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Showing posts from 2011

40 "Be The Elder One"

We Indians are argumentative. Or so says Amartya Sen. Indeed, we love to debate about
issues that may or may not have any worldly bearing on us. And the great epics of
Mahabharata and Ramayana put together is not just a mine, but a zig-zag, cross-referenced labyrinth of tunnels - an unending abyss that provides as an eternal source for such debates.

Are the epics history or myths? Are they both?

Did the story of Rama and Sita from Mahabharata get retold as a separate epic in its own right at later times?

Was Duryodhana right in asking for the throne? Were Pandavas the rightful heirs, considering that Pandu was not their biological father?

Was it right on the part of Rama to destroy the entire Rakshasa race just to win back his wife? And then having won her back, how did he ask her to leave him and go alone in the forest?

The inquiries are never-ending, and the characters - Ah! ... They provide such fodder for rumination!

Out of the many characters in the epic of Mahabharata, two stand out d…

39 Origin of Ganesha as Vighna-harta

Speaking of timeline, this is a tale I found, for a change, that has a specific time period associated with it. It is about the origin of one of most well-known and rather contemporary gods of the Hindu pantheon - Lord Ganesha.

I found it in a book that was written about 150 years ago (first printed in 1882) by a Britisher -- W. J. Wilkins -- while India was just one colony for them, and as such, one can disregard most of the comments made by the author, since he made them with the clouded eyes of a colonizer p*** about his 'subjects' (in his own words!).

Moreover, Prof. Wilkins seems to rely heavily on a few other Western writers (Kennedy, Muir, Wilson etc.) rather than going through the actual Hindu texts, and so if there is any glow of light in his book at all, it is more the 'reflective glory' type rather than one with any original burning flame.

Anyway, I recite this tale here more for its ingenuity rather than its originality.

The tale is set during the 'Sandhi&#…

38: Mythical Timeline of Dashavataras

The problem - rather, one of the problems, for there are several many as I have mentioned earlier too - one of the problems with reading and contemplating about the Hindu mythology is the circular nature of time (see my earlier posts on this subject).

Agreed that this gives an excellent opportunity for poets and other creative beings to twist and turn the story line, and to have characters from different eons pop suddenly out of nowhere and spice up the narratives. And that is how you suddenly have Bhima from Dwapar Yuga picking up Hanuman's Treta Yuga-old tail in Mahabharata. You also have Vishnu and Indra sharing the spoils of a sport once in the vedas as two brothers (as sons of Aditi, daughter of Daksha, who is himself the son of Brahma), and then afterwards a later-dated puranas declaring vehemently that Vishnu is the creator of all, including Brahma, Daksha, and Indra. Beat that!

Yet, with all these creative freedoms, you will agree with me that when mythology itself means tha…