Sunday, March 28, 2010

Episode 15 - Kamsa Goes Down

Episode 15 - This episode is about Krishna's spectacular entry into international politics.  Having established his manhood by cuckolding the entire tribe of cowherders, Krishna returns to Mathura to get his revenge on Kamsa.  Killing Kamsa has repercussions, however, because Kamsa had a powerful ally in King Jarasandh.  Krishna ends up killing more than 130 million soldiers as he defeated 17 armies raised by Jarasandh and an 18th army belonging to the Black Greek.  You'd think there were no soldiers left in ancient India after that, but Krishna is only getting started!  Krishna also checks in on his cousins the Pandavas, sending an embassador to report back on how the boys are being treated.

Our two stories are beginning to come together, so next episode we'll have some more adventures of Krishna and Balaram, get them married off (16,000 wives!!!), and see how their sons come along, and then we'll finally be caught up, and will resume the story of the Pandavas.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Episode 14 - Krishna and the Gopis

Episode 14 - Things get hot and heavy this episode, when Krishna plays a tune on his magic flute and all the girls come running.  The association of religious devotion with carnal love is found in Sikhism, Sufi Islam and even mystical Christianity.  I've always suspected that the idea was born in India as Bhakti and then gradually made its way westward through the Islamic world and finally into Western Christianity.  It would be an interesting study-- the timelines certainly fit!  Next episode, we'll get back to the bloodletting and chopping of heads, so never fear, this sexy stuff is nearly behind us!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Episode 13 - Top God

Episode 13 - The further adventures of young Krishna.  This time we cover his youth and teenage years.  He kills a bunch of demons, imitates every boy in the clan plus all the calves, kicks Indra's butt, and then compels the girls to emerge naked from the river to retrieve their clothing-- all in the name of religion of course!  He promises to each one of them that he will make love to them before the end of Autumn, and next episode, he'll make good on it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Episode 12 - Krishna at Play

Episode 12 - We finally get started with Krishna.  His mother and father were both of the house of Yadu in Mathura-- Krishna's mother Devaki was King Ugrasena's daughter.  Unfortunately, Devaki's brother, Crown Prince Kamsa was a bad guy, and he got an early warning that his sister's eighth child would be the death of him.  After a palace coup, King Kamsa threw Devaki and Vasudeva into prison and killed their first six babies as soon as they were born.

The seventh child, Balaram, was magically transported into the womb of Rohini-- Vasudevas other wife living in Vraja with the Gopas.  Unlike Balaram, Krishna managed to be born in his natural mother's womb, but was secretly exchanged with the Gopa chieftain's daughter within hours of their birth.  As far as anyone could tell, Krishna was born to the Gopi Yashoda, and Devaki had a daughter who was killed by Kamsa as soon as she was discovered.

So, while Krishna and Balaram are technically full brothers, it appeared as if they were unrelated, and Krishna was simply the son of a cowherder chieftain.  This arrangement worked well in keeping him hidden from Kamsa, but it must have been tricky convincing everyone that he really had royal blood and wasn't just some low-caste nobody!  We'll see how he pulls this off in later episodes.

The Bhagavata Purana is so utterly dazzled by Krishna's divinity that these everyday practicalities seem to fade out in the glare, but I'll try to keep a lookout for how the mundane folks around him-- those who did not recognize his divinity-- tried to make sense of his story and his position in society.

I have to admit that so far Balaram is a bit of a cipher to me.  We are told that he is the avatara of Adisesha, who is the Cosmic Snake; Vishnu's pal.  Somehow Adisesha appears as himself when Vasudeva makes his journey with Krishna to Vraja, but Balram was already a child at the time.  Later, we are told that Balaram and Krishna are equally avataras of Vishnu.  Hopefully we'll be able to untangle this riddle as we go along.  So far, I admit that I don't quite get it!

If anyone can explain to me how Balaram relates to Krishna, I'd love to hear it.  I'll try to come up with an analysis of the two characters as we move further along into the story.  They make an amazing contrast, often taking opposite sides on important issues.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Episode 11 - The Loves of King Yayati

Episode 11 - This episode is the first in  a series that will break away from the Mahabharata and use the Bhagavata Purana as the primary source instead.  This is necessary if you want to find out Krishna's life stories.  Up until the Pandavas meet Krishna at Draupadi's Swayamvara, no mention is made of Krishna's birth, childhood, or rise to power.  That information is only available in other books, and the main source is the Bhagavata Purana.

The first time I read a faithful translation of the Mahabharata, I was shocked that Krishna just appears in the story, fully grown, and no information is given about his background.  So in the next two or three episodes, I will try to rectify that, starting with Krishna's common ancestor with the Pandavas, King Yayati.

I meant to push on and cover Krishna's birth and childhood in this single episode, but I was afraid that all the names and details would get overwhelming if I tried to put all this together, so next episode we'll cover Krishna's birth and toddler-hood.

The story is getting much more complicated, and we're meeting many new characters, so I'm doing my best to keep it all as clear as possible in the narrative.  Please send feedback and let me know how I'm doing, and whether there is anything I could do to make the story easier to follow.  Please leave comments on my blog, or email me:  I'd love to hear from you!