Thursday, 22 December 2011

More stories from Aranya Parva.Mahabharata 77

As the Panadavas continue their theertha yatra, they decide to go up the Mandara mountain.  Bheema carries Draupadi as she finds it difficult to manage the high altitude and the climb is very steep. Even Yudhisthira finds it difficult and is breathless and feverish. The weather changes  dramatically. The sky is overcast and there is a fierce gale. Many large trees are uprooted and even Bheema finds it difficult to carry Draupadi and push fallen trees away from their path at the same time. As the gale abates in its fury, rain lashes at them like sharp arrows. Water flows in torrents and rocks get dislodged and many more trees fall. It is a magnificent but a terrifying sight.

As suddenly as it began, the rain stops, but the Pandavas find it hard to go further. Yudhisthira suggests that Bheema should ask his son Ghatotkhacha to come and help. Bheema thinks of his son and he appears the next instant. He carries Draupadi and his minions carry the Pandavas. Only guru Dhaumya and Lomasa walk by themselves! Soon they see the peak of the great Kailash mountain. They reach Badari and the rishis who have an ashrama there welcome them and Pandavas spend many happy days and feel at peace!

Interesting story in that it is the first time Pandavas face nature's fury and are unable to cope! Intriguing also that the sages proved to be more resilient! It is also here that Bheema following a trail of scented flowers, meets his older brother Hanuman, both sons of Vayu, and is taught a lesson in humility by Hanuman. Bheema also fights Kubera's Rakshasa guards and collects beautiful flowers to please Draupadi.  A story which kids would love. The picture on the right is claimed to be of Hanuman still alive and living in a cave in Manasarovar.

 As I read the stories, in which myths and fantasies are in plenty, I wondered about changes that have crept in over time in the language and in the story! I am thankful to friend Chandramouli who said written Sanskrit came much later! While a lot of stories did get added, it is indeed amazing that in spite of this lack of a written script, the integrity of the main theme seems to have been maintained, .

 Also important was the prevalent technology of those times. I am obliged to Wikipedia (In fact, there is an appeal for us to donate to the Wiki website, which is a non-profit one!) for the articles below. The invention of Chariots and the skills developed in making iron had a significant impact in changing  the course of human history. It is estimated that the world population before agriculture was around 1 million and 50 million around 1000 BCE. Thought provoking when you think of the numbers in the Mahabharata war. The figures given in Vachana Bharata is close to 400k chariots and 2 million men.
The pre-Classical form of Sanskrit is known as Vedic Sanskrit, with the language of the Rigveda being the oldest and most archaic stage preserved, its oldest core dating back to as early as 1500 BCE.[6]
 No written records from such an early period survive. However, scholars are confident that the oral transmission of the texts is reliable: they were ceremonial literature whose correct pronunciation was considered crucial to its religious efficacy.[13]
From the Rigveda until the time of Pāṇini (fl. 4th century BCE) the development of the Sanskrit language may be observed in other Vedic texts: the Samaveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, Brahmanas, and Upanishads. During this time, the prestige of the language, its use for sacred purposes, and the importance attached to its correct enunciation all served as powerful conservative forces resisting the normal processes of linguistic change.[14]
] A significant form of post-Vedic Sanskrit is found in the Sanskrit of the Hindu Epics—the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The deviations from Pāṇini in the epics are generally considered to be on account of interference from Prakrits, or "innovations" and not because they are pre-Paninean.[
 The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.
Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot. Chariot warfare and population movements lead to violent changes at the center of the millennium, and a new order emerges with Greek dominance of the Aegean and the rise of the Hittite Empire. The end of the millennium sees the transition to the Iron Age. World population begins to rise steadily, reaching some 50 million towards 1000 BC.
Iron Age India, the Iron Age in the Indian subcontinent, succeeds the Late Harappan (Cemetery H) culture, also known as the last phase of the Indus Valley Tradition. The main Iron Age archaeological cultures of India are the Painted Grey Ware culture (1100 to 350 BC) and the Northern Black Polished Ware (700 to 200 BC).
The earliest Iron Age sites in South India are Hallur, Karnataka and Adichanallur, Tamil Nadu[1] at around 1000 BC. Technical studies on materials dated c. 1000 BCE at Komaranhalli (Karnataka) showed that the smiths of this site could deal with large artifacts, implying that they had already been experimenting for centuries,[2][3] which drew attention to the presence of iron in Chalcolithic deposits at Ahar, and suggested that “the date of the beginning of iron smelting in India may well be placed as early as the sixteenth century BC” and “by about the early decade of thirteenth century BC iron smelting was definitely known in India on a bigger scale”.[4]

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