I’m both, enthralled and disgusted with the stories and the characters. There are some like Devavrata who was titled Bheeshma by the gods themselves for being impeccably righteous and ideal in every way, and there are some that only exist in the scheme of events so that they can curse offenders who interrupt (or bless relent-ers who allow) their sexual advances and processes. And this human desire breeds impartially in one and all - right from rishis to munis to kings to gods.
(Was the Kama Sutra written before, after, or simultaneously as this epic? Wonder which inspired the other...)
Nevertheless, the book is a pleasure to read. The vast array of personalities, their diverse roles and significance, the way they are crucial to the design and coherence... It’s nothing short of incredible. Anyone interested in the family tree? (More for my benefit than yours, to be frank). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.....
Santanu – a Kuru descendant, who fathers Bheeshma with Ganga, and then Chitrangada and Vichitraveerya with Satyavati.
Bheeshma is celibate, and the other two die before they can procreate. So, Vyas is called in to father Dhritarashtra with Ambika, Pandu with Ambalika, and Vidur with a maidservant (it wasn’t planned that way, but it happened).
Dhritarashtra marries Gandhari, who is daughter or Gandhar and sister of Shakuni. Gandhari gives birth to a 100 Kauravas and one daughter (in a grotesque, puke-worthy manner).
Pandu marries Kunti - initially called Pritha, daughter of the Yadava king Soora, and sister to Vasudeva (who marries Devaki, half-sister of Kansa, and then they give birth to Krishna, who grows up as son of Yashoda and Nanda, and brother to Balarama.)
Back to Kunti. She is adopted by uncle Kuntibhoj (and renamed Kunti), and she has Yudhishthira with Dharma deva, Bheema with Vayu deva and Arjuna with Indra. Prior to this, she has Karan with the Sun god, who she abandons coz she is unmarried.
Kunti’s unearthly lovers are invited coz Pandu can’t father their kids (he can’t do ding-dong else he’ll die as he is cursed.) The other wife, Madri, has Nakula and Sahadev with the Aswins, completing the 5 Pandava husband-gang for Draupadi.
Of course, each of the Pandavas has more wives and children in due course of time.
(... Seeing that I’ve confused you enough, lets move on with the crux of this post!)
The great sciences teach us great things (beyond polygamy and desire, I mean). And these sciences also affect our lives and existence.
Do you believe in astrology? I visited 2 pandits last weekend, both learned and religious. Amusingly, both gave diametrically opposite views about my stars and planet locations.
I don’t know whether I believe in this, but I sure find it fascinating. (Heard about that study conducted by Naralikar and others? They collected several kundlis and asked astrologers, palmists and others to identify which individuals were abnormal. Obviously, the study was shunned by the target group. The % accuracy was not very flattering either.)
You do know, I suppose, that the planets affect very scientific things like our temperament and blood group and so on. Which is why kundli-matching is a BIG thing in Indian culture, particularly important occasions like weddings and other new beginnings.
I’m not too informed about the how and why, but I sure know that most folks want to know more about themselves and their future. It’s good timepass if you don’t take it too seriously, and especially if you resist obsession. I have heard of people giving up all their wealth and peace coz they are busy looking at the stars and don’t notice what’s happening under their very noses.
Now this is freaky. I don’t know how to explain this, but I heard of this guy who was told to stay away from cars one day as it could be fatal. He bunked work, sat at home, cancelled all appointments and even gave his car away to the mechanic lest he be tempted to take off somewhere. There was a power-cut, and he walked into a room to search for a candle, slipped on his young son’s toy car, fell on his head and met instant death... Just like that...
No, I’m not kidding you.
(As you recover from that shock, I’ll run a few errands. Come back later!)