Interesting similes in Mahabharata


Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1492; Dated 16th December 2014.

Hindus use sesame seeds or the white mustard seeds as comparison to show how small a thing is. They have even coined some phrases with that to belittle something.
(The demons terrifying Sita say): Let us devour and tear her to pieces dividing her up in pieces small as sesamum seeds (3-231-5)

(Mahabharata has several references to Sita, Rama etc and Ramayana has none on Mahabharata characters)
Avayor antaram viddhi merusarsapayor iva 1-69-3

Sakuntala travelling in the air, Dushyanta only on earth, differ as widely as Mt Meru and a mustard seed.

Grass is also used to belittle something. When the arrogant Nandas laughed at the bony, slender looking Chanakya stumbled upon some grass, Chanakya stopped and pulled out the grass from the earth and made a vow that he would root out the Nada dynasty like that grass. Later he helped to establish a new dynasty under the Mauryas. Great Tamil poet challenges God of Death to come near him so that he could crush him grass.
In the Mahabharata we have (Bhima’s grievances uttered to Yudhistra): By one handful of grass, you want to have Himalayas covered, O Yudhistra, you who want to restrain from war.

Trnaanaam mustinai kena himavantam tu parvatam
Channam icchasi kaunteya yo smaan sampavartum ichchasi (3-36-22)

Having been addressed thus by Ravana, Sita of auspicious face turned towards him, and having placed a straw beween (herself and Ravana) spoke to that demon.
This is an insult or expression of indifference to Ravana. Ravana is like a grass for Sita.
Valmiki Ramayana 3-56-1
Adhyatma Ramayana 5-2-31
Tulasidas’ Ramacaritamaanasa 5-9-3 also had the same expression.

Bhima’s challenge to Hidimba: In a moment today I will render this forest free of thorns (i.e. free from Hidimba’s atrocities-3-12-72)
Anyone giving troubles is considered thorns. It is used the same way in several other languages as well. In Tamil the proverb goes like this: a thorn must be removed by another thorn.

“One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning”, says James Russell Lowell
“But he that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the Rose”, says Anne Bronte.


(Yayati to Sarmishta): And in your beauty, I don’t find even as much as the point of a needle to be found fault with.
Rupe ca tena pasyaami suucyagram api ninditam -1-77-14

Sakuntala’s rebuke to Dushyanta):So long as an ugly man does not see his own face in the mirror, he considers himself more handsome than others. But when he sees his own ugly face in the mirror, than he precieves himself as inferior, not anybody else:

Viruupo yaavad aadarse naa’tmanah pasyate mukham
Manyate taavad aatmaanam anyebhyo ruupavattaram
Yadaa to mukham adarse vikrtam so ‘bhiviksate
Tade taram vijnaati aatmaanam ne taram janam

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