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Thread: The Twist in the tale

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    The Twist in the tale

    So, which is the greatest story of all times?
    Would you say, Godan? Or, Devdas? Or Sholay or Guide?
    Or shall we expand the horizon? Gulliver's Travels? Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? What about The Godfather? The Dark Knight? Harry Potter? There are too many contenders, really. And I could have just missed your favourite pick.


    What about the Mahabharata?

    The first marriage: King Subala of Gandhara, which now falls around modern day Kandahar in Afghanistan, once performed a very holy Yagna in his kingdom.
    An astrologer who had attended the Yagna advised him to get his daughter married off to a goat, to bring fortunes upon herself and her family. Heeding to his advise, King Subala got Gandhari married to a goat, and then killed the goat subsequently. Technically, this made Gandhari a widow and Dhritrashtra her second husband.
    This fact, though a bit trivial, however was kept hidden from Dhritrashtra, the eldest prince of Kuru kingdom, who was blind since birth. Gandhari had voluntarily decided to blindfold herself throughout her married life.


    The moment of truth: Dhritrashtra, eventually learned about the truth of her wife, and decided to punish the entire Subala clan. He imprisoned all of them, and used to supply one handful of rice for all of them every single day. With such a meager amount of food, most of the members of the family died eventually.
    King Subala decided that one of them should live and avenge the death of the entire family. From then itself, all the rice allocated for the family was fed to the youngest son, who eventually went on to become stronger and much sharper than before.


    Why Shakuni?: Subala had 100 sons whom Dhritrashtra had imprisoned when he came to know of the absolute truth about his wife's marriage to a goat. Subala decided to take a test of all the sons, so as to decide who would be getting that one handful of rice to live and sustain and avenge their family's destruction. He gave a bone to each one of his son, and asked them to put a thread through it. None of his other sons were able to complete the task when Shakuni tied the thread to an ant who went through the entire length of the bone to reach a grain of rice at the other end.

    Death of Subala: Subala realized that he could no longer survive, and would eventually die of hunger, he requested Dhritrashtra to forgive him and his only son left till then. He promised that his son would not claim any right to his throne and would always be a guardian to all the 101 children of Dhritrashtra, the Kauravas.
    Dhritrashtra took pity on the old man and freed him eventually.and his son.


    The Twist in the Tale: King Subala, before dying, instructed to make a pair of dice from his bones, which would always produce the numbers requested by him. He also asked Shakuni to be the reason of downfall of the entire Kaurava clan.
    As promised, Shakuni became the guardian of the 101 Kauravas, and was the sheet anchor of the entire "Chaupad" episode in Mahabharata, which then led to the very war of Mahabharat. He provoked the Kauravas to do all the incorrect acts and thus formed the very basis of all the wrongdoings of Kauravas.
    As per other legends, it is believed that when Bhishmapitamah brought the matrimonial proposal of Dhritrashtra for Gandhari. The royal Gandhars felt angry and insulted that their princess was proposed of marrying a blind person. The Kurus were mighty kingdom, and refusing the proposal of a mighty king was akin to being suicidal, so they were left with practically no choice but to accept the proposal of Bhishmapitamah.
    The anger, however propelled the king and his son Shakuni to avenge for the insult and Shakuni vowed to being an important tool in eliminating the entire Kaurava clan.


    The Smart moves: Shakuni, by his sheer intelligence and judgement of characters, was smart enough to sense the jealousy and anger trapped inside the heart of Duryodhana towards his cousin brothers, and how he also feared them for their chivalry. He had also judged Yudhishtir's love for gambling and how he could be manipulated to keep playing in spite of losses.
    Another smart move which Shakuni applied was that he had guessed Krishna as one of those persons who would be able to successfully foil all his plans for Kauravas in pitching them against Pandavas. For this reason, each one of his manipulations and moves was done at a time when Krishna was away from the Pandavas.

    The Tricks and Tweaks: To say that Shakuni was the brains behind all the master plans which the Kauravas instrumented against Pandavas, would not at all be exaggerating things. He was the brains behind cajoling Yudhishtir to play Chaupad and then lose all of his kingdom and royalty, right to his family to Duryodhana. He again, was the one who suggested 12 year exile for Pandavas and 1 year anonymity exile after their loss in Chaupad. He was the one who suggested to wage a war against the kingdom that was holding the Pandavas secretly, so that they are revealed and they may again be sent for 12 year exile.
    It was Shakuni idea to burn down the house of lac where Pandavas were supposedly hidden and could have died, and also it was his idea to send Durvasa sage to the forests where the Pandavas were living so that he may curse them.


    A figure to worship?: Even though, unlike Ravana, the name of Shakuni is associated with pure villainy, a temple of Shakuni is located in Kerela at Pavitreshwaram. The temple as such doesnt encourage any puja or worship, just a few offerings are made in the form of coconuts.

    It is notable indeed that in his endeavour to avenge the destruction of his family, or maybe to help his nephews out in defeating the Pandavas, Shakuni himself never properly ruled his own kingdom. Seeing the atrocities he meted out on Pandavas, keeping Kauravas in front, Sahadeva, one out of the five Pandavas vowed to kill Shakuni and avenge all that he did to hurt their dignity and prestige. Shakuni had two sons, Uluk, who was killed by Nakul and Kalikeya, who was killed by Abhimanyu. Shakuni himself was killed by Sahadeva on 18th day of Mahabharat.


    Symbolically, Shakuni represented the Dwapar Yuga, a time when brother would kill brother in the quest for power, and Shakuni was the catalyst.

    Twists have a peculiar habit, they make a story a legend, but somehow get lost amidst the main themes, the protagonists, the major players of the story. Shakuni, as such, doesn't enjoy any kind of divinity which his contemporary characters command and receive, but his role in one of the biggest epics of all times, certainly deserves a special mention

  2. #2
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    Re: The Twist in the tale

    Namaste.

    The Mahabharata is full of very interesting tales or 'sub-plots' and that's what makes it very interesting (like those you have described). Nice thread btw.

    I also like the stories from the Puranas.

    My favourite English tale has to be a movie called 'It's a Wonderful Life' starring James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore and Donna Reed.

    It's a story about the life of one man, who went out of his way and sacrificed himself and his own desires so that many other people could be happy and well-off.

    Then, the man fell on hard times...his loan company closed during the Great Depression, the evil Town Mayor stole all his business takings and his accountant was facing a jail term. He got so frustrated, he started yelling at his wife and children...

    He thought to himself 'this is no good at all...everybody would be much better off if I just killed myself' So he tried to do that.

    He was saved from suicide by an 'angel' who told him that committing suicide was a sin against God and man and he would never get into heaven that way...then the 'angel' said the man could have a boon.

    The man said 'seeing as how killing myself is a sin, my boon is that I wish I were never born in the first place'.

    The 'angel' said 'before I grant you that boon, let me show you what the world would have been like if you were never born...'

    So he saw all the people he helped, suffering...his brother died because he was not there to save him...all the people his brother saved during the War also died...his wife remained a spinster, the evil mayor took over the whole town, evicting all his friends...it was really, really bad!

    So, the man recanted his boon and said to the 'angel' - 'yeah, forget that, just return me to my family'.

    In the end, all those he selflessly helped chipped in with money...his wife gave up her savings and even the Mayor admitted his wrongdoing and returned all the money. The man became very rich and made up with his wife and family.

    The 'angel' was promoted in heaven and God was very pleased with him.

    That story always gives me goosebumps and brings a tear to my eye.

    Aum Namah Shivaya
    Last edited by Necromancer; 22 September 2013 at 04:59 AM.

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