Originally posted here on my ancient blog site.
Recently I read a novel in kannada by one of the well known writers,S.L.Bhairappa,Parva. At times, I used to feel that I am forgetting my mother tongue. Even more so, when I mostly found myself thinking in English. So actually started reading the novel coz i thought it would get me back in touch with Kannada. It was tough time in the initial few pages as I even had trouble pronouncing a few words properly. Slowly picked up and by the 50th page I was back to my original speed. Anyway, lets leave the trivial details at that.
The novel has a completely different perspective of looking at the great war that defines Indian culture, the rights and wrongs, literature and almost all walks of life. All the people in the epic have been brought down from mythical status and are just ordinary human beings. There are no extraordinary arrows of Arjuna that split into a thousand arrows and shower upon the ordinary mortals. Everything has been just analysed the way it should be. There is great stress on values of those times and how the war was an inflection point from where the Indian ethos changed. The ending leaves you with a kind of mixed feelings. All though its again defined as a victory of good over bad, this book manages to convince that it meant victory to none. Superb way to end the tale. Won’t try to compare this with the Vyasa-Mahabharata or any of the numerous versions but would definitely say that it gives a very fresh look at things.
According to the book,Here are some wonderful things that I never knew………
Ones relating to the main story:
If you remember the Tele-Serial, Dharamaraja and co. the Pandavas were young handsome hunks.Analysis says they were between the ages of 50-60 at the time of the war. Bhishma was an astounding 124 years old. He was hardly able to command his Battalion let alone the whole war. And his soft corner for the sons of Kunti was a big reason why half the Battalions of Kauravas get wiped under him.
Bhima killing Jarasandha was quite pre-decided as Bhima was 24 and Jarasandha was 72 when they wrestle. Drona is also a 100+ old aged man. Drushtadyumna again obviously had not trouble killing him. Again Krishna finishing off Kuansa is also not surprising as everybody around had considered him to be born for the very purpose and that was a such a big confidence boost against the already wary and scared Kaunsa. The author writes that Kaunsa died even before Krishna touches him(poor feeble heart I believe).Krishna has been bereaved of his powerful Chakra but the novel substantially justifies his triumph everywhere given his razor-sharp wit. Krishna’s strategies throughout will convince you that he was a genius. One would realise from a practical and realistic view as to why the Kauravas had to lose.
In Vyasa-Mahabharata Jayadratha is killed by Arjuna when Krishna darkens the skies by blocking the sun. In Parva the situation is something like this- Arjuna is desperate to kill him before sunset,they break the formation planned by Drona and almost reach Jayadratha, But by then sun has almost started to set,at that moment Krishna asks Arjuna to order his troops to withdraw.Hearing Arjuna shout, Duryodhana Shouts back,”See here is Jayadratha live and kicking,Should we ready the pyre for u?”and that small moment becomes good enough for Arjuna’s arrow to get the undefended and unexpecting Jayadratha’s throat.And then Krishna shouts back,”See the sun has not set yet”.Duryodhana gets confused in the first place because of some elephants in the formation that block his view.
Most of us believe that the Pancha Pandavas were such good brothers and hardly had any differences.But this book refers in detail to the lots of quarrels they had. Sometimes so serious that they were about to kill each other.Specially Bhima’s fury against Dharmaraja. At one point he scolds Dharmaraja,”Dont mask ur cowardice by Dharma, I wish I cut those hands that gambled and brought us to this pathetic condition”.
Unlike the present day society most ppl did not consider pre-marital sex as a taboo.But we can definitely see that it is during this period that morals like the one above began to change.Specially in the name of Arya Dharma which began to take various definitions in the hands of inexperienced court pundits.For example in Madra Desha(somewhere near present day Afghanistan ) it was considered good to marry a woman with children as it would be a confirmation of her fertility. And the one who marries her has to accept her children as his too.But at the same time Kunti giving birth to Karna before marriage was considered unacceptable. There were so many matriarch tribes too.The Devaloka(Present day Tibet) had completely surprising customes. There were 32 Tribes among them, and all men and women of one tribe were spouses to each other in any case other than being close relatives such as brother-sister mother-son and so on.But the children would always belong to the mother. Most customs were such because of the war like situation that they always had. It was almost considered a sin to waste the Ovum produced by a woman. So most women were pregnant all through there potent life.
There were practices like Niyog which allowed having children through a potent man in case of Husband’s Impotency,to continue the lineage of a family. Kunti had her children thus. Even Pandu and Dritarashtra were born the same way. Even Nakula and Sahdeva through Madri. I think we have a lot to learn from the broadminded culture then.
Ok, guess I have written enough, if I continue I think I will be betraying the many surprises in the book.To anyone who can get hands on the book,I say,its a must read.