Sunday, January 30, 2011

Episode 42 - Kidnapped!

Episode 42 - Vyasa stops by the Pandava camp and tells the story of Mudgala, who turns down the opportunity to go bodily to heaven because it wasn't permanent enough!  He chose instead to stay on earth, eking out his miserable existence until his natural death, when he finally attained total extinction.

That seems to be Vyasa's only mission, because after the story, he leaves.  Soon after, King Jayadratha of Sindh passes by the camp while the brothers are away hunting.  He spots Draupadi alone and undefended, so he grabs her and runs off.

The brothers quickly get wind of this and pursue him through the jungle.  The princess is retrieved and Jayadratha's followers decimated, but the king himself has his life spared because he happens to be a kinsman of theirs-- he is Ghandari's nephew.

Jayadratha is not nearly so forgiving as the Pandavas, and he seeks revenge for the humiliation he suffered during his captivity at the hands of Bhimasena.  He lives in the wilderness, worshipping Shiva until the god offers him a boon.  After some negotiation, they settle on granting him the ability to stay the brothers during a cavalry attack, except for Arjun, whom even gods have a hard time stopping!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Episode 41 - The Golden Plough

Episode 41 - This one covers Duryodhana reaction to the humiliation of being captured by the Gandharvas and then released by the valor of his hated cousins the Pandavas.  Unable to face his clan after the ignominious defeat, the prince resolves to sit down and starve himself to death.

This decision sets off alarm bells in Hell, where the Daityas and Danavas have big plans for Duryodhana.  They summon a genie and have her deliver Duryodhana to them, and they tell him about the cosmic nature of this conflict, that powerful Asuras have already taken their places for the great war, and only he can see it through to victory.

Duryodhana returns, his old attitude back, and he leads his brothers back to Hastinapur, as if they had just conquered half the world.  But the boy's ego was a fragile thing, and when Bhisma scolds him, he needs something to cheer him up.  Karna first proposes another Rajasuya, but that is limited to one per family, so they must settle for the Vaishnava ritual, which involves a golden plough, which Duryodhana would use to plow a sacred enclosure.

The episode ends with Duryodhana once again feeling bad about himself, and Karna going to ever greater lengths to keep his patron happy.  This time he swears to never wash his feet again until Arjun is dead!  This will probably contribute to some of the trouble he has later one while in command of the Kaurava forces!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Episode 40 - The Cattle Expedition

Episode 40 - This one starts with some girl talk.  Draupadi and Satyabhama get bored of Markandeya's endless mythologies, and sneak off for a more private conversation.  Satyabhama wants to know how Draupadi maintains her hold over all five husbands.  Draupadi then advises us on the behaviors a woman should perform to keep her husband from straying to other women's beds.

Krishna too finally gets bored of Markandeya and decides it is time to head for home.  He loads up the wife and they head out.  If he knew of the impending attack on his friends, he didn't bother to tell them.  The scene then changes to the court at Hastinapur, where Dhrtarastra is getting news of Arjun's return from heaven with the WMD and how they seem intent on waiting out their exile before taking revenge.

Duryodhana overhears Dhrtarastra's lament, and calls a meeting of his cronies.  Karna suggests they go out to watch the Pandavas in their misery and laugh at them.  What ensues is the Cattle Expedition.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Episode 39 - The Markandeya Sessions Pt. 3

Episode 39 - Two more stories from the Sage Markandeya.  The first is a rousing fight story, where the king of Ayodhya gets super powers from the god Vishnu and defeats a dragon.

I find the second story more interesting.  Yuddistira wants to know about the specific problems that women and servants must have in following their dharma.  Markandeya replies with a story about a short-tempered Brahmin Kaushika, who encounters a particularly wise peasant woman, whose devotion to her husband grants her great wisdom and insight.  Noticing that the brahmin could use some advice on dharma, she sends him to the local butcher, who, it turns out, knows even more about dharma than the woman.

We are nearly through with Markandeya.  Next episode we'll get back to the main protagonists, with a tete-a-tete between Draupadi and Krishna's wife Satyabhama.