Democracy and Dharma

It was a clear day and a bright sun shone in the sky as Krishna wheeled his chariot across the vast motionless fields of Kurukshetra. It was the first day of the war, and Krishna was prepared to guide the Pandavas to victory. He had been excited before but now as he gazed upon the battlefield he was presented with an unanticipated problem. Excellent strategist that he was he believed he had prepared for every possible development in the war, but he had to concede that even he had not seen this coming. He sighed as he looked at the empty battlefield devoid of both the armies, where was everyone? He couldn’t fight the largest war ever, all by himself.

Krishna sat in his chariot for a few hours staring at the horizon, hoping for the armies to show up. Then feeling like a petulant child who had been stood up by all his friends for his birthday party, he turned his chariot towards Hastinapura determined to find out why no one had turned up for the war.

Krishna rode to the palace of Hastinapura. He could hear a huge commotion coming from the Rajya Sabha. He entered the hall, the blind king Dhritarashtra was sitting on the throne. The Kauravas had taken the seats on the left side of the throne and the Pandavas along with a band of other smaller kings were on the right-hand side. The Pandavas seemed to be agitated and wereshouting at Dhritirsahtra.

“Please!” he was saying cocking his head towards the Pandavas, “Please one person speak at a time.”

The Pandavas did not seem to hear him as they all continued to shout at him.

“Please, this is a Rajya Sabha, not a marketplace. Please behave like ministers. Please return to your seats.”

As if in response to this Bheema began to chant, “Kaurava Janata Party Murdabad! Murdabad!” All the other Pandavas took up the chant, “Kaurava Janata Party, Down down, down down!”

Dhritarashtra shook his head so violently that his sunglasses threatened to fly off, “this is not how the opposition should behave! This is shameful for all of us!”

Yudhisthira raised a hand and the Pandavas quieted down. “Honorable speaker, We believe our demand to give a special status to the state of Indraprastha is a very reasonable demand. We would like to bring the bill for a vote right now.”

“Yes…” Dhritarashtra agreed, “But your bill has been scheduled for later. We need to follow the schedule.”

This comment led to a renewal of the shouts from the Pandavas, “Kaurava Janata Party Muradabad Murdabad!” This time, Arjuna seemed to be rather vocal in his protests.

“No, No!” Dhritrashtra nodded, “I will not allow this. Please return to your seats. First order of business is to discuss the budget for the metro in Hastinapura.”

The protests intensified. “This is shameful behavior! The Rajya Sabha will be adjourned for the next twenty minutes.” Dhritarashtra woke up and left.

The booing and shouting continued for a minute. Then the Pandavas also made to leave the Rajya Sabha.

Arjuna saw Krishna as they were leaving and waved at him. Krishna approached him and stopped him, “What is going on here? Why is everyone not on the battlefield?”

Arjuna looked puzzled, “Did you not get the memo? We canceled the War. We decided to settle for a democracy. This is our first parliamentary session, we are in the opposition for now, but we will definitely change that in the next election.” Arjuna had a distant look on his face.

“What? What are you talking about? You are supposed to fight the Kauravas!” Krishna said.

“Oh, believe me, we are! We are fighting them tooth and nail against every bill they have been introducing in the Rajya Sabha. They do not want to grant Indraprastha special status. But we are determined to get it!” Arjuna balled his fists.

“But you are supposed to fight their Adharma and bring balance to the dharma!” Krishna looked around for support and found none.

“Yes! I agree completely!” Arjuna nodded, “But it is difficult to do so being in the opposition. Even our portfolios are not very important!”

“What?” Krishna was clearly lost.

“Yeah….Yudhisthira is the environmental minister. Can you believe that? And I have…I have Cultural affairs!” Arjuna looked at his feet, “My stint as Brihannala recently came to light, it has not been good for my reputation.

“Bheema has Food Ministry, though, he is happy with that…”Arjuna said changing the topic.

“Why do you guys even have portfolios? You are in the opposition…” Krishna asked.

“Shhhh….” Arjuna silenced him and looked around, “Don’t say that out aloud, they haven’t figured it all out yet!”

“NO! You have to fight the Kauravas!” Krishna sounded like a broken record, “I even wrote a philosophical doctrine to guide you…”Krishna sounded dejected.

“Oh, is it! Please give it to my PA, he will go through it and bring it to me.”

A bell rang somewhere and all the MPs began to return to the Rajya Sabha.

“But, But, But…”Krishna said, but no was paying him any attention.

Krishna hung around and watched the session proceed. The Pandavas continued to chant “Indraprastha! Indraprastha!’ trying their best to disrupt the proceedings. Duryodhana was reading the details of the Hastinapura Metro rail project as well as he could over all the commotion.

Krishna could not let this go on any longer! He walked to the center of the Rajya Sabha and blew his conch. The assembly fell silent.

“My dear friends, We have to have a war to bring balance to Dharma.” He said, “Yada Yada hi Dharmasya…Glanir Bhavati Bharata….”

“No, No, No!” Dhritarashtra interrupted him, “Sir if you have something to say please send a request to the speaker. You can’t just start talking like this. This is not a marketplace.” He sounded disappointed in Krishna. “NO, right now we are discussing the budget for Hastinapur Metro. Please go back to your seat.”

“But!….” Krishna tried to continue, but Duryodhana was talking again and the Pandavas were chanting.

Krishna did not know what to do. He used the only resort that was left to him. He revealed his Vishwaswarupam. He grew humungous and towered over all of the creation. He had a hundred heads and thousand arms. His heads spewed fire and ashes and sinners walked into his fiery faces.

“I am eternal! I am the truth! I can neither be created nor destroyed! Behold the truth and tremble!” he said in a galactic voice.

Hoping this had had the desired effect, he shrunk back to the normal size.

Everyone in the Rajya Sabha blinked at him.

“Ok, let us get over with this!” Dhritarashtra sounded tired.

All the MPs in the assembly joined together and grew into a humongous terrible vision. They had a thousand small nibbling mouths that were nibbling at everything in creation, and they had millions of hands that were transferring everything in creation from one hand to another.

“We are the government! We are without beginning and without end. We are everywhere and nowhere. We are cyclical and yet eternal. We are the breaking news and the sensational gossip. You cannot escape us. You can bribe us but you cannot escape us!” They shouted in a universal voice.

Krishna shrunk back. He did not know what to do or say. He walked out of the Rajya Sabha and sat down dejected.

When the session was over Arjuna came and stood towering over Krishna.

“What is the matter, Krishna?”

“I do not know what to do!” Krishna said looking up to Arjuna.

“Don’t worry, I am here to guide you!” Arjuna said, “What you have to do is start a party! Start a grass roots level party and become its leader…”

Krishna joined his hands and listened to the wisdom flowing out of Arjuna’s mouth.

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