My parents say that the first word I ever spoke was ‘Ma’ and this brought tears of happiness in my mother’s eyes. But soon my entire family (including my mother) discovered that this ‘Ma’ was not the Hindi word for ‘Mother’ but the first two letters of the word ‘Mahabharata’. Today, my interest in Mahabharata is so well-known to the people who know me that they often call me by the name of the Epic or, at times, its characters (Shalva included).
When I was only three years old, I had my first brush with Mahabharata through the B.R. Chopra T.V. serial. Every Sunday morning, my grandparents would switch on to Doordarshan for Mahabharata and I had no option but to watch it. From the opening song to the closing song, it was only the T.V. that produced any sound in my home. Speaking anything was equivalent to the highest order of blasphemy! Today, I can say it without doubt that seekh hum beete yugon se naye yug ka karein swagat is my most frequently heard piece of musical marvels to date.
Watching Mahabharata at the age when tying my shoe-laces was a challenge for me did have its impact. When my friends and cousins used to discuss fairy tales and their favorite cartoon characters, I kept myself busy imagining how the great warriors of Dwapar Yug designed their perfectly balanced bows or how with an arrow they could make the clouds shower rain. At times, it appeared purely acceptable but when I would miserably fail in the same feat, I thought they were only poetic flights of fantasy. When in school, my classmates would swear by the Hardy Boys and scream Scooby Dooby Doo in fun, I would search my mental database for a Mahabharata terminology to reciprocate with. At that tender age, it came as a deep shock to realize that Bheeshm could also change his outfit and become Shaktimaan instead. It was only years later when I realized that screen was but a representation.
Mahabharata, the world’s greatest story ever narrated and compiled more than 5000 years ago still continues to fascinate me, like it fascinates millions other. This monumental piece of literature, a poem of more than a hundred thousand verses, has passed through generations and reached us, even though (maybe) in a modified form. The sheer number of dimensions that it covers can put the collective creativity of all the novelists, story-writers and movie directors of the world to shame. This tale, originally known as Jaya, is the tale of the most prominent warrior-kings; their lives, their ideals, their beliefs and everything pertaining to them that caused the most devastating war time has ever seen.
After subsequent readings and viewings of this Epic I discovered that its lessons are not as easy to understand as it appears in the first instance. In fact, I feel that years later we will have parents telling their kids, “Rocket-science is easy. It is no Mahabharata!” The lessons in this tale are far more subtle. Words, rules, policies and principles change their meaning and relevance according to time, places and people. Characters enter and leave at random moments transforming the story into a gigantic puzzle, making it almost impossible for a modern reader to comprehend what is it all about. This blog is an attempt to bring this tale to the readers in a crispier and a more understandable form while maintaining links to the other random tales of the Indian Mythology – all at one place.
I do this through a blog because there are certain limitations in making a movie. I did try, but the prospective budget came out to be Rs. 765 crores (for casting alone). The approximated running time was 165 hours and it would take me 112 years to complete. Moreover, Hrithik, Chitrangadha Singh and Rajpal Yadav refused to work with me for their personal reasons! So I restricted myself to this free blog, to share the great tale in my style.
This is a tribute to the Epic, hence, there are no attempts to rationalize the facts. If I really knew how every arrow collided exactly with the tip of the rival’s arrow, I would have shared. If I really knew how an infinitely long sari was draped around a woman, I would have helped every women of Delhi learn that. But I too come with limitations.
Reader discretion is advised. I request pets to read this blog only in the presence of their masters. Kindly share the blog with your friends if you like it and share it with your enemies if you don’t. It is for everybody.
Saying this, I leave you with the title song of the most awe-inspiring T.V. serial that ever featured on the Indian Television, only to be rivaled later by KBC. Thankfully, KBC didn’t have a title song.