Thursday, 7 June 2007

Visiting 'Mahabharata' ...11: ' Is it Time to quit?' (revisited in 2011)

(Gayathri while talking about her experiences about telling stories from the epics, she takes 'Balvihar' classes for young Indian children in Bangkok, said she skips whenever she finds the going awkward to say the least. The following story is so strange that even I am tempted to quit!)

As Satyavati keeps on and on about continuing the line of Kuru, Bheeshma suggests one more custom which was also an accepted practice. A 'noble' brahmin is invited to help revive the royal line. While she really wanted a Kuru to continue the line, she gives up and accepts this suggestion. Satyavati after a lot of hesitation :-) speaks about Vyaasa a son born to Parashara the great rishi before her marriage to Santanu! {I could not resist the smiley icon}

Just that she thought of Vyaasa prompts him visit his mother! Vyaasa understands the situation and is ready to take the wives of his step brother. Satyavati now speaks to the women and convinces them and arranges for the visitation of Vyaasa in the night.

Ambika and Ambalika go through the ordeal for the sake of the Kuru line. Vyaasa was so forbidding and terrible in appearance that Ambika closed her eyes and Ambalika turned pale. It transpires that the son born to Ambika is blind and to Ambalika white.

 Disappointed Satayvati pursuades Ambika to be ready for one more visitation from Vyaasa. Unable to bear even the thought, she sends her maid in her place. The maid manages to stay calm and Vyaasa predicts that his son would turn out be both wise and good. He also requests his mother not to call him again as it is not right for him, as an ascetic, to be with women more than three times and goes back to the forest to continue his penance.

( Interesting to see that Vamsha or lineage was so crucial and it seems that genes, even if they did not have a scientific basis for it, was important. It was imperative to perpetuate a vamsha by any means. Of course, niyoga that was practiced,  did not really perpetuate genes of Kurus but mostly of Satyavati! Why not, as she also is a notable personality by her own right.

 No surprise Satyavati failed to see how gruesome Vyaasa appeared.  I was trying to remember the proverb 'Hettavarige Heggana muddhu', I thank Mohan for telling me, Tara said she also knew! Her Kannada is better than I thought! A very loose translation would be for a mother 'her child is the most beautiful' and the literal one is 'for one who has given birth to a bandicoot, even it is lovable'!

The insensivity of  Rishi Vyaasa amazes me . We expect rishis to be better humans! About the children being born blind and white: While it is difficult to accept, doctors may probably establish medically, some time in the future, the direct effect of mother's state of mind on the newborn at the time of conception. Still the reaction seems to be too severe. Going blind just because the woman closed her eyes. Too much! May be Vyaasa was insulted and cursed them in his mind.)

(I remember reading a book, a long while ago, about unusual law cases. The book was in my father's office, a very old book, early twentieth century! Briefly the story was this, a woman delivers a child, totally different in color with no resembalnce to  either her or the husband. Husband files for divorce and the defense is that the woman had picture of a man, the same color as the baby, in her bedroom and she was looking at it often during her pregnancy. I recall, that the judge believed her story and did not grant a divorce! I wonder if the judge had read 'The Mahabhrata'.)


N L Sriram said...

Amba does get her revenge finally by being born as Shikhandi, with whom Bheeshma would not fight!

From 11 ....

While it is difficult to accept, doctors may probably establish medically, some time in the future, the direct effect of mother's state of mind on the newborn at the time of conception. Still it seems to be too severe.

While not exactly during the time of conception ....

Remember the movie Elephant Man, based on a true life story?!

Also the effect of Subhadra going to sleep while pregnant with Abhimanyu and listening to the strategy of penetrating and escaping from the Chakra Vyuha?

Raghunath said...

Single women wanting to have children is common in Western societies. I read an article about chat groups formed by offspring of a single sperm donor. So the craving for offspring i.e. progressers of lineage is not too strange. Kerala provided a modern examplein India!
Lysenko postulated the influence of environment on the outcome of pregnancy. Derided outside Soviet Union but may have an iota of truth!