Just as we approach the season 7 of the very famous TV series and IMDB top rated “Game of Thrones,” based on the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, it struck to me that some part or the other of Game of Thrones’ morals and Mahabharata (Indian epic written by Ved Vyasa) teachings in one way or the other very similar. For starters, the complexity and interconnectivity of stories and how they transit forming a lavished pattern of tales and leaving the reader awe-struck. Mahabharata has numerous tales and background tracks and each character is reader’s favorite as we approach the part where that character plays an important role in the story and same is the case with Game of Thrones. There are many similarities between the both but we’ll discuss the top 3 as we move further in this article.
- Love for Family: Evidently, all the wars, houses antagonizing each other, deceptions and treachery was all for nothing but family. Had there not been family involved, we would have seen no struggle and no stories. How can we talk about love for family and not talk about Cersei Lannister? The woman who took the entire realm for the enemy just for her kids and her betrothed brother. The faith taking his son away? No problems! Wildfire! Boom! All the noblemen and the faith vanquished.
Auburn hair lady abducted his brother? Ha-ha, name it and swoosh! (*rains of castamere playing*).
Tracing to Mahabharata, Bheem (nephew to the King of Hastinapur) vowed to kill each and every one of the 100 sons of Dhritrashtra (the King of Hastinapur) himself because the eldest son of him, Duryodhan, defiled the integrity of his wife, Draupadi, when Yudhishtira (the King of Indraprastha) lost to him in a game of dice. And guess what, Bheem was one beast of a man. Not even fumbled once on the battleground.
- Politics: If scabbard and swords and bows and arrows couldn’t do anything, it was time for some behind-the-back strategy. Lord Krishna, considered to be the greatest politician ever in the history, truly knew his way around things. How to manipulate people, remove obstacles, use righteousness as the perfect tool to get the work done, he was a master. If it wasn’t for him, history would have been different. But as saintly as people consider him, I guarantee you he was not. Even morality doesn’t declare any winners long as both sides have loyal warriors. And just so it happens, Krishna knew how to remove them from the way without disobeying righteousness and using mystical powers of his own. Kauravas had 100 brothers and some maestros who would have finished the war in 1 day if Lord Krishna had not been in the war.
- Dronacharya (the guru of both Kauravas and Pandavas), who was believed to never miss an arrow from his aim and had most powerful weapons of all times. Was forced to drop his weapons hearing the false news of sad demise of his son Ashwathama from Yudhishtira (who was believed to never lie). Believing him, Dronacharya dropped his weapons and surrendered. Later, it came to the knowledge that it was fallacy and politics by Krishna.
- Bhishma Pitamah (8th son of Kuru) – He was believed to have celestial weapons from Lord Indra and a boon of potency. He could not die as long as he wanted to die! With the consent of him, Lord Krishna put Shikhandi (reincarnation of goddess Amba), who was half-man before him. He refused to fight a half-man and dropped weapons. Arjun put him aside from the battleground on a bed of arrows.
- Suryaputra Karna– The only warrior believed to have conquered all kings in every diction of the world, single handed. He was unstoppable in the battlegrounds ensuring a victory for Kauravas when Lord Krishna taught Arjun some valuable life teachings (came to be known as the holy book, Bhagwad Gita). So, Arjun believed it was just to disobey the war rules and killed Karna treacherously when his cart wheel was stuck in bog
Master politicians are believed to have gained power in the world with words. That’s what is common between Lord Krishna of Mahabharata and Lord Petyr Baelish of Game of Thrones. He came from nothing. A sell sword’s boy and acquired land, wealth, and army using his cunning and shrewd mind and obviously, much-respected cleverness.
- Battle of Bastards – What better than to put someone in danger and then help them and be the hero! Mastering this technique, Petyr Baelish stormed in with Knights of the Vale when Wildling army of Jon Snow was surrounded by a circle of infantry (death circle) and was piling up on dead bodies. We have to give Lady Sansa some credits for playing here as well!
- Betraying Ned Stark – Rivalry with Littlefinger could be dangerous. One way or the other, Petyr Baelish always knew how to get work done. To climb up the position in court, either wait for the authority to die or get them killed without having to face any accusation. Stealthily.
- He is loyal to himself only – Betraying Ned Stark to win Lannister’s trust and later on turning against Lannisters by getting the King killed due to poison in his wine. Again, stealthily. Baelish was a puppet master and left no proof at what he did. Making full use of the saying, “Enemies’ enemies are friends,” Baelish was seen to have played the game diligently by the end of season 6 and now has a good repo everywhere. Be it in King’s Landing or in the North. He really has no enemies in Westeros. That’s how you are supposed to play the game and not revolt against the King in an open rebellion and get killed.
- Courage and Bravery: If a family is the root of war, politics weakens you mentally these two moral values will always save your day. Be it Jon Snow taking up fights against White Walkers or Cersei taking fights against the whole Kingdom in rebellion, it requires immense courage to take a stand for yourself and even more quantity of bravery to back it up. Politics has been played, families have been wrecked but courage is the car and vengeance is the fuel! Both of the books clearly reflect this value over anything else. When we talk about courage, these characters will always leave a mark at our foreheads.
- Arya Stark and Abhimanyu: Both are considered to be kids, but ready to take fights against the strongest enemies, for their fathers, without even a glitch of terror. Arya’s admirable courage throughout book 2 to 6 shows how powerful vengeance can make a man! It was always Arya against the world from everyone’s point of view after Robb Stark and Catelyn Tully Stark got betrayed by Freys and Boltons.
With Arya’s list of names and her becoming a master silent assassin, vengeance can’t wait any longer.
Many of the same qualities were reflected by Abhimanyu in Mahabharata when the prod ingenious mind of his took fights from great Kaurava warriors in Chakravyuh. Died by the lack of knowledge, Abhimanyu left a deep impression on his father’s mind to seek vengeance.
- Ned Stark and Yudhishtira: Man of honors. Nothing is greater than honor for both of them, not even themselves.
- Gregor Clegane and Duryodhan: Considered to be the bad guys, both of them committed crimes and stood proudly for them. Slashing away enemy after enemy, I found them both to be similar in terms of courage and bravery.
- Danerys Targaryen and Arjun: Service before self and right before wrong. From their personal point of views, all they ever did was right and just. Dany claimed to herself the rightful heir of Westeros and King Robert to be usurper on the throne who took away their land and home; she fought valiantly and continues to fight just to go back to home. Arjun is more or less driven by the fire of Indraprastha getting lost and his brother being removed as the King of Indraprastha. He wanted to go home as well from the exile.
In the end, a major thing that I noticed, that remains the deep and hidden core value of both the books was that in a place where everyone is trying to eat each other’s food, everyone stays hungry. Even Lord Krishna was killed and perhaps he was the only god ever that got killed from unnatural reasons or without the desire to die. The thirst for power leaves nothing but skid marks on the long sought legacy, dissolving your name in the dust that has settled forever. There are no clear heroes in both the books and no person that excels in righteousness and morals. Not even the god himself!
The fight is not between houses; fight is between losers who are trying to portray them as winners. In any case, 7.16 is near and along comes the winter!
(Self-proclaimed brainstormer and a GOT addict)