Most misunderstandings and rifts in personal and social relationships can be resolved if people start discerning the difference between having self respect and being egotistic. Oftentimes the two traits are confused for one another. While the former is commendable, the latter can prove to be detrimental. The Mahabharatha chronicles the tale of the foremost Guru Drona who rose to great heights because of his self respecting nature and fell from grace because of his bruised ego.
The immensely talented man of humble origin gained employment as the teacher of martial arts to the princes of Hastinapura. Though the royal household came forth to sponsor his living expenses and that of his family, he politely but firmly declined the offer. Drona had a son about the age of the Kuru princes. Yet never once did the self respecting teacher encourage his son to partake or enjoy the privileges of his highly placed peers. He lived and provided for his family within his means.
Once, his child Ashwaththama saw his regal friends drinking milk. The curious child longed to taste the white liquid. When he expressed his desire to his parents, he was given a tumbler of wheat flour mixed with water which the child drank happily thinking that it was milk. Drona could have had all the milk his son needed. Nevertheless the self respecting man would not accept any help from his employers before it was time to collect his rightful Gurudakshina.
It was around this time Drona’s wife Kripi reminded him of his childhood friend who had become the king of Panchala and requested his friend to seek his help. Drona was reluctant in the beginning, but went along all the same to meet his friend for old times’ sake.
Unfortunately for him, Drupada refused to take cognizance of him and behaved high-handedly. Drona was deeply hurt when his erstwhile chum offered him cows by way of charity to a Brahmin as against the token of friendship. Drona vowed to trounce Drupada’s arrogance.
One thing led to another and to make a long story short when the master’s self respect manifested itself as his ugly ego he failed miserably, to the point that his dead body was beheaded by Drupada’s son Dhrishtadyumna.
Sometimes, we make a conscious effort to reconnect with the people who populated our past. It could be either with the agenda of keeping or redeeming a promise or very simply to enjoy a bit for the sake of old times.
Situations like these warrant a little understanding and courtesy even if we do not mean to take the association any further. If we realise that the attitude is not mutual it will be in our best interests to keep away, lest life decants an ungainly stress on us and lead us to the path of self-destruction.
An incident in the Mahabharata enunciates this point ever so well. Drona a poor Brahmin and Drupada, the prince of Panchala went to Gurukula together. Drupada who availed constant academic help from his erudite friend, promised to give his friend unto half his kingdom as a token of his appreciation. Drona declined the offer. Each of them went their way. Several years passed. One day, Drona thought it would be a good idea to touch base with his old chum and probably seek a cow in charity in the capacity of a Brahmin.
The meeting with the king of Panchala proved to be a disaster as Drupada, refused to recognise his old friend. The much insulted Drona vowed to win over Panchala in an open court. Later on when it was time for his students, the Kuru princes, to offer him Gurudakshina, he demanded that they capture Panchala for him. On getting his fee, he made Drupada recall the unpleasant scene. Then he made a grand gesture of dividing Panchala and offered half of it to Drupada and rubbed salt on to the wounded ego of the erstwhile friend.
Drona thought he had settled scores. Little did he realise, that he had triggered off a chain of nasty events. Drupada performed a special Yajna to beget a son who would kill Drona. He aspired for his daughter Draupadi to wed Arjuna, the star student of Drona to beard the lion in his own den.
The immaturity of Drupada snowballed into a series of unfortunate events.
Equations in human relationships change from time to time. Any relationship can be taken forward only if there is mental maturity and mutual understanding.