The Mahabharata  is perhaps the oldest  epic  tale.  It  tells  the story of  a great family war. There are two ways of looking at it - the first is that of an event which took place many thousands of years ago, and the other of something happening every moment in our lives. My teacher always told me that every aspirant on the spiritual path has to fight his  own inner  Mahabharata  and that  all the characters in the drama are lying within our minds or  our psychic nature and the great book shows the spiritual  science  of  how to recognise  each one of  them  within us and to free our consciousness from them.

The first recorded date in human history is 326 B.C. when Alexander stood on the banks of  the river  Jhelum  ready to start his  conquest of  Bharata.  A story goes that one day Alexander  lost  his  way in the  jungle.  He followed the  flow  of  the river and came upon an old man lying completely naked enjoying the rays of the sun by the riverside. Alexander stood by his side figuring out who it was, the old man opened his eyes, looked at Alexander and told him to step  aside as he was blocking the rays of  the sun. Alexander  was shocked,  he was the king of  nearly the  whole world and  here  a  naked  fakir was talking  to him in this  way. Then Alexander looked into his eyes and all his vanity vanished, the fakir’s name  was Diogenes. Alexander said ‘I am the king of the world and you an ordinary beggar, but when I look  in your eyes it seems to me that you are the emperor and I, just an ordinary  beggar.’ To  this,  Diogenes  replied  that ‘all  men spend their  whole lives asking, and you desire the whole world, and so you are the greatest beggar. I am free of desire, and so I am an emperor who has the greatest treasure of all.’

Alexander asked him to give him this treasure, and Diogenes told him to take off his clothes, lie down and enjoy the sun. But Alexander said that ‘I still have  to conquer  China, I will  do so quickly and come back to learn  from you.’ It  is said that Diogenes looked at him with great  compassion and told him that  by then it would be too late. Alexander’s men felt homesick and he turned back without conquering  China. A few days later  on the borders of  Persia,  he fell victim to a great fever, and it is said that in his dying hours he remembered Diogenes and of the great opportunity  he lost,  and he gave instructions  that ‘when I am buried keep my  two empty palms  outside  the grave, that I was the  king of  the whole world but died an ordinary beggar.’

See  the  mind  of   Alexander  who  wanted  every  inch  of   the  world  and  see Duryodhana  who was not  willing to part  with even  a  pin point  of  land  to the Pandavas. In all of us, this Duryodhana is present.  The Sanskrit derivative, Duh- yuddham-sah means the warrior who cannot  be defeated.  Desire  to own things can never be satisfied but we  all feel that,  in this life we  will fulfil all our desires, knowing  fully well   that  no  one  has  ever  fulfilled theirs.  But we   can free  our consciousness  from desire  and then kill the ego that wants more and more, who in everyone is Duryodhana.

What  did  Alexander  see  in Diogenes’  eyes -  he saw the  epitome  of  human consciousness  which in the  Mahabharata  is called  Krishna. These  are the two poles  open  to  all  humans,   either  one  can  let  oneself  fall  to  the  level  of Duryodhana or  one can rise  in consciousness  and  be one with Krishna. All the other characters fall in between these two.

The Mahabharat
  brings  to light all the people  living in our minds. They all lie in our lower psychic  nature; when we are cunning,  we  are Shakuni;  when we  are
angry and animal-like, we are Dushashana; when we  are jealous and covet other peoples’  things,  we  are Kritvarma - Krishna’s  kinsmen  who desired  Satyabhama who was Krishnas wife; when we  are obstinate  about anything  (even truth), we are Bhishma whose pratigya was the cause of the whole war - the world is full of Bhishmas who invite pain and downfall through their obstinacy.

Arjuna  is the inner  seeker  who through  hard work has come in contact  with his inner guru, Krishna.

Once the inner teacher reveals himself to the disciple, he takes the reigns of the chariot of his life in his hands and leads him to conquer the lower psychic nature which is done  in a  symbolic 18  day  war.  Krishna is our inner  teacher  who is waiting for  us to call upon him. The Mahabharata can become a work-manual for all of us to reach that highest state of individual consciousness which remains as a potentiality in all of us.