Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mahabharata/Jaya Series - 1

Off late, I have been hooked onto the greatest Indian epic of Mahabharata originally known as Jaya. Reading Devdutt Pattnaik's "Jaya" (read it twice) provides you the understanding why this epic was not actually called Mahabharata by Sage Vyasa. After that, I have downloaded and watched twice Mahabharata - TV Series which was played in Indian television channels in 1988-99. It was well made and the Geeta Saar episodes too were pretty well laid. Of course, they do not tell the complete story. So Arjuna and Yuddhistir's quarrels, Shikandi becoming a proper man later and Kunti's polity at having stopped Madri from using the chants after the birth of twins are not shown. The biggest injustice was that the last test of Yuddhistir was excluded. The greatest lesson of the epic was taken off.

I then read C. Rajagopalachari's translation and some poorer works like "The palace of Illusions" (Epic through the eyes of Draupadi) and "Mahabharata through the Eyes of Bhimsen". I am looking forward to reading "Mrintyunjay" which is a retelling of the epic through the eyes of Karna, the biggest tragic hero in the Epic.

So what is Mahabharata/Jaya about? I have read that Mahabharata has all the situations/dilemmas a human life can come across. I cannot confirm that but yes, it does speak about eunuchs, impotency, truth above love, transvestites, man changing to a woman, slavery, etc. among many other spiritual and societal conflict.

The more you read or hear it, it reveals so much more. Of course, Bhagavad Gita was born out this epic.

There are so many spiritual lessons that we can learn from this epic if we take it metaphorically. Kurukshetra is the land where the great war for upholding Dharma (way of righteousness, way of Truth). This land can be implied as the mind/heart of you, an individual. You have all your five qualities (Pandavas) and if guided by the Intellect (Self - Krishna) you might be able to destory all the age old vasnas (tendencies/qualities inherited by you from previous births symbolised as Bhishma and Drona) and also the 100 different new desires/qualities (symbolised by the Kauravas). That is a "holy war" every person has to battle in one's life. Vyasa too have indicated through Geeta Saar that every one is alone in this war.

But then, just that victory is not enough. It is a continuous journey as evidenced with the victory of Yuddhistira. Righteousness (Yuddhistira), Physical strength (Bhima), Concentration - need to maintain balance(Arjuna), Vanity (Nakula) and Knowledge (Sahadeva) are important qualities of a human. But if you ever let any one other than righteousness guide you, you will not receive the ultimate moksha - liberation. In the last journey to heaven, all the Pandavas except Yuddhistira does not reach the abode of Self.

The above one's are just my own personal personal and very simple conclusions. Other than that, anyone who's read or heard a little about Mahabharata/Jaya knows that the Epic shows the position of a human in the design of the cosmos as well as the freedom of action/will and destiny. It also shows how no event is actually independent but just a result of an earlier event or events. No one person can be blamed for the great war as it was a result of so many decisions/actions undertaken by the characters.

So I have decided to start a series of posts on Mahabharata. I am not sure but I will try to post commentaries on the characters and the lessons their lives teach to the rest of humanity. it is not important to me if this ever happened. But a rational explanation would be that a similar event would have taken place, the then historians/ wise sages transformed it into a poet (with creative liberties) and ensured that humanity learns the lessons from this.

Sadly, the ironical thing about History is that it repeats itself and no one learns from it.

1 comment:

  1. Good intro... Am awaiting the actual post. May Jaya follow you wherever you go.