The Mahabharata

A showcase for the oldest and longest epic in the world. A resource for the better understanding of all aspects ofSanatana Dharma, Vedanta and Yoga.A place for West to meet and embrace East beyond cliché, presumption and prejudice.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not Just for Scholars...

The Myths of Mankind video series was something of a marathon ride. In the next few weeks I'll return to discuss some of the issues brought up in the documentary. But for the time being -- if you got the impression that the Mahabharata is just for Vedic scholars, historians, archeologists, anthropologists and other terribly, terribly deep and serious people you'd be very wrong.

What I've left unsaid till now is this: reading the Mahabharata is hugely, delightfully entertaining! It's an absolutely fun read, and it's amazing to see what a great sense of humour its author or authors had in composing it. Take, for instance, Arjuna's year incognito in the court of Vitara. He's been cursed by a beautiful celestial dancer -- an apsara -- to be eunuch for a year -- what better disguise! So Arjuna hangs out in the women's quarters: Arjuna, the greatest warrior, the archetypical alpha male, dressed as a woman!
"... golden earrings dangled from his ears; womanly garments covered his hard muscles and scarred shoulders, so that he appeared as a woman and not as a man. His voice taking on a high womanly pitch, Arjuna delighted the young unmarried maidens with his jokes and stories -- but most especially Uttara, Virata's daughter, who flushed in delight and giggled at his clownish antics. When Arjuna teased the maidens they squealed in merriment and loved him, and never had the women's quarters known such frolicsome days." (from Sons of Gods: the Mahabharata retold)

But then, the Kauravas attack and Arjuna is forced to fight. He has great fun pretending to be useless, putting on his armour back to front and protesting that all he's good for is song and dance.

And then, the great reveal....
Humour is really timeless. The Mahabharata proves it. If we can laugh at the same things that people 50 centuries ago found funny then surely that's proof of the golden thread that binds all humans together. Whether you're 9 or 99: the Mahabharata story is about you. Because it's about the quintessential human spirit, a timeless entity that is as much a part of us today as it was at the dawn of civilisation, beyond change, beyond trends, beyond time and place.

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