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Sunday, 23 August 2015

129. Sage Vyasa Gives Sanjaya The Power To See The Battlefield Through His Mind's Eye

Krishna tells Karna how unbearable an agony it must be for him not to participate in the Kurukshetra battle, especially when every kshatriya willingly joined the war just to prove their mettle. Since Karna could not fight until Bhishma died, the chances for Karna's participation were very slim. He suggests to Karna that he join the Pandavas, especially since they were his brothers, and then rule Hastinapura. Karna refuses flatly, citing his supreme love for Duryodhana.

Dritarashtra is lamenting his blindness that wouldn't let him participate in the war. His charioteer Sanjaya speaks to him consoling words when Sage Vyasa arrives there. Seeing Dritarashtra rue his blindness, Vyasa is willing to give him the power of sight to see the war, but Dritarshtra is unwillingness, since he has got used to his blindness, and doesn't have the strength of mind to see blood and gore. He then asks the sage to give this boon to Sanjaya, who would moderate and relate to him whatever transpires on the battle field.

Sanjaya is giving the updates to Dritarashtra: huge armies have coverged on the field and both the warring sides have taken position. Krishna tells Arjuna that he should string his Gandiva bow and declare the begining of the war. But Arjuna looks forlorn: he says he cannot see his own grand father Bhishma in whose arms he spent he spent his childhood, his guru Drona who taught him all the martial arts, his dear uncle Shalya and his brothers as enemies. Everyone is wondering what the two are discussing about and why it is taking so long to begin the war.

Monday, 17 August 2015

128. Gandhari's Blessings — Let the Righteous Be Victorious

Karna barges angrily into his palace and throws off his bow and the quiver of arrows. His wife Shubhangi is shocked and Karna narrates the deep shame he felt when Bhishma relegates to him the lowly position of Ardharathi. Shubhangi is furious to know that Duryodhana doesn't support Karna against Bhishma and she threatens to demand an explanation from Duryodhana. Duryodhana, who has come to meet Karna along with Shakuni, intervenes and lets Shubhangi vent out her anger. Then he offers to make Karna a Maharathi and says the two would lead the battle and others were free to join if they so desired. Karna is touched by the gesture, but he clarifies that it was far more important to him that Duryodhana is victorious in the battle than the disgrace that he has to endure, to which he had anyway got accustomed to.

Duryodhana, Dushshasana, Yuyutsu — Dritarashtra's son through a dasi, and Vikarna — the virtuous son of Dritarashtra, come to seek their parent's blessings. Dritarashtra wishes them victory in the war. Gandhari, however, asks with a trembling voice if there is a way to avoid the war. Then she tells Duryodhana that though she would love to wish her sons a resounding victory, she can only say 'let the righteous be victorious'. Duryodhana explains the justice in his stance. Pandavas had lost in the wager and went to the forest as per the agreement and similarly they had been spotted just before the period of incognito exile had ended, which meant that they should go into exile once again. Instead, they chose to declare war, which was not at all justified. Since the Kauravas had been just, the victory would be theirs.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

127. Shakuni's Son Visits His Father and Bhishma Threatens to Expose Shakuni's Evil Designs

Pandavas, their allies, Krishna, the Kauravas, their allies and Shakuni have assembled. Krishna asks Bhishma to formulate the rules that would govern the war. Bhishma announces the rules: when a warrior is invited to fight, he must accept the invitation; nobody should attack the physicians who attend and treat the injured; all fightings must cease as soon as the sun sets and in case the war needs to be continued even after sun set, special provisions have to be made with the concurrence of both the warring parties; after the sun sets, any warrior can visit the opposite camp and discuss with them; no one should fight with someone who is weaponless; if a warrior decides to withdraw from the battle field, he should not be followed or coerced into fighting; Shakuni adds one more rule to this: women shouldn't be permitted in the battle field and Bhishma announces this rule as well. All those present in the assembly agree to abide by the rules. Duryodhana wants to know why Shakuni added this rule, as it was normally an accepted rule and needed no formulation. Shakuni replies that he wants to prevent Shikhandi's participation in the war, as (s)he could kill Bhishma.

Monday, 3 August 2015

126. Sahadeva Chooses the Auspicious Moment For Kauravas' War Sacrifice and Krishna, For the Pandavas

Duryodhana and Shakuni seek private audience with Sahadeva while the Pandavas are in a meeting with Drupada and Virata and Yudhishtra asks everyone to leave. Duryodhana requests Sahadeva to fix the auspicious moment for offering sacrifice to the Lord so as to ensure victory in the war. Without hesitation, Sahadeva computes and tells Duryodhana to offer the 'bali' on the forthcoming new moon day. Duryodhana is dubious about the trustworthiness of Sahadeva's pronouncements, but Shakuni assures Sahadeva to be infallible. Sahadeva believes he should be true to dharmic injunctions and he would never lie even if he is servicing his enemy. Duryodhana is overjoyed to learn that the Pandavas haven't offered any sacrifice as yet.

After the duo leave the Pandavas ask Sahadeva about Duryodhana's mission. They are dismayed to learn that Sahadeva has provided the correct 'muhurtam' for Duryodhana. Yudhishtra asks Krishna to help them salvage the situation, as the sacrifice at the suggested hour would bring victory for the Kauravas. Krishna tells Yudhishtra and Sahadeva that whereas they earn a good name by being true to the scriptures, He is left to undo the results from those actions and get a bad name! However, He assures them that He would always protect those who surrender to Him.

Krishna is offering 'tarpanam' and the gods in the heaven are surprised as the New Moon is due only the next day. The Sun God decides to ask Krishna himself, but Krishna asks him to wait for some more time. The Moon God appears next. Immediately, Krishna gets up and offers 'havisu' to the two gods who are still uncomprehending. Krishna explains that since the sun and the moon have come together, it is indeed the New Moon day and instructs the Pandavas to offer sacrifice to Goddess Durga.

Monday, 27 July 2015

125. Shakuni Advises Duryodhana To Take Sahadeva's Help in Fixing Muhurat For The Kurukshetra War To Ensure victory

Drona is offering prayer to Lord Shiva when Kunti comes to meet him. She asks him pointedly if he would kill her sons in the war. Drona protests saying the Pandavas are like his sons, but Kunti is not satisfied with the answer. She persists and tries to argue that he should stay away from the war just as Vidura had done. Drona explains that Vidura was only bound by the promise he had made to his brother Pandu to counsel and protect Dritarashtra and had his own royal status being the son of Vichitraveerya, whereas Drona was bound by the indebtedness towards Dritarashtra whose refuge he had sought to alleviate the abject poverty he was in. Even if Dritarashtra hadn't been a king, he would still have served him, being bound to him by gratitude. Kunti, however, extracts a promise from Drona that he wouldn't kill her sons.

Shakuni is pondering over how to entice King Shalya to join them. Dushshasana, who had heard part conversation between Kunti and Drona, tells Shakuni that Drona had expressed his inability in refusing to take up arms against the Pandavas because of the indebtedness towards the master who fed him. This gives Shakuni an idea. He tells Duryodhana to provide food and accomodation to the weary Shalya who were on their way to Upaplavya to join the Pandavas. Accordingly, Duryodhana's men welcome Shalya and inform that a great feast has been organized by his nephews. Thinking it was a treat offered by Yudhishtra, Shalya accepts the grand reception, and promises to do anything for the host who had so graciously taken care of all his neeeds. Duryodhana and Shakuni appear and reveal it was they who had arranged the feast, and as a reward, request that Shalya join and fight on their side. Shalya is now forced to give his word to join their side; however, he says he would return to them after taking leave of Yudhishtra.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

124. Sahadeva's Five ways For Peace: Can Krishna Be Tied By Rope?

Duryodhana has convened a meeting to decide or, more correctly, announce their decision to launch war against the Pandavas. Vidura and Bhishma tell Duryodhana to spell out his agenda without wasting time on discussing the issue, as their opinions would anyway be ignored and over-ruled. Duryodhana accuses Pandavas of revealing themselves before the end of the 1-year ajnaatavasa, and instead of going to the forest omce again as agreed to earlier, had sent Krishna on a peace mission and disrespected them. Hence they would have to register their disapproval appropriately. Virtuous Vikarna, Dritarashtra's son from a Vaisya woman, protests and requests that the kingdom that the Pandavas seek should be restored to them immediately. Duryodhana silences him, threatening to kill him on the spot. Finally Dritarashtra announces that Kauravas would launch war against the Pandavas for disobeying their directives and asks the court to seek allies for the impending war.

Krishna announces, to the utter bewilderment of the Pandavas, the success of his mission. He then explains how Duryodhana had scorned each of his suggestion for peace, including that of giving merely five houses for the Pandavas. Except for Yudhishtra and probably Sahadeva, everybody is visibly happy to learn that Krishna had declared war on their behalf. Drupada and the King of Virata announce their full participation in the war and promise to rally the support of their allies.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

123. Karna's Promise and Kunti's Quest For Identity and Recognition

Karna is narrating to Kunti many momentous events in his life in which Duryodhana played a great role. He tells her that Duryodhana trusted him deeply and sought his help in kidnapping Bhanumati, the daughter of Chitrangada, King of Kalinga. Chitrangada had organized a swayamwar to in which Jarasandha and his foster son Shishupala also participated. Duryodhana instructs Karna to fight with these kings and carries away Bhanumati. Karna easily overpowers Jarasandha who accepts his defeat and leaves the place with other warriors. Later, Duryodhana justifies the abduction, quoting Bhishma's carrying the Kashi princesses for the sons of Vichitravirya.

Bhanumati talking to Shubhangi

Karna describes Bhanumati as good natured and as beautiful as Draupadi. Bhanumati considers Karna her brother, and together with Duryodhana makes plans to enhance Karna's prestige by getting a kshatriya bride, in addition to Vrushali, Karna's first wife from the charioteer's clan. They personally approach the king of a small kingdom in their dominion called Chandrasailam and ask for the hands of Shubhangi, the princess. Bhanumati talks to Shubhangi about the virtues of Karna and Duryodhana impresses on the king about the special status that Karna enjoys in Hastinapura. The king happily gives his consent and Karna marries Shubhangi.