Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 30 - Few more stories

We will wrap up this month posts with a few more short stories from the Maha Bharata:

Story 1:

A greedy hunter chanced upon a strange animal in the forest, which he had never seen before. He killed the creature without remorse. The creature roared aloud as it fell down. Immediately angels from above showered flowers on the hunter. The animal he had killed was a dangerous demon in disguise who had eluded the gods for a long time. For his act of killing an animal he did not even recognize the hunter earned a place in heaven.

Story 2:

There was once a sage living in the forest who had sworn to tell the Truth, whatever the circumstances. One day a few men who were pursued by robbers ran past his hermitage. The robbers who followed accosted the sage and asked him about the fugitives. The sage, true to his vow to always tell the Truth, pointed out to the robbers where the fugitives were hiding. The robbers caught the men, killed them and made away with the loot. By speaking the Truth, the sage had only committed a sin for which he was sent to hell.

Story 3:

Surabhi, the celestial cow, was found weeping by Indra, the lord of the gods. Indra asked the cow the reason for her sadness. Surabhi said, “Glorious lord. I am well fed and everybody treats me with affection. But on earth my son is being ill treated by the farmer. This bull is yoked along with another and the farmer is ploughing the land. While the other bull is strong, this one is lean and without strength. The farmer is beating my son with a stick to make him work.” Indra asked Surabhi, “You have thousands of sons. Why then do you grieve for this one alone?” Surabhi replied, “I grieve for any son of mine who is in pain.” Indra realized what a mother’s love meant. Using his Vajra weapon, he released heavy rain on the field so that the farmer had to stop ploughing.

Story 4:

A fowler laid his net in which two birds were trapped. The birds intelligently caught the net in their beaks and started flying. The fowler began running after the birds which were carrying the net. A sage observed this and asked the man, “How can you chase on earth the birds which are flying in the air?” The fowler replied, “O sage, I know for certain that these two birds would quarrel amongst themselves and would then fall to earth.” Just as the fowler predicted, the birds started arguing between themselves and neglected to keep the net in the air. They fell down and became an easy prey to the hunter. Moral? Fights between kinsmen would lead to danger and destruction.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 29 - Five friends

Yet another short story from the Maha Bharata:

Five Friends were passing through a forest.

On the way they came across a river swollen with floods. In the middle of the river they observed a dark bundle floating.

They could not have known that it was in fact a bear which was struggling to keep afloat.

One of the friends, always known to brag about his own prowess, told the others that he could jump into the river and, swimming to where the bundle was, bring it to the shore.

“It may contain riches,” he said. He then jumped into the river and easily reached the bundle. He put his hands around the object and started to pull it towards himself.

The bear, in desperation, caught hold of the man hoping that would keep him afloat. What followed was a struggle between the man and the bundle.

The friends on the shore realized that something had gone wrong. They shouted, “Leave the bundle and get back to the shore.”

The man in the water shouted in reply, “I am prepared to leave it, but it is not prepared to leave me.”

Ultimately, the one who always was boasting of his skills and prowess, found himself drained along with the bear leaving behind a moral for others to understand.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 28 - Farmer and Tiger

Let us see one more interesting short story from the Maha Bharata:

In a forest near his village a farmer was grazing his cow. A tiger suddenly appeared in the scene.

The farmer sat down and started to cry. The tiger was puzzled at the farmer’s behavior. Out of curiosity he asked the farmer what was the reason for his grief.

The farmer told the tiger, “O lord of the jungle. I have a beautiful and highly accomplished daughter. It is time to get her married. I have been searching everywhere but could not find a match for her.”

The tiger asked the farmer, “What kind of a boy are you looking for?” The farmer replied, “He should be handsome, strong and intelligent. In fact he should be someone like you.”

“Why then,” the tiger said. “I can marry her myself.” “That is precisely what I was thinking,” the farmer said.” But you and I belong to different species. Even if I am agreeable, my kith and kin might oppose the idea. I shall therefore go to the village and consult my friends and relatives whether they would accept your proposal.”

The farmer left the tiger and returned after some time. “O noble tiger,” he said. “My kinsmen are delighted at the prospect of having you as a groom. I am however yet to ask my daughter.” The tiger bade the farmer to go post haste to his daughter and get her consent.

The farmer disappeared for a short while. When he reappeared, he had a worried look on his face. He told the tiger, “O King among animals, my daughter is agreeable but she is afraid of your claws and teeth. They should not injure her while you lovingly embrace her.”

It was then agreed that the tiger would make himself less dangerous. The farmer went to the village and this time fetched a carpenter. The carpenter chiseled the claws and teeth of the tiger.

The next moment the farmer took a stick and showered a few blows on the tiger. The beast who had lost his teeth and claws had to run away to save himself. The intelligent farmer thus saved himself and his town from an impending danger, with his smart thinking.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 27 - Cat and Mouse

Here is another moral story from Maha Bharata:

There was a big tree in a dense forest, in one of whose branches there lived a cat.

In the same tree, in a hole near the root, there lived a mouse. They seldom crossed each other’s path and therefore could live happily.

One day a hunter saw the cat and immediately thought, “I could catch the cat and have a nice dinner.” He laid a net for the cat on the ground and left.

The cat, unaware of the peril that was awaiting him, fell into the net. Struggling in vain to free himself, he spied the mouse scampering nearby.

He called his little neighbour and appealed for help. The mouse was wary of helping the cat, but the cat reassured him, “I give my word that I would not harm you in any way if I come out of this net.”

The mouse was of a generous nature. So he cut the net with his teeth and set the cat free.

When the hunter returned he saw that his prey had escaped. He went away disappointed. The cat thanked the mouse profusely and proposed that the two of them should be friends.

The mouse replied, “I am honoured by what you say. But a person in my station cannot be friends with the cat-king. So please let me go my and you go your way.”

The cat saw the wisdom in the mouse’s words. He left that part of the forest and took up residence elsewhere.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 26 - The Smart Cat

Here is one of the short stories which are embedded in the Maha Bharata:

A wicked cat reached a convenient spot in the forest where he pretended to do penance.

He was engaged thus for several days and became lean in the process.

First the birds, and then the mice, took him to be a true sage and started to move around him without fear.
They became so impressed with him that they started calling him uncle.

As the cat became emaciated and weak, the mice became concerned about his health. They asked him what they should do to help him recover.

The cat told them, “Let one of you come everyday and lead me to the riverside. If I drink the running water I shall be cured.”

Accordingly, a mouse was sent everyday to accompany the cat to the river. The cat would swallow the mouse as soon as they reached the river.

The cat grew fatter and fatter every day whereas the mice population kept dwindling. A wise mouse, Kilika, reasoned on these factors and decided to investigate.

One day he secretly followed the cat being led by the mouse to the river. When the two were near the river, the cat caught the mouse and swallowed it.

Kilika rushed back and told his friends the truth about the cat. The mice scattered and learned once more to keep away from the cat.

The cat had to move to another part of the forest in search of food.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 25 - Rahu & Samantha Panchaka

Story of Rahu:

Amrita or the divine elixir was churned out of the milky ocean together by the gods and the demons. But the gods contrived to keep the elixir to themselves, much to the anger and outrage of the demons : once the gods partook of the elixir, they could never be vanquished.

One demon, Rahu by name, managed to get into the ranks of the gods through clever disguise in order to sip the magic potion.

The gods Surya (Sun) and Soma (Moon) discovered Rahu and reported him to the Supreme Lord.

Mahavishnu was angered by this deceit and he let go his discus weapon at Rahu. The disc severed Rahu’s head which flew into space.

There the head remained and even today it tries to swallow the sun and the moon.

Samantha Panchaka:

Between the Treta and Dwapara yugas, Parasurama, son of the sage Jamadagni, wrought vengeance on the Kshatriyas (warrior class) for their cruelty towards his father.

He destroyed them over and over again twenty one times. From the blood that flowed from the slain Kshatriyas he formed five lakes where he performed penance.

These were the Samantha-panchakas or the five holy lakes. Parasurama’s ancestors appeared before him and, pleased with his devotion, absolved him from the sin of killing the Kshatriyas.

The lakes became famous and were the scene of the Kurukshetra War.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 24 - The three brothers

Ekata, Dwaita and Trita were three brothers born to the sage Gautama who led an austere life on the banks of the River Saraswati.

Gautama taught his sons to be ascetic and left the world. Of the three brothers, Trita followed the most righteous path and came to be worshipped by sages and kings.

His mind was always fixed on doing penance. Ekata and Dwaita, however, became materialistic and desired to be wealthy.

Knowing the respect that Trita commanded over his devotees, the two brothers started collecting gifts from them, mainly cattle.

After acquiring a huge herd, Ekata and Dwaita, out of greed, pushed Trita into a deep, dry well and ran way. Trita tried his best to come out of the well but was unsuccessful. He then sat at the bottom of the well and did penance.

The gods were pleased by his action and appeared before him. Trita was told to seek any boon from them. He told the gods, “I am indeed fortunate that you have appeared before me and are offering me a boon. I was worried that I would die before doing sufficient penance to propitiate my forefathers. I would therefore like to be rescued from this pit.”

The gods got him out of the well. Trita quickly sought his brothers. He was enraged by their attempt to kill him as he did not want to die before fulfilling his obligations on earth.

He cursed the two brothers, “It is greed that drove you to this treacherous action. May you become jackals and roam the forest forever seeking food.” The two brothers have since become jackals and are roaming in the forest on Saraswati’s banks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 23 - Pride of Garuda

Matali was Indra’s charioteer. He had a pretty and accomplished daughter Gunakeci, for whom he was keen to find a good husband.

He roamed the three worlds, the sky, the earth and the nether. He finally located a suitable groom when he saw a Naga (snake) prince, Sumukha, in the deep ocean.

When Matali made his proposal to the prince, the latter said, “I am willing to marry your daughter. But how could I come out of the netherworld without being attacked and killed by the kite Garuda who is the sworn enemy of snakes?”

Not prepared to give up Sumukha, Matali took him to Indra and appealed for his help. Indra found that protection to Sumukha was beyond his competence, because Garadu was very powerful and was also Mahavishnu’s vehicle.

To their luck, Mahavishnu just then came to Indra on a visit. This gave Matali an opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Lord for the protection of Sumukha from Garuda. Mahavishnu granted Sumukha the boon that Garuda would not attack him.

Gunakeci and Sumukha were happily married. When Garuda came to know about the boon, he became furious. He rushed to his master, Mahavishnu, and accosted him. “Knowing fully well my relationship with the dwellers of the netherworld, how could you grant such a boon to Sumukha? What sin have I committed to deserve this?”

Mahavishnu smiled and said, “My faithful bird. I have perhaps erred in offering protection to Sumukha. Let me go to the netherworld, meet Sumukha and withdraw the boon. Please therefore arrange for my chariot to get ready.” Garuda said, “My master, why do you want your chariot? Can I not carry you on my back?”

The Lord replied, “Of course you can. Lower your wings so that I can mount.” Garuda did accordingly and Mahavishnu sat on his back. The bird then tried to flap his wings and take off. Suddenly the weight seemed so immense for him that he could not lift himself even by an inch.

It dawned on Garuda that in his pride he had dared to question the act of the Lord himself. He sought forgiveness from Mahavishnu.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 22 - Human conduct in Kali Yuga

Yudhishthira, the victor in the Kurukshetra War, ruled the Kuru kingdom wisely.

After some time, he, his brothers and Draupadi decided to retire to the forest to lead an austere life. On the day they were leaving, two Brahmins approached Yudhishthira.

Brahmin A told him that he had bought a piece of land from Brahmin B for building a house and,having paid the money, he had legally registered the deed.

When he started to dig the land for laying the foundation he discovered a pot of gold. Brahmin B came to know about this and was claiming the gold as it was his ancestors who had left the treasure there.

Brahmin A, however, insisted that once he had obtained the title for the land, whatever was found in the land automatically belonged to him. Yudhishthira heard the two Brahmins and turned to Bhima who was nearby.

He wanted to know what Bhima thought of the dispute. Bhima told his brother, “Respected elder brother. Yesterday these two Brahmins came to me with the same problem. Brahmin A, the new owner of the land, said that he had only bought the land and hence had no claim over the treasure.

But Brahmin B would have nothing of it. The treasure came from the land which now belonged to Brahmin A, he said. In fact, their plaints were completely the opposite of what they are presenting today.

This means that from today Dwaparayuga is over and Kaliyuga is born.”

Of the four yugas or ages, the first, Krita, is totally free from sins. The two yugas following Krita, namely, Treta and Dwapara, find sin and dishonesty slowly taking over.

In Kaliyuga, where we live, morals are completely dead.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 21 - Birth of Death

Brahma first created all that was found in the universe – mobile and immobile. He, however, found that once created, he had no control over these objects.

Wrath filled him as he realized that none of his creation could be destroyed. In anger, he let go a terrible fire which raged over the universe, destroying everything that came its way.

The fire blazed for eons, until Lord Siva became concerned. He appeared before Brahma and prayed to him to cool his anger.

After much persuasion Brahma regained his composure. He then created from his own body, a maiden who was dark, with red eyes and red tongue, wearing diverse ornaments.

Brahma called her Death and ordered her to go to the universe and slay all the creatures that he had created. But Death, being a lady, became sad at having to deprive creatures of their lives, for she thought that she could cause much sorrow by her action.

Her prayer to Brahma, not to be given this task, went unheard. She therefore performed a severe penance which lasted many billion years. At last Brahma appeared before her and asked what she wanted.

Death again requested that she should be excused from causing the end of all creatures. Brahma told her, “I am pleased with your penance. But the work I have given you has to be done. I understand your feelings. But you need not experience any sorrow as I ordain that creatures would bring their own death.

You will be assisted by Yama. Disease, fights and natural calamities would cause creatures to die by themselves. It would be realized that whatever is born, has to die. There could be no escape from death.”

This assuaged Death’s feelings and she has set about her task faithfully ever since.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 20 - Duryodhana's Plot

Right from the day the Pandav entered Hastinapur, the Kaurava and especially Duryodhan disliked them intensely. He was also extremely jealous of the Pandav for they had earned the love and respect of the entire kingdom. By some means or the other, he wanted to kill the Pandav. Especially Bheem, But Duryodhan was fully aware that it would be not possible to kill Bheem through a wrestling match or with the mace. So Duryodhan had a sinister plot in mind.

One day, Duryodhan invited the Pandav for a holiday by the riverside. How could the Pandav know Duryodhan's devious mind? Thinking about all the enjoyment, they readily agreed. And what a lot of fun it was! Horse-riding, boating, campfire etc. On the ultimate day, Duryodhan had arranged for a royal feast. Bheem, who was a glutton, could not resist the many mouth- watering delicacies and sweet dishes, Happily, he ate and he ate but didn't know that a deadly poison had been mixed with his food.

In the night when the others were fast asleep, the Kaurava tied the hands and legs of Bheem and threw him into the river. The next morning Yudhishthir found Bheem missing from his bed. Presuming that he had loitered away, the other Pandav returned to the palace along with Kaurava.

Bheem who had sunk to the bottom of the river had lost consciousness but was not dead. Seeing his inert body on the riverbed, the king of "Naglok"(A serpent world under the earth) treated him against the poison. The king knew of Duryodhan and hid brothers. He gave him to drink a medicine, that in future no poison will have effect on him as well as he will be strong as ten elephants. Bheem, on recovering his strength and power, thanked the residents of Naglok for their hospitality and returned to Hastinapur.

Dharmaraj, Kunti and the Pandav who were immensely worried about Bheem strange disappearance were very happy to see him back. But Duryodhan not. He was baffled that Bheem had survived such a strong poison.

Certain about Duryodhan's hatred and jealousy, Bheem warned his brothers and mother about the danger posed by the Kaurava. This incident made Duryodhan all the more determined to kill the Pandav, as he knew that they were the rightful heirs to the throne of Hastinapur.

It was under these circumstances that Duryodhan met Karna.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 19 - Duryodhan-Karna Friendship

Drona had taught the prince everything about warfare. He had also told them about the methods to be followed during a war. He had explained about the right and the wrong, the do's and don'ts a Kshatriya should follow. Arjun attained excellence in archery under Drona's training. Dharmaraj was adept at fighting from atop a chariot. Bheem and Duryodhan acquired mastery in using the mace. Nakul and Sahadev were good as horse riders.

Drona wanted the entire Hastinapur to know about the expertise of the princes in waging wars. So he made suitable arrangements for such a day. On the appointed day Hastinapur flocked to the arena of war sports. For, they had an opportunity to watch the princes demonstrate individually, their skill and knowledge. And compete with each other.

Dhristarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, Vidur, Bhishma, Kripacharya and Dronacharya were seated on the dais. The commoners were also provided with seats. The entire Hastinapur wore a festive look.

Shortly, all the princes that is Dharmaraj with his four brothers and Duryodhan accompanied by his ninety-nine brothers entered the arena. They ere all dressed in a war like fashion and were armed suitably.

The competition began after the Vedic chant by the "Raj Purohit" (Chief priest of the Palace) conches were sounded and drums were beaten to indicate the opening of the games. It was then announced that the princes should exhibit their capabilities.

The archers, the fencer, the wrestlers amongst the princes demonstrated their talent. "Bravo Bravo" shouted the excited crowd. Bheem and Duryodhan's deftness in using the mace also delighted the crowed Nakul, Sahadev and the other Kaurava also drew appreciation from the spectators.

It was now Arjun's turn. Partha (Arjun) was Drona's prize student. When he entered the arena, the spectators clapped their hands and cried out "Hail Arjun! Hail Arjun! The warrior demonstrated before the public all that he had learned from his teacher. The crowed applauded each and every feat of Arjun.

The only person who could not tolerate this adulation towards Arjun was Duryodhan. He felt restless and agitated that none of his younger brothers could excel Arjun. If he were to score victory over the Pandav, he ought to have a very able person who could defeat Arjun. Otherwise his ambitions to rule Hastinapur would be shattered.

Kunti felt very happy and proud of her son Arjun. Drona announced that Arjun is the most excellent prince in the whole Aryavart (land ruled by the Aryans). Suddenly a man stood up from amongst the spectators and entering the arena proclaimed that he too would like to demonstrate his skill as a warrior and that he could prove himself to be far better than Arjun.

Drona was annoyed that a stranger trespassed into the arena, which is meant for princes only. "Who are you? Identify yourself" Drona, asked with angry voice. Everyone was curious to know about the challenger. His face radiates an inner strength. He had a pair of earring, which dazzled in the sunlight. " I am Karna. I am son of one of your charioteer" the newcomer said. "This arena is meant only for princes. Lower cast are not allowed to compete here" Drona said with a loud voice.

Duryodhan felt a hope in the voice of Karna. He was the prince of the Hastinapur. "I crowned him as the king of "Ang", the country which is mine. Now onwards he is a king of Ang. As a king he can participate in the contest and I hope now nobody has objection in this" Duryodhan said. Even though it was not very pleasant to the elders of the family, but now it was the matter of Drona's reputation Arjun accepted the challenge.

When Karna displayed all the feats of Arjun effortlessly. Duryodhan was delighted. "Finally. I have found someone who can combat with Arjun" he rejoiced. He immediately went to Karna and embracing him said, " From now on, you are my brother". Karna promised Duryodhan that as he gave a new life to him by giving him a chance to be a worrier he will fight for him to the end of his life for Duryodhan.

These dazzling earrings also caught the attention of Kunti and she immediately occurred to her that this was her eldest born. She was filled with anguish to see he two children facing each other n a challenge. The contest between Arjun and Karna created a lot of excitement amongst the spectators. They knew that this would be a very significant contest, for both Arjun and Karna were great warriors.

Kunti, the mother for both Karna and Arjun just couldn't witness the scene. She knew for certain that Karna was the child she had set adrift in the river long ago. Moreover, at close quarters one could make out a striking resemblance between the two brothers. Thinking about the outcome, she fainted. Suddenly an idea occurred to Drona.

He decided that he would allow only the princes to take part in this contest. He immediately conveyed this suggestion to Kripacharya. Kripacharya at once entered the arena and told Arjun " Arjun! Dronacharya has agreed to this combat. But prior to this. Both of you have to proclaim about yourselves".

Arjun had no difficulty in proclaiming about his royal origin. It was now Karna's turn to reply. The warrior told the spectators that his name was Karna. But what next? He did not know, who his real parents were?, what his clan was? Or any other information about himself. Red in the face, Karna felt distressed that fate had cheated him. He felt utterly humiliated. Kripacharya took advantage of this opportunity and spoke again.

"You do not know who you are? You are just and ordinary soldier. So, you do not qualify yourself to take part in a contest meant only for the royal blood. You may leave the arena". He said in an insulting tone. Drona and Kripacharya do not have any grudge against Karna. But to avoid Arjun's defeat by this warrior. They had to prevent Karna's participation in the contest.

Karna could not say anything. He did not know who he was, except that he had been brought up by a charioteer. He had no status in the society. Duryodhan too, did not like Karna being humiliated in such a fashion. He desperately needed someone to fight against Arjun. So, he quickly ran up to Karna and said " I am the prince of Hastinapur and upon my authority, I am appointing you as the king of Anga. You are now a king. So I dare anyone to say anything against you". So saying he placed a crown on Karna's head. He also performed all the necessary rites to bestow the kingdom of Anga on Karna.

Bhishma, Drona and Vidur were speechless. The Pandav found Duryodhan's behavior very strange. Bheem thought it to be ridiculous. He roared with laughter and said " A charioteer's son! King of Anga! Ho…Ho…!" But Duryodhan ignored them all and hugging Karna in a friendly way drove away in his chariot.

The contest ended and the crowd dispersed Some praised Arjun, others Karna but none knew that Karna was the eldest among Kunti's children. From that day onwards Duryodhan and Karna became very close friends and Karna remained loyal to his friend till he died. Karna was a great warrior and a good human being. But his only drawback was that he did not know about his origin. He had learnt archery under Parshurama by representing to him that he was a Brahmin.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 18 - Curse to Karna

Parshurama is one of the 10 main incarnations of lord Vishnu. Kshatriya (worrier) killed his parents. As revenge he killed all the Kshatriya 21 times from the earth and donated the earth to Brahmans.

He also pledged not to educate arming them. When Dronacharya refused to impart training to him, he decided to try Parshurama, as he was the teacher of Dronacharya. He dressed up as Brahman and took permission to live in his ashram and take training.

He was an extraordinary student very soon he achieved place nearer to the Guru, the teacher. Parshurama gave him the knowledge of not only normal armory but Devastra (weapons of Semi Gods) and Divyastra (Weapons of lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) like Brahmastra etc.

Once he was sitting supporting his lap as pillow for his guru. One spider came and set on his led. He ignored the spider so that it does not disturb sleep of his Guru. Spider bates on his lap and it started paining.

The bite was such terrible that blood came. Karna hold the breath and kept ignoring pain sot that his Guru does not disturbed. Parshurama felt something and woke up. He saw the scene. He was stunned.

He asked with anger that who is he? Brahman can not bear such pain. He is not a Brahman. Angry Parashuram said, "If you will not tell immediately, I will kill you."

Karna did not know about his origin. He knew only that his father is a simple Sarthi (Driver of kings Vehicle). He accepted that he is not a Brahman and he want to learn fighting. That is why he lied.

He also put other arguments but angry Parashuram did not listen and curse him that as he got this all knowledge with abusing the believe and love of the teacher that is why when he will be needing the most his teachings he will forget them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 17 - Ganga's curse on Amba

When even Parasurama could not vanquish Bhishma, a dejected Amba who wanted revenge against the person who had forcibly abducted her and then left her in the lurch, did severe penance in several holy places.

When she performed her penance on the banks of River Ganga, the goddess appeared before her and asked what she wanted.

Amba narrated her tale to Ganga and asserted her desire to kill Bhishma.

The River Goddess became furious on hearing Amba’s words and cursed her, “Your thoughts are crooked. May you be born a crooked river, infested with crocodiles and unfit for the performance of religious rites.”

When Amba reached the holy spot called Vatsabhumi, half her body became a crooked river, filled only during rain, inaccessible and full of crocodiles.

It was thanks to the merits she had accumulated by her penances that the other half of her body helped her retain her maiden form.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 16 - Eklavya

Once when Dronacharya was teaching use of different weapons to their royal students one urban boy came. He bowed him and said 'O' respected teacher I am son of Hiranyadhanu, king of Nishada. I will be very grateful if you teach me I will be your the best student in archery.

Dronacharya looked upon him he was well built confident and obedient looking boy. "Son of Nishada king, Nishada are born hunter. If I will teach him he will definitely be the best archer in the whole country. But I promised Arjun that he will be the best archer in the whole country. Thus I can not teach him".

"No, I do not teach accept royal blood and Kshatriya students". Eklavya smiled and said respected teacher who is that boy learning archery among those princes. "He is Ashvtthama, My son" Drona replied. He is neither prince nor Kshatriya.

Disappointed Eklavya returned with heavy heart. He then made a statue of Drona in mud and installed it at the place where he usually practiced archery. Everyday he prostrated before the stature and practiced archery. His concentration was so high that he could gain mastery over archery. He acquired immense knowledge about it also.

One day, Drona took his pupils to the forest to teach them hunting. It was the same forest where Eklavya practiced archery. Inside the forest Drona observed bow marks on the tree barks indicating archery practice. Just then, a hound standing near Drona stated barking.

Within the moment the hound's mouth was covered by seven arrows. Drona was astonished to find that someone had used his bow in the right direction and the exact place just by listening to the barking sound. Drona was therefore very curious to now more about this archer who had even excelled his own disciple.

Arjun who was standing next to Drona was baffled " I will ensure that none can equal to you in archery" was Drona's assurance to Arjun. But was he teaching someone else secretly wondered Arjun.

Both Drona and Arjun went in search of the archer. They saw Eklavya and introduced themselves to him. Eklavya was delighted. He felt as he had found a treasure and putting down the bow, prostrated before his Guru. Drona was immensely pleased. He asked Eklavya "son, you are an excellent archer. Who is your Guru"?

His Guru was right in front of him. But instead, Eklavya took Drona to the statue and said "Sir, My Guru is none other than Dronacharya, an expert archer and an unparalleled warrior. I have prepared his statue out of mud and imagining his physical presence, I practice archery" replied Eklavya in a humble voice.

Drona then recalled Eklavya's earlier request to teach hi, archery. He instructed the boy to exhibit his talent. Eklavya obeyed his instructions and demonstrated his skill with the bow and the arrow. All the princes present there were astonished with his skill.

Drona too could not believe his own eyes. He admired such an achievement by a tribal. He called Eklavya to come nearer and said "Son! I am Drona, I am the Guru you are talking about. Since you say that you learnt from me, shouldn't you pay me my Gurudakshina (fee offering to Guru)?"

Eklavya in reply said " Respected Sir, I am at your bidding. Whatever you want, I will give it to you". Drona wanted to impair Eklavya's capability to use the bow and the arrow. This would also remove any challenges to Arjun's supremacy over the skill. He therefore said "Eklavya, Cut your right thumb and offer it to me as your fee".

Eklavya realized Drona's intentions, but without any hesitation, he chopped his tight thumb and willingly offered it to Drona. Drona was immensely pleased with Eklavya's devotion and after complimenting him about this returned to the palace along with his disciples.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 15 - Garuda

The sage Kashyapa had two wives, Kadru and Vinata.

To Kadru was born the snakes of the world and to Vinata was born a splendid kite. The bird was so enormous that as he flew in the sky, the shadow from his wings engulfed wide areas in darkness.

Kadru had tricked Vinata into becoming her slave. When the bird came to know of this, he negotiated with the snakes to free his mother from bondage.

The snakes agreed to free her if the kite could bring to them the nectar which was churned from the milky ocean but was now in the possession of the gods.

Vinata’s son immediately left on his mission to obtain the nectar. He knew that this task required great strength. So he swallowed 10,000 Nishadas (a tribe of hunters).

Even then he felt that he lacked the necessary strength. His father, Kashyapa, saw his plight and advised him as follows. ”My son, do not despair. I shall show you a pond where there live a gigantic elephant and an equally big tortoise. These two are in fact two brothers who were sages who had fallen out with each other over a matter of property. They have turned into these animals to try and kill each other. Catch these animals and eat them. You would become strong.”

The bird followed his father’s directions. Catching the two animals by his claws he took off to find a place where he could sit and eat them.

He observed a big banyan tree and descended towards it. But the flapping of his wings caused so much disturbance that a big bough broke away from the tree.

The bird quickly observed that there was a row of sages, Valikhilyas, who were hanging upside down in the bough and performing penance.

Because of his great respect for ascetics, the bird caught the bough in his beak and started flying. He now had an elephant and a tortoise hanging from his legs while the bough with the sages was held by his beak.

The sages observed this admirable feat and told the bird, “Thou art truly a great carrier of heavy weight, Garuda.”

Garuda found a safe place to leave the bough with the sages and another place where he could sit and eat the elephant and the tortoise.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 14 - Mantara or Kooni

Here is a background to how Mantara or Kooni of the Ramayan fame was born.

The ten-headed Ravana became all-powerful due to the boon he received from Brahma.

The gods rushed to Brahma and sought relief from the demon.

Brahma told them that only the Supreme God, Vishnu, could slay Ravana.

Accordingly Vishnu was born to Dasaratha as Rama, and Sakra was sent to earth to beget monkeys and bears to help him.

All the other gods were asked to choose their roles in the drama to be played.

Brahma asked a Gandharvi (demi-god), Dundhubi by name, to be born as Manthara.

Her mission? To create confusion and trouble.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 13 - Indra's Vajraayuda

The Kalakeyas, a tribe of demons, and Vritra fought with Indra and defeated him.

Indra, followed by all the gods who were under his protection, went to Brahma for help and advice.

Brahma told them to seek the sage Dadachi on the banks of the River Saraswati.

The sage was performing a severe penance but willingly helped Indra. From out of his body he removed all the bones and handed them to Indra.

With those bones a mighty six-edged weapon was made called the Vajra.

When released, the weapon would make a thunderous noise and destroy the most powerful enemy. Indra used this weapon to destroy Vritra.

He retained the weapon after his victory.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 12 - Dronar & Kripar

All the princes took education under Dronacharya and Kripacharya.

The first lesson started, " Always speak truth. Do not be angry. Help others". Next day teacher asked "Do every one learned the lesson"? Every one learned the lesson except Yudhishthir.

Do learn the lesson tomorrow, teacher said,

"Still I am not able to learn the lesson teacher" Yudhishthir said the next too. Teacher gave him one more day.

Teacher lost his temper " what a fool you are. In three days you are not able to learn three lines". He punished him. "Still I am not able to learn the lesson teacher" Yudhishthir said the next too.

Teacher was very unhappy and among all princes he was punishing Yudhishthir. "He knows the lesson well. He taught this lesson us at home" all the Pandav told the teacher.

"I learned only the words but still I can not follow them. I get angry some time. Sometime I tell lie. That is why I said, I still not able to learn the lesson".

Kripacharya was very impressed with his answer. This was a great truth that we learn only the words not the lesson itself. He lost his temper during teaching them this lesson. He blessed Yudhishthir that he will be known for his love for the truthfulness for long.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 11 - Draupadi & Drishtadhyumna

Drupad secretly conducted a Yagna so that he can get a son who will kill Dronacharya.
A strong and handsome man occurred from the fire and the fire god told "he will kill the Dronacharya. His name will be Dhrishtdumn".
As the boy came out of the fire the fire god spoke again "She will be the cause of destruction of Kaurava. Her name will be Draupadi."
The very next second a bright and glorious girl came out of fire.
Drupad was full of joy for the two children he got from the fire god.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 10 - Dronacharya

Drona was a poor Brahman. He was student of Bharadwaj Muni. He and his friend Drupad who was the prince of Panchaal were among very good students. In Ashram Prince of Panchaal promise him to be his friend always even though he will become the king. After ashram life they got separate.
Drona got married to Kripi, sister of Kripacharya, the main Priest and teacher for Hastinapur's royal family. As Drona was always very ambitious and energetic he was never satisfied with an ordinary jobs. Once he listened that Parashuram is giving up his belongings to other Brahman. He also rushed to him.
"You are quite late. I already gave my all belongings except these weapons which no Brahman wants to take". Parashuram said. "I will be grateful to you if you give your weapons and their working technique" Drona said.
When he returned home, he saw his son crying and asking for milk. Kripi gave him mixture of rice powder and water. She was not able to provide normal milk to Ashvtthama, her son. Ashvtthama threw the pot and said that he wants the milk as all his friends drink. Kripi was not able to stop tears in her eyes.
Drona decided to go Panchaal, visit to his friend to seek some help from him. "Your friend want to meet you 'O' King" courtier said. Drupad saw a poor Brahman with a woman and a child in torn cloths entering in court. He could not tolerate to be called as a friend of such a person.
"Who are you" Drupad asked. "I am your friend Drona. We were in the same ashram under Bharadwaj Muni." Drona replied. "I don't remember you. How you can be my friend? I am a king, you are a poor man. Only a king could be a friend of a king. If you want some money, take and go away." Drupad said in very insulting tone.
I will remember you words always. Next time when we will meet, we will be equal. Drona left the court in anger.
It is very important for the Kshatriya that is the warrior clan to be proficient in archery and sword fencing. We already know that the Pandav and the Kaurava were being and brought up together by Bhishma. He always showed keen interest in their education and proficiency in warfare. He therefor wanted the best among the tutors to train Pandav and Kaurava in archery and sword fighting.
One day all the princes were playing the ball game together and the ball fell into a dilapidated well. How to take out the ball was their problem. Just at that time, the spotted a Brahman. He was a thin person but his bright eyes and the glow on his face indicated a brilliant man. The Brahman listened to the children and said in a teasing voice, You are from a warrior race and still you do not know how to take out the ball from the well!" The children were surprised. What is the relationship between the ball and the warrior race, they wondered. They raised this doubt with the Brahman. He replied, "Let me show you."
The Brahman was not an ordinary person. He pulled out a blade of grass and after chanting a mantra, threw it into the well. The grass hit the ball with lot of force and the ball bounced out of the well. The princes realized that he was an extraordinary man. They wanted to know his name. But Brahman smiled and said "Go to your grandfather Bhishma and narrate this incident to him. He will know who I am".
It didn't take long for Bhishma to know the identity of this Brahman. He was non other than Dronacharya. Bhishma had known that no one could match Drona's skill in archery in the entire land of Bharat. So Bhishma hastened to meet Dronacharya and appointed him as the tutor for the princes. All the princes felt happy and proud that they were Dronacharya's disciples.
Among all the princes, Arjun was Dronacharya's favorite disciple. Arjun always aimed his bow very well. He always respected his Guru. And though the other princes received good training from their master, it was Arjun who excelled himself in archery.
Dronacharya thoroughly taught all of them. He never forgot the incident happened in Drupad's court. Ever science this incident, Drona waited for an opportunity to teach lesson for Drupad's arrogance. With brave Arjun, With Duryodhan who was good at the mace, with the powerful Bheem and with courageous Yudhishthir as students, Drona felt that the time was right for him to seek his revenge against Drupad. So, first of all, he ordered Duryodhan to wage a war against the Panchaal king and drag him b the hair through the battlefield. But Duryodhan was no match for Drupad and was easily defeated by him. Disappointed Drona entrusted this task to Arjun.
It did not take long for Arjun to defeat Drupad. He imprisoned the King and produced him before Drona. Drupad felt punished. All the insults that he had heaped on Drona flashed through his mind. He stood before Drona with a bowed head.
Since Drupad was defeated in the war, Drona had the right to claim the entire kingdom as his own. But he was an unselfish person. So he told Drupad "My friend, let one half of the kingdom be with you. I will retain the other half so that both of us can be equals. Then you will have no hesitation in accepting me as your friend."
This generous attitude of Drona made Drupad feel all the more humiliated. But instead of being grateful to him, a feeling of revenge grew strong in Drupad.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 9 - Kauravas & Pandavas

Because of curse, Pandu had given up his kingdom and was living in the forest. He did not live for long. He died when his 5 sons were still young. Entreating Kunti to be a mother to all the five sons of Pandu, Maadri burnt herself on the funeral Pyre of her husband. On hearing about the death of Pandu and Maadri, Bhishma and Vidur hastened to the forest and brought Kunti and Pandu sons to Hastinapur. All these five sons Yudhishthir, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdev were called Pandav.
Dhritarashtra had one hundred sons by the name of Kaurava. Duryodhan his eldest son, who form a very young age, had nursed a deep hatred for the Pandav that is why he could not tolerate the Pandav in Hastinapur. Pretending to be friendly to them, he plotted devious means of getting rid of them from the kingdom.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 8 - Duryodhana & Karna


On the other hand Dhritarashtra was happy that Pandu gone to vaanprasth and he may have the chance to be the father of the next king if he got son before Pandu. Gandhari got pregnant, he was the happiest person on earth, but fortune was not in his favour. After a long pregnancy, she gave birth to a meatball. Everyone was shocked.
At that time Ved Vyaas came and told them to cut that ball into 100 pieces and put each of them in separate pots and close their mouth. When time will come, he will tell them to open. But instead of cutting hundred pieces they cut the meatball 100 times and got 101 pieces. Ved Vyaas said that Gandhari will have only 100 sons from this 101st piece she will have a daughter.
Yudhishthir had born first. Dhritarashtra lost his throne again. This pain was not tolerable for him. But he can not say to anybody his feelings. Pandu was the king and his son who was elder then his son Duryodhan had the right over the throne. He forgot his all pain when he listened sweet voice of his first child Duryodhan (Tough Worrier). His second son was Dusashan. He named his daughter as Dushila who was married later to Jayadrath.

Kunti was very beautiful and gorgeous. When she was young, once Durvasa Muni, a saint famous for his anger, visited his father and intended to stay there for some time. His father Kuntal the king of Matura asked Kunti to serve him the best to please him, otherwise Durvasa's anger may destroy the entire kingdom.
Kunti pledged to serve him the best. Day and night she was ready to obey Durvasa's command. Durvasa saw her devotion. He was pleased and asked her to say what she wants in her life. "I don't know what I want in my life, you can see the past, present and the future, kindly give whatever may be required in my future the most." Kunti replied. Durvasa smiled and said only a wise woman can ask such a thing. He gave her a Mantra. He had indicated to her that by chanting these, Kunti could summon any celestial god and beget a son from him.
Young Kunti was full of joy with the blessing. She was that time not able to understand the seriousness of the present given to her. One morning she saw the bright sun and wishes that if she can have a son from the sun. Out of curiosity she chanted the mantra to invite Sun god. Her room filled with the light and her eyes were not able to see anything. After a moment she saw a handsome, young and bright man, the Sun god, he smiled and said "Kunti I came on your invitation, I will give my son to you." But I don't want any son now. I only tested the mantra out of curiosity" Kunti said.
Power of the mantra is not a joke or a game. It should be spelled only when they are required the most, because they bound to give the result after being chanted. I can not refuse to give my child to you, as I am bound by the powers of the Mantra." Sun god replied.
The very next moment a beautiful son was in hand of Kunti. The child was wearing the war protection cloths as his skin from the birth. "He will be a great worrier and will be famous for his forgiveness and Marcy." The sun god disappeared left the stunned Kunti alone. An unwanted child! Before marriage Kunti got a child, What will be her position in the society! She will be called a characterless woman. "But how I can throw this child away at least he is my son" Kunti thought. Kunti was in very critical situation. She was not able to decide what is good for her. Durvasa Muni said this mantra is for her future. What will be her future after she will be expelled from the society!
Being a virgin, she feared social outcry against her and placed the baby, Which had been born with a pair of brilliant ears ornaments in a wooden box and gently pushed it into the river. Floating on the river, the box reached the hands of a childless charioteer. He handed the baby to his wife Radha. The couple named the boy as Karna because of his ear ornaments and brought him up with love and affection.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 7 - Kunti & Maadri

Kunti was the first wife of Pandu. She was daughter of the king of Matura. In young age she got the blessing of a saint that she could invite any celestial god and beget a son from him. When Pandu decided to go in jungle she with the second wife Maadri also followed him. During his jungle visit Dhritarashtra took care of his throne on his behalf.
In jungle Kunti came to know about the curse given to him. She told Pandu about the Mantra which Durvasa Muni given her. Pandu agreed to have child through this process. After getting permission from his husband Kunti first summon to Yam, Dharmaraj, The god of Justice. "My child will be the ultimate of truth and justice on earth" he named him Yudhishthir (who remain strong and do not leave the path of truth even during the war).
Pandu asked her again to have second son Kunti pray to Pavan Devta, the air god " My son will be the strongest person on the earth no body will be able to beat him face to face war" he named him Bheem.
Pandu still not satisfied he asked once again to call Indra, King of all Devta, "My son will be the excellent worrier and his fame will above all, He will be the closest person of the Lord Krishna, incarnation of Vishnu on earth". He named him Arjun.
Maadri was sad, as she was not having any child also. Pandu asked Kunti to give that Mantra to Maadri also so that she also can have children. Maadri summon to Ashwani Kumar (twin gods, God of medicine and surgery) and god two sons from them. Both were strong and handsome they named them Nakul and Sahdev.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 6 - Gandhari & Pandu


Gandhari was the daughter of king of Gandhaar. She was born and brought up in a strong Hindu family. Bhishma asked her hand for Dhritarashtra. Gandhaar was a weak and small country than Hastinapur.
Denying Bhishma's offer may cause tension between them and war. Gandhari's father was bound to marry his daughter with a born blind. Gandhari accepted this calmly and decided to feel the world like her future husband do feel.
She was a great devotee of lord Shiva and of very strong character. She decided to close her eyes with a black cloth strip so she also feels the world from other senses then eyes.
Her brother Shakuni, who loves her sister very much, was shocked on her decision. He was deeply shaken and angry on Bhishma that he was the main person who was the cause for all this. He decides to go with his sister to Hastinapur to look after her.


Although Pandu was a sick man he was crowned as the king of Hastinapur.

Once he was enjoying hunting in deep in the jungle. He saw a deer couple, he followed them and aim them with his long and sharp arrow, that time that deer couple was making love. When he come near to the prey, he was stunned.

There was a Rishi (yogi who lives in jungle and live very simple life) couple, they were extraordinary yogi and able to change their self in any form that time they in deer form when Pandu traced them and killed them during intercourse. Whatever Pandu done he was not aware of this but now it was too late to explain.

With anger dying couple cursed him "You will die when ever you will make love to any women". Pandu was the king and was having two wives the eldest was Kunti princess of Matura. And the other was Maadri princess of Madra.

Unfortunately Pandu was not having any children till the time of course. He returned with heavy heart to his palace. After this happening he decided to go in jungle and pray, may God give another chance him to have a child.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 5 - Dhritarashtra and Pandu

Vichitravirya also disappointed Bhishma. He died in very young age without any son to hold his throne. Kingdom can not survive without king. Satyawati asked Bhishma to produce child with Amba and Ambalika so that Kingdom may have the king.
"I vowed to remain Brahamchaari and not marry. I can not accept such a offer" He said. I will protect the kingdom till kingdom will not get the new king. He suggested when such problem occurs in holy books "The Veda" one more variation is given. As Brahman are Devta on earth they can produce king by donating their sperms to the queen.
"He will help you in future" these words strike her mind. Satyawati opened secret to Bhishma that she has a son named "Ved Vyaas" through Parashar Muni and as per variation given in Holy books he is her son as well as a Brahman. Although he lives in Jungle away from civilization and practice yoga, science and spiritualism, on her request he will come.
Ved Vyaas was not a normal yogi. He was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was full of knowledge and energy. He came on her mother's request. As external physic was not suitable for the queens, Black, Strong, long hairs and beard, oil all over the body. Eyes bright with energy enough to scare a soft queen.
Amba closed her eyes when he love her and Ambalika become pale with fear. He told her mother Satyawati that none of the queen would have normal child, as during making love they were not normal, peaceful and devoted to him. Satyawati asked Amba to go again to him and this time devote herself with full heart. Amba did not dare and sand her maid second time, maid surrendered to Ved Vyaas with full heart. After that He went back to his place and Amba, Ambalika and the maid.
With the time they gave birth. Ambika gave birth to a blind child named as Dhristarashtra. Ambalika to a sick and pale yellow child named Pandu and the maid gave birth to an intelligent and handsome child named Vidur.
Time runs with leap and bounds and they become young men. Although Dhritarashtra was a born blind he was good in wrestling. Pandu was with poor physic was not that active in warfare but being a Kshatriya he learnt necessary armory education. Vidur being a maid son but intelligent and brother of Dhritarashtra and Pandu learn to be a good courtier and appointed as adviser to the King.