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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wildlife in the Mahabharata Age

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Hunting and Killing as well as protecting wildlife have been a part of Ancient Cultures. This is evident through different pieces of writings of that period. Here is one instance of Mahabharata.

King Dushyant of Puru Dynasty has been reported to run hunting expeditions with his soldiers. Khandavavana, a reserve forest full of wildlife is reported to have been burnt during Mahabharata age. On the other hand Mahabharata itself contains a fable in Vanaparva which has been based on the theme of conservation.The concept of keeping forest reserves for state animals including elephants was developed by Kautilya himself, the important historic personality.

One of the principal characters of Mahabharata, Bheem has been reported uprooting trees and killing verities of animals while wandering during Agyatvas or the sojourn for twelve years. He was with his four brothers and wife of Arjuna, Droupadi.He has even been reported to catch a huge python and attempted to kill the same.Mrigaya or hunting has been reported as a chief occupation of Pandava brothers during the sojourn in different forests. The warrior class of the historic period is reported to hunt and kill numerous animals. Bali, who was a monkey king, is reported to have been killed with justification.

In Mahabharata alone during twelve years of sojourn, Pandavas decided to live in the beautiful forest named Dwaitvana. It was a dense forest full of trees of tamal, Tal, mango, kadamba, sal etc. This forest had a pond in the centre. Pandavas were thrilled to see herds of huge elephants and flocks of deer moving fearlessly in the forest area. Pandavas started killing wild animals till one day Yudhisthira had a strange dream including helpless animals preying before him for protection against his brothers’ acts of hunting and killing of innocent animals. Their eyes were full of tears and they were unable to speak due to fear. When Yudhisthira assured them of full protection they requested them to leave the forest and to have mercy on the remaining few of them. During the following day Yudhisthira asked his brothers to have mercy on the innocent animals and to leave the forest for elsewhere promising never to kill a single animal onwards.

Since, a man cannot create a single animal on his own he does not have a right to kill any one created by nature. What a man needs today is the compassion and wisdom not to say never to clear forests, the homes of animals provided to them by nature, and never to harm or to kill any animal.


Key Words: wildlife, conservation, Mahabharata, culture

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