Chapter 02 – The Vasus are cursed

I have heard two stories. Not sure which one is true. What they do lead to , a curse. A Curse that would fall on Arjuna and my role in that curse. I am not talking about the curse now. That will come much later. I am now telling you about Bhishma, Arjuna’s Grandfather. This story is about Bhishma’s birth.

There was a king called Mahabhisha who was a just and noble king. One day he happened to be at a place where Lord Barhma was being respected and worshiped. Many had come there, and among them was Ganga, Queen of all rivers. What Ganga was wearing was a white cloth, shining brightly, decked in jewels of all color. Suddenly a gust of wind came, and Ganga’s garment slipped exposing hr bosom to all. Seeing this, the assembled women tried to help her, men kept their eyes closed. Mahabhisha was struck by her beauty and the sight of her naked body. He kept staring at her. Seeing this Brahma was angry. He cursed both the king and Ganga. He cursed them that both be born as mortals and live as husband and wife. If they ever quarreled with each other, they would be free of the curse.
Ganga had also seen the king stare at her. And she had not hated that. She could feel what the king felt. She approached the Vasus, the celestial beings. When she met them they looked very dejected and unhappy. When Ganga asked them the reason, they said that they had been cursed by the Sage Vashishtha. They had passed the sage’s abode and had walked past, without noticing him. Angry the sage had cursed them to be born as mortals.
Ganga and the Vasus made a pact. When Ganga would be born the earth, the Vasus would be born as her children. She would kill them as soon as they were born, and the curse would be relieved. Ganga had a condition. She could not be totally heartless and she wanted a child. The Vasus blessed her and said a child would be born, with the all the qualities of the celestials, but he will not have any children and he will stay unmarried.
The king was born as Shantanu who eventually married Ganga. They had seven sons and as soon as a son was born, Ganga would throw the baby in the river flowing by. She did that seven times and on the eighth time, she was rebuked and stopped by the king. Ganga took the new born child with her, and left – her curse being over.
I have heard another tale about Bhishma’s birth which I now tell. It is all the same about Mahabhisha and Ganga. How he saw Ganga’s garment get blown by the wind, and how they both were attracted to each other and also after being cursed by Brahma to be born as mortals, Ganga had met the Vasus.The eight vasus with their wives had been roaming around and come to Vashishtha’s ashram. They saw his cow tied there. One the Vasu’s wives wanted the cow to herself and compelled her husband to steal it for her. The Vasus were cursed to be born as humans. They pleaded with Vashishta who then said that the Vasu who had commited the actual act would have to stay in this earth for long, while the other would die as soon as they were born and would be relieved of the curse. Ganga agreed to be their mother on Earth. She said she would wed Shantanu and relieve them of the curse.

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I tell of this curse. I tell more. I open pages from my history and tell you. Tell you about my husband, his family, his birth. I will tell you about Bhishma. Also about the curse that would fall on my husband.

And some I turn some more pages of history.

 

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Travel or Mother Calls or Kolkata Taxi or Darshan

Taking a break from the story writing to talk about the small trip that I made today. Will get to the Mahabharata after this.

The plan for the trip had started a few days back when it was decided to go to Kalighat in Kolkata.

The problem here in Kolkata is commute. If I am on the road, alone, public commute works for me. All I would do hop onto buses, walk a bit, take the metro, use the Kolkata Auto and get to my destination. In this, parents were there along. So I needed a proper commute.

I had to book a radio taxi. That was a project by itself. The last time I had booked a taxi from WheelzIndia, the driver Rajive had taken us for a nice ride – literally. What would have been 50 kilometers ended up as 90 kilometers and so paying at 14 rupees a kilometers, I had to pay over 1200 rupees for a trip from Diamond City North Jessore Road, to Harish Mukherjee Road, to Dakshineshwar, back to Diamond City North.

When I made the taxi book online, I was a bit skeptical. I was afraid that the same driver would turn up. I had made the booking on Wednesday and yesterday, Thursday, I called to confirm my taxi booking. The help desk person informed me that I had called a different number, but he would make sure someone would call me back in 30 minutes. That was 10PM then. The call never came. What I was afraid of was, I would now have to call the taxi company the next morning to get my refund , and also make alternate arrangements for going out. Thankful, the taxi came. It was supposed to come at 7:35AM, it came at 7:15AM. About the refund, when I made the booking, I had to pay 175 as advance , the balance to be paid when I release the vehicle.

Even going out in the morning was debatable. My mum wanted to go in the evening and I wanted to go in the morning. Dad agreed to the morning trip so mum agreed. Her excuse was – she would have the maid come and clean up and she could leave home in peace. After all she was going to visit a temple.

There was another objective of going today. There was a Shivlinga that Mumwanted to immerse in the Ganges.

We left at 7:30AM sharp. The first trip was Kalighat. I took a look at the car dashboard. The last 2 digits on the milometer were 16. Which meant I could travel till was 66 and pay for extra kilometers after that.

AC on, no sweat inside the car, we reached Kalighat – we had covered about 18 kilometers from Diamond City North.

This time the visit was different. Everytime I go to Kalighat I have to tussle with the pandas. They will push against you, tell you to buy things, ask for money etc. This time I decided against the payment and got and started walking towards the main temple, slippers left in the car. We were at the gate just next to Nirmal Hridaya, Mother’s Theresa’s center.

While walking in, there were people pushing to sell things. One person said he would see flowers and sweets as offering to the holy Mother, another person said pay me 51 and I will take you right inside the sanctorum. Decided against paying anything to anyone and walked in with parents.

A slight walk off from the gate and we were inside. Pushed through the crowd, had a darshan.

The sight of Kali at Kalighat is always awesome. In that crowd, you suddenly see the Mother. A big face looking upto you. Grand. Beautiful. Serence. Black. Large eyes. Huge Tongue. That was all I could see. I had mother’s darshan.

Leaving Kalighat, on my way out, I had a glimpse of the Radha Krishna Temple closeby. A very small idol. I am not sure I had seen that earlier. Then I saw the Shiva Linga there. I had seen a Shiva temple, but this wasn’t the one.

Came out of the temple, and in the car. I told the driver about the Shiva temple. He knew about that. That was the Nakuleshwar Shiva Temple. It is outside the main Kalighat temple behind the Kalighat Police Station. This temple is a Swayambhu Shiva temple – there is no man made idol or Shiv linga there – the Shiv linga is a piece of rock, jutting from the earth.

After darshan of Shiva, we went off to DurgaBari.

This is a Durga Temple behind Ashutosh College. They call it 23 Palli Durga Mandir. The road on which this temple is, is called Harish Mukherjee Road. It has a huge Ashtadhatu (eight metals) Durga Idol. It is said , that once during a Durga Puja years back, when it was time to immerse the Durga in the river, there were tears in the eyes of the idol. It was taken as a sign that Ma wanted to stay and a Ashtadhatu idol of the mother was constructed, looking like the idol which had cried.

There is a huge jackfruit tree in the courtyard of the temple. Whenever I go there I see it laden with fruits. Its a strange tree, the jackfruit tree. The fruit does not grow on branches, but on the stem of the tree.

The ceiling of the main sitting area has pictures from the Ramayana. On the right side of the main Durga Idol is a small temple having Shri Krishna and Radha, and on the left is a Shiva temple, with a Shiva linga and a statue of Shiva.

This temple is usually not crowded and is a peaceful place to go to. I discovered one more thing. If one wants to explore Kolkata via public commute and wants to visit this temple, then the Jatis Das Metro is the closest Metro station. From the metro go towards Ashutosh College, and follow the lane and you are at the temple.

From this temple it was towards Dakshineshwar, the famous Kali Temple. Made more famous by Shri Ramakrishna.

Not sure if this was the best way to go, but we reached Dakshineshwar without much trouble. We went via Dunlop. No sure if it that is the best way to go.

Once there, the car went to the parking lot and we went , kept our slippers outside and entered the temple courtyard.

When you enter the courtyard, you have the twelve Shiva temples of the right, and the Radha Krishna and Kali temples on the left.

Photography of the idols is not prohibited but I managed to get a few pictures of the temple.

Dakshineshwar

Managed to get a good darshan of Kali. There was something today. Big queues. Later discovered, it was New Moon yesterday, an auspicious day to visit and see Ma Kali.

 

The twelve Shive Temples

The twelve Shive Temples

 

After seeing Ma and a few of the Shivas, I went to see the river Ganges, on whose bank the temple is built. A bathing ghat is built there. Throngs of people were taking dips in the river Ganges . I saw a banana tree there. The funny thing about the tree was no had plucked any fruits from the tree. So the tree had fruit in it which had ripened on the tree, and was drying away on the tree itself.

River Ganga

Banana Tree

 

 

From Dakshineshwar it was back home.

The 50 kilometers became 55 and I have to pay the balance plus 70 rupees for the extra kilometers.

It was a nice day, well spent.

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Chapter 03 – Arjuna weds

Arjuna was not alone when he left. He journeyed like a king, accompanied by many brahamanas reciting from hold Vedas. They were with him to help him in the forest.

One day Arjuna, in his travels came and had a bath in the Ganges. This was near the foothills of the Himalayas. In the cool morning air, this prince took a dip in the river, clad in a silk cloth. He then took some water in his and offered that to the Gods. He took another dip. He was about to leave when something pulled him off.

I was there, hiding, watching him. The virgin widow of the Naga King, I was smitten with desire watching this dark handsome man, naked (the cloth covering him was wet and clinging to his body) each and every muscle perfectly defined, in his body. I could take it no more. I kidnapped him and before he could realize what had happened, he was off to my kingdom.

My fast chariots carried us swiftly to my kingdom. When Arjuna came to his senses , he saw himself in a room with no roof. Sunlight was coming in and a sacrificial fire was burning there with all material needed for worship, closeby. Seeing that fire Arjuna performed his worship with devotion. After finishing his worship Arjuna looked around. He hard some movement and it seemed to someone running. Anklets were heard. Which meant there was a girl or a woman around. Arjuna suddenly realized that all he had on was a single piece of cloth. Embarrased he tried to cover his modesty with his hands and waited to see what would happen next. He then saw me.

I will not forget the scene. A well built man, scars on his shoulder from holding the bow. Defined features. Long hair. Dark complexion. Two hands in front of his loins trying to protect himself. He seemed amazed and embarassed and confused. I asked him to relax. I told him he was my guest and that I had brought him there. I wanted to know who he was and what was doing in the hills. Also I called my staff and asked them to fetch clothes for the guest.

Dressed and relaxed, Arjuna told me about himself. He was comfortable talking to me. I was lost in him. The feeling seemed mutual. He stayed with me for a few days. We got married in Gandharva style. He made love to me.

After a few days, he relaized he needed to leave. He asked me to go with him, but I refused. My place was with my people, I told him. I told him my heart would be with him and I would be there with him always. He was lonely. He had won Panchali and now she was the wife of all five brothers. I would not leave my land, so I could not be his. He wanted someone his own. I asked him to go to Manipur and said I would leave him there.

With a heavy heart we decided to part. He refused to deck himself and said he was in exile now and was not a prince. I took him to Manipur. He went to explore the kingdom and I went back home to my land to be with my people.

Was this my last meeting with him? I was sad. I was heart broken. Fate had other things in store and somewhere I had a role to play in that. I was also happy. Unknown to Arjuna, I was carrying Arjuna’s seed. That was my consolation.

Arjuna met Chitravahana, the ruler of Manipur. He introduced himself and was hartily welcomed. He met the beautiful Chitrangada there. She was Chitravahana’s only child. Arjuna desired to possess her. He asked for her hand. Chitravahana then told him about Prabhajana. Prabhanjana was childless. He prayed to Mahadeva and was given a boon. The boon was that he would have a child. Everyone in his race would one child child only, is born to every successive descendant of his race. So far there had been only sons. Chitravahana had a daughter. She had been brought up like a son and she was destined to bear the heir to his kingdom. He could not let Chitrangada out of his site. He told Arjuna that he could marry Chitrangada but when she had a child, she would not leave with Arjuna. Arjuna stayed for a few years in Manipur. When Chitrangada at last gave birth to a son, Arjuna left Manipur.

Around this time my son was born too.

He wandered around and one day while taking a bath in river, he was attacked by a crocodile. Arjuna was strong. With all his might he dragged the crocodile from the water. The moment he did that, the crocodile changed into a beautiful maiden. She said had been cursed as she had to entice a sage, deep in meditation. He told us that Arjuna, the mighty prince would deliver us from our curse.

Travelling west wards, Arjuna reached Prabhasha. This was the land of Krishna, Arjuna’s dear friend and cousin. Krishna welcomed him. He told Krishna about the brahmana, his cows, about me, about Chitrangada and his son and about the crocodile.
Krishna took him to Dwarka so could see Krishna’s land and be His guest.

There Arjuna met Bhadra. The beautiful girl was so nice in her looks and nature that all called her SuBhadra. She was Krishna’s sister. Knowing that Arjuna liked his sister, and also knowing what fate had in store, Krishna agreed to give his sister away to Arjuna. With Arjuna’s consent, Krishna requested Vasudeva’s permission. Vasudeva was the father of Krishna and SuBhadra. He agreed to the match.

Krishna’s elder brother was against the match. Krishna advised Arjuna to abduct SuBhadra. He had asked SuBhadra and she had told Krishna that she liked Arjuna wanted to be his wife. Krishna told Arjuna to deck a charriot with all possible weapons and wait near a temple, where SuBhadra would be coming to worship the Gods.

When SuBhadra was coming out of the temple, Arjuna abducted her. Krishna reasoned with his father and others advising them to agree to let Arjuna take SuBhadra away. All agreed and Krishna himself went and fetched both his sister and Arjuna. They were married with full celebrations and when the time of the exile was over, along with SuBhadra, Arjuna left for Khandavaprastha.

He paid his respects to his brother and then approached Panchali. She refused to speak to him and asked him to go to where his new love was. Arjuna decided to do something. He asked SuBhadra to dress like a maid and approach Panchali. SuBhadra paid respects to Kunti and then approached Panchali and said she was there to serve the queen of KhandavaPrashtha. Struck by her humility, Panchali embraced her.

Krishna then took his elder brother to visit SuBhadra. Yudhisthira welcomed all. Balabhadra, Krishna’s brother, seeing his sister happy was pleased. All his anger gone, he blessed all and left. Krishna decided to stay in his aunt’s house. Arjuna’s mother, Kunti, was Krishna’s father, Vasudeva’s sister.

Soon a son was born to Subhadra. He was called Abhimanyu. Around this time Panchali also gave bith to her children.
Prativindhya by Yudhishthira, Sutasoma by Bhima, Srutakarman by Arjuna, Satanika by Nakula, and Srutasena by Sahadeva were born to her by each of her five husbands. Sacred thread ceremony was performed for all the six princes.

Chitrangada’s son was Vabruvahan and my son was Iravat. They grew seperately. I met Chitrangada a few times. We shared a similar story. We both had sons from the same man. We both were not with our love. Due to this, our friendship grew. Our sons became good friends.

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Chapter 02 – Arjuna’s Exile

Pandavas (Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva) passed their days in joy and happiness at Khandavaprastha with Krishna, their cousin, well wisher and guide. And Yudhishthira. endued with great energy and ever adhering to truth, having obtained the sovereignty, virtuously ruled the land, assisted by his brothers. One day the great sage, Narada, in course of his wanderings, visited the Pandavas. Panchali paid respect to the sage along with the Pandavas and stood with folded hands.
After Panchali had left, Narada addressed the Pandavas that they were all married to Panchali and they needed to establish a rule amongst so that so disunion took place among the brothers. He then told them of the two Asura brothers, Sunda and Upasunda who were very united and who lost their lives because of the celestial dancer, Tilottama. The Pandavas wanted to know more of this. Narada then told the story.

In olden days, the strong and mighty asura Nikumbha had two sons called Sunda and Upasunda. Both of them were mighty Asuras endued with great energy and ever engaged in achieving the same tasks and ends. They shared with each other, their happiness and sorrows. They sat on the mountains of Vindhya prayed there. After severe penance, Lord Brahma appeared and asked them to get what they wanted. The brothers wanted to have the knowledge of all weapons and also wanted to master the art of illusion. They also wanted a boon that they should fear no one except each other.

Sunda and Upasunda then cut off their matted locks that had grown in their heads. They went home, cleaned and dressed themselves and settled down. Sunda and Upasunda wanted to rule over all and set out to do so. The brothers set out with a huge army well decked and armed. Due to Brahma’s boons, they conquered Swarga, the Nagas of Patala and the Mlechchhas who lived on the coast. Then they started killing all Brahamans they saw offering prayers to Gods. The Asura warriors now called themselves Gods and wanted to be worshipped. The frightened sages fled and Sunda and Upasunda started destroying the temples built for various Gods.

When the Gods saw this they were saddened. Brahma felt guilty as He had given the boons to the brothers. He requested Vishwakarma to create a woman, whose beauty was capable of captivating any heart. Vishmakarma collected all that he needed and set to work. It was time taking. He formed a model and modelled it all things beautiful. There was not even a minute part of her body which by its wealth of beauty could not attract the gaze of beholders. She was named Tilottama – every part of her being supreme. He made it move and trained it to speak, sing and dance. This beautiful damsel then set forth to destroy Sunda and Upasunda.

The Asura brothers having conquered all they could think of, were happy. They roamed the earth, happy in each other’s company. One day they saw a beautiful woman dressed in a single piece of red silk cloth coming towards them. She was plucking flowers. The asuras were smitten by her beauty and each wanted her. Sunda said she would be his and asked Upasunda to stay away, while he had the damsel. Upasunda said the same to Sunda. Maddened by their desire the brothers started quarreling with each, they fighting with each and later killed each other. The damsel, Tilottama, then went away, her purpose accomplished.

When Arjuna had won Panchali and taken her home, he had just said from the door to his mother , Kunti – See what I got home. The Pandavas were then in exile. They used to beg for food, dressed as Brahmanas. Kunti had thought they had some alms and she, unknowingly had said whatever it was, was to be shared between the brothers.

So Panchali had married all the five brothers.

 

The Pandavas did not want any discord to come in between themselves. They established a rule and promised to keep that. In the presence of Narada, they said that when one of them was with Panchali in her chambers and if knowingly, any other brother saw that, he would have to go the forest for twelve year exile. The rule established, the Pandavas carried on with their lives in Khandavaprastha.

One day a brahmana was robbed of his cattle. Khandavaprastha being near the brahaman’s home, he came and approached the Pandavas and wanted help. Arjuna heard the Brahmana and he decided to help him. The only problem now was, his weapons were in the room where Yudhishtira and Panchali were together. Arjuna decide that it was more important to help the brahman than to worry about the exile. He entered the chamber and talked with Yudhishthira. Coming out with his weapons he asked the brahmana to show where the robber was hiding. It was not one robber but many. Arjuna defeated the robbers and they returned the cattle and fled. Arjuna went back and Yudhishtira to permit him to leave for his exile. Yudhishtira said Arjuna had gone into the room to perform his duty and had been compelled to do so. There was no sin there, Arjuna could stay back. Arjuna said that duty was duty and so was a promise. It needed to be kept. Taking off his royal robes, Arjuna prepared himself and left his home, to spend twelve years in the forest.

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The Liebster Award

I just started blogging. I had time and wanted to write and this was a surprise. I found myself nominated by agrrosewood for the Liebster Award.

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(picture from Wikipedia)

Thank You so much. This is a surprise.
I actually had to look up the award to find out what this award is all about.

Answer eleven questions as given by the nominator.
State eleven facts about yourself
Nominate eleven other bloggers

Let’s start out with the questions.I was given

I. Do you have a phone case? If yes, what colour is it?

Unfortunately my phone has a flip cover and it is black in colour. And I have it, not because I like black, but because there was no other colour available.

II. Look to your left. What is the object nearest to you (that is not part of a computer)?

On my left, the object nearest to me is a bed, with springmattress on it. This is where I relax and read.

III. What is your favourite kind of soda?

I like the nimbu paani you get in India. You take soda (water) or sprakling water, add some salt and lemon juice, and if wish add soem sugar, stir and you have a healthy refreshing soda.

IV. Would you eat insects? If yes, what kind of insects seems the tastiest to you?

I am adventurous about food and I would love to try it. But I may be put off by the look, so if someone disguised them and did not tell me I was eating insects, I would love them.

V. What colour is your favourite chair?

My favourite chair is chocolate brown.

VI. Would you like to travel to North Korea?

I love to travel. Any country where I am welcome, I am willing to go to.

VII. What does your ideal vacation look like during a zombie invasion?

Join them. Act like them, mix with them and see where the party leads to.

VIII. What would you run across the airport for if it was about to be loaded on the plane?
I nearly did it once, at the LaGuardia Airport and my luggage was at JFK. It was aterrifying experience and I would not love to do it again.

IX. What is your favourite word?

Respect.

X. Does it bother you that there is no eleventh question?

And it does me more that this is the tenth question and there is no eleven npw/

Now, it’s time for the eleven random facts about me!

I like reading, want to be a write, like writing about past gone by, and have a degree in techlology.
II. I had taken up Russian in school. I still remember a few words.

III. I get confused when people ask me which part of India I belong to. I have stayed in so may many different parts of the country.

IV. I love animation – Disney. Mickey Mouse and Donald and still my good friends.

V. I love being in touch with nature. A field walk. A walk in the forests. Beside a river. In the mountains.

VI. I speak a few Indian languages and a bit of French and German.

VII. When I was born, in Hyderabad, they used to call the boys babu, and I got named Babu.

VIII. I was born in the month of March. The month of the ‘Ides of March’ and also of the ‘March Hare’.

IX. I love food and also love cooking.

X. I love to be left by myself.

XI. I wish I had a pet.

 

After answering these questions about myself, I realised I did not know a single blogger who did not have at least 200 followers. Still, I decided my nominees to be the following people: Crazy Inkslinger, Bookish Nerd, Unearth|me, Baburoy, Writesy, Innate Wanderings, Lorraine Loveit and Peppered Pot. Sadly, I do not have time to look up any more, so here are your eleven questions:

1. What was a profession you used to want to be, but are not now?
2. Why did you start blogging? Has it turned out to be what you expected?
3. What was your clique growing up?
4. What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
5. If you could live one day over again, what day would it be?
6. How long have you been blogging?
7. What is the story behind your blog name?
8. Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
9. If you had to choose between skin products and hair products , which would you choose?
10. Do you have a significant other? How did you meet?
11. Top three favorite blogs/bloggers.

Thank you for reading this and remember to stick to the rules!

Recognize the blogger who nominated you
Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked
List 11 fun/random facts about yourself
Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers who you think deserve to be recognized
Inform the bloggers you’ve nominated them
Give your nominees 11 questions to answer

My List

I am not sure how to find the blogs with less than 200 followers so I listed some blogs that I like

Yummy Food Made Easy , Falling Out of the Sky: Photography of William Kelly , Lessons from a fantansy princess , Curious Kitchen , Groundswell

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Chapter 01 – Ulupi

I am at the river bank. The banks of the river Iravati, the river named after the mother of the great Naga king Airavata. I dangle my feet in the water. My clothes are getting wet.  Oblivious I sit on the beach. Close by I see a friend, a companion play with her grandchildren. I see her. When I look at her, I both sad and happy. Happy for her. Happy that a friend is happy. I am also sad. Very Sad. My heart cries out. If all was fine, I would have had my son with me. Today he is not there. My husband is not with me. I sit here all alone.

My skin is wrinkled, my hair grey. I walk with a help of a stick. My people are there to fulfill all my wishes. Happiness around me. And I am sad.

I am old now. Feeble. An old queen. No longer a queen but still treated as one. My subjects have been good to me. They have been kind to me when I have been said, they have been beside me when I have needed them. Now I want to be alone.

Dusk approaches. Also time for the tide to come in. My companions pull off the bank of the river. It is now time to go home.

Home.

A home is one has laughter. One has family. One has someone who can be called one’s own.

My home is empty. I have servants. I have friends. No family.

I think of days gone by. When I close my eyes and think I feel I can still hear the laughter of my companions as they run around. Chasing me, Playing Hide and Seek. Dodging the guava trees, the banana groves, the mango trees, hiding behind bushes. Running in the water,playing on the river bank, trying to catch the small water insects.

I see myself steling flowers, stealing fruits, playing games. Growing up. The daughter of the king, I had many friends. My whole life was full of fun and laughter. I was at no loss.

I see three girls running , playing, happy oblivious of the future. One of them is the daughter of the Naga King, Kauravya. That is me, your unfortunate, Uloopi.

I had been named Uloopi as I had a beautiful face, I am told. When in the summer evenings, I would stand near the jasmine vine, wearing jasmine garlands, artists would throng to capture me on their canvas, poets would come for a glimpse of my beauty, to write about their princess.

I see my myself, being trained, educated. The best of the teachers coming to teach me. I grew up, skilled in letters and also war craft. I also learnt medicine. The art of the physicians fascinated me. They would pluck leaves from various plants, mix them together and people would get well after that.

I trained my self to be a medicine girl. I learnt the sciences from the greatest of the sages. It was expected that I learn that. My mother would tell me that all Naga people knew the science and I was no exception.

My quest for knowledge was big. I kept learning. Then I discovered the hidden texts. The science of Sanjivani. The way to bring the dead to life. This too was a science. I learnt of the plants to be collected, how to process them and how to use them.

Weapons were another fascination. I learnt how to wield a sword, how to hold a bow, how to shoot arrows. I practiced well.

Arts were taught to me. I learnt the veena, I learnt singing and I learnt dancing.

I was the only child. When I attained youth , I was married off to a naga king, in the clan of Takshaka.

Like many other women I went off to my husband’s home.

A day after my wedding , my husband had to go to a war.

He went and never returned alive.

I was a widow. A young widow.

I was young, my beauty with me, pining for love, pining for a male companion.

My life went, sometime in my husband’s land, in the kingdom of Takshashila, on the banks of the Iravati river, or sometimes in my father’s home.

I tried my attention to learning. I read a lot, learnt all I could, pining for that one person who would come in my life and free me, deliver me from my passion.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter 00 – Why this – An Introduction

I remember seeing a play based on Mahabharata long back. I do not remember the year, but I remember the situation. This was in Delhi in the early 70s. During Durga Puja there used to plays staged at the pandals and on one such occasion, because of rains the play was washed out. This was in Kirti Nagar, New Delhi. The play was later staged in a community hall and I had attended it with my father.

Now that I think back, the year was probably 1972. That was the year my brother was born. And maybe that was the reason why Ma was not there in the hall.

I clearly remember actors in yellow marigold garlands playing various characters. There was one character there who made a fleeting appearance and vanished. This character was Uloopi. At that time I did not think much about that.

Enter the English ChandaMama . This was again in the seventies, probably 74 or 75.

Let me skip to Chandamama for now, and I will get back here.

It was at a newspaper stand in Kirti Nagar that I had seen this magazine. I clearly remember what intrigued me was the drawing of Ekalavya cutting off his thumb. I had bought that and I had read it cover to cover. The magazine had a series going on then, on Mahabharat.

Before this my introduction to Mahabharat had been UpendraKishore Roy Chowdhury’s ‘Chheleder Mahabharat’ (Mahabharat for Boys), a work in Bengali, written by Satyajit Ray’s GrandFather.

The ChandaMama had pictures, well illustrated and it narrated the basic story of the epic.

Back to my story.

The specific issue of the magazine had Arjuna being dragged by Uloopi into a river and then marrying her.

Then, some years later, I came across an Amar Chaitra Katha titled Uloopi.

This was the first time I got to understand this minor character of Mahabharat.

This is an experiment. To write about Uloopi. About Mahabharata. Not knowing much but collecting material from folklore and Mahabharat, I am also trying to add to it, my own thoughts and imagination. This is Mahabharat but from the view of Uloopi (or Ulupi).

This is not a translation. I had done (at least started) an English translation of the Kritivasa Ramayana, which I later saw being posted on blogs without any consideration of even a Thank You. This is my own writing.

I am deeply religious. I believe in my Gods and Goddesses. I also believe in Good and Evil. Mahabharata has demons who are good, Gods who are scheming. This is something that can be enjoyed by all.

Mahabharata has characters who think like present day people, act like them, behave like them.

 

The Mahabharata and in many places the Ramayana talks about the Nagas. Who were they? In 1909 H. PArker wrote ‘Ancient Ceylon’. In this he talks about the Nairs of Kerala as being the Nagas.

The Nagas ruled Patala. Vishnu Purana describes Patala as ‘as more beautiful than Svarga (heaven). Patala is described as filled with splendid jewels, beautiful groves and lakes and lovely demon maidens. Sweet fragrance is in the air and is fused with sweet music. The soil here is white, black, purple, sandy, yellow, stony and also of gold’.

The nagas were probably snake worshippers as snakes ate rats and mice which ate the wheat and rice these people grew and stored.

There are seals and seal impressions found that show that the Indus Valley people also used to worship this serpent deity.

Krishna, the king of Dwarka, was supposed to be an incarnation of Vishnu. On this earth he was the son of Vasudeva. Vasudeva and his sister Kunti were grand children of the Naga Aryaka.  Baldeva or Balabhadra or Balarama , the elder brother of Krishna is said to be reincarnation of Sesha Naga,

While reading about Ulupi, it talks about a princess in Patala, who went to Haridwar , abducted Arjuna and then left him in Manipura. Is this the same Manipura or Manipur that we know of today?

Some reading leads me to believe that Manipur here means land of gems and this was some part in North India where were mines of precious stones and gems.

It is said that Takshaka ,the Naga,  lived in Takshashila, That, if we take present day’s geography, is present day Taxila. The river Ravi which flows from India into Pakistan today, has been mentioned in the Vedas as the river Airavati or Iravati. This river joins the river Jhelum and flows into the Arabian sea.

Taxila is situated in the land between the Indus and the Jhelum rivers. This is supposed to be the same spot where the great snake sacrifice was to take place by Janmajaya or Janmajeya. In this sacrifice, Vaishampayana, a disciple of the Sage Vyasa, had then recited the Mahabharat.

Taken that, most of the happenings of Mahabharata seems to be taking place in the present day Indian subcontinent.

Panchala, the land in which Draupadi or Panchali was from, seems to be in present day Uttar Pradesh or Uttarakhand.

Dwarka is in Gujarat, where Krishna lived so are Mathura and Vrindavan.

One interesting term that is mentioned in Mahabharata is Rakshasha. Who was a Rakshasha?

Historians believe that when the (present day) north India clans tried to take over more land, they had to face the local tribes staying there. These tribes were primarily forest dwellers and they used to protect (Raksha) the forests. The clash between the two tribes created constant tensions.

With the focus of the attention of Mahabharata and other Indian epics being that of the great Kings, the Rakshashas came into light as some people who were against the heroes.

The Raskhasas were not Asuras. The Asuras were a clan in the Puranas who lived and fought with the Gods or Devas. The Rakshasas lived on this earth. Some Rakshasas like Hidimba and Ghatotkacha are mentioned in Mahabharat in good light.

In the book “A Socio-political Study of the Valmiki Ramayana” by Ramashraya Sharma. says “The Rakshasas belonging to the other group (viz. of Rakshasas by birth) are essentially human beings, in spite of the cloak of monstrosity and barbaric splendour imposed on them by an Aryan poet describing the culture and achievements of a hostile people. The origin of these people is to be traced to Salakatankata who is in all probability a personification of night. One important respect in which these Rakshasas are to be distinguished from the Aryans (and all other people of the Ramayana) is the ‘matrilinear character’ of their family life.”

Prabodh Chandra Sengupta in (1951) “The Dānavas in the Mahābhārata” says the Danavas, and other defeated beings (Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Nagas, et cetera) were non-Aryan tribes.

Why Ulupi’s version.

Arjuna had four prominent wives in the Mahabharata. Draupadi is famous. Subhadra, is famous as Krishna’s sister and as mother of Abhimanyu. Chitrangada was immortalized by Rabindranath Tagore in his play Chitrangada. This leaves the Naga princess Ulupi.

Interestingly there is not much material on Ulupi to research on. She is a Naga princess who abducts Arjuna and then appears in the end of Mahabharat.

What would Ulupi do? What was she thinking? That was my idea in this retelling of the great Epic while I read and tell the story.

This is just my begining.

Is this Vyasa’s Mahabharat? 99 percent of this is the Mahabharat. Some bits are from other Puranas which talk of similar stories. For example the Devi Bhagwatam talks about Bhishma and the Vasus stealing Vashishta’s cow, something that is not there is Mahabharata. Then there is the Srimad Bhagwat Puran which a version from Kirshna’s viewpoint.

This is not a simple task to do and this is a slow task.

Also this needs courage. This is the largest epic and so many characters and happenings.

With the name of Durga and saying Sri Ganesh, I start this writing on Uloopi’s version of the Mahabharata.

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