Sunday, 30 October 2011

Time for strategy - Part I

On the appointed day, the royal Panchala entourage set forth on their grand journey to Rishi Bharadvaja’s ashram.

Author’s note: By any standard, a journey from present day Bareilly, Uttar Pradhesh, India to Kalesar National Park, Haryana, India, traversing nearly 400 kms, in 3500 BC using the most basic carts would have been grand.

The party travelled through lush plains that was their land, watered by the many tributaries of the mighty Saraswati and Yamuna, passing through one small settlement after another. As they passed through each settlement, it became more and more apparent to Dabhiti that the Panchala populace, though large, could hardly be expected to turn up in battle.

Around the fifth day, the entourage crossed over into what was Anu territory (modern day western Haryana, India). Abhyavartin Cayamana had arranged for an emissary to greet the Panchalas and convey his well wishes. These were good tidings, noted Dabhiti and hoped would prove critical in shaping alliances in the future.

Sometime late on day ten of the journey, the party reached the ashram and were warmly welcomed by Payu, son of the rishi. Payu made sure the visitors were well settled and informed them that the Rishi would meet them early next morning.

Just after day break the following day, Payu escorted Vadhryasva and Dabhiti to a spot close to the river where Rishi Bharadvaja awaited them. As they neared the Rishi, the two guests went down on their knees as a mark of respect.

“I have deliberately chosen this spot for our discussions, away from prying eyes and earshot of everyone. If you do need anything, food or drink, let Payu know. He will wait here with us although at a distance”, began Rishi Bharadvaja.

Dabhiti briefed the Rishi of the many serious problems the Panchalas were facing. The imminent attack by the Vrcivans, the frosty relations between Srnjaya and Vadhryasva, Bribu’s warning of the threat of the Dasa king Sambara and North Panchala not having an heir.

“So tell me, what is more important, the rajan or the janapadha?” Bharadvaja asked of Vadhryasva.

Both Dabhiti and Vadhryasva were stunned by the directness of the question. “I think you already know the answer, your question betrays that you know the answer”, replied Vadhryasva.

“How so?”

“If you were sure I would choose rajan over janapadha, you would not have asked this question.”

Bharadvaja nodded in agreement and smiled, indicating he was impressed with the rajan. After all, how many kings choose kingdom over self?

“Rajan, you do realize, that you are in a position of little or no advantage.”


“Both Mudugala, your father and you, have done much for the upliftment and well being of your people, but have completely ignored the basic need to protect them. Your army exists only in name and save for a few bravehearts such as Bhumanyu, there is none that can strike fear in the mind of your enemies.”

“It will take several years of enlisting and training before your army can be formidable once again. Till such time, North Panchala is of no strategic importance to anyone.

“Our people would be more than willing to sacrifices their lives for pride and honour, Rishivar” retorted an offended Vadhryasva.

“We are gathered here to see how the Panchalas can win the war for supremacy of the Arya. And the only way you will help me find the answers is if you detach your emotions and ego.”

“Remember, the brave win battles but it is the wise that win wars.”

Notes & ReferencesA hint of how reverence was displayed in those days is provided in the very first hymn of Mandala 6.

RV 06.001.6
Dear priest among mankind, adorable Agni hath seated him, joy-giver, skilled in worship.
Let us approach thee shining in thy dwelling, kneeling upon our knees, with adoration.

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