Dangers of gambling

The Mahabharata has many messages for us. One of them is that we should never gamble, said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse. The Mahabharata story had its origin in the unwise act of Yudhishthira, who gambled everything away, including his family. He not only gambled, but his bet was with a trickster. Yudhishthira staked his family in the gamble, and this was what led to a whole chain of unfortunate events in the lives of the Pandavas, ultimately culminating in the Kurukshetra war.

For every story there is some precursor. At the core of the Mahabarata story lies a warning about the dangers of betting. This is seen in another story, in the Adi Parva of Vyasa’s Mahabharata. Here the story of Kadru and Vinata is told. The two were sisters, married to sage Kashyapa. Kadru was the cunning one, while Vinata was naïve. One day, the two sisters saw Uchaisravas, the divine horse. Vinata remarked on how white the horse was. Kadru saw in this remark an opportunity to torment her sister. So, she said, “It is white all over, but has a back tail.” She also challenged Vinata and said that if Vinata were proved wrong, then she would have to be Kadru’s slave. The clever Kadru asked her sons, who were all snakes, to drape themselves around the tail of the horse, to make it appear black. When the sons did this, the tail appeared black, and Vinata had to admit that her sister was right. Vinata then became Kadru’s slave. She was ill-treated by Kadru, and until her powerful son Garuda rescued her, she remained a slave.

In agreeing to Kadru’s bet, Vinata made a grave mistake. We should not think of ourselves as slaves to anyone. We are the servants of Lord Narayana alone. That is perfectly natural. Enslavement to anyone else is wrong.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 6:56:56 AM |

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