Sunday, February 27, 2011

Episode 46 - The Cattle Raid

Episode 46 - News of Kicaka's death reaches the neighboring kingdoms, and precipitates an attack from the Trigartas and the Kauravas.  Virata sends his entire force against the Trigartas and leaves the rest of the country open for the Kuru's sneak attack.

Kanka, Balava and the twins are all recuited into the army, but Brhannala is left at home.  Thus, it is up to the young crown prince and the eunuch to rescue the kingdom from invasion.  As they are riding out to meet the Kurus, the 13th year of exile comes to an end.  Arjun is free to reveal himself, so he retrieves his magic weapons and takes charge of the defenses.

Arjun and Karna finally get their chance to fight, but Karna's boasts don't amount to much, after all.  Arjun literally blows him off the battlefield one time, and then later, when Karna gives it another go, he shots an arrow right into Karna's chest, knocking him unconscious and off the battlefield once again.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Episode 45 - The Book of Virata

Episode 45 - The Pandavas send away their hangers-on, and enter hiding at the kingdom of the Matsyas, in the service of King Virata.  Things go well for the first 10 months, but then the king's brother-in-law gets smitten with the Queen's new serving girl.  Kicaka takes his infatuation a little too far, and Bhima ends up restoring her virtue the hard way.  By the end of this ordeal, everyone is terrified of Draupadi and her Gandharva husbands.

King Virata is so frightened of her that he sends the queen to beg her to leave town as soon as possible.

Next time we'll find out what happens as news spreads of the killing of Kicaka.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Episode 44 - Karna cuts a deal

Episode 44 - We finish off the Book of the Forest with a couple of the more famous vignettes from the epic.  The first is the classic tale in which Karna is forewarned that Indra will come to beg from him his magical armor & earrings, but Karna refuses to prevent it.  He lives up to his claim of complete generosity and literally flays the armor off of his body and hands it all over to Indra.

Since transactions with Gods usually go both ways, Karna for his part demanded the "Never-failing Spear", which he figured would be good enough to take out his nemesis Arjun.  This spear will get used, but the outcome will be quite unexpected.

The second story is probably equally famous-- Yuddistira is tested by his father, who is disguised as a yaksha pretending to be a duck.  Yuddistira passes the test with flying colors, and is granted in return the assurance that he and his brothers would not be discovered during the year in hiding.

Next episode, we'll get started on Book 4, the Book of Virata.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Episode 43 - Savitri and Rama

Episode 43 - Despite the offensive raid on their camp by Jayadratha, old Markandeya is still hanging out with the Pandavas.  Yuddistira, feeling sorry for himself and for Draupadi, goes to him for consolation.  Markandeya replies with the entire story of the Ramayana.

I've spared you the re-telling of that epic, since it would have us out on a sidetrack for possibly months, and, really, the Ramayana deserves a podcast of its own, right?

So, jumping over that chapter, we find ourselves back where we were; Yuddistira moping around feeling sorry for himself and for Draupadi.  Again, he goes to Markandeya for consolation.  This time Markandeya replies with the story of Savitri.

This time, the story apparently works, because at the end of the chapter Vaisampayana tells us that the Pandavas  spent the rest of their exile in Kanyaka "without sorrow or fear".  That's a pretty effective story!

As it turns out, this is the last of the Markandeya stories.  We are nearly at the end of the Book of the Forest, and next episode we'll get back to the main plot with one of Karna's adventures.