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Mahabharata war or Pathankot attack: Why are the sacrifices made only by the young?

Utkarsh Patel @utkarshmp

Updated: January 12, 2016, 8:04 PM IST
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The recent terror attack on the Pathankot IAF has focussed on two things – the massive intelligence failure and the death of young brave hearts. While the former is being glossed over, the latter has touched the hearts of many, more so in the times of 24x7 news channels. It’s heart-rending to see sobbing family members, small children with bleak futures staring in nothingness and ageing parents trying to get back on their feet to support families, when they themselves need the support.

The death of brave hearts should be a blot on the powers-that-be, whose incompetence is often the main reason for the deaths of lives that had not even lived a complete life. Sacrifices for the nation is a much touted phrase in our country, but wonder why the sacrifices are made by the young only and seldom by the old.


The epic Mahabharata throws up many an instance where young brave hearts have had to lay their lives, while the seniors have managed to save theirs and often thanks to the younger generation. Abhimanyu, ventured into the Chakravyuhu with the permission of Yudhishtir, who knew that he was too young to face the might of Dronacharya who was a master in preparing such formations. The death of Abhimanyu saved the day, besides the senior Pandavas. Ghatotgacha, the son of Bhima too was ‘sacrificed’ to save Arjuna. It was well known to all that if Ghatotgacha was unleashed on the Kaurava army, they would have no option but for Karna to use the divine weapon which he had planned to use against Arjuna, and kill Ghatotgacha. In his death, Ghatotgacha not only saved Arjuna, but inflicted a heavy casualty on the Kaurava army.

Finally, Barbareek, who was a grandson of Bhima had set out to participate in the war of Kurukshetra promising his mother that he would fight for the weaker side. When Krishna meets him and sees his immense talent and learnt that he would fight only for the weaker side, he posed a dilemma for Barbareek – whichever side he joined, would make the opposite side, weaker. Barbareek was in a fix. In this state of dilemma, Krishna made him agree to be sacrificed as was the practice during those times to sacrifice a brave young man to Goddess Kali prior to any battle. Barbareek today is better known as Khatu Shyam Baba in the North. A similar story is prevalent in South, which is about Iravan, who is another son of Arjun, again asked to be sacrificed prior to the battle.

It sure is unfair to see young lives being laid down for the incompetence and erroneous decisions of the seniors. Be it Lt. Col. E. K. Niranjan, or the Garud Commando Gursevak Singh, or Lt. Col. Sandeep Unnikrishnan, the NSG Commando, who was killed in the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, besides many unknown army and other personnel.

It’s time to ask uncomfortable questions – why was there such a massive intelligence failure? How did such a huge cache of arms and ammunitions move into the IAF base? How was the error of only 5 terrorists having attacked arrived at, when there were more? Finally, what is the future of the families of the lost lives? If the epic Mahabharat has not answered this question, except in the case of Abhimanyu, whose son Parikshit, goes on to become the future King of Hastinapur, we of the 21st century should not let the avoidable sacrifices of our youngsters go to waste.

We all want to know!

First Published: January 12, 2016, 4:51 PM IST