Originally posted by chal_phek_mat
Not too big of a fan of Ramayana, too preachy and too theoretical, cant relate to it. I am much more a realist to accept it.
Mahabharata is a different story, it is more real life, has all the everything that we live with in today's age. It is like as mentioned in "You've got mail" about Godfather movie, every situation you have in your life you can find something that you can relate to. Ditto with Mahabharata. The very fact that someone could write something so valid even after 2000+ years is amazing
Coming to the debate, If you were to assume, Kauravas won the war in Mahabharata, Duryodhan and Karna would have been heroes instead of Arjun and Krishna. Actually if you were to ignore that Krishna was a incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Pandavas won and if you compare the character of Krishna to that of Karna. Karna comes out better. Talking about ethics etc. There were equal number of unethical actions against the Kaurvas as much as the Kaurvas committed. But still the Kauravas are villified. Huge lesson that comes out of Mahabharata is the winner ends up writing the history and everything you do gets justified by some means or other. So concentrate on winning the battle,
Personally for me the Mahabharata also appealed much more that Ramayana because of the complete gray nature of the characters. The characters in Ramayana are too good to be true, unrelatable to the common man. Only one identifiable might be Ravana.
While in Mahabharata they are more identifiable. Even Krishna who maybe an avatar of Vishnu. Within the Mahabharata he is more humanized. Krishna himself becomes the catalyst for a lot of acts and instigations. To me the focal point and appeal of the Mahabharata lies in the gray areas of ethics.
Why I feel the balance tilts in favor of the Pandavas is because overall their actions are much less darker than the Kauravas. It is Duryodhana who first acts out on his jealousy towards his cousins. From the conspiracy at Varnavrat to the game of dice he is constantly tried to kill or undermine his cousins. It was the Kaurava side that always broke the rules of battle first, from the attack at midnight to the killing of Abhimanyu.
Although I would not say that the Kaurava's were totally vilified. When Bheema breaks Duryodhana's thighs and Duryodhan falls, the God's come and shower flower petals on Duryodhan recognizing his greatness as a king and warrior. In Indralok, Dharma and Indra explain to Yudhisther why Duryodhan deserves his place in heaven despite his misdeeds.
As for Karna, he is counted as one of the heroes of Kurukshetra. Till today people revere his heroics. Its Karan-Arjun who people remember as the greatest and noblest warriors at a battle. For all his misdeeds he was the one who was cruelly victimized by fate and his own brothers. People still know him as a loyal friend who stood by the friend who made him who he was. People still know him as a man of his words who stood by his honor code even if it meant death.
Ultimately, the greatest blame lies not on the Kauravas or Karna - but on Dhritrashtra and Gandhari who failed to guide their sons and in fact supported them out of their own weaknesses, on Kunti who could not own up to her mistakes in time, and on Sakuni who played on the emotions of his nephew.
The Pandavas are also not as clean as they appear. Post the game of dice Yudhisther is constantly reminded of his weakness for gambling and how he lost his kingdom, brothers and wife through dice. He is condemned for his lie. Even Arjuna cannot complete the ascent of the Himalayas to enter Indralok because he falls during the ascent - he was to vain and arrogant of his skills as a warrior.
You pose an interesting question of what if the other side won the war. Perhaps perceptions of the shades would shift. Who really knows, its very much an interesting what if.
Has anyone seen the Marathi play Yada Kadachit. Its an interpretation of Mahabharata for the Kalyug, where the roles are reversed. It was is controversial for the radical interpretations, but its actually a really hilarious and pretty witty take in my opinion. Its still a very popular Marathi play. In this version the Kauravas are sick of their reputation as the bad guys and want to turn a new leaf and Pandavas are sick of falling into the traps of their cousins. Even Krishna is portrayed as a mafioso Gauli Bhai. And all sorts of crazy things happen like Ravana showing up to the Draupadi Swayamvar. My favorite part is the Pandavas intro. Each Pandava comes on stage and introduces himself. Yudhishter introduces himself "meech to, meech to, nako tithe shanpatti karoon pandavana, bhikela lavnara' Which translates "I'm the one, I'm the one, who acts like smart a$$ and gets the Pandavas begging on the streets"http://www.glamsham.com/yadakadachit/syno.htm