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ToSwearOrNotToSwear?: Mytho Oaths and Consequences

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Posted: 05 February 2011 at 8:33pm | IP Logged
Hi guys Big smile Here I am with a brand new topic which will hopefully inspire lots of great discussion. When we try to think of a common theme that runs through all or at least almost all of our beloved scriptural stories, we will possibly, probably stumble upon the concept of characters famous for (and at some point struggling with) keeping their word.

This encompasses those who were known for being 100%  truth-speaking Satyavaadis in general (Harishchandra, Vasudev, Yudhishtir) and those who were big on sticking to any promises they make (Dashrath, Ram, basically everyone who falls under "Raghukul reeti sada chali aayi, Vasudev again). In addition to these, we have several other characters who made significant oaths and whose fulfillment of those oaths would completely change the course of history: Bharat, Lakshman, Bhishma, Bhim, Draupadi, and many more.


Given that this motif of oaths and promises and honesty in general appears so frequently in all the epics, it must be of great importance. The purpose of this thread is multifold, it can include the following and any other relevant questions you guys can think of:

1) Analyze and compare the characters' motives for making the promises they made and for sticking to them if they did - was it worth the consequences?

2) Where do these values of honesty and promise-keeping rank when compared to other priorities which the characters juggled alongside them? what values trump them in importance and would justify temporarily turning away from them, if any?

3) Evaluate the different strategies some characters used to get through moral dilemmas involving truth (e.g. Yudhishtir's Ashwatthama line to Drona and Vasudevji's evasiveness/silence with Kans, even Dashrath's suggestion to Ram of taking the throne by force rather than accepting the exile he was bound to administer to him) - were they ethically sound? How effectively did they mitigate the dilemma, and why or why not did they work?

These are only a few of the many great questions that can be derived from this theme, and I hope you guys enjoy discussing them here very peacefully and diplomatically and extensively Tongue And feel free to refer to any kind of source in making your points, whether they be the texts themselves or articles and serials. based on them.

For a quick reminder of the characters and situations to which we are referring, here goes a little list that you can feel free to add to and in fact I will gladly update this post so we can keep track of all of them:

- Harishchandra allegedly promised to hand his kingdom over to Vishwamitra
- Dashrath promised Kaikeyi any two boons as a result of which Shri Ram was exiled
- Shri Ram promised to rid the earth of demons and bring peace to the sages in Dandaka Aranya
- Lakshman swore to kill Bharat suspecting that he arrived in Chitrakoot with evil intentions
- Bharat swore to commit suicide if Shri Ram would take even a day longer than necessary in returning from the forest
- Hanuman promised to bring the Sanjeevani on time
- Lakshman promised to kill Meghnaad the day he actually did
- Shri Ram promised to uphold the honor of his ancestors at any cost when he was crowned king of Ayodhya
- Vasudev promised to hand over all his children to Kans without a fight in exchange for Devaki's life
- upon becoming aware of Shri Krishna's birth Vasudev promises to keep this one under wraps at any cost
- Bhishma promised to remain celibate, not become king, and protect the throne of Hastinapur and whoever occupied it as long as he lived
- Draupadi and her hair... need I say more
- Bhim's various promises concerning the administering of justice to the offending Kauravs
- Arjun vows to kill either Jayadrath or himself after Abhimanyu's death
- Krishna on not lifting a weapon during the Kurukshetra war
- Promises of friendship made to Sugreev, Vibhishan, Sudama, etc.

... Anyone else???

Have fun guys!!!


Edited by lola610 - 07 February 2011 at 8:22pm

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Posted: 05 February 2011 at 9:52pm | IP Logged
Well di, I think that this is all due to their Bhakti. Because they were so attached to God and so detached from the rest of the world, dharma was their number one priority, ie Lakshman, Hanuman, Pandavas, etc. So they wouldn't have the same troubles with juggling what they wanted in life with their word. And because of that, God assisted them, or they were God and legends were told about them. I mean, they were sometimes disillusioned like Nal when he had to give up Damyanti because of his own fault, but still, he lived by it. And then God helped to find out a solution. Hope what I said made sense.


Edited by AishuJSKfan - 05 February 2011 at 10:03pm

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Posted: 06 February 2011 at 8:59am | IP Logged
arjun sweared that he will kill jayadrath and if he is unsuccessful then he will take "agnisamadhi"...........a famous oatha though.....:-)

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Posted: 06 February 2011 at 9:18am | IP Logged
ah, this id a very interesting topic!!!!

i was just going to say devotion.....but since you got that covered i'll pick at something else!!! lol

Determination......commitment to Dharma (Yudhistir etc.), some used rage, with pure determination and faith that god will help them if their purpose was righteous (well most weren't that concerned about the righteous-ness part....) like Draupadi, Arjuna, Bhim, Parshuram etc.
some out of love, seflessness & devotion like Bhishma, Ram etc.

But many did make rash decisions like arjuna, but fortunatley Krishna to the rescue, however he made the best question right there ever....'Why is your destiny so fond of taking oaths?' that--to me, is probably one of the best questions ever!!!!!!! hahahaha

But sometimes in the heat of the moment rash oaths can be taken, and can lead to misery becasue in the heat, no 'checking' will be done in the mind to see wether this is a good thing being done or not....so this is a good topic but i have to go now so i can't expand much more at the moment....i will though!!!!

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Posted: 06 February 2011 at 11:07am | IP Logged
Nice topic! Feels like I'm posting in a million years, lol. I'll be back to edit soon Smile

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Posted: 06 February 2011 at 3:16pm | IP Logged

*edit added*

Great Topic Lola! Thumbs Up
 
1) Analyze and compare the characters' motives for making the promises they made and for sticking to them if they did - was it worth the consequences?
In a moment of rashness, some of these decisions were made. Many those in Mahabharat and some in Ramayan too.
In order to seem like a bigger person, show dedication to another oaths were made WITHOUT seeing the result.
 
In Ramayan, Maharaj Dasarath gave 3 boons to Maharani Kakeiye?? Why?? For saving his life, maybe so.. but how did Dasarath take one moment and think would I live to regret this? So was he merely trying to impress her? He must have concluded that the woman would want materialistic things? yet he gave her a 3 boons? seems flawed. He didn't have hindsight or distrust that the woman would ever ask his son to be sent to exile? That's one part I don't understand myself, however I believe in destiny personally so it was destined to be that way or Ravaan wouldn't have got released from his burdens if Ram hadn't gone to exile?
In Mahabharat, Pitamaah Bhishma..- I always think about this one and see that Devraat was so young, naive and innocent that he gave in to the worldly demands too easily.He simply wanted his father's happiness, not thinking that because of this the future of his clan would be at stake? Had he not have take the pratigyaa then maybe Mahabharat would never have taken place?
Yet again we have the arguement that Munni Vyas and Shri Ganesh had wrote destiny?? Mahabharat would have taken place? Shri Krishna had to come to earth once more??  
See there is a part in BRC's Mahabharat that actually looks at this where by Pitamaah Bhisma's body Shri Krishna tells the Pandaves that what we do is to be done. We never think of the result of our actions or how it will affect us tomorrow. We make decisions based on judgement of how we feel at that particular moment? With that I actually agree, we live life in the present and don't think what will be done tomorrow or how are actions from today will change what will happen in the days ahead.
 
 
2) Where do these values of honesty and promise-keeping rank when compared to other priorities which the characters juggled alongside them? what values trump them in importance and would justify temporarily turning away from them, if any?
Like I said, its a momentarily emotion they felt when taking the pratigya's/oaths/promises. Had they been given hindsight to the future they would never have taken the path they had. They try to show others that love them, care for them and even sometimes protect themselves from grief and trouble that they just give out promises to prove that they are honest. Trying to prove the great people?
In the case of Draupadi, she was a woman scorned and the only reason she took her oath was to fuel her husbands? Sorry if you disagree but she wanted revenge for her humiluation and how she had been treated publicly. She wanted to feel safe, protected and see IF her husband could carry out his oath? and obviously seeing Draupadi's untied hair Bhim was reminded day and night of her screams, of the royal assembly, of the Kauravs and how they used treachery and of course of his oath.  
 
3) Evaluate the different strategies some characters used to get through moral dilemmas involving truth (e.g. Yudhishtir's Ashwatthama line to Drona and Vasudevji's evasiveness/silence with Kans, even Dashrath's suggestion to Ram of taking the throne by force rather than accepting the exile he was bound to administer to him) - were they ethically sound? How effectively did they mitigate the dilemma, and why or why not did they work?
 
- A white lie? I don't believe that Yudhistir told a white lie. A white lie is for the benefit for someone, that being said a lie is a lie and no goodness would come of it, however the wording of his lie was quite simple that he did that say that Bhim killed the elephant Ashwatthama? I don't know why but Dronacharaya had already been broken by the anticipation of knowing about his son's death so in effect he wasn't listening to Yudhistir. Not saying what Yudhistir was right. I mean there is no right or wrong. It was war. The most shocking part of the lie/truth here is that the pandavas actually believed that Dronacharya leaving his chariot would be the end for that. Did they not KNOW Dhrishtadum? Did they not know of the personal war between Dronacharaya and King Draupad??
It just seemed like the easiest path that they had to eliminate someone on the enemy side, whether or not they wished it.. it was going to happen, so why the sorrow? They were fighting on the battlefield so either they killed or they were killed. ( does that make senseLOL)
 
- In the case of King Dhasarath.. He gave his 3 boons before Ram was even born? So now his time to fulfill all the Queen's demands have come, he wants to leave to Ram to fight back? Why?? He didn't think of the result of granting the boons yet as soon as he deems right he can cause distractions from his promises to be fulfilled? That seems unfair to Queen Kaikeyie, I am not saying what she asked for was correct but no limitations, no constraints or boundries were set upon her so why does she have to compromise because her husband couldn't keep his word? Yet to show he was a great man he wanted Ram to fight back? Makes no sense.
 
And with Vasudev. I just genuinely believe he was trying to be a bigger person. If the hits on side give your other side. He didn't it in him to fight someone like Kans, and good things come your way. If he had fighted/rebelled against Kans what would have come of it? His death? Mata Devaki's death? He got fruit for his silence. I mean if being father to Shri Krishan isn't the greatest thing that could have happened then what could have been. Him bearing everything was his devotion in God and believing that someone will save us from badness. Good will prevail over evil. Despite seeing the death of his children, his faith was not shaken. He kept faith that God would help him.
 
=)) Sorry If I offended anyone by my answers its just my judgement and opinion on certain things and how I see them. No intention to say your wrong or to upset anyone.. :D
 


Edited by _Sanjana23_ - 09 February 2011 at 4:20am

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Posted: 07 February 2011 at 4:33am | IP Logged
Originally posted by Ankita_88

arjun sweared that he will kill jayadrath and if he is unsuccessful then he will take "agnisamadhi"...........a famous oatha though.....:-)
 
Oh, Ankita, was just thinking about the same while reading Lola's post Smile
 
 
Originally posted by ADMJCXNK97fan

ah, this id a very interesting topic!!!!
 
i was just going to say devotion.....but since you got that covered i'll pick at something else!!! lol
 
Determination......commitment to Dharma (Yudhistir etc.), some used rage, with pure determination and faith that god will help them if their purpose was righteous (well most weren't that concerned about the righteous-ness part....) like Draupadi, Arjuna, Bhim, Parshuram etc.
some out of love, seflessness & devotion like Bhishma, Ram etc.
 
But many did make rash decisions like arjuna, but fortunatley Krishna to the rescue, however he made the best question right there ever....'Why is your destiny so fond of taking oaths?' that--to me, is probably one of the best questions ever!!!!!!! hahahaha
 
But sometimes in the heat of the moment rash oaths can be taken, and can lead to misery becasue in the heat, no 'checking' will be done in the mind to see wether this is a good thing being done or not....so this is a good topic but i have to go now so i can't expand much more at the moment....i will though!!!!
 
 
Yes Dear, I do support this view of yours. It was indeed a rash decision by Arjun. I always get surprised when I think about the fact that even after listening and understanding The Geeta from the Lord, how could Arjun behave in such a way? Being carried away so much by the Emotion (i.e.- the grief of losing his son)!  

 
On the other hand, as you have mentioned the point of 'Righteousness', we can support Arjun in this respect only till 'the promise of killing Jayadrath'. But he tried to do that on the very next day- this part was unnecessary, I think, it was the part which Krishna wanted the point out in his dialogue. The 'Righteousness' was also there in Lakshman's oath to kill Meghnad, in Bheem's oath to kill Kauravas- thus, they were working for Dhrama thr' these oaths.

 
Otherwise, if we consider all the situations, we can found that, mostly,  the oaths are taken in the 'spur-of-the moment' basis (that is- mostly). They are the Spontaneous Reactions of the person in that particular situation (like Bheem's oath of killing Kauravas, Lakshman's oath of killing Bharat, Bharat's oath of commiting suicide, Bheeshma's oath to Satyavati's father, Dasharath's promise to Kaikeyi). Whether these oaths were correct or wrong ones- that needed to be discussed, but I feel, they actually represent the Dedication of that person to the Ideal/ Person.

 
Starting from the action of Arjun and trying to have an overview of the whole topic, I could focus only on this point now Embarrassed. I guess, this is my Spontaneous Response after reading the 1st few posts Big smile.

 

 
And about the 'various strategies taken by the characters to go thr' the Moral Dilemma', it was the Surrendership/Devotion to Krishna which gave the strength to Bheeshma to carry on his outward actions for the Hastinapur Kingdom, which made his situation rather complex. Just thought to mention it here, as most of  the members know about my attachment with the character of Bheeshma. LOL LOL


 
 
Lola, This topic is really Vast and Sooo.. Multi-Layered that I am also expecting many many angles in our discussion. Indeed, we'll be able to go deep into the characters while analyzing their actions.
 

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Posted: 07 February 2011 at 6:19am | IP Logged
Here I am Lola.Hug Mark the attendance.Big smile

Starting my post with a few more illustrations:

# Arjun's oath regarding Gandeev (The reason of getting angry on Yudhisthir). 

# And then Krishna's most important example. Promise of not fighting in Kurukshetra war. Then promise given to Shishupal's mother. Krishna didn't take any oath I think but gave plenty of such promises to various people during his life. Sandipani's wife also to quote one. Promise given to Sudama also "Mitra ka dharma sada mai hi nibhaunga". Oath might be to bring back Syamantak possibly. 



Edited by ShivangBuch - 10 February 2011 at 10:17am

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