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Synopsis: MAHABHARATA

mahabharata 

Image credit @ Tamil and Vedas

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Vyasa recited, without meditation

Ganapati scribed, grasping tradition

The Universe froze, for the coming

Mahabharata, the beginning

This transpired, when memories

Were history’s repositories

From devas, gandharvas, rakshasas

The epic flowed to humans via yakshas

Vyasa conceived and Ganapati brought it forth

Janamejaya evoked, Suta the story told

For all Humanity to embrace

Pendulum swings for the human race

Vichitravirya beget two sons

Dhristarashtra, the first born, blind

Hastinapura, jewel in the crown

Went to Pandu, his younger son

The seeds of discord thus sowed

The cosmic stage for blood ploughed

Of players, playing fleeting parts

To enlighten and light a path

Pandu’s offense led to years of penance

To the forest with his two wives he went

Kunti and Madri, bore him sons five

The seeds of Pandu, the Pandavas

Pandu’s soul to Swarga Loka departs

His sons to the holy Rishis, to play their parts

To school the princes in Vedanta, Vedas

The code of the kshatriyas and the arts

The Brothers Pandavas led by Yudhishthira

Age sixteen, return home to Hastinapura

They quarrel with the hundred Kauravas

Sons of the blind steward, Dhristarashtra

Bhishma, the celibate, the perfect knight

Intervened, their heritage to divide

The Kauravas remained in Hastinapura

The Pandavas retired to rule Indraprastha

Affection feigned without, enmity festered within

Stoked by many, especially by Uncle Sakuni

A trap laid, an invitation to wager all in a lottery

Yudhishthira the honest played old Sakuni who lacked probity

In keeping their date with destiny

The Pandavas lost their everything

Justice stood still, as covenant ran wild

The Pandavas and wife again exiled

– 

After twelve harvests and the thirteenth out of sight

The Pandavas returned to reclaim their birthright

– 

Denied by Duryodhana, the Kauravas’ first born

Lands turned wet with blood and tears, kith and kin asunder torn

As foretold, the Kauravas worsted, the Pandavas bested

The mighty and the meek, their songs into history, vested

This, the sketch on living lives, O People, it will swell

With sublime teachings drawn from an ever brimming well

 

——————————— Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2013 ———————————

It is presumptuous for anyone to write a ‘synopsis’ of so great and rich an epic as the Mahabharata.

Please pardon the great white spots.

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107 comments

  1. I have to admit I can’t begin to pronounce, translate or understand a lot of the names or words above as most are foreign to me, but the poetic flow, the stories, etc. sound beautifully rhythmic and smooth like a well rehearsed recitation. Are most of the names used Malaysian or Chinese origin?

    1. Hello Carroll,

      Have not seen you in these parts for quite some time. Hope that all is well 🙂

      Glad to have piqued your interest and trust you’ll enjoy Mahabharata.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

    2. I have been something of a blog butterfly, flitting past with hardly a sound. But all is well. I have gone back to work full time now, teaching at the college – and I am scheduled to teach a class I have never taken so there is a lot of prep work. You know I have a love/hate relationship with work. Any spare time I have I will flit by again, though.

  2. The disclaimer at the end of the post probably sums the epic better than anything else. I think your verse is taut and conveys some key aspects of the story well. What I find more amazing is the diversity of responses on this post, seemingly from people with diverse backgrounds. Never realised that Mahabharata would have such wide appeal. I may be biased, but I think it is the richest story ever written.

  3. Rushed to the emergency room last year, as I was being wheeled toward surgery I was asked, among many silly questions, to check an appropriate box next to “Religion” where they were all listed. I checked “None”, even though I was raised a Catholic, drifted into Protestantism, then atheism, Buddhism and Taoism during my long life so far. It’s the institutionalization that discourages me every time, and I agree with your saying that God is one and it matters not how we address….

    1. Hello Cynthia,

      I’m not surprised that you’ve been exposed to so many religions and beliefs – it comes across in your writings. I’m totally – totally – with you that the institutionalization of religions is the greatest obstacle to most thinking people. Frankly, I have difficulty deciding who is the worst – politician, priest or banker (I say banker, in a broad sense).

      I do believe in God – I don’t believe it is neccessarily a “He” though I resort to this convenient and readily accepted form of address.

      My sentiments are – every one is right in what they believe. It is right for them as it reflects their level of human and spiritual maturity. A fanatical priest is just as right as an atheist – and so they shall reap!

      Peace and blessings,
      Eric

    1. Noeleen dear,

      I was a practising Buddhist for most of my life until I converted to Catholicism about 12 years ago. Some of my family are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and Muslim.

      But even as a Buddhist, I’ve always prayed to Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Confusing, I know – but for me, God is One and it matters not how we address Him.

      Incidentally, I care very little for man’s drivel – whether spewed from the pulpit or the prayer mat.

      Happy that you took a liking to my verse here 🙂

    1. Wow! Val – you too 🙂 It is heartening to hear of so many people reading the great works of other religions.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

    1. Hi Eric…I just moved it from spam to here…not sure why that happened…wow u flew for 10 hours..I was planning to get my CPL but a year is too long to quit working and also heaps of money for it…so I think I might choose travelling over it…but let’s see if I get a chance then definitely I would do it ..a childhood dream it is for me…

    2. Thank you, my dear.

      Now that you rescued it from spam – my future comments should come through – I hope.

      Hope you realise your dreams – I mean this 🙂

      All good wishes,
      Eric

    1. Thank you, Francina dear, for your interest.

      You can check on Google and download the many variations in English – some in simple format and others in increasing complexity.

      Obviously, there are also many versions in the Indian languages – which I studied – and some in Indonesian, Cambodian, Thai and other Asian languages.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

  4. Wow! The entire epic encapsulated into such a concise poem….truly impressive Eric 🙂 Surprised though that you glossed over the polyandry and the ill treatment of Draupadi!

    1. Thank you, Madhu,

      Your wonderful comment means much to me 🙂

      It was a difficult summary and I even had to gloss over the Battle of Kurushestra and the discourse between Lord Krishna and Arjun (the Gita) – some believe and arguably, much more important than even the foul treatment of Draupadi and practice of polyandry. In due course – and God willing – I’ll pen these episodes.

      All good wishes, my dear
      Eric

  5. I didn’t know that Mahabharata is sooooooooooooo famous (need I add some more O’s?). 🙂

    Indeed a nice work done here, Eric. Especially, I like the way you have composed the whole thing into beautiful couplets.

    1. Thank you Ramu,

      Much appreciate your kind words. It was a real challenge to condense into rhyming couplets.

      Yes, I was also amazed how many people had read Mahabharata – and in school! What a bridge builder – common languages 🙂

      Peace and blessings,
      Eric

  6. how you kept all this straight i’ve no idea but it is brilliant! i have tried many times totry to study a bit hinduism but now i am wishing i had persevered so i could follow along with this more so.!

    1. There are many free downloads on the internet re: Mahabharata. It is a fascinating work of human intellect, belief and faith that transcends the obvious references to cultural norms and practices. It is Hinduism but much more, I reckon.

  7. One of the greatest posts I read, Eric. Amazing. Although I read Mahabharata for just knowing what everyone was talking about, your post has grasped everything important from it and highlighted it. Great work.

    1. This is a very encouraging comment, Manu.

      It was a daunting task and I’m glad for all the positive vibes it has created.

      Thank you and have a great day ahead,
      Eric

    1. Thank you, Barb

      For your ready presence in my blog and ever kind words of encouragement. No worries and don’t feel pressured to ‘keep up’ with all the blogs you follow. Blogging should remain fun and don’t ever let it become a chore.

      Hope all is well and do pop in as/when you have the time.

      Congratulations on having landed this Unique Award and thank you for passing it on to me 🙂

      All good wishes,
      Eric

    1. Yes, Jay

      Everyone has their unique perspective and I belief it is right for them.

      Thank you for popping over with your comment,
      Eric

  8. Thank you for this seductive introduction to a whole new world of mythology. I’ll have to read the Mahabharata – I’ll do it with your poem on the side. It will be illuminating!
    Cheerio, and thank you,
    Jane

    1. That’s lovely, Jane

      You honour me with your words.

      I’m sure that once you embrace the strange and lengthy names – tongue twisters, I admit – you’ll enjoy the read. It is filled with cultural norms and values, mystical events and metaphysical undertow.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

    1. Hello Celestine,

      I hope this post pricks your interest enough to download a free copy – in English – from the website. If you can grapple with the exotic names, the rest of the story is fairly easy reading.

      Luv and hugz,
      Eric

  9. If I had a hat, it would be off to salute you, Eric. That you can re-tell such an epic story with your own style and get it down so succinctly is incredible! I much enjoyed your verse rather than what I had to read in college.

    1. You read Mahabharata in college! My goodness, so many in the west are not only aware of but also read this epic. That’s really great.

      When I did this post, I grappled with whether or not I should include some glossary – but decided against it as it would become unwieldy. Glad I kept it ‘clean and neat’ 🙂

      Very happy dearest, that you enjoyed my attempt at verse.

      Luv and hugz,
      Eric

  10. Well Eric… you left me in the dust. I cannot comment as I have not read the Mahabharata. All the comments suggest rather strongly it is something well worth reading. I’ll have to hold further comment until I have done so. 😀

    1. Hello Steve,

      Many websites offer free downloads that you can relish at leisure. For your info, the Mahabharata in its original Sanskrit is about 10 times lengthier than Iliad and Odyssey combined. But the English versions are much shorter – about the length of a regular novel.

      Cheers,
      Eric

    1. Hello Uzo,

      If you’ve not read Mahabharata – you might want to include it in your reading list – at least for future reading. There are many websites that offer free downloads.

      Peace my friend,
      Eric

  11. Wow, and to think I sat for nine hours once to watch the T.V. adaptation of this fabulous tale, when you have summed it up with magnificent brevity!
    Enjoy your day Eric! 🙂
    Ishaiya

    1. This is very kind of you, Ishaiya 🙂

      Yes, I watched that TV adpation too. I recall when that series was ON, the whole of India stood still and remained fixated during screening times. Probably not too far off the true situation, I reckon.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

    2. Yes it was an epic. I remember watching it, long before you had too much choice to watch anything else. Great story. I remember staying up through the night to watch it, intent on not falling asleep. Suffice to say I managed it, and what an experience it was. Fabulous!

      Good wishes back 🙂
      Ishaiya

    1. Hello and thank you, Susan, for your kind words.

      The Mahabharata is the longest piece of written work in human history. Some estimates put the work at 2 million words. I say estimate because there are differing opinions on how to count the words. In any event, no other epic – not Iliad, not the Odyssey and not even the other Hindu epic, the Ramayana – comes close in word count.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

  12. You did a marvelous job. There are so many stories, emotions that one is bound to leave something. Its philosophy and teachings are relevant to the present time also, at least in India.
    I think according to ‘Ved Vyas’ Pandavas did not quarrel with K., they were the calm and peaceful type. The fight was imposed on them by Duryodhana.
    Its a long story. You wrote so well, you should try more with separate story for each character. This will be asking too much.

    ‘They quarrel with the hundred Kauravas

    Sons of the blind steward, Dhristarashtra’

    Borrowing from Soma “Eric Sir Aapko mera “sashtang dandavat pranam”

    1. You are very right, Indira,

      In Truth, the Pandavas did not instigate the quarrel with the Kauravas.

      As in all summaries – expedience and frugality of word count sometimes muddies the stories and in this instance I took the ‘simple’ view that it takes two to quarrel. Obviously, it is much more than this simple.

      The Mahabharata holds rich lessons for all humanity and is relevant even now for all who are willing to learn, I reckon.

      As for writing separate stories for each of the characters, I would love too. However – “I am but the quill, the hand that wields me, decides.”

      You and Soma shower such kind words. Yes, I bow on all 8 points too 🙂

      Thank you, Big Sister Indira,
      Eric
      P/s I’m borrowing from the Brothers Grinn – I think they got it right 🙂

    1. Hello Georgia,

      Yes, and like all summaries it captures (or tries to) only the points that drive the plot. More important are the branching stories that reveal a whole field of beliefs.

      Most authors spend much time on the Battle of Kurushestra and that all important discourse Lord Krishna has with Arjun – and rightly so. I decided to skim past these, as once we touch on these topics – one gets drawn in deep.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

    2. And well I understand why…I read it a few years back, my second son being very interested in the story, I was curious to find out why…then I saw a very faithfully don movie. Very complicated indeed…you really did a great job concentrating the points 🙂 All the best to you too, Georgia.

    1. Well, I’m sure that during your years there you’d come across the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. With English and other translations, these epics are open for all to relish.

      Cheers,
      Eric

    1. You’re right – no one can really do justice to this monumental work of arts, sciences, mythology, belief and much more. What I’ve done is merely make a poor scratch on a hard rock.

      Other epics? – Have not even got my head around this one, my friend 🙂

      “I am but a plucked leaf floating down the stream – I don’t steer, I merely get carried along”.

      Peace,
      Eric

    1. Oh, Rekha – what a lovely comment 🙂

      It took me some time to write this post and I slept on it for weeks, trying to edit as much as I could. Comments such as yours makes it all worthwhile.

      Peace and blessings,
      Eric

  13. Oh Wow Eric this is Brilliant , Mahabharat is my favourite reads of all time, loved the poem and how beautifully you summed up the story. It would be interesting to know your views on the Draupadi , her five husbands and Cheer haran.

    Eric Sir Aapko mera “sashtang dandavat pranam”

    1. Hello, Somi dear,

      Oh, thank you so very much for this lovely approval. It means much coming from you.

      Views on Draupadi, her Pandava husbands and Cheer-Haran – which some say, is the trigger/pivotal point – these are profound subjects and not something anyone can address to full satisfaction and certainly not in a Reply section. Perhaps – some future posts (?)

      Thank you for your very kind words and encouragement – yes, I amended my reply several times because you left me speechless.

      Luv, hugz and blessings
      Eric

    2. Oh This is what I meant Eric, another round in one of your future posts 🙂
      After reading this lovely poem, can’t wait for more on Mahabharat from you. ♥

  14. Ambitious and interesting, Eric. I have no command of Sanskrit, but my well worn copy of the Bhagavad Gita in English translation is one of the small cache of wisdom books I re-read on a regular basis.

    1. Well, this is interesting, Cynthia dear – a well worn copy, you say. My copy is not worn but like the Bible, I’ve read it a few times. Read the Quran once and plodding through it again.

      Ambitious – hmm, and daunting. Modern English (which I struggle with) is proving woefully inadequate in expounding the concepts and beliefs contained in the Gita, all the more as I’m hardly adept in English.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      All good wishes my dear,
      Eric

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