Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The Epic Poem of "Maha Bharata"relates incidents of a period roughly estimated to have taken place 2500-3000 B.C.----approximately 4500---5000 years ago.Said to have been penned by Lord Ganesha to the Sage Ved Vyaasa's dictation,this deals with an ancient war fought between two branches of the same Family---the Kuru Kula(Clan)---involving all of the Indian Sub Continent----hence the name "Maha Bharata".It's characters even today are very much a part of the Indian Conciousness and one of our sacred Texts---"The Shri Bhaagwad Geeta"was narrated by Lord Krishna on the first day of this Epic war to his cousin Arjuna---the fourth son of Kunti by Lord Indra,the King of the Gods.It deals with human emotions and situations still valid in this day and age----some things just never change!!!
These are my feelings which I express here---I do not claim to be a Scholar or a Pundit on the topic of the Maha Bharata---I merely write what I feel----it is my feeling that on the whole Karna got a raw deal---he definitely deserved better and here's why I think so.I will just list the basic facts and let you decide for yourself----who was wrong or right!!!
Kunti,the adopted daughter of King Kuntibhoja,tirelessly and devotedly served the Sage Durvaasa on his visit to their Palace.She looked after his Devotional needs as he was there to perform a religious ceremony and needed to do so in peace.Sage Durvaasa was known to be intolerant,quick tempered and stubborn---he also had the habit of Cursing all those hapless beings who according to him were not up to the mark.Thus Kunti had taken on a near impossible feat to accomplish and she did so with great Success.As a blessing, Durvaasa gave her a sacred Mantra(Chant)which would give her the power to recieve great sons from whichever God she thought of while chanting it.This way she could beget herself 5 sons.
Now Kunti was very young at the time and did not take Sage Durvaasa's gift seriously---she had doubts and so decided to try it out.She focused her mind on the setting Sun God ,Surya and invoked the Mantra---and Surya stood in front of her---ready to grant her her wish!!!Now frightened out of her wits,she begged Surya to go back but to no avail.The Sun God was bound by the Mantra and so he could leave only after granting her a son.Thus she became preganant and was terribly frightened of the consequences.Her old Nurse Maid found a way out----telling King Kuntibhoja that the pressure of attending to Sage Durvaasa had taken a toll on Kunti health,she asked his permission to take Kunti for a sojourn to his Hunting Lodge in the Forest----to help her regain her strength and vigour.The King agreed and Kunti came to a secluded spot in the Forest---cut off from Society's prying eyes.In due course she gave birth to a beautiful baby--a son Karna---who wore a glowing golden armour from head to toe and had a pair of beautiful Ear Rings in his ears---"Kavacha"(armour)"Kundala"(ear rings) both gifts from his father--the Sun God.As the son of an unwed mother,he was placed in a wooden casket by the old Nursemaid and floated on the River Ganga with heartfelt blessings to find a new life elsewhere.A few days later Kunti returned to Court and her old life there----Karna became a faint memory!!!She went on to marry King Pandu who ruled over Hastina Pura which was a large Empire with many vassal States.The mainstay of this Empire was Pandu's Grand Uncle Bhishma---a venerated and well loved personality----the oldest Elder of the Kuru Kula(Clan).
The Casket was rescued from the River by a charioteer named Adiratha.His wife Radha and he were childless---thus this baby was a dream fulfilled---a wish granted!!!Legend says that Radha felt such a rush of Maternal love for the baby that she could feed Karna her Breast milk--generated at the sight of him.Thus Karna began growing up as a Sut Putra---the son of a lower caste charioteer!!!Adiratha was Bhishma's charioteer at Hastina Pura and was in his good books. Being the son of a God made Karna exceptionally capable at all the skills he undertook and Archery became his favourite sport.With Bhishma's blessings Adiratha took Karna to Sage Drona to better his skills.However Sage Drona,the Teacher of the Princes of the Kuru Kulaa refused to teach him on the grounds of his low birth---so Karna had to look elsewhere.He journeyed West to the Konkan where the Sage Parashurama lived---the ultimate Teacher of Weaponry of the era.There was however one hitch----he taught his skills only to the Brahmanas and other castes---not the Kshatriyas or Warrior caste.Karna reached his Ashrama(residential School) and posed as a Brahmana and was accepted as a pupil by the Sage.
Here Karna learned the art of Archery and became so good at it that he could shoot an arrow unerringly towards any unseen target------based only on the sound alone---bird or beast.To practice this and polish it up further he went into the Forest surrounding the Ashrama.Here he shot an arrow towards the sound of an animal drinking Water from the Stream---thinking it to be a Deer.Unfortunately it was a Cow belonging to a Brahman householder----the poor Cow died stuck in the thick mud on the banks of the stream.The householder cursed Karna"Just as the Cow died helplessly caught in the mud---so shall you die as haplessly!!!"No amount of pleading about it being a mistake made by Karna moved the householder one bit.
Karna returned to the Ashrama saddenned by the event----the death of the Cow---a sacred animal---lay heavy on his conscience.A few days after that Sage Parshurama asked Karna to let him use Karna's thigh for a pillow during the Sage's afternoon siesta.Karna was overjoyed to have been honoured thus.The Sage slept and after a while a Beetle began boring it's way into Karna's thigh.Though in immense pain,Karna sat still so as not to wake the Sage----the Beetle continued driving deeper and deeper.Finally when the Sage awakened he saw the pool of blood let out by the Beetle----and asked Karna as to how he could sit still??Karn replied that he didn't want to disturb the Sage's rest---the reply made the Sage furious.He asked Karna about his true lineage---and Karna had to admit the truth.The Sage said to Karna"You have learnt this art from me under false pretenses----may this art be of no use to you when you need it the most!!!You are not anything but a true Kshatriya---for only a Kshatriya can bear such pain with such fortitude!!" and banished Karna from his Ashrama.
Karna returned to Hastina Pura in time to take part in a Contest of various Martial skills which was to take place in a few days.
The next part in the next blog---bear with me please!!!
Friday, February 19, 2010
I first came to know that she was on the way in April,1994-----and she arrived on 23rd.December1994 at 1.44 p.m. in St.Elizabeth's Nursing Home.On arrival the first thing she did was to just grab hold of our hearts and hold them tight in her tiny starfish hands------that's the way it's been since----She is our life----our beautiful grand-daughter!!!
I have this habit of giving nicknames to all the people I love-------thus when I first set my eyes on this grey eyed rosy cheeked baby the first thing that came to mind was----Buddha bless you.She resembled those Shaolin Monks in the movie"The Temple of Shaolin" and so for the first month she was Buddha bless you!!!That month was spent familiarising herself with her surroundings and by the next month she had gained enough confidence to become demanding and imperious---that was when she progressed from the earlier name to the royal"They".Each month had a different flavour to it----so did the names----from being called just whatever came to mind must have been confusing but I must say that she coped magnificently-----if it was Aaji calling in that tone dripping honey---it had to be for her!!!
At age six months my sweet little bundle turned into a little despot----and the name "Raavana" stuck to her ever since!!!It became a battle of wills between her and me---we were each other's best friends(still are)but both being stubborn and self willed we'd fight on petty issues---no words were used---only glaring looks and staring eyes---since then she has felt that both of us are of the same age!!!!On those days when she was a sweet, good amiable baby she was The Maganlal Chhaganlal Paapiwaaley!!!Her father's a Gujarati---hence the two first names and "Paapi" in Marathi means a kiss----so each time I wanted a kiss I'd address her thus----and she'd very graciously oblige!!!!Whenever she'd come over to stay overnight with us,she'd walk out of the kids bedroom with her eyes closed and arms spread out calling"Aaji mala ghey"meaning "Grandma please pick me up!!!" early in morning after hearing my footsteps in the kitchen.Then I'd make our morning Tea while she clung like a Limpet to me!!!We did a lot of things together---she'd sit with me when I recorded my music---she has an ear for Music---or during our afternoon siestas she'd lie with her head on my arm and I'd tell her Fairy Tales,Legends from ancient Mythology,bits of Indian History------she was like a sponge---soaking up everything!!!!Though we are 40 years apart in age we're very much alike----I call her my "Ansh Avataar" or my little Clone!!!
She grew up multilingual---at the age of 3 spoke Marathi,Gujarati,Hindi and English and could switch languages with effortless ease in mid sentence!!!As she grew older, her names grew too---some of the moment but some that stuck-------the most popular ones being Magad the Bagad(Bagad means Fish-Head considered to be a Brain food),Mon the Ton and Mogadishu!!!Now I just like the sound of the last one---it's the capital of Somalia---but somehow it fits my Raavana well!!!
Today she is a tall (5'8")slender but strong young teen----studying in High School----a very clever student who is active in quite a few student activities.She plays Tennis, Volley Ball, Basket Ball and is also studying the Bharata Natyam---a classical Indian Dance form.Even today she loves to listen to old Fairy Tales-----and still claims that her Aaji's arm is the best pillow she can ever have!!!
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