He who is not sensitive towards that which he attributes a lot of importance . . . I’d figure he doesn’t exist. It’s natural to be sensitive about things which we attach importance to, and religion as I understand, is firmly entrenched in our roots. Those of you amazing peeps out there who have a religious bend of mind and have an emotional tie with their religious scriptures, I request you to kindly steer clear. Because there is every chance you might construe this piece of writing as a mockery of the Mahabharata. Personally, I don’t intend any disrespect to the epic or the beliefs attached to it. I’d just say when you read it please keep this mantra in mind: to each his/her own.
This piece of writing is not about religion, I’d like to clarify. Because when I read the book, I wanted to read it with a rational outlook, not colored by my faith. It was just another story to me and as such, I haven’t read it word by word, I skipped some pages, I skimmed through parts, but essentially, I’d contend that I know what happens when and why.
After reading, I thought, okay, now you’ve read it, what do you think about it? My reply was, bloody hell, somebody ought to kill everybody. My mood, as it was then, could be understood as mildly volatile— a mixture of frustration, aggravation, revulsion and amusement.
Let me tell you why my mood was so.
The story goes . . .
(I am not taking names of the characters for sake of simplicity) Man falls in love at first sight and marries the lady, even accepting her ridiculous demands that he not question her actions ever. Lady drowns seven of her children, calm as you please, and he lets her. So enamored with her he was, he’d rather watch her, for all practical purposes, murder their kids than lose her. Alas, unable to suffer the silent grief of losing his children for seven years, victim of his paternal instincts, he stops her from killing the eighth kid. Naturally, the lady leaves him and cheery on top, takes the kid, too. The guy is, of course, sad. Enters another lady, and voila, second love at first sight for the guy. If that isn’t absurd, I don’t know what is. On second thoughts, it’s hilarious-cum-absurd.
Another man pledges never to marry so his father, whom he hasn’t really spent much time with, could marry for the second time. If someone would really do that, well, salute to him and a neuropathic recommendation. Though, if I were to cite one character I somewhat liked in the epic, I’d cite him. Misplaced love and misplaced duty, notwithstanding.
It’s time for the man’s brothers to marry, so he abducts three unsuspecting ladies for two brothers. Could he not say, ask for their hand like any rational man should? I sincerely hoped that someone would abduct his brothers, too, all in vain.
There’s this guy who can impregnate a woman with but a look and some incantations. Damn but the people in those times were so forward. Silly modern scientists waste their time on artificial insemination when gaze and mantra can do the deed quicker.
Fast forward thirty-forty years or so . . . Five brothers, again born out of incantations, marry one woman. Why? Because momma said so! They even have sharing rights and rules. One year with one husband and no encroachment on private time by the other four in that year else he’ll be exiled for twelve years. I refuse to grace that with a comment!
Interestingly the lady has been blessed with eternal virginity. My delicate sensibilities are in perpetual shock. Who would consider that a boon? I was under the impression the first time isn’t all that comfy. Then again, perhaps after too many not so comfy first times the lady must have gotten used to it.
The third brother was exiled and spends the years visiting places across the country and marrying women. Too bad he can’t become a virgin every time he lay with a new wife. He should have been granted the boon, too. Why the gender bias?
Here on the story was a bundle of controversies, conspiracies and tragedies, too many to cite here. What with the righteous guy gambling his wife away, watching as another man insults her in the worst possible ways. Frankly, by now I’d lost respect for almost all characters.
This was one story filled with shades of grey. It talked of virtues, all the while buried under the weight of vices. Perhaps that was why it’s an epic. Perhaps, by explicating those vices it teaches why the importance of virtues. Then again, virtue, morals, ethics are but a matter of outlook. What is right for me may not be so for you. The treacheries and sheer waste of life in the epic are disheartening. When you can make someone happy, why spend the time making someone miserable?
Mahabharata was indeed one hell of a story. It remains in the mind long after you close the book. Whether for the right reasons or not, that’s a matter of perspectives.
If I hurt anyone’s sentiments with this, my apologies!