Saturday, July 12, 2008

'Go find yourself a human stenographer'

Philosophical question for the day: if you’re a poet who has spent a lot of time and energy persuading an elephant-headed God to transcribe your opus, is it wise to include a scene where the hero of the epic (whom you repeatedly extol in the verse) proves his manhood and general superiority by punching a harmless elephant on the forehead?

Because that's what the grown-up Devavrata/Bheeshma does in his first scene in Kahaani Hamaaray Mahabharata Ki. With absolutely no provocation (the pachyderm is merely ambling out of the palace gate), our hero performs a Matrix-style leap, bops the poor animal between its eyes, bringing it to its knees, and then climbs atop it with a triumphant yell. I picture Ekta Kapoor calling a hurried conference with her writers to plan this scene. “We’re about to introduce one of the most important characters in the epic,” she tells them, “We need a maximum-impact shot. What’s the largest animal on the set?”

But imagine how Ganesha would feel about this. He hasn’t had enough of a raw deal already? First Vyasa invites him to earth, which means he has to undergo a long and tedious wait as the Google Earth software downloads on his computer. After this, his sadistic mouse-steed elects to take the most difficult route possible through a dense forest, so that Ganpati has to ward off leaves and branches with his many plastic hands. Then Vyasa, instead of giving him a nice air-conditioned office and an endless supply of coffee, makes him sit in a dank, mossy cave that has dandruffy substances floating down from the roof. The working hours are no good and the stylus feather tickles his trunk. And to top it all, he has to write out this demeaning scene where Devavrata proves his king-worthiness by violently attacking an elephant that could well be a descendent of the beast who lent Ganesha his head after the bathroom wars all those yugas ago.

I feel for Ganesha, I really do, because this reminds me of the time I helped a friend improve the language in an internal brochure for a public-relations company. I don’t clearly remember what purpose the document was to serve (if any), but midway through the second paragraph I found that it included a diatribe about how terrible and avaricious journalists were, how their mistreatment of PR people would be avenged in the after-life, and other such ravings. Of course, I feel much the same way today, but this was during my early months in journalism when I was still prone to fits of idealism about the profession. Just reading some of the thoughts expressed in the brochure felt like someone was thumping my forehead with a hammer – and as if that wasn't bad enough I was required to refine the thing further.

My advice to Ganesha would be to keep quiet for now, but to get his revenge by deviating from Vyasa’s script in the future. I suspect Ekta’s writers will help him in this endeavour.

[Earlier posts on the show here and here. And some pictures to show that elephants are mostly sweet and harmless animals and should be preserved]

53 comments:

  1. did you catch the blatant 300 rip off in episode 3 - when a young bheeshma is undergoing his training - they lifted the whole young boy-cave-wolf-spear thingie straight from 300

    i guess they are reverse engineering bits that appear cool from various sources - stay tuned for kaizer shozeish revelation that brinnhala is actually arjun - sometime aound episode 4800

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  2. domink: yes, someone mentioned the wolf scene being a ripoff in the comments to one of my earlier posts. Apart from being a ripoff, it was such a randomly bunged in scene. It might have at least made some sense if an entire episode had been dedicated to various aspects of Bheeshma's training, but the way it played out one got the impression that someone in Ekta's team saw 300 and said "Wow, let's find a way to use that wolf bit in one of the early episodes!"

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  3. god ganesha has its own terms and condns

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  4. And some pictures to show that elephants are mostly sweet and harmless animals and should be preserved
    ...in vinegar. It will nicely offset their sweetness

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  5. ha ha ha cant stop laughing might sound strange but please tell me what channel and time it comes i have been wanting to catch this desperately since u have started writing abt it :)

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  6. Wtf!! It is said that whatever is not there in Mahabhsrata will not be found anywhere else. Ekta is hellbent to prove otherwise. Why does one need to ripoff from Hollywood or any other source to tell the story of the Mahabharata. It is a bloody insult.
    One is tempted to watch this crap. But then it will add to the TRP and Ekta's delusion that her s**t is working.

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  7. Well we could always say that Kahani... is generating a good discussion, at the very least. (Though that is still a rather lame excuse for something like Kahani... wasting a lot of time and money.)

    Slightly off the topic...
    I was reading the following quote a couple of days ago -
    "There has been of late a growing trend of opinion, prompted in part by general philosophical views, in the direction that the theoretical constructions of physical science are largely factitious, that instead of presenting a valid image of the relations of things on which further progress can be based, they are still little better than a mirage. The best method of abating this scepticism is to become acquainted with the real scope and modes of application of conceptions which, in the popular language of superficial exposition —and even in the unguarded and playful paradox of their authors, intended only for the instructed eye — often look bizarre enough."
    Jude Larmor

    Was thinking, we could say the same thing about religion and more specifically mythology, dont you think?

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  8. Ms Maneka, where are you? I felt so sorry for the pachyderm when the Mihir.. err.. Bhishm jumped onto the elephant with all his might (if he had any) - that was ludicrous and mean.

    - Sangeetha

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  9. pls dont make fun of my ganpati bapa ..he is remover of all obstacles

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  10. bringing it to its knees, and then climbs atop it with a triumphant yell

    Make that "jumps in the air, gets turned around somehow and lands atop the elephant". I guess they wanted to improve on "Jodha-Akbar", which in my view has been added to the list of films this thing is aping.

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  11. Bloody hell..I had just caught the elephant scene this morning and was shocked beyond words..can be best described as a elephant meets troy meets matrix scene

    Luckily / unluckily I won't be able to catch the entire series due to time constraints. Will follow it here..both u and ekta don't seem to be bothered about the original Mahabharatha; atleast you have an excellent sense of humour :)

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  12. Just checked a few clips of this serial on youtube. One conspicuous difference b/w this and the BRC version is the countenance of the characters. Most of them seemed very unkempt. Is this an attempt at a realistic, irreverent portrayal of epic heroes?

    This half-hearted attempt at realism makes the stuff more repelling. The material isn't remotely historical. So why seek realism? You might as well make it glossy and good to look at.

    And yes...fans of Mukesh Khanna's Bhishma would squirm at the sight of the young Devavrata.

    Also, the nature of the epic is such that an irreverent narration makes the characters look downright idiotic. For instance, Devavrata's famous vow is a ridiculous display of pigheadedness. Only a larger than life cast can make such actions palatable to our rational sensibilities.

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  13. dhananjay: don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think your not watching the show will stop it from achieving as many TRPs as it needs to go on forever. Besides, being a young channel, 9X has probably been slavering for something from the Balaji house - no way they'll even think of pulling the plug on this. And even if they did, there would be 10 other channels willing to take it on.

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  14. Amey: you've been watching the show more closely than I have. Start blogging about it, fast!

    both u and ekta don't seem to be bothered about the original Mahabharatha

    Sudhir: not sure what you mean by that. I've always been a huge fan of the Mahabharat (as a complex work of literature, not as a religious treatise/straightforward morality tale). Can't speak for Ekta though.

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  15. shrikanth: very good points there. I was thinking of doing a post about some of the other criticism I've seen of the show, where people go on about how the costumes aren't "realistic". I agree that the Gods/divine beings look very tacky but I'm fine with the look of the mortal characters. Who defines "realism" here anyway? Was it "realistic" for the Chopra production to have Nitish Bhardwaj playing the dark-skinned Krishna? Peter Brook's fine version of the epic has the characters being played by actors from around the world - and that, if anything, only highlights what a universal story this is.

    Interesting point about the irreverent narration too.

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  16. Please don't let your morbid curiosity for Hindu epics become a rationale to ridicule them. This is a request. Ganesha's plastic hands? Would you say the same about Guru Nanak/Mohammad? Don't land in a soup because of what you type here. There are many other topics to write about. It won't be worth it.

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  17. Anon: Now I'm really curious. You're hurt by the reference to Ganesha's "plastic" hands? So this means that you can't distinguish between Ekta Kapoor's Ganesha and the Ganesha that you worship? If that's the case, you're the one insulting your own Gods and you could be in for a real (four-handed) spanking in the afterlife.

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  18. for u mahabharat is a peice of literature ....for us a holy text ...show some respect
    bv

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  19. jabberwock: I know it will not affect the TRp..besides my TV does not have that TRP box which is randomly inserted to calculate points. However it will keep my conscience clear. Besides there is Youtube to catch up with the hilarious parts.
    P.S.: Have you seen Jaane Tu...??

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  20. I don't watch the show. Something tells me your posts about it will be more entertaining, anyhow. :)

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  21. bv: no, I demand that YOU show respect for MY views! *sulks and sticks thumb into mouth*

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  22. Hi,
    I've been noticing these Anon comments, and they just don't seem to get it. Let me clarify at the outset that I'm not an atheist (since that seems to be, for some reason, the cornerstone of this debate). One says:

    "for u mahabharat is a peice of literature ....for us a holy text ...show some respect
    bv"

    Bah! I don't think anyone's showing the 'holy text' any disrespect. Actually, if there's anyone disrespecting the text, (w)hol(l)y or not, its Balaji Telefilms. Hinduism (and all other religions in varying degrees) is, and has always been open to criticism, and that explains why your way of following it might differ vastly from mine. For instance, I know people who consider it inauspicious to wear white at a wedding, and yet, there are wedding ceremonies where the bride and groom wear white. It is in the attempt to homogenise that we lose the essence of the religion.

    Religion apart, a measure of one's confidence in one's beliefs is the ability to take a joke about it, and treat it as that - a joke.

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  23. Here we go with the "will you talk like this about other religon" comments.

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  24. dhananjay: yes, I saw Jaane Tu..., liked it a lot. Best ensemble acting I've seen in a while, and one of those rare films where you wish some of the side-characters' lives had been explored in greater detail.

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  25. Start blogging about it fast

    Well, I wrote a FAQ for the first week of the serial here:

    http://randamthots.blogspot.com/2008/07/mahabharat-katha-faq.html

    I was planning a separate blog to follow the serial closely, but given my access to the serial and the fact that I can get frustrated and leave it in between, it has to be group effort. Care to join?

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  26. You liked Jaane tu?? All of it? I am waiting to see your review...I thought it was the most boring, overhyped, silly movie ever!!

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  27. dont make fun of other people's beliefs ...

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  28. This is not the first time you are doing this. The spiritual bleakness of the religion you were born into drew you towards epics like the mahabharata in the first place, so obviously your growing 'out of it' and becoming an atheist champion entails ridiculing former love for the epics. But by making fun of a soft target like Hindu epics you have taken the coward's route. Agar himmat hai (nahi hai) to poke fun at Islam, prove your credentials eh Super Atheist.

    To the person who said Hinduism is open to criticism. Ofcourse it is. But by Hindus, and for Hindus. But if a Babbar Khalsa terrorist attacks Hinduism lets not mince any words in condemning him.

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  29. Anon: agar himmat hai, read this post. Though I suspect it'll be pointless - your hyper-sensitivity about your own sacred cows will probably lead you to conclude that writing about the raunchy passages in the Hamzanama doesn't count as a "attack" on Islam (whereas making fun of the ridiculous plastic-ness of Ekta Kapoor's Mahabharata counts as an "attack" on Hinduism). Still, it's a short post and at the very least you'll be entertained. Enjoy!

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  30. Jabber - Amar Ayyam is of no religious value to muslims, you know what you need to do win that Atheist crown - draw a cartoon of or atleast a verbal caricature. Dropping an irreverent reminder every month about the most archaic bits of the ramayana/mahabharata doesn't make you any more of an unequivocal atheist than Karunananidhi. No need for trying to talk around it though. Its perfectly constitutional to single out Hinduism for insult time and again, but you can't claim to be secular or an atheist.

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  31. Anon: heh. Exactly as I suspected. But the one thing I've clearly gathered from your comments is that a statue of Ekta Kapoor sits in your personal shrine. So here goes: sincere apologies for making fun of her.

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  32. Jabber, er..since you are an equal-opportunity offender anyway, why not poke fun at a certain prphet(deliberately misspelt because you know, I am a coward - even when anon, I am not confident of making fun of certain things) and his alleged miracles. Any prphet would do. Tangential, mildly-offensive posts on peripheral texts wouldnt do. Can you explicitly take the exploits of a certain gentleman who had the power to make mountains walk towards him, and discuss the irrational sequences in those tales? That is the question, my boy, that is the question?
    Or why go that far? Delhi is not faraway from Punjab- why not some juicy tales from their holy texts? No, too close for comfort? Thought so. Never mind, you write good book reviews, so I have a stake in your well-being. So, continue poking fun only at Hindu texts - your well-being is assured. Dont stray towards poking fun on other religions(mildly offensive ones like the post you quoted which is unlikely to offend the hard-core elements in those religions are fine but not real ones on the actual prophets and their deeds - stay away from it as you have been prudently doing). Actually being in India, poking fun on Christianity should be fine - dont think you will be in much danger. But just in case you want to emigrate, take care. Afterll, you dont want the US authorities to gogle Jai arjun and find anti-christ sentiments here do you? Visa bhi to lena hai US ka kabhi-na kbhi?

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  33. Wow, I'm amazed. How tough is it for these anon idiots to figure out that you are making fun of Ekta Kapoor and her philmi Mahabharat, and not the original text !!

    I'm a practicing Hindu, and I can confidently say that I have enjoyed every one of your Mahabharat posts, both pre- and post- KKKahabharat. And as a Hindu, I am offended by Ekta Kapoor, just as I was offended by Ramanand Sagar a long long time back. Comparatively, (and strictly comparitively,) I think BRC was ok.

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  34. Anon: one final comment on this thread, even though I find the whole "why are you taking potshots only at Hindu texts" argument extremely tedious and foolish (for reasons I doubt you'll understand, since you seem to see everything through the prism of a hyper-sensitive Hindu, missing the larger picture in the process).

    Let me first clarify that all your comments are based on a very convenient straw-man argument that you've set up for yourself. The argument goes: "Jabberwock thinks of himself as a fearless atheist crusader who attacks all religions/religious texts with equal fervour. But he doesn't have the courage to make fun of the more strident religions, or to write things that he might get into serious trouble for."

    Actually, I've never set myself up as anything of the sort. I'm a lot more discreet/pragmatic/cowardly than that and self-preservation is just about the highest thing on my personal agenda (my favourite quote incidentally is Groucho Marx's "Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others").

    So even though I claim to disrespect all religions equally, I fully understand that Hinduism (in its original form; I'm not including the mad ravings of the Hindutva brigade here, or some of your comments for that matter) is more tolerant, inclusive and questioning than the other major religions. How can it not be, given that the opening lines of the Rig Veda raise the question of whether even God Himself knows how and when the universe was created - thereby remotely acknowledging the possibility that God wasn't around at all in the beginning, and was later created by man to fill the gaps in his life. Compare this open-mindedness and lack of certitude with the first chapter of Genesis, the literal truth of which millions of Christians continue to believe even today.

    Therefore, while I'm willing to make the abstract statement that I find the literalist, inflexible aspects of all religions (including Islam and Christianity) very foolish and crippling, no, I'm not going to be indiscreet enough to paint pictures of prophets-who-must-not-be-depicted or to say rude things about the Virgin Mary, knowing that these actions can have more serious repercussions for me. Like I said above, I'm too pragmatic/cowardly for that.

    Also, I don't need to prove my "atheist credentials" to anyone - I'm secure enough about my beliefs (more secure than you appear to be about your religion, which has a greater sense of humour than you give it credit for).

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  35. Nirmal, you remind me of Vir Sanghvi speaking in self-righteous hauteur in a debate on MF Hussain 'I am a devout Hindu. I don't find *them* offensive' I don't doubt your Hinduism comes forth as furiously as a cocktail party philosophy discussion of oxbridge scribes, but I think its not a sufficient rationale to allow any pretense to art to hurt the sentiments of the real millions of devout Hindus (cough) So Jai Arjun is making 'fun' of Ekta Kapur and google earth guidance software in UFO Sudarshan Chakra is part of the humor? Sorry, I guess we are being too sensitive about it. Reminds me of a Hindi news channel covering an incident in Mathura where an ancient idol of Krishna was clothed in jeans. The moot point was not 'Who did it' but 'Whats wrong with it'. Jeans is hella cool and pop Hinduism is an accomodative religion so why can't we replace Vishnu's mace with a bazooka? I guess we are stuck up fascists living in the past when we see that the symbolisms of Bhakti must be handled in a certain dignified way because they provide meaning to many devout Hindus.

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  36. Nirmal: thanks. By now I'm wary of even the positive comments on this thread, but it's good to know that there are some religious people who permit humour to coexist with their beliefs. Also, glad you liked the earlier Mahabharata posts. The only reason I go on about the epic so much is because I'm endlessly fascinated by it - not as a religious text but as a deeply human work (which to me makes it more relevant and meaningful than any instructive religious treatise could be).

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  37. Ok, my previous comment got ignored, which is alright, because I think I took the lazy way out of putting a quote instead of explaining what I was trying to say.

    So, with due apologies here I go again; I have been following your blog for more than a year now, and I find your posts about Mahabharata interesting. But I am curious as to what do you mean by 'deeply human work.' Does it mean as sociology text or does it include the metaphorical aspects of the stories? The ratha as the body; Hanumanji as the personification of a controlled mind; something on the lines of 'Tao of Physics' I think.

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  38. Neha: overlooked, not ignored. But thanks for spelling it out more clearly anyway. By "deeply human work" I simply mean that in the manner of the great novels, it holds up a mirror to the human condition, showing us how people respond to various dilemmas and struggles and in the process helping us learn something about our own lives - and perhaps even acquire greater self-awareness and empathy towards others. This is also why I find the Mahabharata as a story far more complex and compelling than the Bhagvada Gita: one is a nuanced study of what it means to be human, while the other (though it has undoubted merit of its own as a work of philosophy) is a bit too instructive for my taste, and can be viewed as a simplistic "God talking down to man" tract.

    But of course, the metaphorical aspects of the Mahabharata are interesting too. For instance, it's possible to see Krishna as a highly evolved man constantly searching (and struggling, often in despair) for the godliness within himself - rather than an outright avatar, a divine being who clearly knows his role and purpose right from the outset and is in complete control all the way through. (In this context, Ramesh Menon's versions of the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagwad are fascinating for the glimpses they provide into a lonely, troubled, less-than-confident Krishna.)

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  39. Thanks Jai.

    Commenting on your views on the Bhagvad Geeta, I believe that there is a distinct place and need for a ‘God talking down to man’ kind of a manual. And for those who, like you, do not like the manual and would like the details, the Geeta refers to the Upnishads (I think Krishna admits quite candidly that Geeta is not original and has been picked up from the Upanishads.)

    But having said that, even for a God talking down to man, I think it is amazing that the God is so human. I think we agree on that. But while you pull God down (as having doubts and despair), I’d like to put man up there – that it is possible to live a life without doubt and despair. And that is the point of the Geeta, a manual to living life without doubt and despair – or at least without despair. But yes, I agree with you, Geeta has an image on being a simplistic book, with someone on the high pedestal talking down to us. Those 10 commandment style ‘Geeta Updesh’ stickers are easy to spot.
    I personally believe it is a misleading image – at least for me Geeta is anything but simplistic. Each commandment is far too subtle, sometimes so subtle that language can hardly express it without sounding all wrong and bizarre. My attempts to read the book have failed more than once. Everything said now seems to contradict with everything said in the previous chapter. I can read the Geeta in bits and parts, I can read all about it, but each time I try to read it cover to cover, I get stuck at the 2nd chapter, which; if it talks down to man – it still talks to someone whose level is far above me. And that is hardly surprising, for if it is indeed a manual that teaches us to live without doubt and despair – I am sure the course prerequisites are pretty high too.

    (You might say my faith in Bhagvad Geeta is misplaced, and you could be right… But I think I have more faith in people who have read the Geeta and sweared by it – Swami Vivekananda and others come to mind. I am sure that is no disrespect to you.)

    I’m hardly qualified to comment on the comparison of the Bhagvad Geeta and the Mahabharat, but when has that stopped me from airing my opinions on blogs! So, I do agree with you that Mahabharat is more complicated and a more difficult text than the Geeta. And if I am struggling with the Geeta, I can hardly hope to understand the Mahabharat in its entirety; at the various layers and levels to the story.

    And, I am not sure how and when this idea got into my head, I must have it read it somewhere, perhaps. But I think that is the meaning behing the Ganesha scribe story. For all those who attempt to study the Mahabharat and realise that they can’t really understand it all, the Ganesha story is just a kind way of saying, that even for brilliant Ganesha it was a difficult text, so for lesser mortals like us, it is perhaps impossible to know or understand all that the Mahabharat has said – and that is no disrespect to us. :)

    Ah that was a long long LONG comment… But thanks for your posts, it is much fun reading them and commenting on them.

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  40. Jabberwock: I liked the fact that the side characters were given importance in Jaane Tu.


    anon: Your love for Hinduism is appreciated. Incidentally Hinduism also tolerates dissent and debate i.e. if you believe in true hinduism and not that peddled by the VHP, Bajrangis and Modi. By objecting to Jabberwock's harmless digs (which btw are towards Ekta's joke of a serial), you are showing intolerance which implies that you do not think Hinduism is strong enough to tolerate them. In that case, Mahabharata with some of the most outrageous story arcs (polyandrous Draupadi, Pandavas being illegitimate sons, Karna being the result of pre marital sex, Yudhishtir selling off his wife in a game of dice, Pandu dying because he became horny, Krishna's origins, etc.) would have annhilated, terminated and destroyed Hinduism all at once.

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  41. jabber, no problems. you have different anons. I am the anon concerned at your well-being for the sake of your book reviews.
    Okay, so I have absolutely no problems with you poking fun at hindu texts, ekttaa kappooorrr etc.
    Just concerned that if you get carried away into an image of atheist blah blah and ultra-scientific-raitonal-thinker and foray into similar stuff with other religious texts, you might end up in trouble. Obviously, I should have estimated that you are intelligent enough to think through that yourself. Hence the advice.
    In any case, the hndutva brigade(ha!ha! i am a rank coward, i wont offend anyone!), cannot do much, can they? so, dont worry about them - continue to offend them, no problems. it is not like the texts lose their sanctity or something if you laugh at them, right?
    Yeah, hinduism per se accomodates all. thats right. if only the brigade understood it, nah, never mind, they 'll never understand.

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  42. Also, being in india, I repeat, chrst(ha!ha!coward that I am!) should be soft target. you can get away with poking fun at bble, unless you think that might hurt US Visa prospects. if you wish to analyse bblical texts, so, nothing should theoretically stop you.

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  43. btw, your attempts at humour suck. And the mahabharat posts are rather poorly written, a great contrast to the book reviews.just my unsolicited 2 cents, you know
    - same anon as above 2 comments on jabber's well-being.

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  44. Shucks! badly organised comment again - i mean your posts on ekta mahabarat suck not the other delightful ones on quirky births etc.

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  45. To the many, many (different) Anon commenters out there: maybe you should just select a name for the sake of convenience (not your own name, of course - I wouldn't dream of suggesting it!). Makes it easier to tell one anonymous comment from the other.

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  46. Neha: thanks for that long, thoughtful comment. Makes me realise that my reading of the Gita has been somewhat sketchy (or at least nowhere near as comprehensive as my reading of the Mahabharata) and I'm probably guilty of over-simplifying it. Will try to amend that sometime.

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  47. the other anon: Why do people use Hindutva brigade, when its more like a regiment (several corps rather, BD storm troopers, VHP, Brahmins etc.) Is it because its simpler to replicate Frontline's agitprop? More brand recall. Like the concept of afterlife being interpolated (with four handed spankings) into Hinduism from vilayiti atheist spiel against Neo-Cons. Why can't people improvise.

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  48. Must thank you for these KMK reviews. They made me explore your earlier Mahabharat posts and revived my interest in the epic.

    The link to the Ganguly translation was particularly enlightening. It is interesting to note that Yudishtira is coronated as early as the 12th of the 18 books of the Mahabharata! So, nearly 1/3rd of the epic deals with the post-war fortunes of the Kuru race that is not too well known to most people.

    Also, the colorful religiously toned life and times of "Lord" Krishna was not a part of the original Mahabharata (18 parvas). Harivamsa, the parva that deals with Krishna's life was a later addition to the epic as an appendix. Perhaps the Gita was a later interpolation as well!

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  49. It is interesting to note that Yudishtira is coronated as early as the 12th of the 18 books of the Mahabharata! So, nearly 1/3rd of the epic deals with the post-war fortunes of the Kuru race that is not too well known to most people.

    shrikanth: actually it isn't anywhere near one-third. The last six books are much shorter in size (except for that goddamned Shanti Parva, which was almost certainly a later interpolation and is probably twice the size of the Iliad by itself).

    Also, did you see all the earlier Mahabharata posts - the one about Karna and the Madraka women, for instance? That Ganguly translation is a treasure trove. Must dive into it again sometime.

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  50. Regarding the post war writings, it has not got the kind of mainstream attention it deserves. Normal Mahabharata interpretations end with the war giving a "living happily ever after" feeling which is nowhere close to the truth.

    In fact one of my friends told me about a book wherein the author interpreted the post war life in the Pandava kingdom. The author's tone was slightly apoclyptic(sic). Do not know the name but it was a Hindi book.

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  51. dhananjay: but it's meant to be apocalyptic anyway - the whole point of the Mahabharata war is that it marks the end of the Dwapara Yuga and the preparation for a new, more sordid and banal age.

    Btw, which Mahabharata interpretations are you talking about that have a "happy ever after" ending? There's nothing remotely happy about the ending in any of the versions I've read - the Pandavas are depressed as hell and continue to be so for the remaining years of their rule (which they do half-heartedly, just to fulfill their obligations to the kingdom). There's lots of bitterness and ill-feeling all around in the events that lead up to Dhritarashtra and Gandhari deciding to leave for the forest (and Kunti deciding to go with them). And the brutal internal squabbles that result in the destruction of the Yadavas are spelt out in unflinching detail - right up to the deaths of Balarama and Krishna. In those passages, all delusions of heroism are comprehensively ended (two of the mightiest kshatriyas of the Mahabharata war, Satyaki and Kritavarma, are reduced to shrieking drunkenly at each other before dying in the most unglamorous way).

    The book you mentioned could be the play Andha Yug. It's quite a well-known text, though I don't think there's a high-quality English translation available.

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  52. I meant the TV and film versions. Should have specified it.
    BR Chopra's version ended with Yudhishtir being coronated and spelling out his mode of operations. Most films on Mahabharata ignore the post war writings. Maybe the filmmakers thought it too radical and tragic to be added on the screen.
    In fact it was a shock reading about it and left me depressed. Just proves that literature in India was so evolved in those times.

    Yes, it seems to be Andha Yug.

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