The Vasus and their wives came upon celestial Nandini

Grazing the grounds of Vasishtha’s ashramic community

Nandini’s milk held immortality for underlings

The immortal Vasus had scant need for her offerings

One queen pleaded a kalash for her friend, a mortal

Little did she know Vasishtha’s wrath was terrible

The Vasus knew but could not deny their love

Stole Nandini and into the dark they dove

Vasishtha in outrage trembled

The betrayal his anger welled

Their curse he purchased with currency

He’d amassed by long austerity

Enter the world of man, he cursed them their fate

To Vasishtha’s feet they ran to prostrate

However, a curse once released is a raven freed

Vasishtha softened to rebuild his store of merit

To Prahasa, who seized Nandini, a glorious life, he decreed

His brothers Seven would gain their freedom when as mortals they breathe

The Vasus sought out and implored Ganga to woe-a-man

Birth and release us, after living on earth as woman

Ganga acceded to their petition and took on human life

For a human to love and revile her after bedding her as wife

Now alone, his beloved Ganga and son gone

Santanu forsook sensual pleasures and atoned

As a woman is wont, Ganges her banks broke

When her waters withdrew, a young man out strode

Santanu rejoiced and beheld his love, Ganga

She had returned as promised with Devavrata

Embrace our son, my husband, he is your progeny

By your seeds sown, you’ll seal his destiny

He is equal in prowess to Parasurama,

Vasishtha his tutor in Vedas and Vedanta

Well versed in the arts and the sciences of Sukra

Our Last Born, a hero and master in statecraft

____________ Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2014 ____________

The beginnings of Bhishma and the magical waters from which he drinks fortify us. Why these great powers vested in this hypostatic being, what great challenges await him, what triumphs, what tragedies? And so, the dice rolls —

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Mahabharata – Synopsis

Santanu and Ganga

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47 comments

    1. Leave it to you to pick out the metaphor wrapped within a metaphor 🙂

      I’m a little cheeky like that – leaving little hints to see who latches on 🙂

  1. You have done so well here Eric. Each time you reach higher, each time you do more. Even for those of us who are neophytes, unfamiliar with the original, this pulls us forward and teaches us. This I think is the best compliment I can pay you.

    1. Awwwwh! That’s wonderful, my lovely lovely buddy 🙂

      I’m working on more – but these are really tough to summarize.

      Much luv and big huz,
      Eric

  2. Love the flavour of this one Eric, gives you a feeling of the time, the almost parable-like essence. telling the moral tale and the history in combination. . Read the comments above and I can imagine the challenge, which even to my untrained eye was fully worth the effort. xPenx

  3. I’m not familiar with Mahabharata, other than what you’ve posted previously. I enjoy stories told in poetic form because they possess a rhythmic quality that ‘regular’ stories don’t have. Great work here, Eric!

  4. Reminds me of my Indonesian friend who never gets to go home any more–too long a plane trip for her health. She has lived all over the world and speaks numerous languages. Because of this she speaks everything with a unique accent, even her native language–her dad was a diplomat.

    1. Hello Juliana,

      As you probably know, Hindu kings once ruled parts of modern day Indonesia and influenced local culture, language and architecture. They built many temples – Hindu and Buddhist – and the most famous is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur. Hinduism is still practised in Bali.

      You are right – Mahabharata does evoke memories of people and languages.

      Peace,
      Eric

  5. Epic poetry translations are a true art and, even though I am unfamiliar with both the text and the original language, I am impressed by your erudite rendition. I assume that your secret is to abandon a 100% faithful word-for-word translation for an approach which gives literary flow and conveys the meaning in its own poetry. I think that it stands nicely on it’s own. Cheerio, Jane

    1. Absolutely, Jane dear – one tries to lift the essence without missing some of the heartbeats, lest it sounds ragged.

      The original work runs to about 1,800,000 words. I doubt even accomplished poets can pull off a truly faithful rendition – and I’m (LOL but, seriously) no poet, let alone accomplished.

      As you say, if I can get it to stand on it’s own – that would be some accomplishment.

      Ambition! Thou drives one to excel but beware the pitfalls 🙂

      Peace,
      Eric

    1. Thank you, Rekha

      As you know some of these episodes are lengthy and the challenge is to condense without losing continuity and sense 🙂

      Cheers,
      Eric

    1. Ah, you’ve studied Sanskrit and probably know the structure and flow better than most.

      Thank you, Ian, and have a great week ahead,
      Eric

    1. Thank you, Odis

      To be honest, this phrase is not in the Mahabharata but I took some literary license here.

      Glad you loved it,
      Eric

    1. Very true, TSK

      An epic that one never tires of – and with every new reading, the Mahabharata reveals new insights, far beyond the deceptively simple storyline.

      Peace,
      Eric

    1. Thank you, Rama – for reblogging this post.

      See also the two earlier posts – links above.

      I’m following your blog 🙂

      All good wishes,
      Eric

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