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?