Monday, 20 August 2007

Visiting Mahabharata ...19 Towards Hastinapura (revisited in 2011)

Rishis accompanied Kunti and her five sons to Hastinapura and were met by Bheeshma and Dritharashtra and the rest of the family. They outlined all that happened from the time Pandu chose to stay in the forest and made this plea before leaving Hastinapura. 'It is up to you, Bheeshma and Dhritarashtra to take up the guardianship of these fatherless children'.

As the family and Hastinapura grieved, royal mourning and funeral rites were arranged for the departed Pandu. The great Vyaasa came to preside over the function. Later Vyaasa speaks to his mother about the future he perceived 'There will be nothing but annihilation. Mother, you have not the strength of mind to watch your great grand children destroy each other; .....Retire to the forest and turn your back on this world'. 'So be it ' said Satyavati. She asked Ambika and Ambalika if they were willing to go with her. They were only too willing to go away with her.

Fate had not been kind to these three women. They had now reached a stage where nothing mattered to them. They set out willingly to the forest, in search of peace to sooth their bruised hearts. Before leaving for the forest she spoke to Bheeshma about the prophecy of Vyaasa and commanded Bheeshma, who wanted to choose death rather than face the bleak future predicted, to guard these children and see that the house of Kurus is established. Bheeshma bent his head in silent consent.

(I quote from the introduction to 'The Mahabharata' by Samhita. "Why did Samhita choose Mahabharata? Why did she not choose to write the Ramayana? When we asked her, she exclaimed that she liked Mahabharata, 'because it so evil'. "

I am also totally intrigued by sage Vyaasa. If he could foresee the calamity that awaited his grand children, I wonder whether he could have done things differently. In fact, his contribution by writing the Mahabharata, as well as being physically responsible for begetting the sons, whose children become the core of the epic, is unparalleled.   When I search the web to learn more about Vyaasa, I am overwhelmed! He is credited with the splitting of the Vedas, writing the Bhagavatha and many more. A veritable genius! Even his father sage Parashara has written a book on Jyotish. A family of intellectuals.

What was his upbringing? Obviously his mother Satyavati had nothing to do with it. Then I saw this in a dictionary! Vaman Shivram Apte says: but he retired to the wilderness as soon as he was born, and there led a life of a hermit, practising the most rigid austerities--.

 Amazing,  Vyaasa was a brilliant person, but a loner and it is not really a surprise that while he was not evil, he could be insensitive!) (Those were weird times it seems! Or were they?)

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