A Lesson Of The Khandava Forest Doom's Fire
- Dr (Ms) Sharad Singh
Writer, Author & Social Activist
Blogger - "Climate Diary Of Dr (Ms) Sharad Singh"
We hurt nature. Nature is generous, it does not punish us. She also forgets our crimes but our own crimes punish us in the future. The best example of this is present in the epic “Mahabharata” in the form of the story of the doom's fire of Khandava forest. Two humans helped Agni to burn the Khandava forest but a forest tree provided protection to one of them. This is the difference between nature and man. Today, when large forests of the world are burning to ashes every year, we should learn a lesson from this story and become their protectors instead of leaving the forests to burn. So, let us once again remember the story of Khandava forest so that we can avoid repeating that mistake.
When we read Mahabharata, we find Krishna and Arjun standing in favor of truth and humanity. But something strange we find too when we read the incident of Khandava Forest. The difference between nature and human behavior is present in this story. Arjuna had helped Agnidev in burning an entire forest to ashes, while even after this incident, a tree had given shelter to the same Arjuna to hide his Gandiva bow. This is the difference between nature and human nature. Nature is sublime while man is selfish. Due to his selfishness, man never fails to harm nature. Once again remember the story of Khandava forest. In Mahabharat period Khandava Forest or Khandavaprastha is a rough area of rocky land on the western bank of Yamuna where people of Nagavanshi and Asura caste lived. In a way, despite being a part of Khandavaprastha, it is not a part of Hastinapur and to prevent Dhritrashtra from being accused of injustice, Pandavas were given Khandavaprastha, which Bhima, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadev did not like.
When there was discord between the Kauravas and the Pandavas regarding the division of the kingdom, on the recommendation of maternal uncle Shakuni, Dhritarashtra pacified the Pandavas for some time by giving them a forest named Khandavaprastha. There was a palace in this forest which was in ruins. Now the Pandavas were faced with the challenge of converting that forest into a city. There was a terrible forest all around the ruined palace. There was a rugged forest on the banks of river Yamuna named Khandava forest. Earlier there used to be a city in this forest, then that city was destroyed and only its ruins were left. A forest had developed around the ruins.
Once upon a time, when Lord Krishna and Arjuna were wandering on the banks of Yamuna, they met a very bright Brahmin of golden complexion. Krishna and Arjun saluted the Brahmin. After that Arjun said – “O Brahmadev! You have come to the kingdom of Pandavas, hence it is our duty to serve you. Tell me what service I can do for you.”
Hearing the words of Arjun, the Brahmin said – “O archer Arjun! I am very hungry. You make arrangements to satisfy my hunger. But my hunger is not ordinary hunger. I am fire and I want to satisfy my hunger by burning this Khandava forest. But Indra does not allow me to do so, to protect his friend Takshak Naga, who lives in the Khandava forest, he calms my brightness by causing cloud rain and I have to remain unsatisfied. Therefore, when I start burning the Khandava forest, you should stop Indra from raining clouds.”
On this Arjun said – “O Agnidev! I and my friend Krishna have the capability to fight with Lord Indra, but we do not have supernatural weapons to fight with him. If you provide us with supernatural weapons, we can fulfill your wish.”
Agnidev immediately called Varundev and ordered – “Varundev! You give to Arjun the Gandiva bow, the Akshaya Tunir, the Chakra and the chariot with the monkey flag given by King Som.” Varundev followed the orders of Agnidev and Agnidev started incinerating the Khandava forest with his fierce flame. The entire sky was filled with intense flames rising from the Khandava forest and the gods also became sad. To extinguish the fierce flame of fire, Lord Indra started raining heavily through his cloud channel, but Shri Krishna and Arjun immediately dried those clouds with their weapons. Enraged, Indra came to fight Arjun and Shri Krishna, but he had to be defeated. Agnidev started incinerating the forest with his many writhing tongues and Shri Krishna and Arjun were riding in a chariot over the forest and got ready to fight if anyone intervened. As soon as the fierce flames of Agnidev started burning the forest, all the terrible creatures, monsters, demons, ghosts, vampires etc., troubled by their heat, started running here and there to save their lives, but Shri Krishna's Chakra and Arjun's arrows did not let them escape.
The Khandava forest was inhabited by the demon May, who was the architect of Vishwakarma. Angered by the fire, the demon May came running to Arjun and started praying for the protection of his life. Arjun gave protection to the demon Maya. The Khandava forest continued to burn continuously for fifteen days. Only six creatures were saved from this fire, they were the Mayan demon, Ashwasena and four colorful birds.
Gandiva was a divine bow of Arjuna whose bow was created by Brahma. During his exile, Arjun could be immediately recognized because of his Gandiva bow, so he hid his bow in the Shami tree. The Shami tree did not think even for a moment that this was the same Arjun who had helped Indra in burning the Khandava forest. What I mean to say is that nature has always forgiven humans but we humans have always been cruel towards nature. We have not learned a lesson from the devastating forest fires that have occurred in the world's largest forests in the last few years. Even today we are not making as much efforts to save forests and trees as we should. Why do we forget that when a forest burns, countless wildlife also burn and die in it. Even though Indra had many evils, he tried to save the Khandava forest, whereas Arjun and Krishna, despite having many good qualities, became criminals by helping in burning the forests and wildlife. The consequences of which they had to suffer later on. Therefore, we should use our discretion to protect water, forest and land.