Episode # 77 – The Kurukshetra war – A great disaster for Duryodhana and his Kaurava camp!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Vaishampayana briefing King Janame-Jaya as to how the Paandava brothers had to bear insult after insult, humiliation after humiliation under the wretched hands of Duryodhana and Co. at Hastinapura. Courtesy Vidura and Bhagawan Krishna, the Paandavas were afloat and alive. We’ve witnessed how the Paandavas were planned to be killed under the “Laaksha Griham” at Vaaranavata. Subsequently as they escaped that trap, Duryodhana fumed in anger and frustration and with the assistance of Sahuni, he arranged a game of “Gambling”. Duryodhana took this step because he knew that no other “death traps” can kill the Paandavas and the only way to win over them is through “smartness” and “perverted intelligence”. Even though gambling is against “Raaja-Dharma”, King Dhirdiraashtra had no option but to accede to it, owing to Duryodhana’s constant pressure. During the game, Yudishtra had to lose everything that he had, including wife Draupati. Subsequently, Draupati was dragged to the courtroom by Duchhaasana, Duryodhana’s brother and was insulted in public by unstripping her saree. Thanks to the timely intervention of Bhagawan Krishna’s “invisible divine hands”, Draupati was saved from further insult. 

This made the Paandavas fume with anger. Duryodhana’s trap and wicked plan was out in the open. What started as a “friendly” game, ended up in a disaster of a humongous sort! Upon Draupati being insulted, the Paandavas take a firm pledge to avenge this in some way or the other. Bheemasena was fuming in anger and took a pledge that he would amputate Ducchaasana’s hands that unstripped Draupati’s saree and would drink his blood to avenge the insult! The entire Hastinapura courtroom was shell-shocked with Bheemasena’s pledge! King Dhirdiraashtra was shaking with fear! Bhismachaarya and Guru Dhronaachaarya were beyond words! The downfall of Hastinapura had begun! However, if there was one person who never realized the dire consequences for what has conspired, it was none other than Duryodhana! He stuck to his plans of sending the Paandavas away to the forest on an “Agnyaata-Vaasam” mode for twelve years. During this period, the enmity increased further. As the Paandavas were staying at the “Viraata-Desha” during the thirteenth year, the feud took a huge giant leap. To dose this feud, several messengers from both sides tried their best. Sanjaya came from King Dhirdiraashtra’s side to make truce with the Paandavas. Bhagawan Krishna Himself went as a messenger to make truce with the Karuavas. But at the end of the day nothing worked! As Bhagawan Krishna was finally insulted by Duryodhana when He had gone as a messenger, the message was loud and clear! War was inevitable at this stage! 

Thus, eventually a huge war broke out at Kurukshetra! Each and every element of the eighteen-Akshauhini Sainya was destroyed by Bhagawan Krishna silently, in the form of motivating the Paandavas to go for the kill. It is during the war did Bhagawan Krishna become the charioteer to Arjuna and gave the famous Bhagawad Gita to the world. Thus, Bhagawan Krishna became the “Geeta-Chaarya” and “Paartha-Saarathy” to Arjuna during the Kurukshetra war. Thus, the entire Kaurava camp was completely destroyed, not leaving behind even a single soul alive! Duryodhana was kept alive till the last day of the 18-day war, and he had to see all his 99 brothers being killed in front of his own eyes! Bhishmaachaarya was not spared. Guru Dhronaachaarya was tricked and hacked to death! Everybody had their share of misfortune during the war, and eventually Bhagawan Krishna ensured that “Adharma” was destroyed right from the grassroot level. 

All this was done by Bhagawan upon a single request from Goddess Bhoomadevi that the population of people performing Adharma was increasing in an alarming manner, and this should be brought under control! As Sage Vaishampayana explains thus, he concludes by explaining that this is the main reason behind the huge war of destruction that happened between King Janame-Jaya’s grandfathers. Arjuna had obtained the “Gaandeepa” (A special bow) directly from Agni Bhagawan. It is only with this Gaandeepa did he go around destroying the Kaurava camp in masses, of course with the able and smart guidance of Bhagawan Krishna! Thus, we can see here that the entire thing was “staged” by Bhagawan to destroy “Adharma” in this world. So for today, let us understand upto this point, and let us witness in the next episode as to how King Janame-Jaya is going to react to whatever Sage Vaishampayana had to say till now! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 76 – The “DRAUPATI – INSULT” – Main trigger for the Kurukshetra showdown!!!

In the previous episode, we had been witnessing Sage Vaishampayana’s briefing about how the feud between the Paandava and the Kaurava camps started and how this feud led to the ultimate Kurukshetra war, which ended up in mass destruction on both sides. This briefing is being given here by Sage Vaishampayana in response to King Janame-Jaya’s curious question as to how things conspired in his past, and why his ancestors ended up fighting with each other within the family. In this lines, we’ve witnessed upto the point wherein Duryodhana tried to “burn down” the Paandava brothers inside the “Laaksha Griham”, which is nothing but a huge and an attractive palace built of wax and other easily inflammable materials at a place called Vaaranavatam. Upon Duryodhana’s repeated convincing, King Dhiridraashtra asks the Paandavas to go and reside in this new palace at Vaaranavatam for a year. However, as the Paandavas start residing there, Vidura knew the conspiracy plan of Duryodhana and Shahuni and he immediately alerted the Paandavas through a messenger. With the help of this messenger, an underground secret passage was constructed overnight and through this, the Paandavas and Kunthi Devi escaped out of the “Laaksha Griham” as it was set on fire by Duryodhana and Co. 

Thus, till this point we can see that Vidura was instrumental in many occasions in protecting the Paandavas, as he knew that the Paandavas were genuine people and epitomes of “Dharma”. After this episode, the Paandavas were roaming around in a thick forest, without getting into the eyes of Duryodhana and Co. We’ve to understand here that at this point, Duryodhana doesn’t know that the Paandavas have escaped the “Laaksha Griham” trap. He is still of the view that the Paandavas were burnt down, and was celebrating at Hastinapura. However, thanks to Vidura’s timely intervention, the Paandavas escaped the wrath of Duryodhana yet again, and are now in a secret place. As days and months passed, they heard of the “Svayamvara” of the daughter of King Drupata. King Drupata’s daughter was none other than Draupati. The Paandava brothers went to the Drupata Desha, participated in the Svayamvara event, and married Draupati. Thus, Draupati became the wife of all the five Paandava brothers. 

In the meanwhile, there was a Raakshasa by name “Bagaasura”. He was destroyed by Bheemasena and the Brahmins in that area were rescued. Subsequently, another Raakshasa by name “Hidimba” was destroyed by Bheemasena and ended up marrying Hidimba’s sister, Hidimbi. With this, Bheemasena obtained a son by name “Gatodhgaja”. We’re going to witness all of these in a great detail later on when we discuss the apt “Parva” and “Upa-Parva” of the text. Thus, all these instances took place in the forest, and after these incidents, the Paandavas returned back to Hastinapura. By the time, the one-year-period got over, and with their return back to the Hastinapura kingdom, Duryodhana couldn’t believe his eyes! Till that point, he was thinking that the Paandavas were history, but when they walked in front of him with Draupati in the middle, Duryodhana’s anger only shot up northwards! His jealousy grew northwards as he was fuming about the Paandavas’ growing popularity all over the country. Thus, he again sat with his uncle, Shahuni and planned the next conspiracy. 

Now comes the main part – The phase wherein the “Gambling” took place! With the help of Shahuni and his wicked and crooked planning, Duryodhana wanted to play the game of gambling with the Paandavas. Although King Dhirdiraashtra opposed this initially because this is against the “Raaja-Dharma”, Duryodhana played the “emotional card” and convinced him to grant permission. The Paandavas were invited for the game and as the game started, Yudishtra started losing all his wealth and kingdom to Duryodhana one by one. Finally when nothing was left for Yudishtra to lose, Duryodhana and Shahuni induced him to stake his wife Draupati and play! When Yudishtra lost Draupati too in the gamble, Draupati was dragged into the courtroom by Ducchaasana, who was the brother of Duryodhana. As Bhishmaachaarya, Guru Dhronaachaarya looked on helplessly, Ducchaasana insulted Draupati by undressing her saree in public! Amidst all this, again Vidura tried to intervene and did his best to stop this nonsense from happening, but this time, Vidura was helpless! His words went to deaf ears! King Dhirdiraashtra too wasn’t able to stop this insult from happening! 

As the entire Hastinaapura palace was watching helplessly, Bhagawan Krishna intervened in the middle and His “invisible” hand saved Draupati from getting insulted further! It is only at the end of this disgraceful event, the Paandavas take a strong pledge that they would defeat and kill Duryodhana and Co. somehow or the other by pulling them into the war. Thus, this incident sowed the seed for the Kurukshetra war to happen! This was the main trigger point for the mass destruction that took place henceforth! As Sage Vaishampayana was narrating thus, tears rolled down King Janame-Jaya’s eyes as he was lost in his thoughts! His ancestors have been clearly ill-treated, insulted and cheated in public! As he was listening more keenly now, Sage Vaishampayana continues to brief the further happenings. We shall stop with this for today, and let us continue this briefing further in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 75 – The enmity between Pandavas & Kauravas begins – Sage Vaishampayana outlines!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Vaishampayana giving a brief as to who the Paandava brothers are, and how were they born. We’ve already witnessed that the Paandava brothers’ grandfather was Sage Veda-Vyaasa himself. After this, King Paandu, who was ruling Hastinapura kingdom at that time had a curse that if he unites with his wives to have kids, he would die on the spot. Hence, he was unable to have children. However, Kunthi Devi had other plans. She used her boons that she had obtained earlier, prayed to the Devas one after the other and with their divine “Anugraha”, the Paandava brothers were born. As the Paandava brothers were growing up in the forest amidst the sages, at one point, it was decided that they head back to Hastinapura. By this time, King Paandu had died along with Maadri Devi. So the five children were left alone with Kunthi Devi. As they went to Hastinapura, Paandu’s brother, Dhirdiraashtra, had been crowned as the king. As the Paandava children came in, King Dhirdiraashtra had his reservations and doubts whether these were really King Paandu’s children or not. However, a divine voice intervened and sorted things out, and it was decided that the Paandavas would henceforth reside in Hastinapura only. 

As this decision was made, everybody accepted it unanimously, except for one person – Duryodhana. Even while being a child, Duryodhana was jealous over the Paandava brothers that they might some day grab the kingdom from him, and he would lose the opportunity to rule Hastinapura. To fuel this more, Duryodhana’s uncle, Shahuni was always by his side. Shahuni was from the “Shoubala Desha” (Today’s Afghanistan). Shahuni’s sister was Gaandhaari. This Gaandhaari was married to King Dhirdiraashtra and Shahuni came along with her “to be of help” to her blind husband. All of us might know that King Dhirdiraashtra was blind by birth. There’s a story to this effect too, and we’re going to witness when that context comes. But for now, we’re only witnessing Sage Vaishampayana’s brief about who were King Janame-Jaya’s ancestors and why did they end up fighting with each other. 

Thus, as Shahuni came along, more than being of help to his sister and husband, he was only fuelling Duryodhana’s jealousy. Shahuni was making many plans to destroy the Paandava brothers along with Karna. As all these were happening on one side, there was one person in the Hastinapura palace who was genuinely concerned about the welfare of the Paandava brothers. That person was none other than Vidura. Whenever there was a grave danger looming for the Paandavas, it was Vidura who was in the forefront everytime to protect and save them from falling into it. Vidura was the direct “Avatara” (Incarnation) of Yama-Dharma-Raja. There is a separate story for this too, which we would be witnessing later. 

As King Janame-Jaya was listening keenly thus, Sage Vaishampayana continued to narrate a few instances wherein the Paandavas were pushed into great danger. Even while being a child, Duryodhana tried to poison Bheemasena’s food, thus trying to kill him then and there. It would be very interesting to note that the enmity between Duryodhana and Bheemasena started right from day one of the Paandavas entering into Hastinapura. However, that poison had no effect on him and the food that Bheemasena ate, got digested without any problem. Secondly, Duryodhana tried to push Bheemasena into the fast-flowing River Ganges while he was asleep. However, Mother Ganga was gracious enough to bring him back to the bank safely without any injury. Next, Duryodhana tried killing Bheemasena by making a snake bite him. However, the snake’s bite never injected any poison into him, and thus he escaped. Notwithstanding all these failures back to back, Shahuni chipped in and with him, Duryodhana planned to shift the Paandavas to a place called “Varanavata ”. At Varanavata,  Duryodhana built a “Laaksha Griham” (A palace built of wax) and convinced King Dhirdiraashtra to send the Paandava brothers to this place. The plan was to burn them down overnight as the Paandavas would be asleep inside the “Laaksha-Griha”. However, Vidura somehow knew of Duryodhana’s wicked plans, and at the apt time, he sent a messenger to alert the Paandava brothers. With the guidance of that messenger, the Paandava brothers dug a secret underground passage and escaped from that “Laaksha-Griha”. 

It should be noted here once again by readers that all these instances are going to be discussed elaborately in the upcoming episodes. However, for now, Sage Vaishampayana is only outlining the various reasons why the enmity fuelled between the two camps. Each of these above-mentioned instances are described in detail as separate “Parvas”, which we’re going to see one after the other. So for today, let us understand till this point that the Paandava brothers escaped the “Laaksha-Griha” trap. We shall continue this outlining of Sage Vaishampayana in the next episode as to what was Duryodhana’s next plan of action to destroy the Paandava brothers. The next episode is going to talk about the tipping point of this enmity between the two camps! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 74 – Sage Vaishampayana explains who the Pandava brothers are!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed an important point as Sage Vaishampayana commences with the Mahabharata story. We’ve witnessed that Sage Vaishampayana is empowered by Sage Veda-Vyaasa to narrate the entire Mahabharata text to King Janame-Jaya and the others who have assembled there, as the “Sarpa-Yaaga” was brought to a grinding halt. It is this narration that we’re going to witness from now. As Sage Vaishampayana begins, he gives us a “shocker” that Sage Vyaasa was the grandfather to the Paandava brothers. We analyzed this “shocker” message and witnessed how Sage Vyaasa was responsible for the birth of Dhiridiraashtra and Paandu. The Paandava brothers were in turn born to Paandu. King Vichitraveerya had a curse that he cannot have children with his wives Ambika and Ambaalika, and because of this, the two wives had to obtain the divine “Anugraha” (Grace) of Sage Veda Vyaasa to obtain two children namely Dhiridiraashtra and Paandu. When Paandu became the king of Hastinapura, he too had a curse that if he unites with his wives Kunthi Devi and Maadri to have children, he would die immediately. Thus, Kunthi and Maadri too had kids that weren’t born out of the natural biological way. These kids were none other than the “Paandava” brothers. 

Hearing thus from Sage Vaishampayana, King Janame-Jaya was all the more interested and eager now to know more about his grandfathers and how they entered into a ghastly war. Thus, King Janame-Jaya paid all the due respects to Sage Vaishampayana, accepted him as his “Guru” (Spiritual Master) and sat down on the floor beside him. As the “Sishya” (King Janame-Jaya) is ready to listen to the entire narration of the “Guru” (Sage Vaishampayana), the great text called the “Mahabharata” was born! As Sage Vaishampayana commences thus, he first salutes all the sages assembled there, along with Bhagawan Vishnu – The one who is involved in this text in each and every corner of it, and to Sage Veda-Vyaasa himself, who has authored it. Sage Vaishampayana’s prayer is only this – He should be able to narrate the text without interpreting anything wrongly. In other words, he should be able to convey the text in exact similar terms as Sage Vyaasa has authored. This includes even the thought processes of Sage Vyaasa to be communicated exactly the same. This is very important here because, one phrase of a sloka might have multiple meanings if read differently by different people. The point here is that, Sage Vaishampayana should convey exactly the same meaning that Sage Vyaasa had in mind while writing each and every sloka. This is extremely important isn’t it? Thus, Sage Vaishampayana seeks Sage Vyaasa’s divine “Anugraha” to commence the Mahabharata narration. 

Sage Vaishampayana starts from a point wherein the Paandavas were born to King Paandu and his wives, Kunthi Devi and Maadri Devi. As we’ve seen earlier, King Paandu had a curse and because of that, he was unable to contribute in having children with his wives. However, Kunthi Devi had a boon from the Devas that if she prays to them, she would be able to obtain children. With this, Kunthi Devi prayed to Yama-Dharma-Raja, Vaayu Bhagawan and Indra to obtain Yudishtra, Bheemasena and Arjuna respectively. Similarly, Kunthi Devi had apprised Maadri of this prayer and in turn, Maadri Devi prayed to the “Ashwini Kumaras” to obtain two twin children by names Nakula and Sahadeva. Thus, all these five brothers together are referred to as the Paandava brothers. Sage Vaishampayana adds a brief about all of this, and continues to narrate how the Paandava brothers were born in the forest and not in the Hastinapura palace, unlike Duryodhana and the Kauravas. 

As time progressed, the five children were brought up by the sages in the forest after the demise of King Paandu and Maadri Devi. Only Kunthi Devi was left alone and after a point in time, the Sages decided that the five children along with Kunthi Devi should go back to their Hastinapura kingdom. When they went back, Dhirdiraashtra had become the king of the country after Paandu’s demise. King Dhirdiraashtra had a doubt whether these five children were really born to King Paandu or not. He refused to accept these five children as part of the Hastinapura family. He knew that his brother Paandu had a curse and he wouldn’t be able to have kids. Yet, how were these children born to Kunthi Devi? As King Dhiridraashtra failed to understand the mystery behind this, a divine voice from the skies thundered loudly! This divine voice advised King Dhiridraashtra to accept these five kids as his own sons and bring them up alongside Duryodhana and co. It should be remembered here that Duryodhana and the Kaurava brothers were born to King Dhirdiraashtra and Gaandhaari. 

As the divine voice thundered thus, King Dhirdiraashtra had no option but to accept the Paandavas as his sons. The entire Hastinapura family welcomed the Paandava brothers, but there was one person who refused to accept them – This was none other than Duryodhana! Thus, even as a child, Duroydhana had extreme jealousy and insecurity towards the Paandava brothers and had a feeling that his parents are giving the Paandavas an undue advantage and care over him. This feud is what led to the war ultimately! As Sage Vaishampayana narrates thus in a brief, King Janame-Jaya wasn’t very happy! He wanted to know the intricate details of what all conspired over the years! He requests Sage Vaishampayana for a detailed description! What does Sage Vaishampayana say now? Let’s commence this detailed discussion in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 73 – Sage Veda-Vyasa – Grandfather to the Pandavas? An important accord!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Vaishampayana starting proceedings to describe King Janame-Jaya’s past. Upon the king’s request of understanding his past and why did the famous Kurukshetra war take place, Sage Vaishampayana has to now explain the entire background as to what all conspired and how all the events one after the other led to the Kurukshetra war. In these lines, Sage Vaishampayana has to commence from the birth of all the people involved in this accord. But before that, as Sage Vyaasa was the person who had documented all these events, Sage Vaishampayana pays tribute to him before commencing the Mahabharata narration. As he commences thus, there is an important message that Sage Vaishampayana is conveying here. We’ve to discuss that in a bit of a detail as we progress, because, only with this, we would be able to understand what happens next. 

As Sage Vaishampayana commences proceedings, he introduces Sage Vyaasa to everyone as the grandfather of the Paandava brothers. As Sage Vaishampayana goes on describing Sage Veda-Vyaasa, he explains that Sage Vyaasa was Sage Paraashara’s son, and after Sage Vyaasa comes Sage Shukaachaarya. However, suddenly Sage Vaishampayana quips here that Sage Vyaasa is also the grandfather of the Paandavas. We might suddenly wonder, how is this possible, and where did this loop come from! We might also have the doubt whether the Paandavas were the sons of Sage Shukaachaarya. The answer is “No” as we all know. The father of the Paandava brothers was King Paandu. King Paandu was born as a son to King Vichitraveerya. If that is the case, King Vichitraveerya should have been the grandfather of the Paandavas, isn’t it? Then where did the connection between Sage Vyaasa and the Paandavas come from? 

Now here comes the intricate and important detail – King Vichitraveerya was unable to have children, due to some curse that he had accumulated in his past. Paandu and Dhirdiraashtra were born due to the divine grace of Sage Vyaasa. The mothers of these children were Ambika and Ambaalika respectively. Thus, Sage Vyaasa was involved in the birth of Paandu to Ambika and Dhirdiraashtra to Ambaalika. We’re going to witness this story later on in great detail, but for now, let us understand this intricate detail that Sage Vyaasa was indirectly responsible for the birth of Paandu and Dhirdiraashtra. If such is the case, Sage Vyaasa would automatically become the grandfather to the Paandava brothers, isn’t it? This is why, Sage Vaishampayana explains here that Sage Vyaasa was the “Pita-maha ” (Grandfather) of the Paandavas. 

As Sage Vaishampayana was explaining this in brief, King Janame-Jaya was shell-shocked! Several questions ran through his mind now. Was he the great grandson of the great Sage Vyaasa himself? How can this be possible? If “yes”, how fortunate was he in his life? King Janame-Jaya wanted to know more details of this connection between himself and Sage Vyaasa. As Sage Vyaasa also was looking on, King Janame-Jaya asked Sage Vyaasa to explain about this more. Upon this, Sage Vyaasa too was extremely happy that this little boy was eager to understand all of this in detail and he blessed Sage Vaishampayana to explain everything to King Janame-Jaya in detail. With this, Sage Vaishampayana is going to explain the entire connection between Sage Vyaasa, how he came to the rescue of Ambika and Ambaalika and how Paandu and Dhirdiraashtra took birth. So for today, let us understand up to this point, and we shall continue this discussion in the next episode to understand more! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 72 – Sage Vaishampayana commences with an accord on Sage Veda-Vyaasa!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of the conversation between Sage Pouranika and the other sages assembled at Naimishaaranya, including Sage Shounaka. The sages were eager to understand all the dialogues that took place in the sidelines of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” conducted by King Janame-Jaya. It is at this time, we witness Sage Vyaasa coming into the venue of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”. As King Janame-Jaya pays all his formal respects to him, he asks Sage Vyaasa about his past, and why was a huge war at Kurukshetra. King Janame-Jaya was also eager to understand why there was a huge feud between his ancestors, the Paandavas and their perpetual enemies, the Kauravas. As King Janame-Jaya asks Sage Vyaasa for a detailed explanation regarding this, Sage Vyaasa replies that he had already documented all of this earlier and the details would be shared to King Janame-Jaya by Sage Vaishampayana who was also amidst that same gathering. As Sage Vyaasa points fingers to Sage Vaishampayana thus, he leaves the place immediately, and it is all now over to Sage Vaishampaayana to take over the proceedings, to enlighten the gathering. 

Sage Vaishampayana starts thus, 

“Shruthvaa tu sarpa satraaya deekhitam janame jayam!

Abhyagacchath drishir vidhwaan krishnadvaipaayanastathaa!!”

As we all know, Sage Vyaasa’s other name is Krishna-Dwaipayana. This is what is mentioned in the above Sloka. As we also know, Sage Vyaasa was the son of Sage Paraashara, who in turn authored the Shri Vishnu Puraana, which we’ve witnessed in our earlier project. Thus, as Sage Vyaasa leaves the stage open to Sage Vaishampayana, he has to start from somewhere, isn’t it? Sage Vaishampayana was wondering for a moment as to where to begin the story from! He has no other option but to begin from Bhagawan Brahma himself! Bhagawan Brahma’s “Maanasa putra” was Sage Vasishta. Sage Vasishta’s son was Sage Shakti. Sage Shakti’s son was Sage Paraashara. Sage Paraashara’s son was Sage Veda-Vyaasa. Sage Vyaasa’s son was Sage Shukaachaarya. This is the family lineage that is well known to us by now, as we’ve been witnessing through right from our Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana project to Shri Vishnu Puraana project and now to Mahabhaarata. 

As Sage Vaishampayana commences with this family lineage thus, he lays a special emphasis on Sage Veda-Vyaasa, because he is the “Karta” (The Divine Author) of this huge Mahabharata text. Sage Vaishampayana explains how Sage Vyaasa was a great scholar, a great poet, a great “Tapasvi” (Extremely powerful in penance) and if at all one commences an “Upanyaasa” of any sorts, the first person to worship is “Sage Vyaasa”. This is why they have something called as “Vyaasa-Peetham” even today when prominent spiritual discourses happen. Thus, Sage Vaishampaayana commences with his accord on Sage Vyaasa and moves on into the main story, which talks about how Bhishmaachaarya, Guru Dhronaachaarya, the Paandavas, the Kauravas, etc. were born. But before that, there is an important message that needs to be discussed in detail. What is that message? Let’s wait till the next episode to witness it! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 71 – Sage Vaishampayana to start proceedings of the Mahabharata narration!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the commencement of the “Amsa-Avatarana” Parva, wherein we’re going to see in detail as to who took birth in this world as which character. Just like in the Ramayana we had witnessed how Surya Bhagawan took birth as Sugriva, Vaayu Bhagawan took birth as Hanuman, etc. to be of help to Bhagawan Rama in accomplishing His divine mission in this world, we’re going to witness here how the same Devas are going to take birth again in this world, along with Bhagawan Krishna to be of service to Him in accomplishing His divine mission. As we had seen yesterday, if we know the purpose behind Bhagawan Krishna’s incarnation, we would automatically be able to understand why the others were born around Him. We’ve witnessed a glimpse of Bhagawan Krishna’s purpose of incarnation too – Goddess Bhoomadevi was being tortured every passing day by the increasing population of “Raakshasas” and “Wicked people”, and she was unable to bear them anymore. She first rushed to Bhagawan Brahma for a solution. Deeply concerned, Bhagawan Brahma too did not have a direct answer to Goddess Bhoomadevi’s problem. Thus, as they both approached Bhagawan Vishnu at Vaikunta together, Bhagawan Vishnu reassured them that He would be incarnating in this world very soon, so that the “Bhoomi-Baaram” (Heaviness of the world because of evil people) would come down. 

Thus, as we commence this important “Upa-Parva”, we’re diverting ourselves again to Naimishaaranya wherein the sages, including Sage Shounaka are listening from Sage Pouranika as to what happened at the “Sarpa-Yaaga” that was being conducted by King Janame-Jaya. As they heard every detail of the “Yaaga” per say, they were also interested in knowing what were the other conversations that happened around the “Yaaga”. This is like how we too go to a marriage function, greet the couple and involve ourselves in conversations with all our friends and relatives who would have gathered there for the function. We would also exchange many fond past memories, experiences, etc. with people around, isn’t it? Here too, as part of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, there were hundreds of people who had gathered there for the event. There were innumerable conversations that took place. Of course, we would have just had some gossip about someone and something during our functions, whereas, the Sages weren’t interested in such things at all. They wanted to know what were the important spiritual messages that were being spoken about during the “Sarpa-Yaaga”. 

As Sage Shounaka asks thus, Sage Pouranika replies to him and the sages, “Oh great Sages! Yes! I should talk about how the Mahabharata was discussed in the sidelines of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” of King Janame-Jaya! There was an extensive discussion on how Sage Veda-Vyaasa has beautifully compiled and constructed the Mahabharata text and how various events conspired with regards to King Janame-Jaya’s forefathers and ancestors! With this, King Janame-Jaya too understood his past and how his ancestors were protected by Bhagawan Krishna Himself, and how he should conduct himself further!” This is thus, the start of the narration of the great Mahabharata text. We should understand one important point here – The Mahabharata text was originally written and documented by Sage Veda-Vyaasa. This text was being spoken about at length by the sages assembled at the Naimishaaranya-Kshetra. Under this discussion comes the event of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, which Sage Vyaasa himself has documented as part of the first “Aadhi Parva”. We’re currently in discussion of this “Aadhi Parva” only. Thus, this discussion of the sages at Naimishaaranya and what Sage Veda-Vyaasa wrote would often be referred to interchangeably time and again and readers shouldn’t get confused. The original text was documented by Sage Veda-Vyaasa only. It was only this text that was being discussed in detail by these sages at Naimishaaranya. 

Thus, moving forward, one of the important sages who were part of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” was Sage Vaishampayana. It was Sage Vaishampayana who took the lead in narrating the entire Mahabharata text to King Janame-Jaya and the entire gathering there. It is this conversation between Sage Vaishampayana and King Janame-Jaya that Sage Vyaasa documented first-hand! Readers should never forget this link forever throughout this project. I shall summarize this again for the benefit of readers here – First, it was Sage Vaishampayana’s narration. Subsequently, Sage Veda-Vyaasa documented it. Thirdly, this documentation was discussed in detail by the Naimishaaranya sages. 

In fact, Sage Vyaasa himself is part of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, sitting in one corner. As Sage Vyaasa comes to the venue and after the “Sarpa-Yaaga” comes to a halt, King Janame-Jaya goes to Sage Vyaasa, offers his respects to him and requests thus, “Oh great Sage! You’re the person who had witnessed the entire set of happenings at Kurukshetra and before that as well. I request you to throw some light on why my Paandava forefathers entered into a fight with the Kauravas. Please explain to me why did their feud end up in such a huge war, and how did Bhagawan Krishna contribute to all this? What was Bhagawan Krishna’s role in the Kurukshetra war? Why didn’t the seniors in the form of Bhishmacharya and Guru Dhronaachaarya stop this huge war that happened? Please, can you explain all this in detail to all of us assembled here?” As King Janame-Jaya requests thus, Sage Vyaasa was extremely happy. However, he did not have the time to answer King Janame-Jaya directly. Sage Vyaasa replies thus, “Oh Janame-Jaya! You’ve asked a very important question here. However, there is this Sage Vaishampaayana amidst this gathering, and he knows in and out of whatever I’ve documented as part of your question’s answer. You can ask him to narrate the entire story in front of the gathering, and he would be extremely happy to do it!” 

With this, Sage Vyaasa leaves the “Sarp-Yaaga” place, and it is now all over to Sage Vaishampayana to take charge of the proceedings! What did Sage Vaishampayana say? How did it all begin? Let us wait for this interesting accord in our next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 70 – The “AMSA-AVATARANA PARVA” – Setting up the grand Mahabharata story!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the concluding touches given to the “Aasthika Parva”, wherein we had witnessed a brief “Phala-Stuthi” for it. As the snakes were protected by Sage Aasthika from falling into the “Sarpa-Yaaga” of King Janame-Jaya, the snakes were extremely happy and grateful to him. They collectively declare to Sage Aasthika that all those who are stakeholders to this incident, including readers and listeners like us today, would never be gripped by the fear of snakes! All sorts of “Naaga-Dosha” would be wiped off if one listens or reads through this particular “Aasthika Parva”. With this, we also concluded the discussion of Sage Bruhu’s family lineage (Bruhu-Vamsa). Readers should recollect that it is only part of this Bruhu-Vamsa, we witnessed all these sub-stories for all these past many episodes. Thus, as the “Aasthika Parva” comes to an end with this note, we move into the next “Parva” called “Amsaavatarana Parva”, which is the next important “Upa-Parva”. 

So here in this “Amsaavatarana Parva”, we are going to get into the main part of the Mahabharata story. We’re going to witness who are going to take birth in this world as who. For example, Sage Vyaasa took birth. Similarly, Duryodhana, Jaraasandha, Sishupaala, etc. also took birth in this world. Kamsa took birth, and also, Bhagawan Krishna Himself took His divine incarnation. Similarly, the Paandava brothers took birth. Thus, all these people took birth for a “Deva-Kaarya” (A divine purpose) to be fulfilled collectively in this world. It is this “Deva-Kaarya” that is going to be described at length in this “Hamsaavatarana Parva”. Every person in the above-mentioned list, including the Kauravas, the Paandavas, Bhagawan Krishna Himself, Kamsa, etc. were born to fulfill an individual, yet important purpose. If we pose this as a question here – Why did all these people take birth? Obviously if we understand the purpose behind Bhagawan Krishna’s incarnation, we would be able to understand the purpose behind all the other people’s births. 

Bhagawan Krishna had to incarnate because the burden of all the “Adharma” on this world was becoming too much to handle! Goddess Bhoomadevi was over-burdened and tortured by all the evil people and the “Raakshasas” constantly. In fact, their population increased to such an extent that she literally broke down crying in front of Bhagawan Brahma. Upon hearing this from Goddess Bhoomadevi, Bhagawan Brahma too was deeply concerned. Hence, both of them approach Bhagawan Vishnu at Vaikunta and request Him to intervene in this regard. As Bhagawan Vishnu was requested thus, He replies to Bhagawan Brahma thus, “Oh Brahma and Bhoomadevi! You do not need to worry! I shall take care of this from now on. From my head, one of my white hair strands and one of my black hair strands would fall on the earth’s surface. The white hair strand would become Balarama and the black hair strand would incarnate into Bhagawan Krishna.All the Devas would take birth as normal human beings around me! We would together achieve this task of re-establishing “Dharma” in the world!” 

We had witnessed a similar accord during our Ramayana project as well – When Bhagawan Rama incarnated, all the Devas were born as monkeys, isn’t it? Bhagawan Surya was born as Sugriva, Bhagawan Vaayu was born as Hanuman, Indra was born as Vaali, and so on. Here too, we’re going to witness the Devas taking birth along with Bhagawan, and they are going to be of immense help to Him in re-establishing the “Dharma” in this world. If we look at the name of this important “Upa-Parva”, it says “Amsa-Avatarana Parva”. “Amsam” means the original source. “Avatarana” means the original source being born and taking the form of something else. Thus, the “Amsa-Avatarana” Parva talks about who all are going to incarnate in this world, and what were their major roles in establishing “Dharma” at various stages. 

“Tasmin parama dushpaare sarpa satre mahaatmanaam!

Karmaantareshu yagnyasya tatasyaanaam kathaadhvare!!

Yaa bhabhoova kathaaschitthaa yashwartheshu yathaa tatham!!”

In continuation of what we’ve discussed till the previous “Aasthika Parva”, Sage Shounaka is asking the gathering there thus, “Oh Sage! You had detailed about the “Sarpa-Yaaga” in a grand style. We have understood all what happened as part of it and how Sage Aasthika had come and stopped it from proceeding further. However, there’s an important thing that you’ve missed to explain – If there’s a grand event of this sort happening, there would be hundreds or thousands of people gathered there, isn’t it? There might be many conversations, many stories, many experiences being shared amidst all of them, isn’t it? So what are they? What were the important discussions that took place during the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, apart from the technical aspects of it?” 

In today’s times too, for instance, if we go for a marriage or an “Upanayana” event, there would be many of our relatives, friends, etc. gathered there. When we see all of them, we would recollect all our past memories, experiences, some key incidents in our past lives, etc. with them, isn’t it? Of course, greeting the couple getting married is important. But apart from that, all these “side-stories”, experiences, etc. too are important, isn’t it? This is exactly what Sage Shounaka is also asking here. As a part of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, what were the other items that were discussed? 

As the sages are eagerly awaiting for an answer on this, let us also eagerly await along with them for today! We shall witness the important set of answers for this question in the next episode! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 69 – Those who listen to / read this “Aasthika Parva” would be devoid of “SARPA DOSHA”!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed an important juncture wherein, Sage Aasthika gives a grand entry into the venue where the “Sarpa-Yaaga” is taking place vigorously. Snake after snake is coming and falling into the offering, and Snake Takshaka was the next to fall. At this time, King Janame-Jaya asks Sage Utthanga and the other sages to increase the intensity further to drag Snake Takshaka along with Indra into the “Homa-Kunda”. It is at this time, Sage Aasthika orders things to come to a grinding halt. He highlights the point to King Janame-Jaya that by continuing with this “Sarpa-Yaaga”, he is doing a great injustice to nature. For just one Takshaka, why should he end up punishing and destroying all the snakes? Sage Aasthika thus expresses his concern to King Janame-Jaya and with this, the king too could not disobey Sage Aasthika’s words! This is because, King Janame-Jaya had granted a boon to Sage Aasthika and it is as part of this, Sage Aasthika asked King Janame-Jaya to stop proceedings immediately. 

Even though King Janame-Jaya was extremely upset with Sage Aasthika’s request, he had no option but to stop. Even the other sages assembled there were of the same opinion and with this, the “Sarpa-Yaaga” came to an end. As the Sarpa-Yaaga finishes, all the snakes that were kind-hearted in nature assemble at the venue and celebrate the significance of Sage Aasthika. It should be noted that those snakes that were wicked in nature had to fall into the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, whereas those which were good, were allowed to escape the wrath of it. As the snakes assemble there thus, they give a boon to Sage Aasthika and to all those who would read this “Parva” about the “Sarpa-Yaaga” in the future thus – “Oh Sage Aasthika! From today onwards, yourself and all those people who take the effort to read and understand this particular “Aasthika Parva” and about the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, would be completely devoid of fear of snakes. If they have any sort of “Sarpa-Dosha” (Some accumulated sins due to killing / harming of snakes in the past), it would completely be destroyed with this. All those people who dedicatedly read this “Parva” would be blessed with a disease-free long life!”

“Yeta-chruthvaa priyamaanaam samethaaye tatraasan pannagaaveetha mohaaha!”

Thus, as Sage Aasthika asks the boon to the snakes, they collectively declare that those who read this story would never have the fear for snakes anymore in their life. At this point, the snakes together preach an important “Mantra” to Sage Aasthika thus, 

“Asitam cha aatthimantham cha suneetan chaapiyah smareth!

Vivaa vaa yadhivaa raatrou naasa sarpa bhayam bhaveth!!”

The snakes collectively declare thus, “Oh Sage Aasthika! If one recites this above sloka meticulously in the morning and evening every day, he / she would be completely devoid of any sort of fear in life, especially the fear of snakes. Those who chant this mantra regularly would never be touched upon by any snake in this world, and this has enormous power!” With this declaration, we come to the end of this “Adhyaaya”. So all these stories are being narrated by Ruru to Pramati, isn’t it? We should recollect this from our earlier episodes. This is where the confusion would come – All of a sudden we would go back to some past happening, which we would have conveniently forgotten! 🙂 All these stories in turn, were being narrated to explain the “Vamsa” of Sage Bruhu. These stories were being narrated by Sage Pouranika’s son and Sage Shounaka was amidst the audience at Naimishaaranya, listening to the entire set of narratives. With this, we also come to the end of the “Aasthika Parva”, wherein the entire lineage of Sage Bruhu was explained with all the sub-stories that we have seen till now. 

So for today, let us understand upto this point, and in the next episode, we shall witness the continuation of this discussion with the commencement of the next “Parva”! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Episode # 68 – The “Sarpa-Yaaga” comes to a grinding halt – Courtesy, Sage Aasthika!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed an important juncture wherein Snake Takshaka is the sole target for King Janame-Jaya, who is performing a highly intense “Sarpa-Yaaga” along with Sage Utthanga, who was the prime motivating force behind this mammoth exercise. As the “Aahuthis” (Offerings) are being given with more and more intensity, snake after snake comes and falls into the “Agni-Kunda” and starts dying. As it was the turn of Snake Takshaka, he was somehow dilly-dallying and eventually caught hold of Indra’s chariot. However, the intensity of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” increases manifold after King Janame-Jaya comes to know of this. He decides to teach Indra a lesson here for protecting enemies. The “Aahuti” into the “Sarpa Yaaga” is given in such a way now that both Takshaka and Indra combinedly fall into the “Homa-Kunda”. It is at this point, Sage Aasthika makes his way in. This was a crucial juncture here, as Indra’s chariot turns upside down and starts falling into the “Homa-Kunda”. 

Now what is going to happen next? Upon seeing this scenario, Sage Aasthika instructs the entire proceeding of the Sarpa-Yaaga to stop for a moment. Indra’s chariot too stops wherever it is! On the other hand, as King Janame-Jaya and the other sages see Sage Aasthika, (He was still a young boy at that stage), they were extremely impressed by his extreme power of penance at such a young age. King Janame-Jaya was moved with compassion and he requests Sage Aasthika to ask him for whatever he wanted. However, as King Janame-Jaya requests Sage Aasthika thus, he adds a word, “Oh Sage Aasthika! Now why are you ordering Indra and Takshaka to stay wherever they are? Why are you protecting them from falling into the Sarpa-Yaaga? What is the connection between you and them? Are you hand in glove with them? If you want any “Dhaanam” of any sorts, you may get it from me and go. However, please do not stop the “Sarpa-Yaaga” from happening!” 

As King Janame-Jaya says thus, Sage Aasthika replies, “Oh Janame-Jaya! You just told me that you’re ready to grant any boon, and then you’re putting forth so many conditions! As a king, when you’re granting a boon to a sage, don’t you know that there shouldn’t be any “pre-conditions”?” Upon this, King Janame-Jaya realizes his folly and asks Sage Aasthika as to what boon he wants. Sage Aasthika was quick enough to quip thus, “Oh King Janame-Jaya! My one and only request to you here is that, please stop this “Sarpa-Yaaga”! By continuing to do this, you’re creating an imbalance in nature and this is not good for the functioning of the world. Just because one snake was responsible for your father’s death, it doesn’t mean that you would end up destroying the entire “Naaga-Lokha”. Just like how you have your rights to live a life, the snakes too have the same! Hence, please stop this “Sarpa-Yaaga” from happening further!” As King Janame-Jaya heard this from Sage Aasthika, he was shocked, and at the same time he sank into sorrow! He was extremely upset that when the crucial time arrived wherein his mission of the Sarpa-Yaaga was about to be fulfilled, it was about to be aborted. He once again requests Sage Aasthika thus, “Oh Sage! Whatever you’re saying is correct. I do not deny that. However, the crux of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” is about to be achieved within a moment or two. Takshaka is going to fall into this and die, which is the sole purpose of the Yaaga. How do I stop it at this critical juncture? Maybe, I shall let other snakes escape from the Yaaga. Or, maybe I would ensure that I shall give you enormous amounts of “Dhaanam” in the form of cows, and other important things. Or, since you’re looking so handsome, I shall get you married to a beautiful girl. Please tell me whatever you want and I shall fulfill it immediately!” 

As King Janame-Jaya proposes thus, Sage Aasthika sticks to his stance. He’s not going to relent. He replies thus, “Oh Janame-Jaya! I do not want anything that you had proposed now. My only request to you is to stop this “Sarpa-Yaaga” immediately. My mother Kadru’s curse has to be aborted. Kadru had cursed that all the snakes be destroyed because they did not pay heed to her arrogance. This cannot become a reality, as this would set a dangerous precedence in this world. This is my priority as of now and for this sake, please stop this from proceeding further!” As Sage Aasthika requests thus, King Janame-Jaya relents finally, after consultation with the other sages, including Sage Utthanga. As the other sages too agree, the “Sarpa-Yaaga” comes to a grinding halt. 

So for today, let us witness till this point. The “Sarpa-Yaaga” is halted, and the snakes escape the wrath of death, courtesy, Sage Aasthika! We shall wait till the next episode to continue further as to what happened next! Stay tuned! 🙂