Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Rajasuya. Visiting Mahabharata 57

Vachana Bharata is very brief. The death of Jarsandha cleared a big hurdle in performing Rajasuya yaga. But Pandavas needed to defeat the many kings or befriend them, collect tributes from them for the yaga. The young brothers took permission form Yudhithira and spread out to conquer the world. Bhima went eastwards, Arjuna north, Sahadeva south and Nakula west. They won and returned with the tributes and delivered it to Yudhisthira. This is the first time I see Sahadeva and Nakula being mentioned independent of each other.

 Kamala's version has more details. Arjuna goes to Ramagiri, where Lord Rama had stayed for a few days, climbs the Meru mountains and is inspired by its sublime spectacle. Bheema is received by Sisupala with every show of affection and visits other kingdoms and concludes his conquests easily and returns to Indraprastha. Sahadeva also has successful conquests and defeats Dantavakra and other powerful kings. Sahadeva also meets Vibheeshana at Lanka with the help of his nephew Ghatotkacha and is received with honor and is bestowed with many gifts. He also meets Arjuna's wife Chitrangadha and nephew Babruvahana. Nakula also has a victorious tour of the west.

Krishna arrived soon after, bearing thousands of kinds of gifts. He and Vyaasa take care of the arrangements for Rajasuya. Messengers are sent to all the kings inviting them. Nakula is sent to Hastinapura to invite the elders. Bheeshma, Drona, Dhritarasatra and others. Also sons of the kings. Nakula meets each one of the invitees individually and tells them respectfully about the desire of Yudhisthira to perform the Rajasuya and returns with their blessings.

The guests began to arrive. The city was filled with beautiful mansions specially built for the occasion. Duryodhana was in charge of collecting the homages given and saw the wealth poring in for the Pandavas. He spoke not a word about the feelings in his heart. But his heart was fuming with envy for these cousins of his who had managed to become so wealthy and so very powerful in spite of his repeated attempts to destroy them. His heart was ready to break. But he did not let anyone guess his feelings or the hatred which threatened to consume him.

Here again Kamala takes a peep into the future through the eyes of Narada who is there. His mind was not in the present. It was busy with the thoughts of the future. Narada saw, as in a picture, the war field, the great Kurukheshtra, strewn with the bodies of the many Khsatriyas present there. Detached as he was from all earthly bonds, Narada's mind was filled with vast pity for all these princes who were doomed-- every one of them.

The epic is so well known, there is no real suspense about the story. However a few details are incredible. For instance the fact that Vibheeshana was around during Mahabharata times. And the son of  Jarasandha gets to be the king after his father is killed. Wonder if George Bush would have acted differently if he had read Mahabharata. 

For that matter, a defeated king is all praises for the skill of the victorious Pandava and embraces him and offers his full support to Rajasuya. A parallel would be the gracious acceptance of defeat in a democratic process. Wondered if the present day Rathayathra  can be compared to a Rajasuya. Not really!

 Then got curious and discovered that an early Satavahana king performed Asvamedha sacrifices in around first century BC.

Sri Satakarni-I:
Greatest of early Satavahana rulers. Performed two Asvamedha sacrifices, and several vedic sacrifices. Conquered vast territory according to Nanagha inscription issued by Naganika, wife of Satakarni His conquests include Malwa, Anupa (Narmada Valley), Vidarbha, etc. Exercised control over wider regions of upper Deccan, probably Central and Western India. After conquering Godavari valley, assumed the title 'Daksninapathapathi'. Also possessed the title 'Prathisthanapathi'. Eastern boundaries abutted boundaries of Kharavela of Kalinga. The valour of Satakarni was acknowledged by Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela.

No comments: