When caught in adversity the tendency is to feel convinced that the suffering is undeserving from each individual’s perspective. This is the plight of the Pandavas who are forced to face hardships despite their commitment to righteousness. They have become the constant target of Duryodhana’s greed and jealous nature, and this harsh destiny has deprived them of their princely life which is their birthright. Sage Vyasa skilfully weaves the stories of Nala, Rama and others in the Mahabharata to bring about a therapeutic value to the suffering of the Pandavas, Sri B. Sundarkumar said in a discourse.
These stories drive home the truth that there is no short-cut to escape sorrow. Sorrow and suffering are integral to human life, and one should learn to cope with them gradually. From a psychological angle, people learn to accept their sorrow when they come to know of the extent of suffering others have faced. They then realise that they are more fortunate. Moreover, there is no such thing as absolute sorrow. The intensity of grief is always relative. In the Mahabharata, the story of Nala and Damayanti, who were forced to suffer hardships and misery of extreme nature, comprises 28 chapters and details the course of their life. The episode of Jayadratha’s abduction of Draupadi causes great unrest in Yudhishtira’s mind. Then Sage Markandeya comes to see Yudhishtira and consoles him by relating the Ramayana in 20 chapters.
The underlying rasa in Rama’s story is the pathos arising from the depth of sorrow that the Rama and Sita undergo. Rama’s auspicious qualities have always been attractive and His commitment to truth and dharma highly inspirational in instilling the virtues of fortitude and equanimity. Much is to be gained by emulating Rama’s attitude towards joy and sorrow alike. The impact of sorrow is greatest when one is actually facing it. But with the passage of time the grief gradually loses its power to hurt just as objects appear big when viewed from close quarters and become smaller when distant. One is forced to continue with one’s existence despite the sorrow. The best way to deal with it is to engage in Atma vichara.