Monday, 13 February 2012

Trigartas and Kauravas jointly attack Virata. Mahabharata 96

As planned Trigartas attack and take over Virata's cattle. The cowherds run to the king to inform him.  Soon the king, his brothers and his eldest son  Shanka get ready to recover the cattle. Virata tells his brother that the four visitors could be conscripted as they look able bodied. The pandavas in disguise are too happy to join. The group leave the town and sight the enemy by evening. An intense battle ensues and many are killed on either side. They stop fighting as it gets dark and dusty. Later with the rise of the moon, the battle begins again. Susharma and his brother Sumarma kill the charioteer and the horses of king Virata and capture himThe Matsya soldiers seeing their king in captivity, run away scared.

Yudhisthira then asks Bheema to go and rescue the king. Bheema looks to uproot a tree, to use it as his weapon. Yudhisthira stops him as he would be recognised with such a feat and tells him to fight with regular arms! The Virata soldiers get back  into the fight when they see the pandavas moving forward to attack. The pandavs kill thousands of soldiers and finally Bheema gets close to Susharma and leaps on to the chariot, kills his charioteer and holds Susharma captive. The frightened Trigata army retreats. King Virata also forgets his age and fights valiantly. The victorious king Virata and his army stay the night in the battle field.

Next day the Kauravas  attack  the town as planned from another direction and capture the cattle. The cowherds come to town and request the prince Uttara to rescue their cattle. Uttara who is in the midst of the ladies pleads his inability to recover the stolen cattle as he is without his charioteer, killed in a recent war! He adds,  'A pity, as the kauravas would have been impressed with my abilities to fight and would have compared me to Arjuna!'

As I read the story of Uttara, the boastful but cowardly prince, it is clear that none could have done a better job than Maharshi Vyaasa as a script writer. The cameo has everything a director would love. Arjuna as an eunuch, dressed up as a woman, pretending to be a shy dance teacher. Uttara a protected prince not experienced in real warfare showing off in front of women. His attempt to run away from the battle field is good for a couple of laughs. The story also pits a lone pandava against an array of kauravas; Bheeshma, Drona, Aswatthama, Duryodhana and Karna and the rest of the brothers.

I had hoped to locate a good representative video of Uttarana Paurusha. Did come across a full length movie in the yakshagana talamaddale style. But it involved a download technique which I am not familiar with, so gave up.

  Bayalata literally means a play in the field. I do remember watching a couple of them as a kid. Not in full as they were long, went on and on till early in the morning. However here are a couple which illustrates the robust style of our folk theatre. Men acted the female roles!


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