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51: Back story of Duryodhana Bhima Battle

51 How could Bhima break Duryodhana's thigh in spite of Gandhari's blessing?
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"What we do now echoes in eternity"
- Marcus Aurelius


It was the evening before the start of the great war. All 18 armies were gathered around the field. Soldiers were setting up the camps and tents, unsure how long this war is going to last. Most of them had traveled through the length and breadth of the country to get there, and were already missing their families. The animals were restless. There was a general commotion all around and the air was filled with expectation, excitement and mostly, fear. Most men were anxiously passing glances towards the royal tents, hoping against hope for peace, knowing fully well that from the time the Pandava's esteemed messenger - Krishna - was treated rudely in the court of Hastinapur, war was inevitable.

The royals and the statesmen in both camps we…

45 Re-post : A Bit of Perspective

A Bit of Perspective
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Note: Again a re-post from Dec 2012. Wonder why this is happening?

Anyway, this is a good reminder on the existence of this blog and the idea behind it. So very opportune for crossing the 50th post mark as well as the 150,000 page view mark on the blog !! Thank you all for your continued readership and comments. This blog and these interactions have made my own life more enriching in the last few years.

Quite recently, I picked up an interesting read. It was called 'The Monkey King & Other Stories' when it was first published in 1995. It is now called 'Scarless Face & Other Stories' and is reprinted in 2006 by HarperCollins in India.

What is interesting about the book is that it is a collection of stories by Canadian writers, mostly of Sri Lankan origin. Some stories are originated in Sri Lanka, while some have travelled to Sri Lanka from other parts of the world - mostly India. There are some stories from the epi…

02 Re-post : Endings of the Four Yugas

Endings of the Four Yugas
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Note: You know, something sinister is happening here. Three of my earlier posts got deleted for no apparent reason. Not sure if it was something I did, considering that I am quite technologically challenged. So I am re-posting them as they were. This one is one of the first posts, and what started this blog really. So it is especially dear to me. This was first posted in May 2008. Blast from the past really ! Have fun !


You know, there are a lot of theories floating around. I have a few theories too -- one of them is that when we used to drink a lot of 2-rupee 'chai' - when we were in degree college, when money was scarce but friends were many -- we used to have a lot of brigth ideas to change the world. We would in fact solve half the world's problem in a 'cutting' - that's half a cup of brew you get on Mumbai's roadsides ...

But today, when we pay 60 rupees for a cup of cappuchino and what …

29 Re-post : The origin of the alphabet

The origin of the alphabet - The Maheshwara Sootram
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Note: For some reason while managing the posts, this one post was deleted from the blog. So re-posting it as it was. First posted in March 2009.

Out of all the Sanskrit text that I learnt in the school, this one verse has stuck to me more than others. I do not know why or how. It was not even part of the syllabus, but one day our Sanskrit teacher told us about the beginning of the language, I guess that took my fancy. The lines of the verse I am talking about go like this:

नृत्यावसाने नटराजराजो  ननादढक्काम नवपञ्चवारम ।
उद्धर्तुकामः सनकाऽदि सिद्धाः नेतद्विमर्षे शिवसूत्रजालम ॥

Nrittya avasaane Nataraja Rajo, Nanaada Dhakkaam Nava Pancha vaaram |
Uddhartu kaamah Sanakaadi Siddhaa Netadwimarse Shiva Sootra Jaalam ||
Translation:

At the end of his (celestial) dance, the king of natyashastra (i.e. the Supreme god Shiva), sounded the Dhakka (Damaru - his famous two-…

48 Re-post : Garuda

Garuda - The Golden-feathered Eagle King
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Most of what I know about Garuda the Lord of Flight is from Vishnu Purana and some partial stories in different sources. The accounts are not always coherent and consistent, but there does seem to be a theme in them - about valor, about courage, about duty. So I am attempting to pen down what my impression of the whole thing is.

So we go back to the early epochs, back in time. Sage Kasyapa, who was one of the prolific progenitors of the yore, had married most of Daksha Prajapati's daughters - at least six of them (see here for more details). He had Vinita and Kadru as two wives among others. Kadru was the elder, while Vinita was the younger of the two. Kadru had many children, and they were called Nagas (snakes or serpents). Prominent among them were Takshaka, Vasuki etc. - but they were countless in number.

Vinita had only two sons - Aruna and Garuda. Actually during pregnancy, Vinita gave birt…

50 Jarasandha II

Jarasandh - II
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Brief Recap : King of Magadha gives one fruit cut in half to two wives, both conceive and produce two halves of a lifeless infant; a Rakshasi called Jara puts the two sides together and the boy comes alive - hence Jarasandh; the boy grows up to be a mighty ruler and statesman; marries his daughters to Kamsa of Mathura; Krishna kills Kamsa; Jarasandh sad; attacks Mathura 17 times; Krishna runs away to Dwaraka; Jarasandh sadder; decides to perform yagna to sacrifice 100 kings; starts collecting these kings -- this is almost the nadir of the power equations in ancient India.

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By the time Act 2, Scene 1 opens - here's what has happened. Jarasandh has kidnapped over 87 kings already and have put them in his dungeons. He is collecting these kings like little boys collect coins or stamps.

On the other side of the country, up in the North, the family feud between …

49 Jarasandh - I

Jarasandh - Part (I)
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Human condition is a strange one - people from time immemorial have tried to understand it, have tried to make sense of it, have tried to cope up with it by giving it different names and garbs - emotions, religion, psychoanalysis, and what not. But after ten thousand years on this planet, even the smartest among us are as clueless as our ancestors.

Consider, for example, this - they say that man is a social animal. Then why do some of us prefer solitude than the company of others? Why do we have bloody wars at the drop of a hat? Why are certain regions in the world always volatile and unstable? And if we are indeed social, where does our sense of socializing go when we spread litter and abuse the environment and fellow human beings?

On the contrary, if you say that man is usually self-made and self-centered, he comes alone and goes alone - then why does a Sunday afternoon tea time away from family and friends look so dark and gloomy and endless? …