The Mahabharath at a Glance

Note: This story is for those who have partial or no idea about the story of the Mahabharatha and would like to know about it. This is not the entire story. I have merely explained the important parts which you need to know to understand the two poems I have published on this topic previously.
 
The story:

Pleased with Princess Kunti’s hospitality, the great sage Durvasa blessed her with a boon. He foresaw the difficulties she would face in the future. Thus he granted that whenever she uttered a certain mantra, one of the gods would grant her a child. Being an innocent child herself, she decided to test this new power. She invoked the Sun god and he gifted her a baby. Not knowing what to do with a new born baby, she put the baby in a basket and placed it in the river which carried it away. This child was Karna. He was born with an indestructible and impenetrable armor.



Many years later, Kunti married Pandu. Pandu had another wife, Madhuri. The three of them went to the forest, in exile, as Pandu felt extremely guilty for a mistake he had committed. Pandu was cursed. When he touched one of his wives, he dropped dead. Kunti, however, brought forth 3 sons with the boon she had obtained earlier. They were Yudhistira (from the God of Death and Justice), Bheema (from God of Wind), and Arjuna (from Indra, ruler of heaven). She also brought forth two sons – Nakula and Sahadeva (from the Ashwini twins) – for Madhuri. These were the five Pandavas, protagonists of the Mahabharatha story.

Pandu’s elder brother, Dhirtharashtra, who was blind and jealous, ruled the Kingdom of Hastinapura. He had 100 sons and 1 daughter. They were known as the Kauravas. Duryodhana and Dushasana were the most notorious of them. Corrupted by their uncle Shakuni’s manipulations, they constantly plotted against their cousins – the Pandavas.

After their education under their great guru, Drona, the Pandavas and Kauravas displayed their various skills and expertise of weaponry and mantras, before king Dhirtharashtra. Arjuna was the best at archery in specific. Just as he was being appreciated by all, a young man called Karna appeared and proved himself to be just as good as Arjuna in archery. Arjuna was jealous. The Pandavas mocked him pointing out the fact that he was just the son of a charioteer called Radhe. Duryodhana, who opposed anything the Pandavas stood for, objected to this and welcomed Karna as his friend. He made him the king of a part of his own kingdom. Overtime, Karna and Duryodhana became the best of friends.

Right from childhood, with the help of Uncle Shakuni’s schemes, Duryodhana took every opportunity to trouble or kill the Pandavas. He tried poisoning Bheema, made them a palace of wax and set it on fire over night, abused them with harsh words etc. One day, he invited them to a game of dice – gambling. What I cannot believe is that all the elders of the kingdom, including the king, Acharya Drona, the great Bhishma etc. were present in the hall and could not stop them from doing this. Yudhistira was a man of justice. But even he lost his mind when he sat to play the foul game of dice. Shakuni had rigged the dice. The Pandavas lost everything in this game – their honour, their kingdom, their wife’s (Panchali’s) honour... Dushasana dragged Panchali, by her hair, to the court. And then he began to undress her in front of everyone. Duryodhana laughed at her. Karna, in the bad company of his friends, called her a whore. She cried for help. But no one stirred, despite disapproval. Then she raised both hands and called out to the only one she could trust – Lord Krishna, who was like her brother. Immediately, from out of nowhere, an extension of her Sari arrived endlessly. No matter how much Dushasana pulled her Sari, it would keep coming.

Anyway, the Pandavas were exiled to the forest for 13 years. They spent this time killing demons in the neighbourhood and saving villagers. The last year they had to live in disguise. If they were recognized, they would have to stay there for many more years.

Panchali swore to never tie her hair until the day she soaked it in Dushasana’s blood. But nobody was truly ready for war. Krishna agreed to peacefully negotiate with Hastinapura. Before the king could accept the peaceful negotiation, Duryodhana refused to give the Pandavas land enough for even 5 needles.

Thus the great battle of Mahabharatha took place – to avenge Panchali’s honour and to reinstate justice/ dharma. Many great warrior and good men (including the great Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna etc.) had to choose alliance to Duryodhana as the prince of Hastinapura.

Upon reaching the battlefield and seeing who he was up against, the mighty Arjuna, who had fought many battles before, got cold feet. How could he slay his kith and kin - those who brought him up with so much love and those who grew up with him? He was about to renunciate his kingdom and take up Sanyasa (to become a monk). He figured that it was better to surrender than live with the guilt of slaying his loved ones. 
(This dilemma of Arjuna I have tried to summarize in my poem: http://equilibriumoflife.blogspot.com/2011/09/second-thoughts-on-battlefield.html)

Lord Krishna, who had volunteered to be Arjuna's charioteer, could not stand to watch his dear friend give up so easily. So he shared with him a few words of wisdom. Besides, Arjuna had no idea what Sanyasa even meant. This is the chapter where Krishna sermonized Arjuna with the Bagavad Gita. And finally, to eliminate all doubt from Arjuna’s mind, Krishna took upon his cosmic-multiarmed-gigantic formed and showed him that he was the creator and destroyer and that nothing in this world was against his will. Finally, Arjuna got back his senses and proceeded to fight one of the deadliest battles of the saga.

Karna promised Duryodhana that he will honour their friendship no matter what and fight to his death if necessary. And he did. When Kunti told Karna that he was her eldest son, it was already too late. But he promised her that he will attack none but Arjuna, who he despised the most.

Now, besides his loyalty as a friend, Karna was famous for one great virtue – charity. Anyone who went to him seeking anything would never be permitted to return disappointed. He would offer them anything, be it his life. One day, Indra (ruler of heaven) came to him asking for the indestructible armour he was born with. Without hesitation, he cut it apart from his flesh and handed it over to him. As a return gift, Indra gifted him the Vajraayud/Thunderbolt. This bolt, with which he intended to kill Arjuna, he had to use to kill Bhima’s invincible gigantic son – Gatotgaj.

Once, Karna had approached the great teacher Parashuram for his sacred teachings. Karna was a kshatriya (warrior) and Parashuram hated Kshatriyas. Thus Karna took the guise of a Brahmin. One day, as Parashuram lay down on Karna’s lap for his siesta, a beetle stung into Karna’s lap. He did not budge as he did not want to disturb his teacher’s nap. He bore the pain for a while. However, the blood from his lap overflowed and woke up Parashuram. No Brahmin could ever bear so much pain. Only a Kshatriya could. Thus, on realizing that Karna had deceived him, Parashuram cursed him to forget how to use the Bramaastra when he would need it.

The Bramaastra was a weapon which could destroy even the world. Astras are like nuclear bombs. During the Battle of Mahabharatha, on the field of Kurushetra, when Karna finally confronted Arjuna, his nemesis, he tried to invoke the Bramaastra. But he forgot the mantra. As luck would have had it, his chariot’s wheel broke down. He got down repairing it. Arjuna decided to wait for him to get ready to fight, as killing an unarmed man was unjust/adharm. But Krishna, who was now his Charioteer, reminded him that Karna was among the 7 men who brutally butchered Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu, during the war. Thus, with no further hesitation, Arjuna struck Karna’s head off with an arrow.

As Karna lay there on the battlefield, a Brahmin walked up to him and asked him for alms. He asked the Brahmin what he could offer him, despite being in such a state. The Brahmin asked for his punya/virtues. Without hesitation, Karna granted him all his punya and even that punya he would receive for this charitable deed.Until then, his charitable virtues had been preventing him from dying.

(This story of Karna, I have tried to summarize in my poem: http://equilibriumoflife.blogspot.com/2011/11/charioteers-son.html)

In this battle the entire 18 akshauhini (11 on Kavravas’ side and 7 on Pandavas’ side) were wiped out. (An Akshauhini, was an ancient battle formation that consisted of 21,870 chariots (Sanskrit ratha); 21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry and 109,350 infantry,[1] as per the Mahabharata (Adi Parva 2.15-23). The ratio is 1 chariot: 1 elephant : 3 cavalry : 5 infantry soldiers. In each of these large number groups (65,610, etc.), the digits add up to 18.)

The only survivors of this battle were the 5 pandavas, and 3 men from the other side – Ashwathama (son of Drona), Kripa and Krithavarma. Lord Krishna had promised not to participate in this war, so his survival doesn’t count.

Note: Images used in this post do not belong to me.

The Charioteer’s Son

Note: For those who do not know/understand the story of the Mahabharath, please refer to my narration.

You often said, “He’s merely a charioteer’s son, so what right has he?”
Despite all his merits and capacity, is this all you could see?
Oh Son of Pandu, if only you knew who this soul was deep within...
A friend so loyal, a man more generous than you could have ever been.

A charioteer’s son: now you tell me what’s wrong with that?
Didn’t Lord Krishna drive yours, as a matter of fact?
It is indeed a pity that a good soul like his was taken to their side.
You hurt his ego, while Duryodan welcomed him with arms open wide.

“My dear Duryodan,” Karna said, “I care not where dharma lies.
I shall be with you and fight for you, for me that alone shall suffice.
For you are my true friend, family and everything to me,
And for all this, grateful to you and Hastinapur, I shall forever be.”

If his chariot’s wheel had not broken off, you may not have won.
Even Death did come to collect the virtues of all the deeds he had done.
“Karna,” Death begged, “Now only your charity prevents you from dying.”
“Here... take my virtues... even as I receive.” He said as he lay there lying.

Oh Son of Pandu, why couldn’t you see that he was as skilled as you?
Beyond his foul company and your prejudice, ask Kunti that which is true.
It is such a pity when in the battle for dharma, one brother must slay another.
What all five of you failed to see is that he was the first son of your mother.


 Note:
1) Images used on this post do not belong to me.
2) This poem is based on the story of Karna, a character of the Mahabharath.
3) In Sanskrit/Hinduism:

Dharma = justice/duty

Part 5 - The Tempter

This is a continuation of Part 4 - The Negotiation 

The world was created with the word of God, the word now became flesh,
To buy our pardon with his own blood and start the world afresh.
They called him Jesus of Nazareth and he preached forgiveness and love.
He cure the sick, fed the hungry, and spoke of his Father above.

Once when he was at fast, in the middle of the desert’s heat
(for forty days and forty nights without bread or meat),
The Devil came to him, and from the Gospel he read
“Could you not command these desert stones to turn into bread?
Ask in prayer and you shall receive, isn’t that what we’ve heard?”
And Jesus replied, “I live not on bread alone, but only on God’s Word.”

Satan took him to the Holy City, “You say you’re God’s son. If that is true,
then throw yourself off this temple’s peak. Surely the Angels will save you.”
But Jesus simply replied, “I will not put the Lord my God to test.”
The Devil was surprised, but didn’t give up; he was yet to do his best.

He took Jesus to the top of the world and said, “You see all these splendours?
Bow down to me and worship me, and I’ll let all the world be yours!”
“Be gone, Satan!” Jesus said, “I bow down only to the Lord, who is true.”
The Devil left the one he could not corrupt, no matter what he’d say or do.


Images used in this post do not belong to me.

To be continued... Beelzebub Part6 - The Traitor

Part 4 - The Negotiation

This is a continuation of Part 3 - The Serpent

Earth would have been paradise...Alas! To keep God’s only word Man failed.
Thus for thousands of years and thousands more, evil on earth prevailed.
While the righteous hid from persecution, the sinful earth did rot.
But though Man had forgotten his Creator’s love, the Creator never forgot.

“Oh Lucifer, why did you of all choose a path so unwise?
Your desire for praise and wicked ways expelled you from Paradise.”

“I shall return this earth to you,” the sly Devil said. “if you give me your Son.”
“Amen!” The Lord said and with that the deal was done.
The Devil expected this not, but with this he was content.
To avenge the day the first Man was born was his malicious intent.

Thus God sent His own Son, who was born to the Virgin Mary.
Only he and the Lord knew the burden he would someday carry.

Images used in this post do not belong to me.

Continue reading with Beelzebub Part 5 - The Tempter

Exorcism

Pentagrams, incense sticks, incantations, the bell...
Tonight I shall send all my demons back to hell!
I pronounce every word with utmost precision...
I choose to put an end to this, and thus is my decision.

I sit to meditate... but I'm still bound to desires and fears...
I cannot focus on my task as the darkness now nears...
I hear their whispers calling my name again and again...
I rise up and rush towards somewhere safer then...

I run towards the temple, but swiftly they follow...
Everything I leave behind, the darkness shall swallow...
In my hand is a holy book, whose verses I chant...
I reach the gates, hoping that my pursuers can't...

I run past the chambers to the one deep within...
Hoping that some God shall relieve me from my every sin....



Images used in this post do not belong to me.

Part 3 - The Serpent

This is a continuation of Part 2 - The Fallen Angel

From the ribs of Man (Adam) the Lord then made Eve.
For them alone Eden, a paradise, the Creator began to weave.
He said, “I make you the rulers of the land, all that you see is yours.
But that tree alone is forbidden for you; it bears the fruits of remorse.”

The Lord left them to be and enjoy each and every generous gift.
The Serpent who waited for this moment, unleashed his scheme so swift.
He approached Eve, for what better way could he manipulate the Man?
And he convinced her to steal the only fruit upon which there was a ban.

“But it is forbidden, the Lord has warned; how could I touch that tree?”
“Oh, but the lord fears that if man eats this fruit, he will become like He.”
Thus the Serpent poisoned her mind, and she thus stole the fruit.
She gave it to Adam, who hesitated not to consume its Knowledge and Truth.

Suddenly the Man realised, “We are exposed, Eve, my dear.”
They hid themselves behind leaves and trees, in shame and in fear.
Yet when the Lord returned they could not hide, for everything He knew.
Despite all His grace, the wicked Serpent had done that entire he could do.

“I gave you everything,” God thundered, “What could a Serpent give you?
I gave you all freedom, yet you chose to do what I forbid to do.”
“Forgive us father, we have sinned.” The two of them did plead.
“I made you in my own image to become more was there a need?”

The Master who had been kind and benevolent before,
Now cast Adam and Eve out of Eden forever more.
The earth, which had till now belonged to the Lord so kind,
Fell into the hands of the limbless Serpent, who poisoned each mind.

Images used in this post do not belong to me.

Continue reading with Beelzebub Part 4 - The Negotiation

Part 2 - The Fallen Angel

This is a continuation of Part 1 - The Archangel

The Lord saw all this, and perhaps more and was thoroughly grieved.
He called His eldest son, Michael, and asked for Heaven to be relieved.
“Your little brother has let his heart burn with ambition’s dark fire.
For now the praise of heaven’s glory is Lucifer’s desire.”

~

“My dear brother,” Michael said, “why do you of all rebel?
Our Father loved you, enough and more, all of Heaven could tell.”
Lucifer replied, “He loved us once, but that was once before.
Our Father has now lost His mind, He now loves Man more.”


“What right have you to question God?” Michael thundered at him.
“Forget the mad man,” said Lucifer, “and join me like all of them.”
“Brother, you do know the consequence for all who disobey.”
Yet Lucifer smiled and simply said, “It needn’t be that way.”


Michael drew his sword and struck him down, out of Heaven’s gates.
And all the Angels who joined Lucifer faced such miserable fates.
The Archangel, now fallen, was now a mere Serpent upon the earth.
Yet this four-limbed snake, conspired to bring Man’s world down to dirt.


 Images used in this post do not belong to me.

Continue reading with Beelzebub Part 3 - The Serpent

Part 1 - The Archangel

Note:  
  1. This is the story of Lucifer, the condemned one. The images used in these posts do not belong to me. This poem was written by me. But the essence of the story has been taken from Christian Mythology. I have merely narrated it in what I hope to be a simpler form to read for those of us who have partial or absolutely no knowledge of Christian Mythology, and yet are enthusiastic about it. 
  2. To get a more accurate version of the story,  please read the Holy Bible, John Milton's works of 'Paradise Lost', perhaps even the Holy Qur'an, (or simply watch the 'Supernatural' TV series) etc.
  3. In chapter 1 the Angels are referred to as God's children. This is a poetic expression. The Bible considers Angels to be merely God's servants. And the part where God asks the Angels to bow down to man is a concept found only in the Qur'an. In chapter 4, a negotiation between the Devil and God is mentioned. This is not explicit, but merely symbolic, in the Bible. If my interpretations or concepts are flawed, please feel free to correct me. However, do not expect this to be the accurate story.

Before life walked this earth, first created Lord’s Angels were.
Of them the highest, were the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Lucifer.
They were like His own children – perfect and obedient in all ways.
And that was back when Paradise saw its golden days.

The Angels sang hymns and songs about the Creator’s grace.
Lucifer, the youngest, led the choir to sing in his Father’s praise.
Amongst all the angels, of Heaven’s host, most charming was he.
And he was the most loved amongst them as an Angel could ever be.

~

However the Lord was not satisfied with all of this.
What is life’s meaning if it is all perfect and bliss?
Thus He created, in His own image, the very first Man;
And breathed into him life, to sustain him a certain span.

He brought home his new child, before all of them.
He said, “This is Man, dear children. Bow down to him!”
They all obeyed, save for one, and that was dear Lucifer.
He shot the Man a jealous glance and muttered coldly: Never!

Man may have the image of the Lord, but imperfect was he;
While the Angels were perfect, how could He not clearly see?


~
One day he stormed into Heaven’s court and gathered all around.
“Our Father is mad! And we His creations, to His word are bound.

Come with me, those of you who believe that I am right!
Are we not perfect? What exalts Man? Injustice has reached its height!
Come with me, dear brothers, I promise you invincibility!”
Thus one third of all Heaven’s host joined Lucifer’s mutiny.

 Images used in this post do not belong to me.

Continue reading with Beelzebub Part 2 - The Fallen Angel

Second Thoughts on the Battlefield

Note: For those who do not know/understand the story of the Mahabharath, please refer to my narration.

How could I ever do this, Kanha? It's such a miserable deed!
I would rather run away, and live with only what I need.
I would rather surrender wealth, power, joy and fame
than ever slay my dear ones and live all my life in shame.

If this is my duty and true joy, I see why you equate sorrow and glee.
If defeat and victory don't differ, Krishna, I would now rather flee.
You say that I have a mission from which I cannot stray.
Then may I put this war aside and fight it another day?

How could I carry this burden and yet keep a smile upon my face?
How could I accept this misery, taking it to be your grace?
You have provided better to the lesser; is this all MY life comes to?
I give up, oh Keshava! Tell me what could I do?





Note: 

1. Some of these questions have been adopted from Arjuna's role in the Bagavad Gita. They have been twisted to suit mine.


2.Images used in this post do not belong to me.