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Home Social Media Romila Thapar's fantasy fiction: Claims Yudhisthira of Mahabharata was inspired by Mauryan emperor Ashoka

Romila Thapar’s fantasy fiction: Claims Yudhisthira of Mahabharata was inspired by Mauryan emperor Ashoka

A young Ashoka had brutally executed his brothers (99 of them, as per claims), all the sons of his father Bindusara, except the youngest, to ascend the throne of Magadha empire.

It is amazing how the ’eminent historians’ whose writings and ideals have been dominating the Indian textbooks and mainstream thought-process have managed to fool us all these decades by claims and parallels that are not only completely imaginary but also the complete opposite of the real picture.

An old video of ‘historian’ Romila Thapar has been doing the rounds on social media where she discusses how Yudhisthira had wanted to renounce the king’s crown as described in Mahabharat’s ‘Shanti Parva’. She claims that some scholars think that Yudhisthira may have had the image of Ashoka in his mind. She also adds that Yudhisthira’s thought of ‘renouncing’ power and authority is a fundamental of Buddhism.

As many people from social media pointed it out, not only Romila’s claim is completely ignoring a few millennia between Mahabharata and Mauryan emperor Ashoka, but it also has many other flaws.

For example, Romila claims that the idea of renouncing power is fundamental to Buddhism. It is indeed a twisted narrative as Hindu scripture and teachings hold the idea of ‘Tyaga’ or renunciation at very high regard and there are numerous examples of  Kings renouncing power and spending lives in ‘Tapasya’.

Also, projecting Ashoka as the ideal of renunciation is also a flawed argument because Ashoka had, as per some claims, only expressed regret at the violence and futility of wars after the Kalinga war, he had never ‘renounced’ anything, instead, A young Ashoka had brutally executed his brothers (99 of them, as per claims), all the sons of his father emperor Bindusara, except the youngest, to ascend the throne of Magadha empire.

Yudhisthira had fought the war in Kurukshetra to establish Dharma and end Duryodhan’s brutal regime. The importance of duty over personal emotions forms the basis of the teachings of Mahabharata. Comparing that and claiming that it was probably inspired by Ashoka’s fierce quest to hold power and assertive rule for decades conquering one kingdom after other, is perhaps just a small glimpse of the twisted narratives that have been peddled by these so-called historians all these years.

It is also notable here that Ashoka’s ‘regret and desire to renounce power’ are also highly debated and a considerable number of scholars believe that the narrative was added later to project Ashoka as a ‘good’ king. Sanjeev Sanyal’s book ‘Ocean of Churn’ explains this from a very practical point of view.

The outrageous claims of Romila Thapar also have spawned memes and jokes on Twitter.

Romila Thapar and her supporters among the left-liberal cabal were outraged when the JNU administration had recently asked all emeritus professors above 75 years of age, including Romila, to submit their CVs. As per the cabal, Romila is too great a personality to be bothered with mundane administrative processes, despite getting the payments and the facilities that come with the post.

The fact that the process was in accordance to the Rule 32(g) of JNU, which says that after Professor Emeritus attains the age of 75 years, the EC will review the continuation of the status, was apparently too irrelevant for left-liberal senses of entitlement.

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