Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Episode 10 - Five Men and One Woman

Episode 10 - This is a long one - over 30 minutes, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out.  You might have noticed that I'm still experimenting with the audio, and I think this one came out clearer than the rest.  I'm trying to keep the file sizes under control, so it is a matter of striking a good balance.

Also, the story is getting interesting.  We've got a few good fight scenes, plus Vyasa intervenes a couple of times to keep the story on track, and we get to meet Krishna for the first time!  By the end, we have our heroes married off to Draupadi and enjoying their honeymoon at King Drupada's palace.  We'll leave them to enjoy that for a while, and in the upcoming episodes, I'll go back in time to cover Krishna's story from the start.

Please visit my blog and leave comments.  I'm really interested to hear what you all think of the production so far!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Episode 9 - Burning down the House

Episode 9 - This episode begins with Drona's revenge against King Drupada for reneging on a promise to share his wealth with his former schoolmate.  The princes have come of age, and perform a demonstration of their battle skills.  The pageant is interrupted by a mysterious Suta, son of a charioteer, named Karna.  Karna has an inexplicable resentment for Arjun and challenges him.  Duryodhana is delighted with the turn of events, and quickly befriends Karna. 

When the battle is about to commence, the master of ceremonies asks him to recite his lineage.  Karna reveals that he is from a lower class, so Duryodhana rectifies the situation by making him King of Anga.  The day is over by then, so nothing is settled between Karna and Arjuna.

Later, Duryodhana schemes to have the Pandavas sent to a neigboring town, and has a house built for them that is highly flammable.  The house burns down, but the boys escape with their mother.  While in the woods, there is a brief episode where Bhima fights with a Rakshasa and kills him.  Bhima marries the Ogre's sister and fathers a powerful half-breed son.

The brothers then wander off incognito, until they settle down in a small town called Ekachakra.  We leave them there until the next episode!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Episode 8 - Princes in Training

Episode 8 - This is the last episode that covers Book 7 of the Mahabharata, called "The Origins".  Almost all of the story I have covered so far comes from Book 7.  The earlier books are much shorter, and full of geneologies and creation myths that are almost impossible to make narrative sense of, so I left a lot of that out! 
I spend some time at the beginning of this episode describing what we're up against in terms of the original Mahabharata as a source.  Then the story gets under way, where we meet the two Gurus Krpa and Drona, and find out some of the early enmities between the Pandavas and their cousins the Kauravas.  Duryodhana's maternal uncle Shakuni makes his debut in the role of chief conspirator, which he will maintain to his dying day! 
I think you'll also agree that the good guys are not 100% good after all-- Bhima is kind of a bully, and Arjun is a serious kiss-up to their teacher and is not above a little cheating to make sure he is unchallenged as the top student!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Episode 7 - The Heroes and the Villains are born

Episode 7 - This episode covers the marriage of the three princes Dhritarastra, Pandu and Vidura.  Here's the map I promised of India during the time of the Mahabharata.  What's important to notice is that first, the Kuru nation was in a very central location and must have been very important in the politics of the age.  The Himalaya mountains acted as an enormous bulwark, keeping each kingdom safe from attack from the north.  Thus the marriage alliances seemingly secured peace with neighbors to the west and south, and Pandu was able to wage a military campaign against the kingdoms dowstream along the Ganges to the east.
It is interesting how Pandu eventually thought of his natural father and tried to convert to a Brahmin later in life, giving up the crown.  In addition to all that, the five Pandavas (good guys) and the 100 Kauravas (bad guys) are born, then Pandu dies, leaving his five sons orphans.  Everyone agrees that the eldest Pandava, Yudhistira should be the first in line for the throne, but his blind uncle King Dhrtarastra has good reason to be resentful for how things worked out, and he won't let us forget it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Episode 6 - No Good Deed Unpunished

Episode 6 - In this episode, Bhisma's extreme oath comes back to bite them all, when both his brothers die childless and there is no one to continue the Dynasty.  But never fear, because Satyavati has another son, the very author of this story, and he can step in from time to time to set things right.  In this case, he gives us the three brothers, blind, pale & bastard!
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Animation practice

I don't know if anyone else will find it funny, but this is my practice animation subject.  I've always like this scene from the war when Krishna gets frustrated and, because he promised not to bear arms, uses a chariot wheel instead, but Arjuna stops him. 

Too bad Blogger doesn't allow you to see the whole picture at once. You could also see it here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Episode 5 - Shantanu & Sons

Episode 5 - I briefly give my opinion of the previous episode on Shakuntala and Dushanta, and then get going with the birth of mighty Bhisma and his two not-so-mighty brothers.

This is an important episode, because in many ways, it is Bhisma's over-reaction to his father's desires that ultimately sets the whole tragedy in motion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Episode 4 - Shakuntala and King Bharata

Episode 4 - The episodes are getting a little longer now, as the stories get more detailed.  Before the book gets to the "direct line" of characters, it takes a bit of a detour to introduce some of the important ancestors in the Bharata Dynasty.  These include Bharata himself, plus his ancestor Yayati (and his son Puru), as well as Bharata's descendent Kuru.  The sketches are in fact quite brief, and the lengthy portions are generally about very specific aspects of their lives.  In the case of Bharata, we'll hear a lot of information about his conception and the questions of his legitimacy, and that's about all. 
As for Kuru, we only hear that he recovered the throne of Hastinapur sometime after his father lost it to the King of Panchala.  The story of Yayati and his sons is much longer, but it is also quite odd.  I'm going to save it for later because it also bears on the descent of Krishna, plus I'm anxious to get going with the main story!
So for this time, it's the story of Bharata, his mother Shakuntala, and his jerk of a father, King Dushanta...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Episode 3 - A Fishy Beginning

Episode 3 - Vaisampayan begins telling the Mahabharata, beginning by telling us that Vyasa spent three years daily working on the poem. Following that, we hear about the Fishy-Fragrant Satyavati and Vyasa's birth.

Episode 2 - The Origins

Episode 2 -The story begins. In this episode I describe how the Mahabharata begins, with the storyteller Ugrasravas telling the hermits in the forest about the great Snake Sacrifice of King Janamejaya, and how Vyasa's composition was told during the festivities.

Episode 1 - Introduction to the Podcast

Episode 1 - I'm excited to announce that the first episode of my podcast about the Mahabharata is now available. There are more episodes to come shortly. This one is just a brief introduction to let you know what this project is all about.

There are a lot of different interpretations of the Mahabharata out there, and they are all so different from each other, because the original writing is often so obtuse that it is very hard to get past. But buried beneath all the archaic language and reptition is a really fascinating story. My problem with the abridgements and adaptations out there is that they all without exception change the facts of the story, and skip a lot of the detail that I think gives one a real feeling for the authors' original intent. I will try to remedy this as best I can in this podcast. Finally, I really appreciate all those great podcasts out there that help me to while away the boring moments of my life, and I hope this offering is a way of giving back.  I hope you enjoy it!