Kritagnatha Bhava (Gratefulness) is a state of mind born out of Compassion. It is not something to hold on to, as in to return the favour, or gesture that has a subtle meaning of bondage; though often, unnoticeable. That is altogether another thing. In fact, that itself is no longer gratitude, but referred to as Runattva Bhava (Indebtedness) which is born out of Guilt. And we know that no debt can carry an experience of joy and freedom but for a sense of obligation. Gratefulness reinstates while Indebtedness annihilates us. They both are from different roots and the outcome of experience is different. An act that is born out of Compassion always has joy and freedom in it, what arises from Guilt will carry resentment, discomfort and slavery in it.
When we hear someone say “I am indebted to you” then it is s a momentary expression and they make it into an obligation, to a point of stressfulness; forgetting the initial intent of an act which was to bring about joy and freedom itself. Sometimes, these kinds of expressions are held on so tightly in the mind that it lasts a lifetime, or sometimes even beyond.
In the Kurushetra war on the tenth day Bhishma was wounded by the arrows inflicted of Arjuna. The arrows had pierced the chest of the grand old man in such a way that his body was unable to touch the ground when he fell from the chariot. As he remained lying on the support of the arrows and his head was hanging. He requested Arjuna to make some provision and Arjuna immediately stuck three arrows to the ground beneath Bhishma’s head to support it.
Bhishma was bestowed with boon of “Iccha Mrithyu” (death when desired) by his father Santanu. Starting from that day Bhishma was on the bed of arrows for 58 days waiting for Uttarayana Punya Kala. The war ended eight days after Bhishma was injured. Sri Krishna along with Pandavas and Draupadi went to see Bhishma. Yudhisthira questions Bhishma about the Supreme to whom one has to surrender, then as an answer flows the lovely Thousand Names of Sri Hari, the famous Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra. Further while still on his bed of arrows, Bhishma clears the doubt on Dharma that Yudhishtira had. Draupadi was amazed and gave a sarcastic smile. She wondered how the grand old man of Kuru clan can now talk about Dharma now while at the Kuru Sabha when Dushasana was disrobing her he remained tight lipped.
Looking at Draupadi and knowing her qualm, Bhishma tells her that the arrows from Arjuna had leaked away all the blood which was produced due to the food consumed from the Kaurava kitchen. Here one has to understand that Bhishma did not mean to say that the food he consumed was the cause for him to stay loyal, but the word he had given to his step mother Satyavathi that he will safeguard the interest of the Kuru clan. This is what is called being “Indebted” to.
Just imagine what a person who says “I am indebted to a Party and not to the Public” may have to face in future…….!