Monday, October 14, 2013

Mahabharat: Desire & Destiny or Triumph & Pride.

Within infinite myths lies the Eternal Truth?
Who sees it all?
Varuna has but a thousand eyes
Indra, a hundred
And I, only two.

Jaya is not the story of a great battle. It's not about kings and men or gods & asuras. Then what is it about I thought, as I kept down the book. I gulped down the book over the weekend occasionally breaking for thoughts and inferences over coffee, but the questions remained. As a young girl I'd read Kabi Sanjay's Mahabharata in Bengali, and needless to say it had its influences deep rooted in me. Probably it started even earlier, if I speculate. The Sunday morning telecasts that filled our household with sounds of conch-shells and brave men, whose voices almost thunder-like, reverberated across the lounge-room downstairs where- atleast a dozen people sat wide-eyed in awe of the epic. Sundays were incomplete without the story telling of 'Samay' and the aroma of 'Luchi' slipping in mischievously through the dining hall. However, my fascination with mythology continued over the years as I read more and more of the Greek tales of the Olympian Gods, the Titans, the Giants, the Nymphs; and the similarities of it all raised several questions which remain unanswered (to my fullest satisfaction) even today. When I picked up 'Jaya' I wasn't looking for answers to be honest. But, it did in a way attempt to instigate them again. Devdutt Pattanaik is a clever writer, he is thorough and steers away from 'point of view' style of writing. I appreciate the fact that he has taken references from the great epic told and retold throughout the subcontinent and merely lay out the different versions - almost like putting together a jigsaw puzzle for the audience aka the reader to go figure. No leading questions were asked and no opinions were slapped on. The myth of the story is not the story itself. It's unlike any other folklore about divinity that you may have heard. The myth is real in the architecture of its foundation. It merely looks into the soul of man and his passage through ages of civilization and attempts to answer the never-ending questions about life and death, spirituality and ideas of possession. Jaya over the mind, Jaya over your inner demons marks the essence of the great epic: Not war, not King-makers, not even familial inter-relations. For those who think the story is about a bunch of mythological characters who never existed and hence not worth reading, I'd urge them to don a different pair of eyes for this story alone. Don't read it as the foundations of Hindu devotions, but read it as a common man who wants to survive boldly & with no regrets, who wants to experience this world like a true intelligent being and maybe, just maybe you will be in for surprises which will shape your thoughts and opinions as you go on in your journey of life.

"Myths lie sleeping, at the bottom of our mind, waiting for our call. We have a need for them, since they represent the wisdom of our race."