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Pleased with my devotion and service, he gave me a magic formula by which I could call upon any sky-god and have a child with him instantly. Perhaps, in his foresight, he realized I would have need of such a formula in my life. So, if you wish, I can use this formula, and have a child by any god of your choice. It was an act of shame that weighed heavy on her heart. He was named Yudhishtira. He would be the most honest of men.
Later, Pandu asked Kunti to invoke Vayu, the god of the wind. He would be the strongest of men. Kunti then called upon Indra, king of the Devas and ruler of the sky. By him she had a son called Arjuna. He would be the most skilled archer in the world, capable of using the bow with both his right and left hand. Since Kunti had invoked Indra of her own volition and not because her husband had told her to, the son of Indra, Arjuna, became her favourite child.
Only he was referred by all as Partha, the son of Pritha. So it is decreed in the books of dharma. Kunti, however, was referring to the three gods who had given her three sons after marriage, and the one god who had given her one son before marriage—a secret that she shared with no one. Shvetaketu is believed to be the fountainhead of patriarchy. Before he introduced the law of marriage, women had full sexual freedom.
In fact, a woman could go to any man and a man who refused her was deemed a eunuch. This freedom was allowed because childbirth was considered of prime importance to facilitate the re-entry of forefathers into the land of the living. Shvetaketu insisted on fidelity from women so that all children knew who their biological fathers were. If a man could not father children because he was impotent, sterile or dead, the woman was allowed to go to other men, with the permission of her husband or his family.
The number of men a woman was allowed to go to if her husband could not give her children was restricted to three. Including the husband, a woman thus could be with up to four men in her life. If she went to a fifth man, she was deemed a whore. This law gains significance later in the epic when Kunti lets Draupadi marry all five of her sons.
As per some Vedic marriage rites, a woman is first given in marriage to the romantic moon-god, Chandra, then to the highly sensual Gandharva named Vishwavasu, then to the fire-god, Agni, who cleanses and purifies all things, and finally to her human husband. Clearly this was an attempt of society to prevent Hindu women from remarrying.
Kunti runs away in fear, abandoning her newborn but Bhima is so strong that he kicks the tiger on his head and pushes him away. With another kick he breaks a mountain. Apologizing to the mountain, Kunti transforms each broken piece of the mountain into a local deity. She had conceived much earlier but mysteriously her pregnancy continued for two years.
She could wait no more and so she took a terrible decision: Gandhari ordered her maids to get an iron bar. The maids hesitated. With great reluctance, the maids did as they were told, and struck the queen on her belly. Strike me again. Is it a boy or girl? When told what she had delivered, Gandhari wailed. Fate was indeed cruel.
She sent for the sage Vyasa. Where are they? They would incubate over a year and transform into sons, he told Gandhari. Vyasa smiled and told the maids to divide the ball of flesh into a hundred and one pieces. Thus were born the hundred sons and the one daughter of Gandhari and Dhritarashtra. Collectively, the sons were called the Kauravas. The first among them was Duryodhana. When his pot was broken, on the day when Kunti gave birth to Bhima, the palace dogs wailed.
He is my firstborn, my favourite. The daughter was called Dusshala. She was given in marriage to Jayadhrata, king of Sindhu.
She bore him a son called Yuyutsu. Like Vidura, he was an extremely capable man but disqualified from ever sitting on the throne. Contrary to popular projection, both Gandhari and Kunti are viewed by Vyasa as ambitious women who knew the value of sons in a royal household. But she wants a daughter too.
Thus the Kuru household had a hundred and five sons hundred Kauravas and five Pandavas and one daughter, Dusshala, who was so indulged by the entire household that her husband, Jayadhrata, was forgiven repeatedly despite his immoral behaviour. Maybe they could transform the remnants of a miscarriage into live children by incubating them in magically charged pots of ghee.
Rationalists believe Gandhari had only two sons, Duryodhana and Dusshasana, who are the only two of the hundred to play a significant role in the epic. Let her be mother too. And let me be father of more sons. Instantly the two gods, lords of the morning and evening star, appeared and gave Madri twin sons: Nakula, the handsomest man in the world and Sahadeva, the most knowledgeable man in the world.
But Kunti refused. With one invocation, Madri had cleverly called twin gods and become mother of two sons. She feared with another invocation, Madri could call another set of gods, a male collective, and have as many as three, four, five, why even seven sons. And with the following one, she would be mother of more sons. She could not allow that.
She would not let the junior wife have more sons, hence more power than her. The five sons of Pandu, three by Kunti and two by Madri, became known as the Pandavas. Collectively, the five sons had the five qualities of the perfect king—honesty, strength, skill, beauty and wisdom. This practice, once glorified, came to be frowned upon with the passage of time. Kunti restricts access of Madri to the gods for fear that she will end up bearing more children and so yield greater influence than her.
Through this little episode Vyasa makes us aware that the desire for power is not restricted to men alone. In the entire epic, the children of Madri are overshadowed by the children of Kunti. The gods invoked by the two wives of Pandu are early Vedic gods known as Devas: Yama, Indra, Vayu and the Ashwini twins.
The notion of an all-powerful God is a later development in Hindu thought. This clearly indicates that the epic first took shape in Vedic times which were dominated by belief in elemental spirits.
Later, with the rise of bhakti or path of passionate devotion to the almighty, the ideas of God and Shiva and Vishnu and Krishna were added to the tale. But he was a young man and there were times when he sorely missed intimacy with his wives.
One day, he saw sunlight streaming through the sheer fabric that Madri had draped round her body. He realized how beautiful she was.
He could not resist touching her. Unknown to all, Pandu had a premonition of his death and had told his sons a secret. It is embedded in my body. When I die, eat my flesh and you will be blessed with great knowledge. That shall be your true inheritance. The children could not do what their father had asked them to do.
He put that piece in his mouth. Instantly, he knew everything about the world—what had happened in the past and what would happen in the future. And when a question is asked, reply with a question. Sahadeva had no choice but to keep quiet, knowing all but never being able to tell people what he knew or do anything to avert the inevitable.
He realized the future that he knew could be deciphered if one observed nature carefully. And so he put together various occult sciences that helped man predict the future. As for himself, Sahadeva waited for people to ask him the right question. They asked him many questions—but never the right one. But in all cases, it is voluntary; nobody forces the women to submit to this violent practice.
Around CE the practice of Sati became part of liturgical manuals and a common theme in folklore as well as worship. In South India, Sahadeva is renowned as the master of astrology, face reading and all other forms of divination.
They had been placed on a tiger skin and next to them were a trident and a pot, indicating they were the children of a sage.
They were the children of sage Sharadwana and an Apsara called Janpadi. Shantanu named them Kripa and Kripi and raised them in the palace. Kripa grew up to be a teacher. Bhishma appointed him tutor to the five sons of Pandu and the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra who were now under his care. Kripi was given in marriage to Drona.
Drona was the son of sage Bharadvaja. He was born in a pot into which his father had spilt semen at the sight of a beautiful Apsara called Ghrutachi.
In time, Kripi gave birth to a son, Ashwatthama. Drona was extremely poor, so poor that he did not have a cow in his house. Ashwatthama grew up without ever having tasted milk.
He could not even distinguish milk from rice water. Unable to bear the poverty, Kripi finally convinced Drona to go to his childhood friend, Drupada, king of Panchala, and ask him for a cow. Unfortunately, Drupada burst out laughing when Drona reminded him of the childhood promise. We were friends then. Now I am a rich king and you are a poor priest. We cannot be friends. Do not claim cows in the name of friendship; ask for alms and I shall give you a cow in charity. Kripa, Kripi and Drona are illegitimate children born after nymphs seduce ascetics and make them break their vows of celibacy.
Jaya an Illustrated (1) | Hindu Literature | Mahabharata
The epic age was one of tension between those who believed the purpose of life was to enjoy material pleasures and those who believed the purpose of life was to renounce the same. In the epic age, kings were supposed to take care of Rishis either by daan or charity or by dakshina or fee paid for services rendered. Drupada treats Drona as the son of a Rishi and offers him daan. Drona is angry because he is not treated as a friend and equal.
Drupada is thus the dispassionate follower of the code of civilized conduct dharma while Drona yearns for human affection and respect that transcends social stratification. The conflict between Drupada and Drona is thus the conflict between head and heart. Through Drona, Vyasa draws attention to the disruptive power of desire kama.
Like Drupada and Drona, they were the best of friends, one a rich nobleman and the other an impoverished priest. Unlike Drupada, however, Krishna shares all his wealth with his friend.
For Krishna, there can be no dharma without the spirit of generosity. Without genuine love, laws and rules are worthless. Drona promised never to do so.
He made his way to Hastina-puri, intent on making the Kuru princes his students and using them against Drupada. When Drona reached Hastina-puri, he found the Kuru princes trying to retrieve a ball from a well. Drona decided to help the princes. He picked up a blade of grass and threw it with such force into the well that it pierced the ball like a pin.
Then he threw another blade of grass which pinned itself to the free end of the grass pinned to the ball. Then he threw a third blade of grass which pinned itself to the far end of the second blade of grass.
Soon he had a whole chain of grass that could be pulled up along with the ball. Drona then dropped his ring into the well. He raised a bow and shot an arrow which pierced into the waters and ricocheted back along with the ring.
The children, astonished by what they had seen, ran into the palace and told Bhishma about this strange priest-warrior near the well. Kripa was more than happy to give employment to his brother-in-law.
But Drona had a condition. Drona accepted the hundred Kauravas and the five Pandavas as his students. Soon, Yudhishtira became skilled with the spear, Arjuna with the bow, Bhima, Duryodhana and Dusshasana with the mace, Nakula and Sahadeva with the sword.
In due course, the Kauravas and Pandavas were well versed in the art of war. We must not lose focus by fighting his army. It will wear us down. They rushed forward but the Pandavas stayed back. We four shall meet you there after capturing the king of Panchala. Drupada, distracted by the Kauravas, was caught by surprise. Before he could defend himself, Arjuna pounced on him and pinned him to the ground.
Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata (Paperback)
Bhima got a rope and bound him. Then placing him on their chariot they took him straight to Drona. Your rule is now restricted to the southern half. We are equals. Can we be friends now? Rishis were supposed to focus only on spiritual pursuits and stay away from society. This spiritual pursuit gave them many magical powers. Over time, unable to resist material desires, Rishis became members of society. They split into worldrenouncing ascetics known as Tapasvins or Yogis and world-affirming scholars, priests and teachers known as Brahmans.
Parasara and Bharadvaja belonged to the former category while Kripa and Drona belonged to the latter. Some sages like Parashurama gave up spiritual practices and took up arms in revolt against the excesses of the warrior community.
In contrast, some warriors like Kaushika, father of Shakuntala, became Rishis when they realized true power lay in spiritual practices and not in weapons.
The epic age was a time of flux. Education involved not just the study of Vedic hymns, rituals and philosophy, but also the study of the Upavedas which included the study of warfare Dhanur-veda , health Ayur-veda , theatre Gandharva-veda , time Jyotish-shastra , space Vastu-shastra and polity Artha-shastra.
This was called guru-dakshina, a transaction fee, after which all obligations to the teacher were severed. Ideally, a teacher was supposed to take only that which he needed for sustenance.
But Drona takes much more. Wealth in Vedic times took three forms: Most Vedic warfare was over livestock and pasture lands. These he reserved for his son, Ashwatthama. Arjuna noticed this. So he followed Drona wherever he went, determined to learn all that Drona had to teach, never leaving father and son alone, making it impossible for Drona to pass on any teaching to Ashwatthama exclusively.
Eventually, there were lessons that were exclusive to Arjuna and Ashwatthama, secret lessons that no other student of Drona was given access to. Arjuna, who as usual was following his teacher, immediately raised his bow, released an arrow, struck down the crocodile and rescued his master. He declared that he would make Arjuna the greatest archer in the world, not out of gratitude, but because Arjuna possessed all the qualities of a good student: Still Arjuna found that his fingers carrying food could find their way to his mouth.
He started practising archery at night blindfolded and, to the amazement of his teacher, developed the skill of shooting arrows at the target without depending on his sight.
Because of this he became renowned as Gudakesha, he who has conquered sleep. Arjuna also was able to shoot his bow using either his left or his right hand.
Hence, he came to be known as Sabyasachi. In an archery test, Drona asked his students to point their arrows at the eye of a stuffed parrot placed high on the wall.
Only an eye. The arrow was released and sure enough, it hit the mark. India is the home of the guru—shishya tradition where pupils stay in the house of the teacher. The teacher is supposed to treat his students as his own sons. This tradition is prevalent even today especially in the fields of music and dance. But as many art lovers have discovered, many teachers are blinded by their love for their children and give them priority over students at the cost of true talent.
Vyasa perhaps experienced this in his lifetime too. Arjuna is considered to be the greatest archer in Indian epics, second only to Ram, the protagonist of the Ramayana. More than talent, Vyasa portrays him as one with grit and determination. The bow is the symbol of poise and balance. The third of the five Pandavas is an archer, suggesting his role in balancing his brothers.
His two elder brothers represent royal authority Yudhishtira and force Bhima , while his two younger brothers represent royal splendour Nakula and wisdom Sahadeva. He is neither as aggressive as his elder brothers nor as passive as his younger brothers. But when he approached Drona, Drona turned him away on the grounds that he was too busy to take more students. In a clearing in the woods, not far from Hastina-puri, Ekalavya created an effigy of Drona, and taught himself archery under its watchful gaze.
A few weeks later, he was disturbed by the sound of a barking dog. He shot several arrows in the direction of the dog. The arrows entered the mouth of the dog such that, without harming him in any way, they kept his jaws pried open making it impossible for him to bark. The dog turned out to be the hunting hound of the Pandavas. Arjuna was surprised to find his dog gagged thus.
Ekalavya, who stood before it with a bow in hand, rushed towards him and fell at his feet. Drona looked at Arjuna and remembered his promise to make Arjuna the greatest archer in the land. Arjuna returned to Hastina-puri shaken by the cruelty of his teacher, for without the right thumb Ekalavya would never be able to wield the bow.
Arjuna did not comment. Vyasa portrays Arjuna as a highly insecure and competitive youth. Through the tale Vyasa demonstrates how greatness need not be achieved by being better than others; it can also be achieved by pulling down others who are better. Drona therefore was supposed to be a priest like his father, or a sage, but he chooses to become a warrior, as does his son, Ashwatthama.
While he breaks the varnadharma code himself, his argument against Ekalavya bearing the bow, that encouraging lower castes to become archers would destroy the varna system of society, seems rather hypocritical. The Mahabharata does not refer to the classical four-tiered Vedic society of Brahmans priests , Kshatriyas warriors , Vaishyas merchants and Shudras servants. Instead, it refers to a three-tiered society where Rajanyas or Kshatriyas warriors-kings-rulers provided for Rishis or Brahmans priests-teachers-magicians and ruled over commoners— cowherds, farmers, fisherfolk, charioteers, potters, carpenters.
Outside this society were the Nishadhas, or forest-dwellers, who were treated with disdain.
There are clear signs of prejudice against those outside or at the bottom of society. They were forbidden from learning archery, for example. The bow was the supreme weapon of the Vedic civilization. It represented poise and balance. It also represented desire, aspiration and ambition. When a king was crowned, he was made to hold the bow. Winners of archery contests were given women as trophies.
All the gods held bows in their hands. The star pupil was none other than Arjuna who could use his bow to shoot multiple arrows and who never missed a target. Everyone cheered for the royal archer and this filled Kunti with great pride.
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The Kauravas were envious for Arjuna outshone everyone and was clearly the favourite of the people. Suddenly, there entered in the tournament another archer. On his chest dazzled a brilliant armour and on his ears were radiant jewels. Suddenly Adiratha, the chief of the royal stables, ran into the arena and hugged Karna.
This man is the son of a charioteer. How dare he challenge Kshatriyas in an archery tournament? Karna did not know what to say. The cruel words of Bhima stung him like a swarm of bees. Was his skill not good enough? Why should his birth matter? Let us treat him as one. He cannot therefore be a Kshatriya. But then people would ask who his father truly was and he would have no answer, for he was a foundling, abandoned at birth by his mother, found by Adiratha floating on the river in a basket.
Karna swallowed his pride and kept quiet. I will not let him be insulted. I take him as my friend, closer to my heart than my brothers. He who insults him insults me. Karna felt a lump in his throat. No one had ever come to his defence thus. He was eternally obliged to Duryodhana. He swore that he would be the friend of the Kauravas till the day he died.
The Pandavas protested quoting the dharma-shastras. The Kauravas argued, realizing that with Karna on their side they were as powerful as the Pandavas, if not more. Bhishma sensed the family feud was becoming a public spectacle. On one side were the five Pandavas and on the other side were the hundred Kauravas and their new friend Karna.
He was embarrassed as his grand-nephews abused each other over Karna. They were about to come to blows when suddenly, in the pavillion reserved for the royal women, they heard a cry. Kunti had fainted. Everyone rushed to her side. Taking advantage of this moment, Bhishma declared the tournament to be formally closed and ordered the princes to return to the palace. Watching her great grandsons snarl at each other like street dogs, Satyavati took a decision.
I cannot bear to see it. I will therefore go to the forest. The tensions between Kunti and Gandhari and their sons were becoming unbearable. It was clearly time to leave. With Karna, Duryodhana becomes as powerful as Yudhishtira.
While Yudhishtira has Arjuna, Duryodhana has no archer on his side. This deficiency is made up when he accepts Karna as an equal. Vyasa never clarifies if Duryodhana is using Karna or genuinely admiring him. Arjuna is the son of Indra, god of the sky and rain. Karna is the son of Surya, god of the sun. Indra and Surya were ancient rivals, each claiming supremacy in the Vedic pantheon. In the epic Ramayana, this rivalry takes the form of a conflict between Vali, who is the son of Indra and Sugriva, who is the son of Surya.
God in the form of Ram sides with Sugriva over Vali. Thus the balance is achieved between the two gods over two lifetimes. Karna embodies a man who refuses to submit to the social station imposed upon him by society. He was born before marriage, hence abandoned to save her reputation.
Pleased with her services, the sage Durvasa had given Kunti a magic formula by which she could call upon any Deva she wished and have a child by him. Curious to test the mantra out, without realizing the consequences of such an action, she had invoked Surya, the sun-god. Surya appeared before her and gave her a son. He was born with a pair of earrings attached to his ears and a golden armour that clung to his chest. This basket was found by Adiratha who served the Kuru clan as a charioteer.
He and his wife, Radha, had no children and so they raised the foundling as their own. As the years passed, Karna had this great desire to be a warrior. He even approached Drona but Drona refused to teach him the art of war. But his mother, Radha, encouraged him to follow his own heart.
Parashurama accepted Karna as a student and was pleased with his eagerness to learn. A worm had eaten into his flesh. Why did you not shout or move to pull the worm away? Instead of being impressed, Parashurama lost his temper.
His eyes widened in realization. Only a Kshatriya is strong and stupid enough to suffer such pain silently. Tell me truly who you are. You are the child of a warrior. You are a Kshatriya and that is why you have been able to display such strength. Because you duped me into teaching you, you will forget what I taught you the day you need it most.
There are those who speculate that Karna was a love-child, a product of a premarital liaison with a prince of the solar dynasty, hence the reference to the sun-god. This story is narrated to warn women against the dangers of submitting to passion before marriage.
He is considered to be a form of Vishnu who hacked many warrior clans with his mighty axe when warriors abused their military might to dominate society. He taught many Brahmans warfare to neutralize the power of the Kshatriyas.
The tale of Parashurama comes from a time when the conflict between priests and kings was at its height. And a father is the man who marries the woman who bears the child.
The Pandavas are warriors because the man who married their birth-mother, Kunti, was Pandu, a Kshatriya. Since Karna does not know who his birth-mother is, he does not know the man who married her, and so does not know what vocation he should follow.
All he knows is his inner calling to be a warrior. Vyasa constantly draws attention to the dangers of conflict between individual aspiration and family duty imposed on children by their fathers. Driven by desire, Karna refuses to be a charioteer like his foster father.
Driven by vengeance, Drona refuses to be a priest like his natural father. Krishna, though born in a warrior family, prefers being identified as a cowherd or charioteer.
For it is not vocation that matters; what matters is the underlying intent. This is why Kunti is still a virgin when she gets married to Pandu. They were conceived by the law of niyoga through other men. The blood of Pratipa and Shantanu flows only in Bhishma. Neither Pandu nor Dhritarashtra belong to the original bloodline.
So your argument has little weight. Besides, Pandu was crowned king before your father. The hatred was mutual. The Pandavas feared the Kauravas as they had no real power in the court; their mother was a widow and their father dead. They all lived in the shadow of the blind king and his blindfolded wife. Bhima often bullied the Kauravas, picking them up and throwing them to the ground, or shaking trees that they had climbed on until they fell down like nuts.
They offered him sweets laced with poison. When he had lost consciousness, they tied his limbs and threw him into a river. Bhima would surely have drowned. But in the river lived Nagas. Their leader, Aryaka, rescued Bhima and asked his Nagas to draw the poison out of him.
Aryaka then took Bhima to Bhogavati, the city of the Nagas, and presented him to the Naga king, Vasuki. Thus the blood of Nagas flows in your veins. You are one of us. They also made him drink a potion that would forever protect him from any poison in the world. Thus revived and restored to health, Bhima returned home, much to the delight of his mother and brothers, and much to the chagrin of the Kauravas.
The eldest son or the fittest son? A child belonging to the original bloodline, or anyone with the right capability? Vyasa ponders on this point throughout the epic. Nagas or hooded serpents lived within rivers, beneath the earth, in the realm known as Rasa-tala in a gem-studded city known as Bhogavati that was ruled by the great serpent-king, Vasuki.
Besides being highly venomous, they were also guardians of gems that fulfilled all wishes, cured all ailments, resurrected the dead, restored fertility, granted children and brought good fortune.
Anthropologists believe that the Nagas referred to in the epic were actually settled agricultural communities who worshipped serpents who they regarded as guardians of fertility. Even today serpents are worshipped for children as well as for a good harvest.
A folktale from Tamil Nadu informs us that the entire Kuru household assumed that Bhima had drowned and that his body had been washed away.
So they mourned his death and even organized a funeral feast a fortnight later to mark the end of the period of mourning. On that day, after all the vegetables had been cut and spices prepared, Bhima emerged from the river to the great relief of his mother and his brothers. Not wanting the vegetables and spices to be wasted, Bhima offered to cook a special meal, something different to indicate his new life.
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Still above is Vaikuntha, heaven, abode of God. The doorkeepers of Vaikuntha are the twins, Jaya and Vijaya, both 3. An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata, click button download in the last page 5. Download or read Aqualeo's The Book of Jaya: You just clipped your first slide! Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later. Now customize the name of a clipboard to store your clips.
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Description High above the sky stands Swarga, paradise, abode of the gods. Still above is Vaikuntha, heaven, abode of God. The doorkeepers of Vaikuntha are the twins, Jaya and Vijaya, both whose names mean victory. One keeps you in Swarga; the other raises you into Vaikuntha.
In Vaikuntha there is bliss forever, in Swarga there is pleasure for only as long as you deserve. What is the difference between Jaya and Vijaya? Solve this puzzle and you will solve the mystery of the Mahabharata.
In this enthralling retelling of India s greatest epic, the Mahabharata, originally known as Jaya, Devdutt Pattanaik seamlessly weaves into a single narrative plots from the Sanskrit classic as well as its many folk and regional variants, including the Pandavani of Chattisgarh, Gondhal of Maharashtra, Terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu, and Yakshagana of Karnataka.
Richly illustrated with over line drawings by the author, the chapters abound with little- known details such as the names of the hundred Kauravas, the worship of Draupadi as a goddess in Tamil Nadu, the stories of Astika, Madhavi, Jaimini, Aravan and Barbareek, the Mahabharata version of the Shakuntalam and the Ramayana, and the dating of the war based on astronomical data.
With clarity and simplicity, the tales in this elegant volume reveal the eternal relevance of the Mahabharata, the complex and disturbing meditation on the human condition that 4. If you want to download this book, click link in the next page 5.
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