Kissaa Kahaani

September 18, 2018

A Fistful of Silence

Filed under: The Unadulterated Magic — MK @ 2:20 am

If there were colors for everything, what color would be the air breathed in and what would be the color of heartbeats?

And love, what color would that be? Angelic white? Or would it be something like a multicolored stein glass? And what if that love is maligned with a darkness? Would that be like an ugly ink stain on a white sheet?  What color would belong to motherhood? An array of illogical colors or a beautiful rainbow out there? And childhood? And intimacy? and anger? and desperation? Sadness? and prayers? What would be the color assigned to a fistful of silence?

Her mind kept on wandering these days… she felt like giving up and not run the race she has been running since last 5 years… since that fateful night she was betrothed to someone . She wanted to study further… but she belonged to an Indian middle class family, full of daughters, she being the eldest… Studies can be continued even after her marriage, her in-laws willing… The prospective groom was a handsome, highly educated and high-earning guy and the best part – he was an only child. The khandaan was a big one, the old money and all! They had selected her only because of her untarnished good and innocent looks. Aise rishte baar baar nahi aate…

And she cursed the day she consented and fell in love with a photograph. Her fiance couldn’t find time enough to come and meet her, anyway what was the use. It was the era of telecommunication. And Roka was taken care of by the elders… whatever talks they had over the phone, were stilted… she thought he is shy and reveled in the new found love. How was she to know…

The Big Fat Indian shadi happened. With all the hopes and all the nervousness she entered her new home. The Neighborhood ladies oohed and aahed over her looks and her mother-in-law was smug that she got the best looking bahu in the society. Th cousins and the friends teased her and her heart was filled with a sweet anticipation… that night 5 years ago when she was sitting coyly in the bed with ghoonghat covering her till knees, waiting for her husband of few hours to come over and to love her, she did not know what a fateful night it would be.

He came. But instead of coming to her with love, she heard his harsh voice. He told her that she will have access to the best of luxuries, if she wants, she can throw the money whichever way she wanted, but she was not to expect anything from him. He doesn’t love her, he doesn’t want her. He claimed that he already told this to her father but by then invites had already gone out. And it was a question of izzat for both the families. He is in love with someone else and is in a live in relationship but that girl was not into marriage. So he had to listen to his parents and give in to their request for a properly wedded bahu. And he left. She remained. In her wedding trousseau and ghoonghat till her knees. Sitting on that bed. She has been alone since that day. 5 years…

Her in-laws kept the show affection for few days… but then they were also miffed that the bahu couldn’t straighten their stray son. So she left. All she was left with some self respect and ambition. There was no place for her at the home also. Her own mother told her to bear with it, they have two more daughters to get married off. To keep up the pretense. She kept up with it, with her silence.

And since last 2 years, things have been difficult. She had been receiving calls from her “Husband” for divorce. What kind of marriage was this one that it needed divorce? And for some unexplained reason, she still felt a tug looking at his photographs and felt disgusted with herself. She had resolutely told him that she wouldnot divorce him.

 

 

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The Frog Prince

 

Once upon a time, there was an old king and his wife. Childless and in exile. Thrown out of their kingdom, forced to stay in a hut! In poverty and deprivation. They remained there without their neighbours knowing who they are and they lived like commoners – cooking their own food and cleaning their own mess, going to work every day and making ends meet. They were happy, if not rich. Happy in their own little world. The only thing that worried them was not having a progeny. No child. They felt their youth slipping by, they feared the old age. They wanted a child and desperately. That thought kept swirling in their hearts…

One day the queen was making rice, the old-fashioned way. She let the pot of rice boil and then covered the pot with a plate and tilted that to let the starched water flow. All the while her mind occupied with the pain for the child she didn’t have… She became careless and let the boiling hot water pour over her hand. Oh, the pain! She whimpered in pain and large blister appeared on the back of her palm… And the king was so worried, he applied so many ointments but that blister refused to get cured. Day after day the blister grew in size. It kept growing, it kept growing. They were worried but the village doctor wasn’t able to diagnose nor offer a cure.

And one day the blister suddenly popped open and to their surprise, a frog popped out. A frog. A frog was in that blister!? How weird! How amazing! A living being! It’s God’s miracle. The God wanted her to take care of this frog, He wanted to connect her cosmically to this frog. This frog was their child.

And they proceeded to care for that creature as if they would have taken care of their own child. They did everything they would have done for their own child. The bathed him and fed him and loved him. They even sent him to the school! Can you believe that! They put him in a round earthen pot with his tiffin and books and kicked the pot. And it rolled over, rolled and rolled. And people along the way helped by rolling it towards the village school. Where the teacher would pull him out and settle him on the desk and taught him. And in the evening did the same, she kicked his pot and others in the village did too and he rolled home!

Days passed and weeks and years and decades. The frog was a big frog now. And sturdy and well learned and kind. He was everything the king and the queen wanted their child to be. They were Happy.

One day a messenger came over wearing the invitation to the wedding of an ally King’s daughter. Exiled or not, they wanted the King and the Queen to be the part of the wedding. And our King and Queen accepted the invitation. Time has come that the world outside this village knew of their prince. And off they went.

The wedding celebration was an extravaganza. And they all enjoyed. No one raised their eyebrows and shoulders on seeing the extraordinary prince. Things couldn’t be better.

The night of the wedding arrived, they settled the frog prince on the roof of the guest tent overlooking the wedding havan so that he can be safe there and enjoy the wedding. And the groom was waiting on the altar for the bride to arrive. And she arrives. Oh, what beauty she was! Ethereal and delicate and almost godly. The frog prince was smitten. He was bewitched. The wedding proceeded. Soon came the ritual that sealed the deed – sindoor daan. Our frog prince jumped and landed on the platter of Sindoor, as screams echoed over the chaos, he took another jump on the forehead of the bride, smearing her with the red vermilion. Making her his own, sealing the bond of the seven lifetimes. A silence fell over the wedding venue.

The groom was visibly upset. But he too was a prince and knew the decorum and protocol. He withdrew his claim without a fight. Our king and queen were ecstatic. And the bride’s parents were devastated but what else they could do. The wedding was done. They wedded off the frog prince and a shaken up bride.

Back at their village the king and queen made sure that their new daughter in law is happy and comfortable in their house. They arranged everything. Made their room beautiful and inviting. The first night after the wedding has arrived. The newly we are now in their own room. She was weeping copiously over her fate when she saw something. The size of the frog prince was increasing. He looked like a giant frog now and suddenly the most unimaginable thing happened.

The skin of the frog fell off like the skin of a snake and curled there on the floor was a man. A handsome regal man. In all his glory. As the man rose, he kneeled in front of her and begged her forgiveness and told his story a form for how he was cursed by a rishi in his previous birth to remain in the skins of a frog. How he can only be a man in front of his wife…

Oh, the mixed feelings the new bride had! How she felt happy and sad all at once! She couldn’t describe! This was the most beautiful night she had bug who would believe her!

Next morning she woke up to see the frog prince back in his original form beside her. this went on for days. She was now pregnant. But who would believe her that the child was of the Prince’s! She decided that now the time has come to confide in her parents in law. She told them the whole story. She showed them too, kept the window little ajar so that they could see him coming out off that skin. They too were ecstatic.

And then they hatched a plan. They kept a fire pot burning through the night in the new bride’s room and told her to burn the skin once the prince sleeps. And this-this is what she did. She burned the skin. Next morning our frog prince had no other option but to come out in his human form. The years of happiness on his parent’s faces were enough to break the curse

And with time and with bride’s parents help, our prince got his kingdom back.

And they lived happily ever after.

 

September 12, 2018

The prison visit

Filed under: The Unadulterated Magic — MK @ 6:27 am

 

Today was the day of a prison visit. I waited near the bulletproof glass window with an ear-mouthpiece on both sides. I waited for her to come. My lover, my beloved, my everything. I could have died for her, even killed for her. And she knew this. Still, it was the first time she came to visit me. In all the three months I am here. In this high-security prison. Tomorrow the trial starts. She didn’t respond to any of the letters to my lawyers. But today she is coming.

There she is. She looks resplendent in black. Beautiful. Regal. She strides with the grace of a royalty and sat down. And smiled. We both picked up the ear-mouth piece.

“I am here”

“You never responded…”

“Yes. I didn’t.”

“I swear I didn’t kill your husband! You will have to trust me!”

“I know you didn’t. But you did say you will do anything for me.”

I saw her getting up and going away. The smile was now a smirk.

September 11, 2018

I Danced

Filed under: The Unadulterated Magic — MK @ 9:54 pm

 

I sat in the tattoo parlour with him. He came to accompany me. I was nervous and was shaking. I hated needles. But then I thought of him.. this tattoo was a gift for him. To our favourite song together. “Dance in The Rain”.

As the tattoo was being etched, I looked up at him for courage. Our gazes unwavering. As the black ink marked my skin, the permanence of our bond was marked too. A tattoo for him, for us.

He looked at the final design in my hand and kissed it, promising that if things go well, he will get a tattoo too, “I Danced…” We laughed.

That was two months ago. My fragile, beautiful, and full-of-life son never got his chance to get that tattoo. Cancer finally took its toll. He went away to the world where pain doesn’t exist anymore. He couldn’t fulfil his promise. He couldn’t dance. My beautiful 22 years old first born died when I lived with just a tattoo as our last moment together…

Dance in the rain
Let it wash him away
Dance in the rain
Let it wash him away
No, he ain’t coming back
There’s nothing to say and nothing to do
But try to be brave
And learn how to dance, just dance in the rain
Dance in the rain*

* This is a song by Jana Kramer.

 

April 27, 2015

A Mother’s Woes

Filed under: The Unadulterated Magic — MK @ 3:17 pm

I am a proud mother of a 20 month old son and I have learned in these 20 months that you cannot and should not ever judge a parent. Every parent is a unique. Circumstances are unique and every child depends on his/her parents for his thought process and his upbringing. And moreover every child is unique. Circumstances, situation, locations, culture, upbringing, genes… all are very important factors, but the most important factor is the child him/her-self. How he eats and what he eats. What he plays with, what he prefers, when he walks, talks, poops – its all about the child. So I have learned not to judge a parent, and neither a child.

In these 20 months I have seen people observing my son’s weight – “he is too big for his age, do you overfeed him?” I have seen people commenting on his long curly adorable locks – “Why are you delaying removing his birth hair, I did it when mine was just 2 month old”. I have met people who advise me on his eating habit – “Why are you still giving him mashed food, he will never learn how to chew?” “He cannot form sentences yet? Mine started blabbering at 10 months.” “You as parents should not allow him too much videos or nursery rhymes.” “You son still uses bottles to drink water?” “You son is still not potty trained?” and what not. My response is just a smile. I do not know what else to do! I do not know how to tell them off without being rude.

The judging is still okay. Children are part of society and everyone has a right on them. What irks me is the stereotyping. I am constantly told, “He looks like a girl, why do you tie a pony tail for him?” Or “Do not buy pink for him. He is a boy.” I am told that I should not buy soft toys for him, or dolls. I say, how does it matter!! My son loves playing with his minuscule female figurine, Meera. Whom he calls “Meeya”. He likes diving in to my purse or to dangle it on his hands and try to walk like me. He loves venturing into kitchen and play with pots and pans. He looks adorable in a high ponytail, or with his curls tucked behind his ears with hair-clips. He likes listening to Little Red Riding Hood and the Beauty & the Beast. He plays with my neck-pieces and jewelries and other trinkets.

Toys are just that. Toys. Colors are just that. Colors. We would be stereotyping if we say segregate colors and toys based on gender. Babies are born unbiased. They are the purest forms of human being. Untouched. Innocent. Perfect. We are the ones who create biases. Gender based and otherwise. Colors and toys and long hair don’t define my son’s, or for that matter any child’s, basic nature.

We, in India, need to focus on bringing up good and decent citizen, of who we should be proud of, of whom nation should be proud of. We don’t need to teach our children biasness and difference between a girl and a boy. We need to tell them how wonderfully, how beautifully unique they are. We need to tell them that their smiles are the best in the world. We need to teach to live. We need to teach them to be generous and ambitious. We just need to tell them that they are our suns and our moons and our stars and will always be.

April 21, 2015

The Unfaithful

Filed under: The Unadulterated Magic — MK @ 11:55 am

The Unfaithful.

March 18, 2015

The Pandora’s Anti-Box

Filed under: The Unadulterated Magic — MK @ 5:28 pm

 

The day was already getting over, and my house was still a mess! My new house. I remember the day I saw this place, we were hunting for a house for myself as I had to be shifted to this town for my project and that’s when we saw this- the quaint little individual cottage, built in British style, with huge French windows, yellow walls, a cute little garden and white picket-fence… there was a huge oak tree behind the house which stood erect and proud, as if it’s guarding the house against enemies, nature and fate. As if the house was a delicate beautiful woman and the tree its protective lover… my husband laughed at me that I live in fantasy and that I am falling in love with the concept of love.

Me and my husband- we had a tumultuous affair which culminated in a beautiful marriage but every once in a while, it pops into my mind that with marriage being the priority, love has taken a backseat. The affection was there, the longing was there, but life ultimately took priority over love. And now our works were taking us on separate paths- me shifting to a faraway small town and he remaining in our faraway base town. Seeing my longing for this house, hubby darling decided to lease it out for me- The property dealer told us that this house belonged to a childless widow who passed away recently. A distant nephew opted to put this house up for lease. And within a week- after my essentials were delivered- my husband left, promising to come to me regularly. The excitement of new house eclipsed any pangs of separation, I joyfully bid him adieu.

As the day waned away and as tiredness seeped in, I decided to explore the bedroom thoroughly. Though it lay bare as of yet and though I had my sleeping arrangements in the living room for the moment, there was one huge wooden weather and time beaten chest. The metal ornamental handles were now rusted and the dark brown layer of first coating of the wood was now peeling away from the corners. There was a huge rusty lock on it and in that bare room, it reminded me of the Pandora’s Box. I had no inkling that this box would turn out to be the Pandora’s Anti-box – where Pandora’s Box unleashed misery and anguish and hope as well – this box will unleash my emotions, my long forgotten love and my jest for life and of course the fear that I might lose all of it again.

I sat for a long time in that room- contemplating and debating with myself if I want to open up this chest and violate someone’s privacy or should I open up this chest and bring alive the life of those whose secrets are buried in this box. Curiosity won over the ethics and I ended up with a hammer and one stroke unhinged the lock. With a deep sigh I heaved the top of the box open and laid my eyes on myriad of memories.

I dug into the box and one by one admired the treasure. First there was bundle – some photographs, dog eared and faded, black and white photographs of a tiny, petite woman in a tunic and a tall man… hands around each other or sipping tea or of the lady sleeping or of the man gardening or of the lady on the swing with unabashed laughter and wind in the hair… the photographs were a treasure in itself…. and then there were few accessories each being a gift probably- symbolizing some occasions and then there were some shells and smooth rocks and then there was a carefully packed, beautiful white wedding gown… except for the veil which was moth eaten, the whole wedding trousseau was intact and ready to go. It was a full sleeved slender wedding dress with a train and satin shoes, gloves and a set of blue earrings… just looking at the dress brought back my own memories, my own wedding day… the anticipation, nervousness and the excitement….

And lastly there was a tiny shoe-box which contained few letters. The yellowed crisp letters must have been read and reread as the letters were now almost torn from the folds and there were thumb marks and tear smudges… I tentatively opened up the first letter, it was not merely a love letter- it was a letter of devotion, of commitment, of longing, of passion. It was not merely a letter – I was handling a piece of life in my trembling hands…

April 22, 1950     

Dear Pat

I miss you, I miss your laughter. You know yesterday, just before dawn, I went to a place which locals here say is the most beautiful place here, but you know Pat, this place is an empty beauty. I could not enjoy the so called beauty as you were absent from my side. And then I closed my eyes and imagined you next to me, Pat you would not believe- the air there smelt of pine and salt and crisp freshness and there was a scent unique to you. And when morning arrived above the pine tree, you merged with sun and dew… you touched me and went away… I felt a sharp pain… Pat can’t you come here? Can’t you come to me and take away the pain and to give new memories?

Come to me Pat, make me whole. I am waiting…

I don’t know yet what I am to you.

Jamie

 

Though this letter was a short one, but I could feel the pain of this James, I rummaged through the box and saw only Jamie’s letters to Pat, who I figured would be Patricia. There were no responses- may be those were with Jamie instead. I picked up another letter.

 

                                                                                                                                                June 30, 1954

My Pat, My own sweet Pat,

After four years you accepted me! After four years to pining for you, finally you will be mine! Oh My Pat! I am eagerly waiting to embrace you! You know Pat, I can never have enough of you. Yesterday when you said yes to me, I thought my life’s ambition is fulfilled, I am complete.

When you held me in your arms and hugged me to your bosom, and whispered all those words that you wanted me, those words were woven around my dreams of you, Pat. I have earlier been in love Pat, but I did not know what it was- you taught me the meaning of love. I was walking alone till yesterday, and now I have you. You tormented me for these four years- you hurt me. And I had my own share of doubts but I also had the conviction that without you Pat, I am nothing.

You are my home, my place to go

My faith returned, you told me so…

Don’t you ever leave me Pat, it took me so many years to hear these words. Love me again and love me always, open up your heart to my faults and mend these broken parts inside me.

           Now I am yours!

Jamie                                                                                                   

 

And this letter was testimony of joy! Reading this one made me as happy as Jamie might have felt that day. And then the third letter…

 

October 15, 1954

 My Sweet Pat,

 I know that you are just a room across, and I know that tomorrow you will be mine in the name of God, tomorrow you will be mine! Wow! I have been waiting for this day and the day will be finally here! Still, Still! Still it pains me that I can’t see you today- you being so near… I know that you are feeling the same anguish, the same longing…

 Let the light of your memories

Come to me…

Slowly and gently, let them

Caress me, touch me…

Let them touch me and

Make love to me…

Let your shadow come and

Kiss me… gently…

Gently and softly let it

Come to me…

Let your shadow, your memories

Bring you to me…

Come and sit beside me…

Come and untangle the satin

Satin which covers me…

Touch me, touch me and

Let me feel…

Feel your fingers on my back…

Let me feel the ecstasy…

Come and embrace me,

Hide me in your soul…

Take me away from me,

Love me…

 Waiting for you!

 Jamie

 

And this letter unleashed the passion I had stowed away… The next letter brought the fear of losing…

                                                                                                                                                May 23, 1967

Dear Pat,

 You must be wondering that I am being so formal. But I do not know how else to start Pat! Pat, though you reign my heart, but I find myself lost. I know that I need to be back, back to where I belong- to you! You are my home, Pat. But there is something amiss. You know it. I know it. I never wanted to betray your trust, your faith in me. But I have done that. And I can’t silently let throw everything under the rug. I did, whatever, I did, willingly. I willingly chose to forget you, I willingly chose to astray. I willingly challenged the fate. I always knew, though you won’t believe it, that whatever I do, you won’t go away from my heart ever.

 Why it so happens that when you want to go ahead in life, you are faced with invisible obstacles and whatever you do, you cannot breach that wall. You can never go beyond it. You can’t even transcend your soul above it… It happened with me too Pat. I wanted to go away but realized that I can’t! And when came the time to turn back, and when I did turn back, I found that I am standing at the end of nowhere. You were not there Pat. You could not hear my desperate call. I could not find my way back on the path I traveled.

Where should I go now, Pat? I know that path is nothing but my ego. Hit me… Right where it hurts, right on the old ego… Hit me, hit me so that I realize myself. Push me, push me so that I fall deep deep in my soul…

 Accept me again Pat,

 Lost the right of being called yours.

Jamie

 

This letter was so full of pain and so heart wrenching that I could not control the tears. I was not feeling as much for Jamie, as I was feeling for Patricia. She must be so guilty that somehow she pushed him away. My thoughts wandered to my husband… and I scolded myself for even harboring those silly thoughts. I picked up the next letter…

 

October 15, 1968

My Pat,

 My darling, darling Pat. I once again have the right to call you mine… As I write this, I am looking at you. Sleeping. Did anyone ever tell you that you look so beautiful when you are  asleep?  You look amazingly beautiful. Tomorrow, we are going to celebrate not only our 14 years of existence but also the fact that you rescued me from myself. You rescued me and hugged me and promised to always cushion my fall. I shall be ever grateful to you.

 I am not a very good person Pat, but I am not that “cold-hearted”. I know what I am, but with you- with you, I am someone else… The memories of moments with you will last forever. With you, I always seem to go from high to low and back again to high… in no time… you know, though you are overall a beautiful person, it’s your voice which has the capacity to capture any heart. As I am looking at you, I think about your voice… almost like the breath of a passerby on a crowded city street.

You have a special, very special heart and a mind so adventurous! Pat, promise me that if I ever go away, though I promise nothing other than the Almighty will ever make me go away from you, but still promise that you will be happy. Promise me that you will cherish my bitter sweet memories….

 Pat, after so many years together, I realize that you were made for me and I was for you. The paths may not have been so easy, the happiness may not have always been permanent, but contentment was always there, wasn’t it? Together is the best place to be. Happy anniversary, wife!

 Thank you for loving me.

 Worshipping you,

Jamie

 

 And I smiled. Jamie won her again. His love was strong and Pat’s love was even stronger. This was the last letter in that shoe-box.

I rummaged through the Chest, but there was nothing more in it. I stacked the letters carefully back in the box and kept everything in the Chest. The curtain-less window showed the red sky peeping in. I looked at that old chest and smiled. This was my own Pandora’s “Anti-box”.

I rushed down and checked my cell phone and saw 6 missed calls from my husband. A smile played on my face. I called him up. And I heard his frantic scolding and I laughed. I laughed aloud and shouted that I love him. I told him about that Chest and again he said I am living in fantasies but I could hear the smile in his voice.

Throughout the evening I had that smile on my face and before I slept, I had made up my mind. I wanted a family, this was the time. I decided to email my office about my latest decision and to prepare them for my departure. I decided to resign and to be where my husband is. Work and life do matter, but love precedes all. I realized that I can’t stay away from my husband.

Thank you Jamie and Pat.

July 24, 2014

Yudhishthira- Dharmraj, Really??

Was Yudhishthira really a dharmaraj? Was that title only because he was sired by Yama or Dhrama? I have my own doubts and so do many others.

What is Dharma? The word has been defined in many ways in our holy books- it can mean Justice, Truth, Virtue, Code of Conduct, Character, Manner, Etiquette, Law, Truth and what not! But doesn’t Dharma mean Conscience as well!? Isn’t it about morality too?

Yudhishthira, the so called paragon of righteousness, ignored the calling of his heart and soul and went ahead with what was the “law”. Doesn’t dharma mean doing right, not betraying the conscience, not twisting the truth, taking a stand? Was he really obliged to play the game of dice and lose all he had and also deprive his brothers, mother and wife at the same time? Would abandoning the vile addiction of the game make him a coward as per Kshatriya rule of not backing down under any circumstance? Doesn’t this law of Dharma apply solely to the battlefield? Wasn’t this most pathetic excuse for continuing his weakness of the game? When Krishna admonished the warriors in Kaurava army saying, “Where was your Dharma when Draupadi was being insulted and robbed off her humility in the game of dice”, shouldn’t he have admonished Yudhishthira instead, “Where was your Dharma when you gambled away your wife, making her face the severest trauma a wife can feel?”

Was Yudhishthira really noble and great? Wasn’t he the shrewdest, most opportunistic man ever in the great war of Kurukshetra, wearing the mask of Dharma? And why do I doubt Yudhishthira on the front of Dharma? Let me recount my reasons.

The Lakshagriha- the house made of lac

When Pandavas and Kunti were given the gift of the Lac palace- highly inflammable substance, by Kauravas, and when Vidura apprised the Pandavas of the situation and informed of a secret tunnel he had made sure to be constructed to help Pandavas escape, the Pandavas with the consent of their mother Kunti, gave shelter to 6 Nishads- 5 sons and a widow mother, unbeknownst to Kauravas. The purpose was that when Kauravas would see the charred corpses of the unknown Nihads, they will think of them to be of Pandavas. Was it not murder? Pure cold blooded murder? Why didn’t Yudhishthira spoke up and refused to be a part of the conspiracy? Where was his call of duty when he decided to brutally sacrifice his innocent subjects? Was it about survival? Is survival worth it when it costs others’ lives? Wasn’t survival possible by just escaping and not killing anyone in the process?

The Shared Wedding

When Arjuna won Draupadi’s hands in marriage fair and square and took her home as his legally wedded lawful wife and when Kunti unknowingly told the brothers to divide the “offerings” amongst themselves, Yudhishthira ordered that all brothers would have to abide by the words of his mother and would have to wed Draupadi. Was that right? Was this the Dharma which objectified Draupadi as a plaything for all brothers? Was it Dharma to snatch away Draupadi from her beloved Arjuna? Was it not purely his desire to obtain Draupadi and the only way he could do so was by making sure that Draupadi is shared by all brothers? Does desire become a part of Dharma? If Dharma means to follow the words of elders and superiors, doesn’t Dharma also mean to respect womanhood, respect the integrity and sanctity of a marriage? How is it that Yudhishthira is hailed as a supreme son then? Didn’t he misuse and twist his mother’s words to meet his own terms?

The Vices of Gambling Addiction

Isn’t Dharma all about letting go of the vices and embracing virtues? Then this vile addiction of Gambling was not a step towards Adharma? Yes, Shakuni cheated. But was Yudhishthira not wrong to quit when he could? What kind of Dharmaraj was he that he kept on losing his all possessions, and not only had he lost all the possessions of his brothers as well? Were the brothers’ belongings his as well?  Didn’t he knowingly and deliberately threw his wives to the vultures just to fulfill his gambling habits? Was his wife his belonging, a possession? If that is the case, then why didn’t he gamble away his second wife Devika- who belonged only to him? Why Draupadi? Because she was a shared wife?

The Great Kurukshetra war

When Yudhishthira uttered the words that Ashwathhama died to Dronacharya, wasn’t that not exactly a truth- but twisted half-truth? And isn’t half-truth much more vile that a lie? Didn’t he betray the trust of his Guru who had the firm belief that Yudhishthira would never ever utter a lie? And wasn’t this half-truth the result of his desires to win? Where was his Dharma then?

And what about allowing a young boy to penetrate the Chakravyuh? That also when the boy’s father was not present? Was that again not his desire to win at any cost- may that life he is throwing away belong to his brothers’ young son who is newly married and who is soon going to be a father? Why couldn’t he have entered the Chakravyuh himself and be forever known as the valiant warrior? Was it because he was scared of death?

 

 Sources

http://jayadiscussions.blogspot.in/2013/04/yudhisthira-righteous-really-part-2.html

July 23, 2014

Hindu Mythology: The Wives & Children World Did Not Know About (Mahabharata- Pandavas)

The Pandavas, acknowledged as the brave and just sons of Pandu, were fathered by Devas- Dharma (The God of Justice & Truth), Pawan (God of Wind), Indra (The king of Devas) and the divine twins Ashwini Kumars. Thus came on earth Pandavas, born of five devas and Kunti and Madri, queen consorts of Pandu- Yudhishthira, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva.

The World knows and revers Draupadi, the shared wife of five Pandavas. The world knows and loves Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna, wife of Arjuna. The world somewhat acknowledges Hidimbi, the Asura princess and wife of Bheema. The world doesn’t know that there were many other wives. The World respects and sings praises for Abhimanyu, The son of Subhadra and Arjuna. The world admires Ghatotkacha, the Asura son of Hidimbi and Bheema. The world doesn’t know that there were other sons… So here are the stories of the other wives- not of Draupadi, not of Subhadra, but the other wives…. So here are the stories of the other sons- not of Abhimanyu, not of Ghatotkacha, but the other sons….

BHEEMA: Hidimbi & Ghatotkacha

When Kauravas, the first cousins of Pandavas, tried to incinerate them and Kunti alive, the Pandavas escaped into the jungle in disguise of orphaned sons of a Brahmin widow. In the forest resided Rakshasas – Hidimba, Bakul and Hidimba’s sister Hidimbi. The Rakshasas Hidimba, enticed by human smell, and filled with desire to consume human meat, asked Hidimbi to take the form of a beautiful woman and lure the human to him. However on approaching Pandavas, Hidimbi fell in love with Bheema and revealed her true self and of the danger of Hidimba. Bheema easily killed Baka and Hidimba. However he refused to do anything with Hidimbi, who approached Kunti and said that she is all alone due to Bheema therefore it is his duty to marry her. Bheema acquiesced on the condition that once Hidimbi bore a child; he would leave her and go away. Within a year, Ghatotkacha was born who was a great sorcerer and was given a boon by Krishna that his sorcery would be unmatched and almost parallel to that of only Krishna. Ghatotkacha played a major role in annihilating the Army of Kauravas during the great war of Mahabharata.

BHEEMA: Naga woman & Bilalsen/Barbareek

There is a legend… folklore in some parts of Rajasthan, and Orissa, that Bheema was married once before he met Hidimbi. Bheema was the strongest of Pandavas and extremely hot tempered at that, not to mention mischievous. He used to play practical jokes on the Kaurava brothers; he used to engage in wrestling bouts where he out-powered them with extreme ease. This irked Duryodhana and he decided to do away with Bheema. Bheema, known for his love for food, was lured to the river bank of Ganga and was offered poisoned food. Thereafter he was drowned in the flowing Ganges. Thankfully The Naga king Vasuki was present and he saved Bheema, and gifted him the strength of thousand elephants. As per the legend, and there is no reference to it in Mahabharata or such, It was not Vasuki, but Ahuka, the Naga, who saved Bheema and took him to serpentine realm and gifted him a Naga woman. The union brought forth a son called Bilalsen or Barbareek. In some variants, Barbareek was the son of the Ghatotkacha, and thus grandson of Bheema.  Barbareek was convinced by Krishna to not participate in the war as he had promised his mother that he would help the weaker side and thus would keep oscillating between Kauravas and Pandavas and ultimately annihilate the entire armies from the both sides. There is a separate story revolving around great Barbareek, which I will tell later on, some other time….

BHEEMA: Other wives

Bheema also had another wife Valandhara, the daughter of the king of Kasi, begat upon her a son named Sarvaga. Chedi king Sisupala’s sister also was wedded to Bheema.

ARJUNA: Ulupi & Aravan

The story goes that Arjuna once entered Draupadi’s chamber while she was with Yudhishthira. To atone for this trespassing, he went on a ‘pilgrimage’. During this time he married many women. One of them was Ulupi.

Ulupi was the Serpentine Princess who became infatuated with Arjuna and abducted him and had him conveyed to the realms of netherworld. There she reasoned with Arjuna to take her as his wife and Arjuna consented to the Union. However the condition was that once he went away from her, he would not remember (this condition is a variant in many folklores). Thus after spending a night Arjuna went his own way. Ulupi gave birth to Iravan or Aravan. Ulupi also played a major role as a friend of Chitrangada, other wife of Arjuna, and was an important part of Arjuna and Chitrangada’s son, Babruvahana. She also restored Arjuna’s life after Babruvahana slayed him- Arjuna’s short death was the fulfillment of curse by Bhishma’s brothers, Vasus after Bhishma was killed in the Kurukshetra war; she redeemed Arjuna from the curse. Ulupi had also granted Arjuna with invincible powers while in water.

There is a legend from the oral traditions of Tamilnadu about Iravan (Also mentioned in the first book of Mahabharata, Adi Parva and sixth book, the Bhishma Parva). The Battle of Kurukshetra was evenly matched and there was akashvaani that Pandavas would have to please the Goddess of War with human sacrifice. There were only three men worthy of sacrifice- Krishna, Arjun & Iravan. Since both Krishna and Arjuna were indispensable to the victory of the Pandavas, Iravan was selected for the sacrifice. He agreed on the condition that he wanted to get married before being sacrificed- he wanted to be not forgotten, to be mourned by someone, to be missed by someone. But no one would give his daughter to a dying man. Finally Krishna too the form of Mohini and spent the night with him and at dawn when Iravan was sacrifices, Mohini mourned his death as no one would ever mourn for their deceased husbands.  

ARJUNA: Chitrangada & Babruvahana

Arjuna travelled the length and breadth of India during his term of above mentioned exile.  Arjuna visited other Tirthas in India, including Kalinga and the ashrams of Saptarishis, Agasatya, Vashishtha, and Bhrigu. Finally he reached the palace of Manipur. In Manipur he met the daughter of King Chitravahana’s, Chitrangada. It was love at first sight and requested the hands of Chitrangada from her father in marriage. King readily agreed but put forward a condition- since Chitrangada was his oldest child and Manipur practiced equal primogeniture, the king sought a promise from Arjuna that Chitrangada and any of her and Arjuna’s children would remain in Manipur as Chitravahana’s heirs. Arjuna agreed, and later spent time in the palace until the birth of his son, Babruvahana

Babruvahana did not participate in the Kurukshetra war and during Ashwamegha Yajna, slayed Arjuna, unaware of the fact that Arjuna was his father. Ulupi revived Arjuna with her powers. And the son and father reunited.

Other Wives & Children of Pandavas

Yudhishthira’s other wife was Devika, the daughter of Govasana of the Saivya tribe, who bore him a son named Yaudheya.

The Pandavas spent some of their exile at Chedi. Nakula later married Karenumati, the daughter of the Chedi King, who bore him a son, Niramitra.

Sahdeva obtained Vijaya, the daughter of Dyutimat, the king of Madra and his maternal uncle, brother of Madri, and begat upon her a son named Suhotra.

All these wives lived with their sons in the house of their fathers.

In the classical Sanskrit retelling, Arjuna married the Naga Ulupi, the princess Chitrangada of Manipur and finally Krishna’s sister Subhadra during this pilgrimage. But in Tamil retellings of the Mahabharata, he married totally seven women. One of them was a warrior woman called Ali who refused to marry him but Arjuna was so besotted that he sought Krishna’s help. Krishna turned him into a snake and he slipped into Ali’s bed at night and frightened her to become his wife. Some say he forced her to be his wife as he managed to spend the night in bed with her in the form of a snake. This illicit folktale alludes to Pisacha-vivah, or the marriage that is condemned in the Puranas.

 

Upapandavas (Draupadi’s children with the Pandavas)

Yudhishthira: Prativindhya

During the Kurukshetra war, Prativindhya, the oldest of the Upapandavas, is (estimated) 24 years of age. He killed Karna’s son Chitrasena on the fifteenth day of the battle. Presumably, he was the crown prince.

Bheema: Sutasoma

Sutasoma was the third oldest, and fought and won over Shakuni during the war. He was also instrumental in holding off Drona and Ashwathhama during the course of the 15th day.

Arjuna: Shrutakirti

Shrutakirti was fourth son and was also involved in the fight against Ashwatthama as well as Dushasana.

Nakula: Shatanika

Shatanika is the second oldest of the Upapandavas. He was an upa-senapati of the Pandavas army during the war.

Sahadeva: Shrutakarma

Shrutakarma was the youngest of the Upapandavas, He was defeated by Shakuni, but in turn killed Dushasana’ s son as well as Shala the brother of Bhurshravasa.

All the Upapandavas actually survived the 18 days of war. On the night of the 18th day, during the victory celebrations, they were killed when Ashwatthama set fire to their camp while Kripa and Kritavarma manned the entrances/exits to the camp mowing down any escapees. In most versions, Ashwatthama confuses the Upapandavas to be the Pandavas themselves, because of their likeness to their fathers.

Sources:

http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Bhima.html

http://pvravi.blogspot.in/2013/12/the-pandavas-their-matrimonial.html

http://devdutt.com/articles/mahabharata/2-of-5-the-other-wives.html

Wikipedia

Hindu Mythology: Why do Babies Suck Thumb

In Mahabharata there is a reference to King Mandhata, the child of the Golden Age.  There is an interesting story about how he was born.

There was a king, King Yuvanshva of Ikshvaku Clan. He had several wives and concubines but sadly he was not blessed with a child. He requested the sages to prepare magical nectar which would enable his wives to bear his children. The sages invited him to the Ashram, after travelling many days the king reached the ashram. He was weak due to thirst and hunger and upon reaching the ashram he saw a pot of water and drank it, unaware that the water was actually the magic potion created for his wives by the sages. He ended up being pregnant and upon the completion of gestation period he experienced labor pain.

Due to lack of female organs, there was no way he could give birth to the baby. He invoked The Ashwini Kumars- the divine physicians. They cut open his thighs and Yuvanshva gave birth to Mandhata. Now the problem arose of nursing the child as the king was incapable of breastfeeding. Indra, the king of Devas, came to his rescue. The Deva King, cut open his thumb and out flew the milk, as in the veins of Devas flow milk and not blood as unlike humans. The infant Mandhata sucked on to the thumb and sought comfort. That is why babies suck on to their thumbs as it is considered in Hindu Mythology and Legends that babies, until they understand and speak human languages, are  reflections of Gods and hence their thumb has milk.

The King Mandhata was called as one who belonged to the Golden Age, as he was born of a man; his midwives were divine physicians and his wet-nurse was the King of Devas.

Reference: The Story of Mandhata was retold in Mahabharata twice. In genealogical lists of Puranas, Mandhata was ancestor of Rama- both belonging to Ikshvaku clan.

special thanks to Devdatta Patnaik’s Shikhandi.

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