Learning about Ancient Civilization from the Indian Mahabharata
I believe that the Mahabharata historically teaches us about ancient Indian civilization wonderfully. Whether the epic really happened or not, many in present day India really do believe in the mystical world of god, goddesses, and god-like warrior kings. For them to have such faith in the epic says a lot about their culture, which is rich of soul and in my opinion imagination. Is it safe to say that some of the cultural make-up exhibited in the Mahabharata such as male and female roles pass on to today India? I think so. Of course India has grown much since the telling of the Mahabharata, but through the lives of the Dhritarashtra and Pandu's families we can see how historically ancient Indians thought, which may or may not flow into how they think today, but it's an interesting concept to ponder. In this essay I will discuss the male and female roles within the ancient royal families and back-up my opinions with stories from the Mahabharata.
Due to the importance of dharma males roles differed, but for most the male was a hunter and provider for his family. Besides the time when Yudhisthira embarrassed Draupadi with his gambling issue, one male role was to protect his wife. The Pandavas wife traveled with them and they cared so much for her that they would kill on her command. For example, when Kichaka pursued Draupadi even after her warnings of her five husbands Bhima, one of the Pandavas, took care of the problem by squishing Kichaka into a round ball of flesh. Through most of the epic the Pandavas tried to protect their wives from danger, but there is only so much you can do in times of war.
Another male responsibility was to obtain wives, which can produce sons so that the kingdom could live on. In the Mahabharata in order for a king to obtain a princess to make into his queen the king would have to do some sort of task asked by the princesses father. When Arjuna won Draupadi he had to string a bow and hit a target. Sometimes the princesses father already know who they want their daughter to marry. The bow that Arjuna strung was meant to be strung only by him, because only his strength could do so. The king Drupada did not believe that the Pandavas had died in the fire so he made this task especially for Arjuna to find the brothers alive. His plan worked.
The male roles for the main characters in the epic, which were kings, were to be skilled in battle. It just seems that for a kingdom to be prosperous its king would have to know how to defend his land. The last hundred pages or so of my version of the book tells of the skills the kings could offer in the giant family battle between Dhritarashtra?s family and of the Pandava brothers. The Pandava brothers? warrior skills were that Arjuna was a marvelous archer, Bhima was a strong as a giant, Yudhisthira was gifted with the spear, and Sahadeva was excellent with the sword along with his brother...