Shibi for many times, the pigeon decided to take refuge under King Shibi’s lap. Arriving near King Shibi, the pigeon requests thus, “Oh king! This wicked eagle is chasing me for a long time now. I do not have the strength anymore to protect myself. I request you to give me shelter from the eagle and protect my life. It is my humble request!”
Moved by the pigeon’s earnest and emotional outburst, King Shibi’s compassion knew no bounds. He immediately gave shelter to the poor pigeon and protected it. However, moments later, the eagle arrived! The eagle asks King Shibi thus, “Oh king! There was a pigeon that was making rounds here. Where has it disappeared suddenly? It was my prey for the day!” As the eagle asks thus, King Shibi replies, “Oh eagle! It is me who has given shelter to the pigeon. It is safe under my protection. You may go and catch another bird or any other thing for your food, but since this pigeon asked me for refuge, I cannot deny it. This is my “Dharma” – Whoever comes to me for refuge, I shall never leave them!” Upon hearing this, the eagle got angry! The eagle replied thus, “Oh King Shibi! Till today I was thinking that you’re an epitome of “Dharma”! But today, you’ve proved otherwise! Hunting down pigeons for prey is my “Dharma”! By protecting and shielding the pigeon, you’re doing a huge injustice to me! If I’ve to starve to death, will it be your “Dharma” to let me die without food? Hence, give me the pigeon and protect my “Dharma”!”
As the eagle said thus, King Shibi was clearly caught in two minds! On one hand, it is the “Dharma” of a king to protect whoever comes and seeks refuge. However, on the other hand, he would be deviating from his “Dharma” if he lets this eagle die without its food! Now what does King Shibi do? He thought for a while and decided thus, “Oh Eagle! Let me do one thing – You want food, don’t you? Instead of this poor pigeon, I shall give my own flesh to you as food! Eat it and satisfy your hunger!” Saying thus, King Shibi took out his sword, and even before the eagle could say anything in reply, he cut open his thighs, took out his flesh and offered it to the eagle as food! Impressed by King Shibi’s steadfast following of “Dharma”, the eagle turned into Indra and the pigeon turned into Agni Bhagawan! Indra talks to King Shibi thus, “Oh Shibi! Both of us are extremely impressed with your steadfast “Dharma”! We actually wanted to just test you, but you’ve lived up to our test much beyond our expectations! We shall bestow you with all the boons that you want, along with a prosperous life ahead!”
Thus, King Shibi was rewarded for his steadfast following of “Dharma” and for today, let us understand this beautiful “Charitra”! We shall continue this discussion further in the next episode as well! Stay tuned! 🙂