March 12, 2004
Friday Meeting

Dronacharya, the teacher of both the Pandavs and Kauravs, was a very powerful warrior. When he took control of the Kaurav army, he began decimating the ranks of the Pandav forces. In order to kill Dronacharya, Lord Krishna devised a plan. Dronacharya was very attached to his son, Ashwathama. By claiming that Ashwathama had been killed in the war, Dronacharya would lose interest and give up fighting.

The only person capable of convincing Dronacharya was Yudhisthir, the eldest Pandav, who was known for his strict adherence to speaking the truth. But Yudhisthir was reluctant to say "Ashvathama, Dronacharya's son, has died" since he considered that it would break his vow of speaking the truth. So that Yudhisthir would not have to say a lie, Bhim first killed his elephant that also had the name Ashvathama. Yudhisthir then exclaimed, "Ashvathama, the son of Dronacharya or the elephant, has died." This was not a lie, but rather a half-truth. Dronacharya, however, did not hear the second part of the statement and became very distressed upon hearing that his son was killed. Dhristadyumna, the commanding general of the Pandav army, and Draupadi's brother, took the opportunity to slay Dronacharya.

When he saw the way his teacher was killed, Yudhisthir felt great remorse and thought he was a great sinner. Lord Krishna tried consoling him by taking him to Bhishma. Bhishma was the granduncle of both the Kauravs and Pandavs and had the blessing to die at will. However, in the war he had been attacked by Arjun so fiercely that his entire body was pierced by arrows. When he finally fell, the arrows became a bed and he lay there surrounded by great saints such as Vyasji and awaited his death.

The question raised to the assembly was, "What is paap (a sin) and what is poonya (a good deed)?" Bhishma answered according to the scriptures that a sin is hurting anyone by thought, word, or deed. Everyone agreed to the definition, but Vyasji raised a doubt that the definition seemed to be incomplete. Bhishma replied that he could not answer any further, and thus asked that the assembly have someone else lead the response. Sahadev (one of the Pandav brothers, who was known to be trikaal gnyaani or knowledgeable about the past, present, and future) suggested that even though Lord Krishna had presented the question, he should be appointed as the leader to find the appropriate answer.

Lord Krishna first asked everyone why they wanted to make him the leader. Everyone responded that he was chosen because he was God. Lord Krishna then responded, "Whatever is done according to my saying is satya (truth) or brings merit and that which is done against my will is asatya (false) or sinful." Everyone looked at Vyasji who agreed that this was the only absolute definition.



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