Unfortunately, I had a craving for Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series and went back to work and so could pick up the books from the local library so this has taken a backseat again but, even if truncated, I’m hoping to get through it by and by.
I stopped at the part where the Pandavas are in hiding from Duryodhan and are now in a village pretending to be brahmanas. So considering I’ve already been through this before, will just post some more observations:
- I noticed that in the first part of the epic women, and men’s lust for women, seems to be the cause of many of the events. This may be because the start of the story is about beginnings and beginnings come from births so women are naturally involved. Many of these births have a human mother and a supernatural father, with the exception of Bheeshma who hadGangaas his mother and a human king as his father. Reminded me of Mary and the immaculate conception, which I’ve always thought of as ridiculous and a bit suspicious. Looks like there is a tradition of this sort of narrative in religious texts though. Later in the Mahabharat, Duryodhan actually airs what might have crossed many minds – that the paternity of the Pandavas is in question. The Mahabharat is refreshingly honest about the power of lust though. Men, even rishis, seem to be overcome by lust for women and grant them magical favours to be able to have sex with them. The women are not condemned for being lustful either, maybe because they lusting after gods and/or their ilk.
- As the story progressed, I noticed caste and the positions of people in society gaining prominence. For example, the incident with Ekalavya and then the story of Karna. It is completely normal to diss a person simply because of their caste and the expected scheme of things to tell them that’s where they should stay.
- Like last time, I found Arjuna more and more irritating. He wanted to be the best archer in the world by any means, not just fair means. How noble is that?
- When things are weighted artificially in the Pandavas favour, there is often some little speech from those who intervened on their behalf that they had premonitions of fate and that’s why they did it. For example, Drona making Ekalavya cut off his thumb. This seems to be a very convenient device to excuse impartiality and injustice. Then again, maybe there is something in this – there are things you cannot prevent, so best to go along with them.
- Duryodhan, who till now was painted as a uniformly evil character, redeems himself somewhat by making the speech in favour of Karna and pointing out that one can become a kshatriya by demonstrating great valour and not just by birth. Although it is suggested that he sided with Karna for his own ends, the speech seemed heartfelt and convinced most people. I felt more sympathic to Duryodhan then.
- Bheem is made out of be quite the flirt and favourite with the ladies. He seems to be a favourite character of many of the ladies.
That’s it for now. Coming up, Draupadi enters the picture so that should be interesting.