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Amba-Shikhandi: What price will you pay to be vindicated?

Updated: Feb 27, 2022


Blog #6: The terrible price of holding grudges

  • Do you hold grudges?

  • Do you sit in a corner plotting vendetta?

  • Do you plan to hurt people?

  • Do you worry about the cost of your vendetta?

  • Does it hurt you internally to hold grudges?

Mahabharata Context: It is important to understand the mind of this proud, beautiful daughter of the King of Kashi (Varanasi). Amba was in love with the king of Salva but she quietly kept it below the radar until her swayamvar ceremony where she would choose him. Alas, Prince Bhishma of Hastinapur comes in on his horse to attend the swayamvar as a surrogate for prince Vichitravirya, defeats King Salva during the swayamvara and takes the three sisters to Hastinapur on his chariot. While on the chariot, Amba shares this secret love story with Bhishma and he immediately asks her to return to King Salva who now rejects her due to his defeat by Bhishma. Amba somehow loved Prince Salva too much to not dwell on his inability to take her back after Prince Bhishma sent her to her lover. Amba forgives King Salva and turns her attention to Prince Bhishma. She now has only one recourse to salvage her pride and status, getting married to Bhishma himself. Due to Bhishma's vow of celibacy, he refuses, creating a stalemate. Amba loses her fight to defend her honor to the powerful Bhishma, self-immolates herself with only one goal in life (or afterlife), the defeat and death of the invincible Bhishma. Amba's deep grudge and resentment results in a karmic debt on her soul and she was born again and again to try defeat him. Eventually, she is reborn as the transgender Shikhandi to carry out her vendetta. Bhishma dies due to Amba's shielding of Prince Arjuna in battle and her arrow is the first to strike his chest.

Our null hypothesis of the Amba persona:

A woman has every right in the world to protect her dignity and to be treated with respect by men. This is unconditional, no ifs or buts can justify this. Amba was a princess looking to choose her own man that she loved and loved her back. Princess Amba was treated as a tradeable asset not a human being by Bhishma and the grudge is justified. But now, here is the problem, it consumed her and made her vengeful defining her character in this one single behavior. Vengeance which came out of a deep grudge. She wanted to get even. She was so obsessed with revenge that she was born again and again until she was vindicated.

Lesson Learned

We have all held grudges or had our feeling hurt by folks we love or perfect strangers at different times in our lives. We get miffed, throw a tantrum or a fit. After all, we are only human. However, we hurt ourselves several times more than we can ever hurt those who hurt us. Holding grudges is so hurtful to our psyche that it generates negative energy cursing us to be born again and again until we let go of grudges. The better behavior that we should aspire for is a harder attribute, forgiveness. Not just accepting an apology but believing it. So to those who have hurt me, I say I forgive you with folded hands. To those I have hurt, willingly or inadvertently, please forgive me, please. Now ask yourself, what % of Amba do you have in you? More importantly, are you willing to acknowledge her presence in you?

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