Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Episode 70 - The death of Abhimanyu

Episode 70 - Drona has been in charge now for two days, and so far he has failed in his mission to capture Yuddistira.  This despite the fact that they have sacrificed a whole nation of warriors just to keep Arjun away long enough for them to grab his brother.  The Trigartas are nearly all dead so they need to come up with a new idea.  This time, Drona implements a fancy new formation, based on a wheel, which few know how to break.

It turns out that Abhimanyu is one of those who know its secrets.  But with Arjun busy, he is the only one.  Helpless to protect himself and his followers any other way, Yuddistira sends the boy wonder into the jaws of death.  Even then, they could have protected the boy, except they were stopped by old Jayadratha of Sindh.

Remember this guy?  He's actually related in marriage to Duryodhana-- he married Duryodhana's sister.  But one wife wasn't good enough for him, and he stupidly tried to run off with Draupadi, without first defeating the Pandavas.  He paid the price of humiliation for his impudence: he was beaten severely and had his head shaved by an arrow head by Bhimasena.  Too humiliated to return home, Jayadratha remained in the woods, praying to Shiva.  When he finally coaxed Shiva to grant him a wish, he asked for the ability to kill all five Pandavas!

This was a bit too much even for Shiva. The best he could do was grant him the ability to stop the Pandavas briefly, but not Arjun.  Obviously, now was a perfect moment to use this boon, so Jayadratha rode out to forstall the Pandavas, while Drona, Krpa, Karna & Ashvatthaman ganged up on young Abhimanyu and killed him in an ambush.  It was Dushasan's son, Daushasani, who dealt the death blow.

What is Arjun going to say when he finds out they let his son get killed?!?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Episode 69 - Kurukshetra, Days 11 & 12: The Drona Parva

Episode 69 - Bhisma is out of commission, and his book is nearly over.  In one last scene, Karna comes to meet his fallen nemesis.  Bhisma is quite affectionate toward his prodigal nephew, and he tells him that he was only pretending to be antagonistic.  He really didn't mean it, he just wanted to discourage Karna from enabling Duryodhana's evil ways.

Bhisma begs Karna to forget his grievances and to join with his brothers and end the war this moment.  But Karna is too far gone.  He owes Duryodhana too much, and he has nursed his grievances for far too long to ever reconcile with the Pandavas.  It is better that he exit this world in the most honorable manner possible-- on the field of battle, at the loving hands of his famous brother, Arjuna.

This scene ends the Bhisma Parva, and we pick up the story the next morning, in the Drona Parva.  Drona is made commander of the Kaurava army, and their strategy is to kidnap Yuddistira.  If they get him, then they could force him to gamble and send the Pandavas back to the forest.  But Arjun presents a major problem with this plan.

After one fruitless day of battle, the Kauravas decide to distract Arjun with a suicide squad.  The entire army of the Trigartas volunteer to go to their deaths in order to keep Arjun away from protecting his brother.  On day 12, they almost pull it off, sacrificing the lives of one half their numbers, but Arjuna is too much for them, and he breaks away just when it seemed Yuddistira would be taken.

Now, at the end of day 12, there is still another half of the suicidal Trigartas, so a final attempt will be made on grabbing Yuddistira on day 13.  13 is an unlucky number, and someone will have to pay for Yuddistira's freedom!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Episode 68 - Kurukshetra, Day 10: The Bed of Arrows

Episode 68 - I know it feels like this war is really dragging on; but I think that is precisely how Vyasa wanted us to feel by this point in the battle.  We are all getting tired of the unending violence.  Even the main cause of all the violence, Bhisma, is getting tired of this, and he has begun looking for a way out.

On day 9, the old Kuru apparently relieved himself of the last of his commitments, which was to wipe out the army of the Saumakas.  Now the only thing left for him to do was to find the most noble way to meet his death.  On the evening of the ninth day, the Pandavas visit their grand-uncle in his tent and walk away with the old man's permission and even blessing to kill him on the tenth day.

So this is it-- Arjun is finally committed to this action, and Sikhandin is put at the head of the attack.  By the time they are done, Bhisma is literally a human pincushion.  He is impaled by so many arrows that his body does not touch the ground when he finally falls.

Arjun kindly provides a pillow of arrows and a nice little drinking fountain, so Bhisma may wait until the seasons change and the sun finally resumes its northward course in the heavens.  Until then, he's content to hang out on his prickly bed and watch the action from the sidelines.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Episode 67 - Kurukshetra, Day 9

Episode 67 - On the previous day, Duryodhana was quickly losing faith with his uncle.  He began to suspect that Bhisma was throwing the contest in favor of the Pandavas.  Karna didn't help any when he offered to take charge in place of the old man.  So Duryodhana asked the old man to either fulfill his oaths or get out of the game.  Now today, on the 9th day, Bhisma sets out to finish off his Dharma so he could move on to the next phase in his life.

On the battlefield, he kills hundreds of thousands, including the entire nation of the Saumakas.  Bhisma takes out a large chunk of the Pandava army.  If he keeps this up another day or two, there will be no one left to fight on the Pandavas' side.

So that night, after the battle, they go unarmed to Bhisma's tent and ask him what they should do about this and how they should win the war.  Of course, they've known what they needed to do all along, but it's nice to have Bhisma tell you himself and to even give his blessing!  We'll see tomorrow if Arjun finally carries through with his duty...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

News: Episodes 1-4 have been re-issued!

If you are following this blog, you have probably already listened to the first four or five episodes of this podcast.

I recently listened to those old episodes and sort of cringed at the production quality and the pace of my speaking.  I like to think that my production skills have improved somewhat since those early days-- my equipment is certainly much better now-- and I wondered if I might have scared off some proportion of my listeners with those first few episodes.

Therefore, I decided to re-record them to bring them up to the quality of our later episodes.  I also took the opportunity to edit and include more information than was in the original recordings.

Episode 5 could also use some improvement, so in the coming weeks I will also release a new recording of that episode.

I simply replaced the old .mp3 files with a new one of the same name.  If you decide you'd like to hear the new version, but it still sounds like the old one, it may be the cache on your computer is holding onto the old file.  You may need to clear your browser cache files to get past that problem.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Episode 66 - Kurukshetra, Days 7 & 8

Episode 66 - The seventh and eighth days of the War.  Bhisma kills a few more Dhartarastras, king Virata loses another son, and we meet Arjun's son Iravat, a Naga prince from Arjun's tour of the holy places, long long ago.

We meet Iravat only to see him killed by the demon Alambusha.  Alambusha is also the son of a famous father-- none other than the peculiar half-deer Rshyashrnga!  In the story we get from the epic, Rshyashrnga's son is the child of a Kshatriya princess, and becomes Raja of the kingdom.  We are not told where or on whom he begot this demon!

Arjun and Bhisma seem ready to get down and fight, but it never seems to happen.  Maybe on day 9?  Duryodhana is quickly losing faith in his general, and Karna is making trouble on the sidelines, so he'd better do something big on day 9...