This podcast is for anyone interested in the Epic Literature of India, its spiritual philosophies, the life and background of Krishna, and all the fascinating stories from the great epic The Mahabharata.
Episode 33 - The Hawk and the Dove
Episode 33 These are the last three stories of the long series of tales in the Book of the Forest. The Pandavas are finishing up their pilgrimage across India and are moving northward for their rendezvous with Arjun. The first story, Yavakrita, is particularly interesting in that the protagonist is not a Twice-born. In this case, he's a rude and uppity Vaishya, but he's the main character nonetheless. I find the little detail about the Shudra gaurd particularly interesting. He works for Yavakri's father, and he inexplicably blocks the boy from getting to safety, which results in Yavakri's death. I can only guess that it was thought fitting that a Vaishya rapist be killed at the hands of an even lower-caste menial. Jantu seems to fit in among these stories in that it is another case of a Brahmin helping a king with his fertility problems. In contrast to many of the other stories, the king's wives are distinctly un-heroic. The last story, the Hawk & the Dove, stands out as the most unusual of all the stories so far, especially because it involves a king, two gods, but NO BRAHMINS! Where are the Brahmins? The Book of the Forest is a very strong piece of propaganda about the importance of having well-bred Brahmins for all occasions, but then this strange tale caps them all off. This story has the strongest feel of Buddhism that I've seen so far in the Mahabharata. The king's self-sacrifice is strongly reminiscent of other Buddhist stories in which the Boddhisatva sacrifices his own life for another's benefit. Next time, we'll finally get back to the deeds of our heroes, as they make their way to the hermitage of Nar-Narayan way up on the slopes of Mt. Kailash.
Episode 100 - Summing up
Episode 100 - I've put together my review of the epic, in its totality. I discuss the strange way in which the epic goes into fine detail on some parts of the story, and breezes over others. Some of the most critical moments in the story, like when Dhrtarastra was skipped and then later made king, or during the dice game, or in dealing with the birth & death of Krishna, the story is ambiguous and full of holes. The only explanation that I can come up with is that the author himself may not have known exactly what took place in those scenes, so he tells us what he knows-- which isn't much. I talk about the three layers of religious philosophy in the epic-- Vedic Sacrifice, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti. I propose that Karma Yoga was an innovation introduced by the Mahabharata, and I believe Bhakti was inspired by the epic, and subsequently the epic was modified to include that religion. That would explain Krishna's promotion from country cousin to Top God... Next, I discussed some of the characters in the story-- reviewing their actions and whether they were fairly rated "good guys" or "bad guys" by the epic, and by modern listeners in general. Finally, I compare the epic with other literature, and compare the religious philosophy of the epic with other works and other religions. I hope no one gets overly offended! Please write in my blog and let me have it if I did. I apologize in advance!
Episode 99 - Epilogue 2: The Snake Sacrifice
Episode 99 - This is the final piece that brings us around, back to the beginning. We covered some of this territory before, back in Episode 2, but at the time, it was hard to explain that Parikshit was Arjun's grandson and that Takshaka had an ancient feud with the dynasty going back to the fire at the Khandava Forest. Also, back then we were anxious to get going with the story itself, and all the digressions with angry brahmins and talking snakes only made things confusing at the time. So now we have re-visited the beginning at our leisure, and now you know the circumstances in which the Mahabharata was first publicly recited. The burnt snake guts must have still been warm when Vyasa's disciple Vaishampayana began the tale. So that's all for a while. I am working on a commentary for episode 100-- reviewing the story and considering what was included and what was left out. Please visit this blog (http://mahabharatapodcast.com) and leave comments, or questions, or any requests for what I should include in my final summing up of the epic! Thanks, Lawrence
Episode 98 - Epilogue 1: The Beginning
Episode 98 - This is the first of two episodes that take us from the death of the Pandavas down to the Snake Sacrifice, held by Arjun's great-grandson. We skimmed over this back at the beginning of the podcast, because back then we were unfamiliar with who all these people were. But now it makes sense to bring it around to the beginning again. Not much is recorded about the life of Parikshit. We only know about how he died, and the many snakes and Rishis who were involved in the process. So, I'm not quite through yet!
Episode 97 - The End
Episode 97 - So this is it-- the final installment from the Mahabharata. Book 18, the Svargarohanika Parva, is done, and the 18 parvas of the Mahabharata are now complete. Please be sure to visit my blog and let me know you made it! And then treat yourself to something nice, because you have really accomplished something. We've reached the end of the story, but this isn't quite the end of the podcast. You can expect a few more episodes-- an epilogue where the story is carried forward up to the time of the Snake Sacrifice. Following that, if you have any questions or points of discussion, I'd like to make the 100th episode a summing up of the entire podcast. If there's anything you'd like me to address, let me know soon! Lawrence
Episode 96 - The Death of the Pandavas
Episode 96 - Arjun returns home with some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that they have lost their powers and have lost their friends. The good news is that they finally get to retire. Yudhistira doesn't hesitate. He strips off his fine garments and leads his brothers into retirement. Krpa is put in charge of defense, Yuyutsu is made regent, and Parikshit is king. Parikshit's grandmother Subhadra (Krishna's sister) is made Dowager Empress. The Pandavas then take a final tour of India, visiting even the former site of the magical city of Dwarka. Finally, they head north, for Heaven, with their little dog Dharma.
Multiple listening worthy
Having listened to it before, I have started listening to it again so you can easily understand how good the podcast is.
A monumental work indeed!
Considering that it took more than a year for you to first read and then record is a monumental task indeed. Probably some of those stray comments used could have been avoided but nonetheless a phenomenal accomplishment. Would urge you that if you have the time and patience, re-record some episodes with additional info and sound effects. Would make it more appealing.
I know that you had to rely on translations to retell the story and hence there can be some unavoidable error due to misinterpretation which may not be attributed to you directly. Hence a disclaimer for such may be added.
Finally this has been quite an interesting listen for me and this being my first glimpse of The Mahabharata in almost its complete form, I owe a debt of gratitude to you.
Thanks and waiting eagerly for more such thought provoking insights from you.
From an Indian to his western friend 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
An unbiased and thorough approach to narrate the story of the Mahabharata, addressing all the subtle nuances. Good amount of research, the story is quite gripping.