Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Thoughts on (Ekta Kapoor's) Mahabharat

The other day, I caught a bit of “Kahaani Hamaaray Mahaabhaarat Ki”. One purpose it served was to bring home my ignorance: I had no idea how far-fetched the elaborate sets were because my knowledge of the epic is limited to the B. R. Chopra version and Amar Chitra Katha comics. I reminded myself to find a translation I could read: it is ironic that I have read the Iliad and the Odyssey but not the Mahabharat. (I did once buy – and read – a translation on the Ramayan, but then the Ramayan is so much more bland than the Mahabharat as a story.)

I watched Ved Vyas impregnating three women on TV and was put off by the hypocrisy of the scene. They would have us believe it was immaculate conception. If that’s so, why was Vyas needed at all? And what curious demarcation of powers to Vyas and the gods (for wasn’t the Sun God involved in the similar conception of Karna, and other gods of all the Pandavas?) that they can implant an embryo in a woman’s womb, but not produce a fully-fledged infant? Or have Bheesma or someone bear the baby instead, which would probably be even more legitimate – direct line of dynasty, you see. (Interestingly, it was legal at the time to have a son born to the queen who wasn’t a son of the king be the heir to the throne?)

So there you have Vyas gloriously narrating that he raped the queens. I say raped because the first queen closed her eyes in fear and the second turned pale with fright. (Which is why Dhritarashtra is born blind and Pandu weak, go figure. If I conceive while reading umm, Stephen Hawking, will my baby be born a brilliant scientist? It will be difficult to sustain my interest, but to give the world a brilliant scientist, I could make the effort.)

The most precious bit was Vyas saying that the queen was scared by the sight of his "kathorta"(literally, hardness).

And oh, for those who don’t know the story, this rape is approved of in advance by Bheesma, the family patriarch who has vowed to never take the throne but still hangs around acting the patriarch, and the queen mother.

Oh and all the immaculate conception thing is of course not a new take. I remember seeing the same in the B. R. Chopra version as well (and vaguely recollect something like that in the Amar Chitra comics).

Vyas, of course is supposed to have written the Mahabharat. Maybe he couldn’t resist going down in history as the First Great Sperm Donor?

14 comments:

Animesh Raj said...

Nice observation...Mahabharata is full of acts which in today's world the society will consider highly immoral...our society would be more comfortable with such portrayals which keep the sacredness of our saints and warriors intact.

Animesh Raj said...

Nice observation...Mahabharata is full of acts which in today's world the society will consider highly immoral...our society would be more comfortable with such portrayals which keep the sacredness of our saints and warriors intact.

@lankr1ta said...

It was a pretty common act- indeed it is a commonly followed ritual- this "natural" sperm donation thing- called "niyoga" it was suppose dot help perpetuate the family- obviously a son was needed.... google the word there are millions of these references in the Hindu scriptures...
Vyas was one of the earliest, if not the first.

Unmana said...

Animesh: Well, the bit I consider grossly immoral were that those poor women were raped. But I confess, it makes me want to laugh very loud when I think of all those people who say our culture has deteroriated recently through western influences.

Alankrita: Thanks. As I said, I'm rather ignorant about these matters. Since your comment, I searched on Google and found this: http://hinduism.suite101.com/blog.cfm/niyog_pratha

Banno said...

I've been meaning to catch up with the TV show. Considering all that I have been reading about it, should be very entertaining. I'm completely ignorant too about the Mahabharata.

Thought Room said...

Hi always been a lurker, since you hosted the carnival of the feminists. Hope you don’t mind my commenting. There is this website that you might find interesting in the same topic.

http://www.boloji.com/hinduism/panchkanya/pk01.htm

It is a long read, but you could try page 8 or 9 which talks about this subject, but generally the whole read is very interesting.

Unmana said...

Thought Room: Mind? I'm delighted! Thanks a lot for the link. It was so fascinating I read the whole thing.

Never Mind!! said...

I agree that Ramayana is no where as spicy as Mahabharata.

The BR Chopra version claims that the women were scared of VedaVyaasa because of his unruly appearance. They actually show Vyaasa requesting Satyavati to allow him to shave and shower to be more presentable to the queens. But apparently there was no time left and the queens had to be impregnated immediately.

Unmana said...

Never Mind!!: Seriously? If they were impregnated half an hour later it wouldn't have done? Oh, maybe they had to do it at an auspicious moment.

But this is nowhere so interesting (or shall I say, convincing) as the idea that they were scared of his ahem, hardness.

simplypallu said...

Glad you posted this. Thought room's link was nice.

Nitu said...

Hi Unmana
Very interesting. I like the richness of Mahabharata in terms of human errs and behaviours in general.Even knowing so many absurdities I could never think like this...

Ekta Kapoor Fan said...

Can u Guess ekta kapoor Website
as ekta kapoor every thing start with so it also with
k its kapoorekta.com
Kajeeb na

sonalini said...

hi it was interesting to read this observation on the mahabharat. i have something sort of similar in ramayana....ravana had performed great tapasya and asked brahma that no child be born of dasratha's loins. so dasratha finally had to have the putrakameshti yajna...please the gods and receive prasad from the gods for his queens. what he recieves as prasad is ironically kheer or payasam...think what that resembles...male ejaculate..or semen!!! did artificial insemination happen as far back as then..after all medical science was always progressive in india. did the queens eat the prasad or have it put into their you-know-what artificially or even naturally????? many of the holy men involved with the yajna were known to be sons of gods. and you know the thing superstitious india still has about sages. they are still getting their wives, daughters, sisters etc raped by these godmen just to have an heir in the family....

mpm said...

Hi Unmana,

I have recently started reading your blog, and am loving it! Great work!

You might be interested in a book called 'Parva' by S. L. Bhairappa. It is a Kannada book, but there might be a translation available. It is a complete non-mythological retelling of the Mahabharat. There is absolutely no 'chamatkar' or anything divine in the book, unlike the original version or what we have seen in the B.R.Chopra version. It provides very realistic insights into each character and every episode. Very controversial, and blurry on the moral-immoral dimension.

Again, am glad I came across you blog, you have me hooked for the past few days :)

Cheers!