Thursday, February 21, 2013

Trendistan: Ze gods!!

Lets take a moment off and acknowledge the fact that there is going to be a post. I have been mentally planning and constructing this post for soo long ( since NOVEMBER 2012! :O ) I never thought it would see the daylight. Ladies and Gents , here it is ze 'trendistan' . Semi's version of 'my fives / my lists' :P The lists are random as they get..
Soo what is it going to be this time?! Religion , god ......... INDIAN MYTHOLOGY. Well this trend has been in vogue for the past....3000 years .But in the past few years , it has been trending a lot thanks to Amish tripati's Shiva trilogy and Ashwin sanghvi's - Krishna key , chanakya's chant... ( This is what we get when we stop writing romance...BRILLIANCE) and an all new serial of 'Mahabharata' has started in sun tv on a magnum opus budget. All these egs show us that Indian mythology is definitely trending and I am going to analyse the lesser know characters of Mahabharata .
Before going into the topic , i want to dive into one more seemingly tangential issue - the ever growing zest to curb Right to freedom of expression , in favor of  religious fundamentalism and bigotism. Bal thackeray - facebook issue , my name is khan, vishwaroopam (which was nothing but a dumb action film) ,Salman Rushdie's and Taslima Nasreen's continuous saga with Calcutta and countless other instances has shown us at least one thing. There is a need to understand religion and the true meaning of secularism . Through this post I want to tell you how authors humanized godly figures - and how we seem to cling onto the belief that the opposite is true. Every god went through a hurdle to show that everybody has faults. We should always keep this in mind.
ok chup.

My fascination with Indian mythology was an early one - grandmother telling stories of ramayana during power cuts ( so obviously quite a lot :P )  , dad buying me colorful books of Mahabharata to read - I was this strange kid who loved to spend her sundays watching the tamil dubbed version of mahab on sun tv.


To all those who have been frowning quizzically at the word 'Mahabharata' - It is nothing but an enormous Indian epic about two sets of warring cousins - kauravas and Pandavas of the kuru ruling lineage , who fought for power in a HUGE war of kurukshetra for over 20 days. And duh the good guys, the pandavas won - Yudhishtra , Bheema , Arjuna , Nakula and Sahadeva ; Arjuna's uncle lord krishna xD ; their polyandric wife - Draupadi. The kauravas composed of 100 brothers of whom we get to know much , only about duryodana the eldest and dusadana. We also have Karna the generous who was duryodhana's best friend and also the secret brother of the pandavas.
And I haven't even scratched the surface yet! It is an enticing tale of love , power , greed , jealousy , vengeance and WAR. I personally prefer it over Ramayana because a) the characters are closer to human b) More divine weapons / astras  and awesome description of war and the futility of it all in the end.

Characters from Mahabharata who needed to be known/understood better.

#Respect#
1. Bhishma - Not to be confused with Bheema , he is the grand uncle of the cousins. Mahabharatha starts with him when he decides to adopt celibacy in order to get his father (shantanu) married to his step mother - Satyavati , a fishing woman. It is the descendants of this couple who give birth to Dhirithirastra and Pandu , who in turn give birth to kauravas and pandavas ( quite elaborate eh? :> ) Coming back to Bhishma , the great son of goddess Ganga - He was so upright that the gods decided to give him the choice to decide his death! So live long he did , but never once desired for the throne which he gave away to his brothers , nephews and grand nephews happily! Yet it was his shrewd mind that kept the kingdom up and running through the unstable periods of times. If everyone had been like him - there would've been no need for Mahabharata. When he decided to die during the great war - both sides paid homage to him and even adjourned  the war for him and his death anniversary is worshipped as Bhismar shanthi , where everybody has to do the funerary rights for him as he left behind no children . 
Even though bhismar was undoubtedly the greatest administrator and warrior , the epic teaches us that he couldn't control the greed of his grand nephews and couldn't side with the 'right' people in the war.

Remains anonymous
2. Yuyutsu , yes you hear me right! I am not referring to any chinese epic here but our very own Mahabharata  He is one of the least known characters of the epic - partly because he is mentioned in maybe 2 verses of the 100,000 versed anthology.   Still he stands testimony to the fact that stereotyping is always innacurate and there is always good in bad and bad in good (yin yan xP ) He is one of the 100 kauravas - yes the evil , greedy , malicious ones. He is the 100th brother or some say 101th kaurava (they didn't have calculators back then) and he was a good man. During the evil game of dice , where the pandavas were lured into gambling away all their wealth xP , freedom and were exiled to the forests , he was the only one who stood up and said what was happening was not fair. We don't know what happens to him after all that - he only has a line. A pretty poignant one if you ask me.  And he also switched sides during the war and joined the pandavas :O I readthatjustnowinWIKI. What a man link-----------> here 
credits - some awesome website-> here

3.Mahabharatha is a very male dominated story . There are few women who can be called brave in the story and among them AMBA stands tall. Hers is a fascinating story which i am going to share . Our great Bhishma was an unmatched warrior and hardly did any mistakes during his lifetime. However , when he decided to find wives for his step brother vichitravirya - he went to the swaymvar ( brides pick their husbands) of Amba . Ambika and Ambalika. Their people misperceived that he himself had come to marry them and ridiculed him - calling him old. This enraged him and he defeated every kshatriya there and abducted the princesses . Sadly Amba was attached to king Shalva and refused to be forced into marrying vichitravirya. Guts. Bhishma sent her back to Shalva , who refused to marry her as he had been publicly defeated by bhishma. Obviously honor > love. Now vichitravirya already had two wives and didn't want another one - who had someone else in her mind (irony of it) and even the old Bhishma had to refuse as he had his vow to uphold. Sick of being played volleyball with , Amba turned her hatred toward Bhishma , as she felt that he was the root cause of her suffering. As no man could beat him , she did a long penance to lord shiva who said she can defeat him in her next birth. She was born a girl in her next life - daughter of king drupada. Annoyed that she was born a girl ( girls can't fight)  , she further penanced and became a man - Shikandi and got her/his moment of glory when she defeated bhishma ( with the help of arjuna) during the war.

This is the closest we get to a courageous women story and must applaud her determination and penance.

p.s - Wow all my spellings are underlined in red o.O


Someone who missed the list by an inch - Veera Abhimanyu :') _:'(

Hope the #trend stays 

4 comments:

  1. Hi, Samyukta,
    If the series of novels brought out by Amish... is seen as bringing mythology back, then there is someone else you really need to read and see: I am referring to Ashok Banker and his Ramayana series, his just begun serieses on various lives: Krishna, Luva and kusha and so on...
    I am not sure if these books you refer to are actually 'mythology' or used myths... Read Devadutt Pattanaik if you want to understand mythology. You mentioned that you would speak of the lesser known characters of the epic. Yuyutsu or Amba are truly heroes and not as well known as the main protagonists.
    Yet, within the story are many many stories such as the one of the king Yuvanashva, the king who drank by mistake the water his wives should drink to become pregnant...

    But, more significantly, if anything religious, semi religous, mythology becomes a 'trend', perhaps there is a deep rooted problem in our society...
    Are people becoming so lacking in common sense, in love, in care that they take recourse to these? That is the question that often occurs to me.
    then, a postscript:Abhimanyu is not less known... should have missed the list by a mile if not more!

    regards,
    Akhila

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  2. Hi Akka ,
    Thank you for your suggestions :) il surely check them out
    The big problem I faced while writing this post was how much I can assume my readers to know. And I basically took a very low yardstick (like our poverty line u could say) for everything. I have been very lucky to have gotten to read Indian mythologies when I was very young. However when I see ppl around me - my friends, classmates and my own brother for example xP, they seem to have hardly any knowledge about Ramayana or Mahabharata .
    They can tell every Harry potter character or Greek god but not even the five pandavas let alone shantanu or abhimanyu.So in this context I meant that abhimanyu is lesser known. There is no question of his bravery and heroism which I find very inspiring.
    And regarding Amish - he has really brought back Indian mythology back to the 'trend' , quite frankly he has done what our grandmothers couldn't , make us atleast look at the direction towards Indian myth. And again I mean all this in only the broadest sense of the term. And I agree that by nature we are all not ready to be proud of our own culture.
    Semi

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  3. This is such an awesome post! Indian mythology is extremely interesting and fun to learn about. I look forward to more info from you, thank you!

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Your thoughts are highly appreciated