Contest 1: Which Mythological Character Would You Be?

Note: This contest is CLOSED. The winner will be announced on Friday, 8th August, 2014. If you missed this contest, don’t worry! The next one is coming along shortly.

Hi, guys.

Two months have passed since I began to blog in earnest, the numbers (of readers, posts, of everything) have risen steadily, and the time has come, I think, for me to say thank you. And what better way to say thank you than to hold a contest and give away a nice fat prize? (Well, nice and fat by my standards.)

So let’s begin.


Contest-Cup

How do you enter the contest?

It doesn’t get simpler. You leave a comment to this post. If you leave two comments, they will count as two separate entries. The maximum number of entries you can submit is three. If you leave more than three comments, I won’t tell you off (I’m too nice for that) but I will only pick the first three.

What is the topic?

If you could become any character you wish from mythology, who would it be?

OR

Who is your favourite character from mythology and why?

Please note that the word limit on your comment/entry is 250 words.

How is the winner selected?

Since this is the first time we’re doing this, I thought it would be easiest if I picked out the winner. Each comment will be rated on three things:

1. Clarity: I should understand what you’re trying to say. Good grammar and punctuation will help. So will a reasonable structure to your entry. Beginning, middle and end.

2. Personal Touch: I’m interested in knowing why a particular character is your personal favourite. So a personal anecdote which is close to your heart, an example from the character’s story that made you weep, and anything that gives me a glimpse of you is likely to rank well.

3. Beauty of the writing: If you can make your words sing, if you can give rich sensory detail in your writing, if you can describe well, if you can transport me to the world of your character for a moment, it will keep you in good stead.

The above three criteria are ranked in the order of importance. So clarity is more important than personal touch. And personal touch is more important than evocative writing.

Form

This is up to you. Do you feel you can put your point across the best way through a poem? Are you more comfortable with an essay? Or do you prefer to write a short story or a narrative piece?

Anything and everything will work, as long as you stay under 250 words and on topic.

Videos and images are not valid entries.

What’s the prize?

A Flipkart e-gift voucher worth 500 Indian rupees. It looks like this.

Flipkart-Voucher

No, you can’t touch it, but you can buy things – especially books! – with it. If you live outside of India, your choices are limited to e-books because Flipkart doesn’t deliver internationally (yet).

Rules/Guidelines/Suggestions

1. The closing date for comments/entries is Wednesday, 6th of August, 2014. The winner will be announced on Friday, 8th of August, 2014.

2. When you enter comments on this blog, you will find a separate text box asking for your email. I recommend that you enter your email into this, so that I will have a way of contacting you in case you win. Rest assured that I will not use your contact information for any other purpose, shady or otherwise.

3. Sexually explicit or offensive material will be deleted at my discretion.

4. Avoid plagiarism. I will check for it, and remove entries that I think are lifted from elsewhere.

And finally…

Have fun! If you think this is the sort of thing your friends would enjoy, share this post with them and invite them to participate. The more the merrier!

See you in the comments.

Comments

  1. My favorite character in Mythology is Ekalavya. Because he was the greatest archer that ever lived on this earth. Period.

    When Arjuna found that Ekalavya could hit arrows into the mouth of their dog by just listening to the sound of its barking (without seeing it), he becomes jealous. He questions Dronacharya on how he promised to make Arjuna the best archer when someone could do this!

    Then they find out that Ekalavya had created a clay statue of Drona, has been practicing under his (non existent) tutelage, and considered Drona to be his guru. Drona immediately takes advantage of the situation and demands that Ekalavya give his thumb as Gurudakshina. Ekalavya doesn’t think twice before cutting and giving away his thumb, and is actually proud of it.

    It was not Ekalavya’s archery skills alone that made his character great – it was his extreme devotion to his Guru, Dronacharya, who – by the way – never taught him anything directly, but just inspired him!

    If I ever write an alternate history/mythology, I will make Ekalavya to say the exact words: “F*CK OFF” to both Drona and Arjuna, when they shamelessly ask for his thumb. 😛

    Destination Infinity

    Like

    • Probably the most poignant little stories in the Mahabharat, definitely the most often-repeated. You’re right; most of us would have reacted with the words ‘Fuck off’, but if Ekalavya had said the same, maybe he would not have been remembered the same way he is today.

      On the other hand, maybe he would have become the greatest warrior or his age. Who knows? Thank you for sharing, Rajesh.

      Like

  2. My favourite character is Draupadi. Every time i hear or see a woman who has been molested or raped, crying herself to death or committing suicide or being ashamed of herself, my mind floats to the time when Draupadi lived. A very strong willed woman who always kept her head high and instead brought to shame the entire crowd who shamelessly watched while her modesty was outraged. She even condemned her husbands. She didnt hide somewhere or die. She stood up against the injustice done to her and vowed revenge on her molesters. This tale of hers living with pride even after her molestation and destroying her molesters should be repeated again and again to all the women till this fact is stirred deep into their minds that they are not just a body. They are a soul who has immense strength, willpower and determination.Shame is on the society filled with mute spectators and mindless souless offenders.

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment, Deepti. If you haven’t done so already, you should read ‘Yuganta’ (by Irawati Karve) and ‘Yajnaseni’ (by Pratibha Ray) for more insights and different angles to the character of Draupadi.

      ‘The Palace of Illusions’ (by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni) is a more popular choice, but I found that the two books I mentioned are deeper and more nuanced. Happy reading 🙂

      Like

  3. My favourite mythological character is Karna. He was born to Kunti who bore him before marriage and hence could not accept him. Karna was an unsung hero — righteous and generous. In Mahabharata, where even the Pandavas used bluffing and politics to win the war, Karna stood his ground and never budged from his principles.
    Dronacharya refused to teach Karna as he was brought up by a low birth charioteer .Parshuram then took him under his tutelage. He had just one condition. He did not teach Khsatriyas — the warrior class. Once, when Parshuram was resting on Karna’s lap,Karna is stung by a bee on his thigh. He does not move just so that his teacher does not get disturbed from his slumber. When he wakes up, Parshuram is furious because only a Kshatriya can endure such a pain. Feeling deceived, Parshram curses Karna. Whatever he learned through deception, he will forget it when the knowledge is required the most.
    However, what touched me the most was the the moment when Lord Indra comes to Karna and asks him for his armor — the one he was born with. Fully knowing that he will be rendered vulnerable in the war once he gives away his armor, he still proceeds to do so because he is “daanveer” — the giver.
    Karna was a hero , a prince, a warrior and yet unfortunately, never truly appreciated for his worth. According to scriptures the disbalance was karma , yet in my books it was just unfair.

    Like

    • Hi Varsha,

      There are multiple ways to look at Karna. Many modern readers – including myself – see in him a reflection of themselves, perhaps, in how we seem powerless in the face of factors we cannot control. It is also possible to construct an image of him as a villain, because he is the one who speaks out against Draupadi during the disrobing. He is also vain, and appears to be a little lacking in self-esteem. Which is understandable, because he has identity issues.

      Probably the most complex character in the Mahabharat. If you can, get a copy of the English translation of ‘Mrityunjay’ by Shivaji Sawant.

      Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1spp3sY

      Like

  4. My favorite character is Duryodhana. Does he represent rage, jealousy and blind ambition? Certainly. However, an astute observer would state that, when push came to shove, Pandavs were no different during battle. When one peals the onion, it is obvious that his rage against the Pandavs was due to never truly being accepted by either the gentry or the commoners as the heir apparent despite being a masterful strategist, second to none in skill with the mace and a devoted husband. His acceptance of Karna showed that in times when caste prejudice was rampant, Duryodhana was a glaring exception. The game of dice, you say. Yes, he hoodwinked the Pandavs but are we any different? Wouldn’t any adroit card player do the same? He tried to dispose of Pandavs many times but wouldn’t any king do that if a handful of extremely dangerous warriors were baying for his blood? However, the one thing that truly made me admire him the most were the last words he said before he departed for the pearly gates. As he lay dying, Duryodhana said to Krishna “History will remember me the way you intend it to. History will glorify you and vilify us because it will be written from your perspective.” That is possibly the most profound statement made in the whole of Mahabharata. It makes one question everything and gradually one realizes that it wasn’t as black and white as we once thought it was, in the days of our innocence.

    Like

    • I agree with your general sentiment, Rohan. Not only was Duryodhana a masterful strategist, a great mace fighter and a devoted husband, he was also the rightful heir to the throne of Hastinapur. The Pandavas only came into contention through a technicality – the belief that Dhritarashtra could not rule ably, which he did – and even then, they were not ‘true’ sons of Pandu.

      I didn’t know that Duryodhana said those words to Krishna. From my reading of the epic, he said no such thing. Maybe some of the modern retellings include it. I’m not sure. But he does say to Yudhisthir that he’s welcome to rule over a land awash with the blood of great warriors and innocent commoners.

      Interesting choice. Thank you for sharing.

      Like

  5. Who is your favorite character from mythology and why?

    The trite argumentative Indian that I am, I can’t help but ask myself who all would classify as mythological characters. Not dwelling into it much, the anatomy of word gives it away – myth appears to be central theme around here. Something which we believe not to be true, yet we look up to it – we aspire to achieve something surreal, something beyond our reach. Here lies the simple conundrum – if I don’t believe in something can I pick favorites in that field?
    Hypothetically, if I stop believing in existence of different countries, can I have an objective opinion of which is my favorite country – I don’t know, I don’t know if mythological islands of Madagascar are as radiant and lively as people say they are, I assume they are all glorious in their own sense but any comparison is logically ambiguous as all the countries are figment of imaginations – some vast, some small, some glazed in sunlight, some are moonlit half a year. Point is, choosing a favorite from mythology appears to be a futile exercise – I know not how much I believe in them and how much faith I can put in each of characters.
    But, let’s give it a spin – for me mythological characters are real people living out there. The deeds done by these people seem unachievable in this lifetime for me. I can start playing cricket, but Don Bradman will be a mythological character for me (put down your pitchforks Sachin devotees), in Tennis, may be Roger Federer. But in real life, Dashrath Manjhi – this man is made of sheer grit and determination. He stood up against mountains – and literally moved them.
    Nestled in lap of rocky hiils, Dashrath lost his life to the mountains. He was unable to reach the hospital in due time as there was no direct connection between his village and nearest town. He worked tirelessly for 22 years – mocked and ridiculed as a lunatic by people – audacity of hope didn’t dawn on people till sun shone through those hills.
    It’s been a long time since he carried out this momentous act but inspiration is still as strong as it can be. When life gives you mountains, you make inroads. I believe that’s what mythological characters are for – to inspire you, guide you, act as a shining beacon on dark nights. For me Dashrath Manjhi works just fine

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nice comment, Anurag. The concept is that today’s real people become mythological characters in the future. After reading your entry I read up on Dashrath Manjhi. Inspiring story, indeed!

      Like

  6. He ravished me. He couldn’t take his eyes off me and I knew there lay no other pleasure in the world, the knowledge that my beauty had unnerved the mighty God of the Seas. It could not matter we were in the sacred temple of Athena. The white marble had turned blue with age and rage. I scoffed at her warning eye. And closed my eyes.

    I awoke, left alone at the temple. A trail of blood and hair at my side. My hair. I touched my head and felt a pool of snakes. I cried, red droplets hitting the floor. I looked up and men were frozen with my unforgiving appearance. Men who wanted me to live only to satisfy their own desires. Who felt I was a burden to the world and had nothing more to offer than a submissive sigh. Frozen.

    A power in exchange for my vanity. To freeze. And to be eternally remembered. To realise there is a certain assurance in being able to unleash yourself on an unjust world. To be transformed from a “delicate maiden”, to be freed from the taunting stereotypes that men bring down upon us and to come out just as powerful and even more. I looked up at Athena and thanked her.

    I am Medusa.

    (In case it wasn’t clear, I was responding to the second question)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Reecha. Loved the images: pool of snakes, the idea of marble turning blue with rage, and the whole narrative slant you’ve given to the story of Medusa. Often we see her as the ‘bad guy’ in the myth of Perseus. It’s refreshing to see her as a wronged person here.

      Like

  7. Since ancient times, our social status and course of life has been determined by our birth. Even today, very few of us are able to break through the shackles of destiny and carve out a successful life for ourselves.

    Karna is one of the central characters of Mahabharatha, who has lived this example. In spite of being abandoned at birth and raised by a family of charioteers, he does not let his heroic spirit die within him. He faces bigotry at every stage of his life. Being rejected by Dronacharya due to his caste, he takes upon himself the task of mastering martial skills, which is rewarded when Duryondhana makes him an ally to fight to against the Pandavas. He lives by his values of nobility and loyalty by rejecting Krishna’s offer to regroup with the Pandavas. This sense of commitment later causes him to lose his armour, this too, does not deter him from entering the war. In spite of the circumstances, he fights bravely and dies a hero.

    Karna is an epitome of honesty and courage, who challenges the boundaries of social order no matter how painful the path. He sticks by his dharma, which he places before death. Karna resonates within us, each time we take a step against our destined path, the sacrifices we make, the hardships we endure, all in search of a life we feel we deserve. Karna is the epic’s unsung hero, who inspires in us the courage to change the course of our life.

    Like

    • Hi Richa,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Karna. One thing I’ve noticed ever since I’ve begun blogging about the Mahabharat is that many young women (from among my friends and also among readers here) think fondly and sympathetically of Karna. Men, on the other hand, tend to look at his failings of character, his hypocrisy and vanity.

      Not a scientific study by any means, but it’s just something I’ve noticed.

      If you’re interested in reading more on Karna, you should try this book by Shivaji Sawant called ‘Mrityunjay – The Death Conqueror’.

      Incidentally, I wrote a post on this blog too about the ‘5 faces of Karna’. You might like that too. Here’s the link: https://sharathkomarraju.com/2014/06/19/five-faces-of-karna/

      Like

  8. Suman G. Das says:

    The word mythology evokes fantastic visions from a long-lost past, but I like to think of mythology as an ongoing process of human imagination engaging with itself. Science fiction and fantasy stories and superhero comics are modern forms of myth-making, continuing to explore ancient questions through new allegories. Here I will take the liberty of choosing a favorite character from a modern mythology.

    The character is Tyler Durden, the protagonist of Fight Club. He is an anarchist who believes that society conditions us to abandon our dreams in favor of conformity. He builds a secret club where individuals express their repressed emotions by fighting each other violently. The club evolves into an army that aims to liberate society from its self-imposed shackles through extreme urban vandalism. Tyler is a man of many contradictions. He is a criminal fighting for mankind, a sociopath who wants to protect fundamental human values. He is a modern version of the superhuman ‘liberator of mankind’ common to ancient mythologies. It is ultimately revealed that Tyler is the alter ego of an ordinary office-going man, of whose existence the man himself is not consciously aware. This is where we encounter the paradox of individual expression in a conformist society – that we must become someone else in order to become who we truly are.

    I cannot identify with either the violence or the aggressive optimism, but Tyler Durden’s message reminds me of who I am not.

    Like

    • Very interesting piece, Suman. There is absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of us prefer to conform as opposed to rebel. Human beings are by nature conformists, and take great comfort in being part of a herd. Whether it’s an idea, a social practice or a point of view, it takes a large amount of time to get accepted because of this herding nature. We feel a strong sense of kinship towards those people who share our ideas. We find every excuse in the book to define ourselves as a small part of a larger group for this very reason.

      With social media and the internet, people thought that individual expression will triumph, but it has only reinforced our conformist natures. Groups, communities, likes, shares, views, followers, friends…these are the new tools of human herds.

      The only hope is that we don’t lose individuality completely, and for this message alone, Tyler Durden is a worthy role model. Thanks.

      Like

  9. I remember my grandfather performing pooja at home every morning.He would put theertha into my little palm folded like a cup and say “Oushadam Jahnavi thoyam vaidyo narayano harihi”. Somehow, it would give me happiness and energy. Even today, I like the mythological character Jahnavi or Ganga.
    The river Ganga is the deva nadi (divine river) who was created to give life. Without Ganges there is no devaloka as well as bhooloka. She is a swayambhoo i.e, she is present since the world’s existence. Thus, she is equal to the trimurthys. They were born to none. Ganga was the chosen one to bear the ashta vasu’s. She gave birth to them and helped them to get rid of their curse. She helped thousands of pitrus of Bhagiratha to attain moksha.
    Ganga is the jeevanadi of India. Rice and paddy are grown in the Ganga river basin. Industrial wastes, half burnt bodies, dead animals and many more pollutants pollute Ganga but she purifies the area by taking it all and immersing it in the sea. Scientifically, there is a beneficial bacteria present in Ganga called coliphages. They eat up many types of coliforms and hence Ganga self purifies herself.
    A dip in the river Ganga purifies one’s soul and body and paves the way to attain moksha. In Hinduism water of Ganga used in the naming ceremony of a new born, is used to perform the ritual kanyadanam during marriages, is poured into the mouth of a dying person.

    Like

    • From your name, it doesn’t surprise me that you chose to write about Ganga, Jahnavi 🙂 I knew the ‘vaidyo narayano hari’ part of the phrase (because my father is a doctor), but I didn’t know the ‘Oushadam Jahnavi thoyam’ part. If there is one striking reminder of the constancy of nature relative to the ephemeral quality of human life, it is Ganga. Our oldest literature contains references to it, and today it’s fair to say that Indian life is closely entwined with that of Ganga.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  10. Malefica says:

    Who is your favourite character from mythology and why?
    My favourite mythological character is Balaram. There is an incident in the Mahabharat, where he is offered a choice, on which side to join in the final battle. He walks away, saying, he wants no part of a war between cousins. He is one of the few to do so. His decision seems awkward. He has been born to a warrior caste, he is known for his strength, his younger brother is in the thick of it; and yet, he takes an odd pacifist approach.
    Why do I like him? I love idiosyncratic characters who have little to do with the story progression, but stick to their guns when the tough decision comes (other examples in stories being Faramir in Lord of the Rings and Fritz Baehr in Little Women). They show, practically, no character development through the story and never are part of a plot twist. I feel as if the writer has taken pains with a minor character only to tell us, ‘Here is a good man. Here is a trustworthy man. He may come only twice in my story, but he’s always the same; he’s consistent. Trust him, to say the right thing, to be a peacemaker, to be unselfish, to step back from the role of the hero.’ He may be not be the alpha character, but it does me good to know he stands in the background, ready to clear away the mess if ever he’s called to it.

    Like

    • Thanks, Malefica. I love the way you explained why you like the odd idiosyncratic characters. I think that in many ways, these pacifist characters who walk away from the battle or take the ‘pragmatic’ approach to things remind us of the choice that the hero is intentionally not making. It’s like the writer is telling us: ‘This is what most of would have done. Balaram is like most of us, not good or bad, but pragmatic, perhaps consistent, not inclined to change. But here is Krishna, who thrives on changing, adapting, and controlling things around him. Again, for good or bad, stories are made around such people.’

      It’s not surprising that some of us relate to the ‘everyman’ character who does the practical thing and steps back, choosing not to be the hero.

      Like

  11. Who else can I be and what choice do I have other than being the greatest and the most magnificent of all mythological characters that was ever created by any human mind? I, the self-proclaimed lord who could sanctify Gopika’s getting fulfilled being with me rather than their husband’s. I, the Ranchod, who when faced with an imminent annihilation could justify evacuating my native city and still be counted first among the greatest warriors of my era. I, the astute philosopher, who motivated a lost warrior with drooping shoulders and dropped weapons to fight against his own kin with a clear conscience and renewed valor. This one act should be enough to understand the potency of my presence. You will never be able to come to a conclusion without a bias that if dharma fit into my foreign policies or my foreign policies were guided by the principles of dharma. I almost single handedly made all the warriors irrelevant with subtle manipulation of mind by aligning dharma to the actions which will lead to victory and overt manipulation to kill Kaurava warriors from Jayadratha to Duryodhana. No wonder Barbarik saw only my chakra killing all the enemies. I am the entity created of contradictions. I am blasphemous, adulterous, cowardly, and manipulative while still being pious, faithful, courageous and naïve. The creation of a character as fantastical as Kṛṣṇa, according to me, might happen once in a yuga, leaving me no choice but to revere in this complex creation.

    Like

    • Thanks, Deepak. Your admiration for Krishna’s character comes through in the piece. Almost always, a hero worthy of mention causes untold pain to many people. In the Iliad, Achilles kills thousands of Trojan soldiers and perhaps the most righteous of Trojan heroes, Hector. In the Mahabharat, in his quest to become the Vasudeva, Krishna oversees killings, instigates battles, and finally brings about the great cleansing of the age in the name of Dharma.

      Was it all worth it? If we’re still talking about it, it must have been, in some way.

      Like

  12. One of my favorite mythological characters is Prometheus. Prometheus was the prototypical activist and egalitarian. He was a titan who sided with Zeus and the Olympian gods when they overthrew Cronus and the Titans, he was thus on the winning side. But when Prometheus found out that Zeus intended to keep fire to the Gods, he was galled by the injustice of it and believed that humans deserved it too. So he stole fire from Olympus and gave it to humans. He knew he could not escape the wrath of Zeus, but his sense of justice compelled him to defiance. He was punished by being chained to a rock and having an eagle eat his liver everyday and having it regenerate it by night.

    The Prometheus myth is very relevant today especially in light of the Snowden revelations (Edward Snowden is himself a kind of modern day Promethean figure). There are Olympian forces at play in society today that are trying to deny us our liberties and rights. We need to defy them, as Snowden did, and this defiance will come at a price (let’s hope the price is not a liver, we cannot regenerate that yet.) The myth reminds us that freedom is never free and cannot be won by just one independence struggle. We need to fight for our freedom everyday and defy those who will try and take it from us.

    Like

    • Hi Pavan,

      Nice piece linking Prometheus to our present-day situation. Modern governments are covert operations, not unlike sleight-of-hand magicians who are always directing your attention to one hand whereas the other hand is doing all the dirty work. While we fall over ourselves debating politics and the budget and development and all such ‘things’ that we think matter, exploitation happens in ways we cannot imagine. Freedom, as you say, is just an illusion. We’re not free. Our minds are controlled by so many things today that come at us from just about every possible direction. Our information is available to everyone who cares to look. We’re voluntarily giving up our freedoms.

      Not sure how we’ll get it back, or even if we WANT to get it back. Interesting point of discussion, though 🙂

      Like

  13. When Laxmana was felled by Meghanad, Lord Rama was so heart-broken that he was not in a position to continue his fight. It was Hanuman who saved Laxman’s life by bringing the medicinal herb “Sanjeevani” before the break of dawn. When Rama’s military strategists were mulling over their next move to invade Lanka, it was Hanuman who flew there in search of Sita, discovered her location like a true spy, allowed himself to be “captured” by Lankan soldiers as a ploy to assess Ravana’s might and literally brought Ravana to his knees before leaving a trail of devastation in Lanka.

    I regard Hanuman as the greatest and my favorite mythological character of all times. I have lost count how many times I have mumbled “Hanuman Chalisa” to overcome fear – real or imagined. I like Hanuman because he was faithful and devoted, but not like a politician. I like him because he was courageous, yet humble and respectful to others. Hanuman was a good Samaritan and his chivalry is a matter of folklore. In spite of his remarkable qualities, he never showed off and used his powers only to help the humanitarian cause. And he was learned as well, though due to a curse he had a tendency to be forgetful.

    For me, Hanuman will always be adorable, and such was his composure that he was never angry – ever! He had all the supreme qualities of a sportsperson – skills, motivation, courage, strength, competitiveness, agility, speed, stamina, fitness, grace – and if I say he was a decathlete, it would be a gross understatement. Hanuman cannot be matched by any other mythological hero, and I worship him. It would be interesting to speculate Hanuman’s medical parameters – his hemoglobin levels, pulse rate, blood pressure and basal metabolic rate – which would be a benchmark and epitome of health standards in today’s medical science.

    I bow to thee Lord Hanuman – you shall remain a legend for generations to come and ever after!

    Like

    • Loved this piece, Jayant! If you do make any inroads into the research concerning Lord Hanuman’s physiological parameters, do let me know. I’m as eager as you are to find out. And no decathlete could compete with Hanuman until we develop the ability to fly, or at least leap over great distances.

      Like

  14. I find the character of Kunti quite fascinating. She naively invokes a boon and as a consequence, bears a child before her marriage. Could she have kept the child without facing censure from her family and society at large? Probably not. She summons the courage to let the baby go. As a mother I can only imagine what she must have felt seeing her son standing before her so many years later. And worse, to see him pledge allegiance to the other side.
    She is no passive entity in the scheme of things. It is her instruction, albeit issued unwillingly, that leads to Draupadi becoming the wife of all five brothers. When her husband dies, she willingly adopts Madri’s twins and treats them as her own.
    By the end she abhors the bloodshed as much as anyone else. She’s quite a strong character, and adds a nice dimension to the range of strong females in the Mahabharata.

    Like

    • Thanks, Gargi. I’ve always thought Kunti and Gandhari were two strong characters in the Mahabharat that we don’t know ‘much’ about. Though Kunti’s story of giving birth to Karna is well-documented, it is not plumbed to the required depth to reveal much of her character. Also, not much is known of her childhood outside of this incident. It’s like she takes birth in the instant she marries Pandu and comes into the Kuru household.

      Interesting character, no doubt.

      Like

  15. suman gowri says:

    Mythology is nothing but history,
    the former being an unraveled mystery.
    People from historical stories,
    leave tales that man glories!

    One such person was Asoka the Great,
    whose traits are honoured till date.
    From a cruel warrior at the start,
    to a compassionate person at heart!
    His journey from a power hungry king,
    to the famous day of his reckoning;
    When realization upon him had dawned –
    has till today, our country adorned!

    “Respect all religions”, he said,
    “In righteousness hold high your head.
    Make love your reason to live,
    for that’s the only way, life, one can give”.

    Do i not want to be this great being?
    Do i not want to be a part of this freeing;
    the world of it’s ‘blighfulness’ –
    and humans of their callousness!

    Like

    • Hi Suman,

      Nice poem. Strictly speaking, Ashoka is more of a historical figure than mythological, but that’s okay. You accounted for that in the first few lines by saying mythology is nothing but history. I specifically like the first two lines of the last stanza: Do I not want to be this great being? Do I not want to be part of this freeing?

      Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Like

      • suman gowri says:

        yeah, you know i so badly wanted to be a part of all this and being very weak with mythology, i went forward with someone i knew about 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. When Sharath tossed the topic……’Favorite mythological character and reason for liking him/her’, my mind raced through all the stories of my childhood and came to Sita……..Sita, the embodiment of docility, devotion, sacrifice, husband worship and to cut a long story short, all the values of a patriarchal society. Sita……a name that I could have never taken a few years back, and if someone even dared suggest her name, he/she would have been black-marked as a misogynist and chauvinist.
    But the older I get, the more I like her and may be even understand her a bit.
    Let’s take the episode of her following Rama to the forest. Rama and his family didn’t want her to go. But she used all that she had……wiles, arguments, tears, emotional blackmail to get her end. This can’t be a woman blindly following her husband but a woman ready to be with her loved ones in not so good times.
    She proved her humanity when she went out of the Laxmanrekha to give food to a beggar not thinking about her security.
    When Rama doubted her loyalty, she went through the Agnipariksha and like any other woman in love may be was trying to make a thousand excuses for the unjust demand of her beloved.

    Even after all the ordeals, when Rama decided to cast her out on words of a washer man, instead of trying to gain sympathy by revealing her pregnancy, she went to the forest and as a single mother brought up her sons. Yet when the time came, she let them go with their father. (She knew a better future awaited them as kings)
    But she wouldn’t go through a second fire ordeal, not for all the luxury of the world, the fake promises of a man she loved and decided to go back to mother earth, her own home.

    Like

    • Hi Prerona,

      One of the reasons I personally like the story of Sita (and indeed, of Draupadi too, to a lesser degree) is that it can be ‘tailored’ in the message it carries to suit a person’s worldview. A young feminist may see nothing but a submissive girl in Sita, whereas an older, wiser person may see in her entirely different traits.

      In reality, of course, the story is the same. The meanings we draw from it are mere reflections of our own lives, and often say more about us than they do about the story. I’m glad you’re finding more meanings in the story of Sita as you grow older. Perhaps in a third reading, you will find something else still 🙂

      Like

  17. A favorite mythological character of mine is Pandora. Yes, the same Pandora who had a role to make the world as it is now, more of a Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham variety instead of a perfect paradise. The mischievous imp who couldn’t control her curiosity and after some should I……should I not’s opened the enchanting mysterious box or if you would rather say jar, ushering in all sort of troubles, pain, sorrow, death, diseases, growing up, work into the world and along with all the sufferings, also a little ray of hope.
    Earlier the world was a perfect place where children never grew up, food grew on trees, streams were filled with clear water and all the knowledge of the world was already fitted into the children’s brain. There was no need for work and all time was playtime. But Pandora’s curiosity changed all this. She has been blamed enough over the centuries. I would say what she did was a blessing in disguise.

    Just tell me something, can anyone appreciate the soothing, gay spring without living through the cold harshness of winter or the angry summer sun? The fun lies in the anticipation of the coming playtime which makes our normal chores bearable.
    The beauty of life lies in the journey and not in the destination. Pandora gave us a chance to make the journey, to overcome the banalities of mere existence to discover new mountains to be climbed, seas to be crossed, diseases to be triumphed and when the right time comes to give it all up, awaiting for a new cycle.

    Like

    • It is said that when Pandora opened the box and let loose all emotions onto the world, she was so scared with what she had done that she hurriedly closed the lid, thereby trapping hope within the jar. And yes, I agree with your point that Pandora did humanity a huge favour by introducing us to the darker emotions. How boring it must be to live in a world where it’s always playtime?

      Like

  18. A very intriguing character from Indian mythology is Shakuni…..the beloved of Kurukul. Like his nemesis-the vulture, he soared high and yet had his eyes on the ground.
    He exemplified patience, a brilliant mind who attained his revenge after a long period of hibernation.
    When the Kurus wanted to find a bride for the blind Dhritarashtra, they zeroed on Gandhari, the princess of Gandhara. Like any father, the king refused to give his daughters hand in marriage. What did the Kurus do then? No sir, the mighty Bheeshma did not recognize their right to refuse. He waged a war, abducted the princess and captured the king and his hundred sons. The 101 Gandharas were fed with food enough to sustain only a single person. They in turn gave all their portions to the youngest-Shakuni. Ultimately it was only Shakuni who survived and vowed to take revenge.
    Gandhari could not take it anymore and blind folded herself, not to share the same plight as her husband but as she couldn’t bear to see 24X7 the murderers of her father and brother.
    Shakuni meanwhile made dices with the bones of his dead father and plotted the poisonous seeds of jealousy in the household.
    With these enchanted dice Shakuni defeated Yudhisthira which crackled up at his every loss. He brought a house to war with itself.
    True he died, but he brought the downfall of the Kuru dynasty with him, thus avenging the Gandharas.

    Like

    • Thanks for all three of your comments, Prerona. Frankly speaking, I didn’t think anyone would leave more than one entry to this contest. I must commend you for your commitment. And I see a pattern in your entries that you discard commonly accepted interpretations of mythological characters and favour ‘left field’ analyses. This one on Shakuni also fits the bill. You take someone who is universally hated and paint him in a neutral light of cause/effect.

      A Shakuni’s version of the Mahabharat would be an interesting read, don’t you think?

      Like

  19. As the new monarch of Lanka stood on the royal balcony, the golden city of his childhood lay in ruins before him. Vibheeshana was a man of great conviction, yet today the sight filled his mind with doubts. Had he done the right thing?
    He had been an upright youth, an iconoclast. He had been sick of the sycophantic ministers in his brother’s court, of the decadent royal family that had strayed so far from Raj Dharma. When Ravana abducted a Northern princess and precipitated the catastrophic war, he was angered to his very core.
    Yet all this was not the reason he had joined the enemy camp. Lord knows he was no traitor! He had had the foresight to realize that the disorganized army of a complacent monarchy was no match for the wrath of the invaders. Lanka would be laid waste, but if at least one man with royal blood survived the carnage, there would still be hope. He could not bear the thought of his motherland being colonized by the Northerners. He would build a free and just Lanka from the ruins, so that the proud race could stand tall once again.
    Today many of his countrymen called him a puppet king. The irony was sickening! Yet he wanted to believe that Lankan history would one day reclaim him as a patriot, a visionary who had possessed the courage to do the right thing at the right time.

    Like

    • Good idea. Brings up fun possibilities if expanded into a longer story. You will have to answer a few complications, but with some imagination and some ‘creative thinking’, it can be done, I think. Thanks for sharing, Suman.

      Like

  20. philomena says:

    FIRST THX FOR SUCH A NOBLE THOUGHT AND ACTION IT IS A BLESSED OPPORTUNITY FOR PERSONS LLIKE ME TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE CLUB AND ITS ACTIVITY AS I FIND IT VERY DIFFICULT TO ATTEND THE MEETING PERSONALLY.

    Well short and sweet is my reply participating in the contest cos i am just doing this not as a contest but just keeping in touch.

    My favourite mythical figure is ABHIANYU.cos he is the example of such victim of treachery which is even existing today inspite of all knowledge required to get out into the chakravayyu is but not the knowl;edge required to get out of it. An my question to Krishna is WHYwhy DOES THIS HAPPEN AT THAT MYSTICAL TIME OF mAHABHARAT WAR AND WHY NOW COS IN MY OPINION Mahabharat never got over really it is still going on in these kalyug times.CAN Lord Krishna intuit into all victims of this present day Mahabharat which could be in form of children being raped or suicides etc. cos all this happens by the perpetrators on the mind level beofre it reaches the earth. Can the chakravayyu situations be prevented. i FEEL VERY STRONGLY lord rishna needs to answer y he did not prevent Abhinyu from entering the chakravayu and y he did not stop stop him from being murdered stop Pls Lord Krishna you started the Mahabharat you need to stop it and spare our abhinyus of today.

    Like

    • Hi Philomena,

      So you’ve finally managed to submit a comment! Congratulations 🙂 And yes, the story of Abhimanyu is quite tragic no matter what the rationalization is. As one of the previous comments mentioned, whether Krishna’s foreign policy became his Dharma or whether Dharma became his foreign policy is difficult to say. And no matter how strongly we feel that he has to answer, I don’t think he can. So we’re reduced to debating it on message boards like this.

      Thanks for leaving a comment!

      Like

  21. Ved Mathai says:

    Ravana is a misunderstood god-demon-man. More than Ram, Sita or Laxman he resembles what a normal modern man would be- powerful, yet as flawed as powerful, and equally aware of it. His nation loved him and even fought for him. But, he was the antihero, only because he fought the hero and lost. He fought for what he thought was right- something that was wrong as by his antithesis Ram. That is the argument for all wrong that happens even now- everyone does what is right as by them which conflicts another’s understanding of what’s right. But at the end of the battle that is then fought, one is declared right and one’s declared wrong. So what becomes of the argument? Can’t both be right? In a war of might, victory is gained by the ultimate crushing of the opposition, everything, both the tangible (the men) and the intangible (the ideologies). That means for every conflict between two different thought processes, one is eclipsed- argued against- and suppressed even if they are correct- the Muslims in India, the Hindus in Pakistan, the Jews in Nazi Germany. One may argue that I have got it all wrong for Ravana, that Nazi Germany was actually Ravana, and in the end they fought and lost the good v. evil fight. The arguments can be countless on both sides. But, again a fair argument is what is required- something Ravana didn’t have and still doesn’t- the plight of a modern man.

    Like

    • Hi Ved,

      Interesting point on how no war is really about good versus evil. And the result of a war is not about whether good won or evil won. Ultimately, the stronger side wins, whether it is good or evil. And of course, what is good or evil? Whatever conflicts with a certain group’s interests is evil for them. War has always been a fight for natural resources in the name of ‘good’. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are no exceptions to this. Even today we see wars being fought officially on issues such as ‘nobility’ and ‘greater human good’, but we all know what they’re REALLY for, don’t we?

      That’s how it is, and that’s how it has always been. People fight for things. They justify it by saying it is for some abstract concept, a concept in which they’re right and the ‘other guy’ is wrong. And the side that wins this battle writes the books for future generations to read. And it repeats.

      Like

  22. After reading up on a few retellings of the Mahabharata, my favorite character would be – Yudhisthira.

    From the time he was born, he was earmarked by Kunti to become the king, and this desire and ambition was hardwired into him in his childhood. The one fatal flaw that he had was his ‘addiction’ to gambling which proved pivotal in deciding his family’s fortunes. And in the aftermath of the game of dice incident as well, he comes across as somebody who is pragmatic and wants to adhere to his ‘dharma’ and his promise to fulfill the conditions of his defeat despite the unruly and insulting behavior of the victors.

    Just before the Great War begins, he seeks out his elders and his teachers in the Kaurava army and seeks their blessings before engaging in war with them. The one lie that he utters to bring down Drona, he does so with great reluctance and does so only because Krishna orders him to do so.
    And right at the very end, when the Pandavas decide to renounce the material world and reach the gates of Swarga and sees the Kauravas there, it is then he realizes that he still hated them for their deeds of many years ago and that his anger and hatred had clouded his good sense. This realization immediately frees him from the bondage of the material world.

    In this sense, he truly is the one character who undergoes a complete transformation during the course of his life.

    Like

    • Yudhisthir is one of my favourite characters too, Jai. He comes across as an overall nice guy who just didn’t want to do anything more than perhaps live a life of contemplation and learning. He was instead thrust into becoming a king, fighting a war, telling lies, and the end, resenting and perhaps even hating his brothers and wife.

      His is the journey that is most transformative, though, and he’s the stupid common man to Bhim and Arjun’s supermen. If the Mahabharat could be used as a tool for introspection and character development, a reader would do much worse than to pick Yudhisthir as his case study.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Floating on waves
    That could have me drowned
    I found unconditional love
    And conditional empathy
    Abandoned for pride
    And embraced with humility
    Contradictions and incongruity
    Defined my being

    Valor I had
    Honor I got
    Price I paid
    was absolute loyalty
    misplaced,
    I was told
    Again and again
    That I sold my soul
    In bargain
    For love of decorations
    That adorned my chest-
    And the rest
    Taunting, un-daunting
    Discarded branches
    Cannot find roots
    Brutes
    Never failed to point
    I belonged
    Nowhere near the sphere
    Of royalty and royals
    Loyal,
    Though I may be
    No one could see
    Me to be just me

    I had a mother
    Who was not bothered
    With the pain of my birth
    Her mirth
    In bearing her other three
    Was overwhelmingly
    Full of glee
    Born of her ear
    I personified her fear
    Of shame and guilt
    She got away
    I could not
    I fought
    Her sons
    Not because
    I had grudge
    But because
    They could not merge
    The divide-
    Legitimacy
    Has always been
    Conditional
    And more so
    When seen
    Through borrowed morality
    I lived
    The mortality
    Others
    Were divine
    But,
    Revenge
    Was mine
    As truth revealed
    Those who erred
    Sealed
    Their fate
    In a roll of dice
    Nothing was left
    To further sacrifice
    I did my karma
    They betrayed
    The dharma
    I, live
    As the one who did
    What loyalty decree
    I died
    With pride
    Defending a friend
    They fought
    Fraught
    With weight of guilt
    Finally, for once
    The scale did tilt…

    Like

    • I love the last three lines here, Nidhi. With weight of guilt, finally, for once, the scale did tilt. But the tilting came a little too late for Karna, didn’t it? It’s impossible to go through the story not feeling sorry for the man, and yet there are places in which his behaviour is questionable, sometimes even despicable. Like all of us, he’s a contradiction, and that’s probably why we love him so much. Loyalty is built so deeply into our ethical systems that we can identify with someone who is loyal, even to a black cause.

      Very good writing. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  24. sunithamenezes says:

    “Sun, glorious sun, make me young and strong again!” sung the Phoenix, the bird of fire .

    and the young bird rose out with red and gold–bright and dazzling like the sun itself from the ashes of its old self .

    This is the story of mythological bird Phoenix signifies transformation, resurrection or rebirth etc.

    It is human desire to live young and strong always. Our physical strength and youthfulness gets lost with life responsibilities and the aging process.
    Yet by striving for happiness ,our soul can be still young and strong .

    Life takes us through the rollercoaster experience. Transforming life is not easy and it requires the hardship like Phoenix burning to Ashes.
    Sometime even it pushes us so low and we lose hope to see light again unless we utmost efforts to rise up.
    It may demand ,to make peace with fellow neighbour or enemy.
    In the words of Winston Churchill, “It is the courage to continue that counts.”.

    The making of Phoenix, reborn from the ashes also signifies the burning of anger, hurt, jealously which are evils of life which results in to powerful ,beautiful bird.
    Similarly result of transformation is love and compassion which brings our dear ones together and keeps relations precious and makes us feel strong and happy.
    To become happy and young ,I have to let go evils of life , which is close to my heart.

    Think of the people who you admire and may be how many times they would have fallen and risen to be strongest there.
    The more you practice resilience in our failure ,it makes us stronger in life.
    Phoenix which takes the rebirth again and again is an example for us ,to stand up from the failure.

    From the words of Jonathan Lockwood , “Gather strength from life’s storms” which we can see with Phoenix and our own lives.

    Like

    • Nice piece, Sunitha. It is the resilient who succeed, and yet the only way to learn resilience is by failing. As a philosopher once said, whatever doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger. It’s nice to know that you identify yourself with such a strong image.

      Like

  25. If I could become any character I wish from mythology, it would be APHRODITE The Goddess of Love was, according to some, a daughter of Zeus and the Titaness Dione. Not because of her beauty but just because of the fact that she is Zeus’s daughter! I consider Zeus to be the most power god. He is considered to be the king of all Gods. Imagine such a man melting down just because his daughter gets teary eyed and panicking just because she is late from a party! And the hundreds of powerful and over protective brothers and sisters I would have. There is a God for everything in Greek Mythology and all these Gods would be my brother’s and sisters or niece and nephews. There will be nothing I want and can’t get! If I want to music there is Apollon or Mousai, if I get into a fight there is Athene and then to resolve the fight and bring peace there is Eirene,if I want it to rain during a hot summer day I can run to Horai, if I’m looking for a job i can ask Kairos to create opportunities for me and if I’m bored I always have my favorite Loki who will come up with some hilarious prank to just spice up my life! Life would be so perfect and I would always be the little princess who everyone loves and no one can possible hate!

    Like

    • I agree. Aphrodite is the ultimate princess of Olympus. But for the one time when Zeus gets angry at her and marries her off to Hephaestus, she often gets her way, and the other Gods and Goddesses treat her with kid gloves. Though if you’re on Olympus, Loki may not be at hand unless you’re willing to travel all the way down to Asgard to cook up a hilarious prank or two.

      Thanks for the comment, Kanny 🙂

      Like

      • thanks for your input truly appreciate it… this the first time I’ve got any constructive critics 🙂
        I know loki is from a completely different story line… but Greek mythology is something that has always fascinated me … loki is my all time favorite and it’s sad there is nothing much on him! so in my version i just wanted to give him some connection with me! in my world!
        if you go to see it’s also said that Zeus tried to rape Aphrodite… She is a big time adulteress… a waste of god or godliness… beauty and sexuality is all that she has…. there are many aspects of her it all depends on how you look at it! but I just wanted to focus on the part that excited me the most! Just on fact like you rightly said “the other Gods and Goddesses treat her with kid gloves.” I would love to have such strong and power brothers and sisters or uncles and aunts and most importantly an amazing dad! somewhat like Arial from the Little mermaid to paint you a better picture 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  26. Crash and burn! Is that not the greatest fear we all face? Humiliation, failure or simply horrendous luck lead us over the edge from confidence and into the abyss of desolate despair. While we are down feeling wretched, we burn. A spark bursts forth and soon we are ablaze from within.

    As the fires of exasperation are gradually doused by the advancing tide of indifferent reason, we find ourselves in a pique seemingly contrived. A lull engulfs the embers and we sift through the ashes – searching for a sign that our melancholy was but a tragedy inward. Our inquiry brings no answers; unsurprisingly; how can we to ourselves be unkind, when our spirit lies as crumbling cinder.

    We look without. We seek to blame. We grow cold as we shut ourselves from all, especially that piercing heartache for a lost love – the bosom of sweet victory. A frigid display of cowardice – we hide – time’s cold fingers caressing us into a slumber of apathy. Silence.

    Silence? From out of the dust, jumps out a flicker of a flame. Another here and yet another there. Each of hope, belief, faith and the will to endeavour once more. Each flame, a breath, as we rise from the ashes, afire and alive.

    Mortality of spirit is for lesser beings, we are akin to the rising sun.

    Come gloomy dusk, come cold night,
    For the dawn shall unfailingly follow.
    Fall once and again, but arise,
    Until there is no more tomorrow.

    The Phoenix.

    Like

    • Hi Lennold, this is an excellent piece full of rich images and passion. I like the optimism that bursts forth out of every word, and the message of resilience and smiling in the face of adversity. The paragraph that begins with ‘We look without. We seek to blame. We grow cold and shut ourselves from all’ is my favourite. Melancholy can indeed get the better of the best of us.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Like

  27. Jumi Das says:

    If you could become any character you wish from mythology, who would it be?

    Fantasy is about dreaming the impossible to be possible and I have often fantasized about being a Lady Krishna. Now, please do not get me wrong. I do not care to have 16,000 spouses. Let me explain before being accused of being a fan of polygamy.

    Shiva is my favourite God but I often feel that it is Krishna we need to be in today’s world. If I am Krishna, I would never be a victim of office politics. I would be the king of politics and the whole office, including my boss, would be dancing to my sweet tune. What a pleasant dream!

    Krishna best knows the art of appeasement. With me as Krishna, my love life would be smooth as silk. The daily fights would give away to romantic candle lit dinners. Again, what a pleasant dream!

    And last but not the least, Krishna is famous for his pool parties. I would not mind them too.

    What more does a girl next door want? With me as Krishna, both my job life and love life are sorted. Plus, I get those pool parties too. The best fantasy ever!

    Like

    • Hi Jumi,

      I don’t think you can take candle-lit dinners, pool parties, and the status of office superwoman without accepting the 16000 spouses. All or nothing, I’m afraid. You could still romance only one man at a time, but you will have to distribute your love to them all. They will wilt and wither without you.

      Like

  28. Tushara Panicker says:

    Some stories linger in our lives like the wafting scent of garlic frying in hot oil. They are always around, like a looming shadow; hard to rid ourselveSome stories linger in our lives like the wafting scent of garlic frying in hot oil. They are always around, like a looming shadow; hard to rid ourselves of, hard to ignore. Perhaps that is why they are told and retold: the ghost of a past we barely comprehend. This is mythology. For an Indian, mythology is something you live with, much like the genetic tendency for a crooked nose. They fascinate you during your childhood, as you languidly listen to your grandmother speak about monkey men and supernatural beings, head on her lap, eyes heavy with anticipation of an afternoon nap.
    Later, they seem to lose their magical quality. The sparkle and glamour give way to the nagging reasoning that the stories couldn’t have happened, they couldn’t possibly have anything to teach you. Besides, the single lesson the stories tell you steadfastly is that life is unfair and that the Gods will always be biased toward people they prefer for no logical reason except that these members of society pray to them and feed their egos. (Think: Vishnu stealing nectar from the Asuras, for the Devas to drink, despite the fact that the Asuras had equal rights to the same!)
    Or maybe this is just a derivative of my teenage scepticism that has no basis except that the conclusion would be rebellious and defiant.
    However, the one mythological character I always find intriguing, irrespective of my wilful balkiness, is Ravana. The typical archetype of the tyrannical King, he imposed his dominance over all beings, arrogance and ambition permeating through every action. Before you judge me to be living my innermost sadistic fantasies through the might of his character, I must bring your attention to who Ravana actually represents. Ravana is every man who wants to dominate his family and have his way. Ravana is every woman who has the arrogant ambition to grapple at higher positions. Ravana is every teenager who is hot-blooded enough to make regrettable choices. Ravana is every person who ever desired for more.
    In other words, Ravana is a human being….
    He is not an ideal King or a even an ideal human being. He is simply an ordinary man who made mistakes, took decisions rashly, regretted nothing, and moved forward anyway. The ten headed demon King who made even the mightiest warriors tremble, the irrational King who fought a losing battle with the utmost faith that some ray of fortitude would come his way and make everything okay. Isn’t that what we do everyday? We build everything around us from scratch-our perceptions about the world, our lives, our personalities- just like Ravana built his kingdom.
    We fight to keep our world under our compliant control, telling ourselves and the world around us that we are as important and strong as we would like everyone to believe. We make choices hastily, without reason or logic, going with the tide of our emotions. It is said that Ravana sometimes punished harshly and at other times, forgave swiftly. Nobody could predict which way he would go. He behaved in randomness and chaos, just like we do.
    Ravana ended up on the losing side of the battle. Yet, I know he lived fully and well, like a man. He felt sorrow, hatred, anger, jealousy, euphoria and pleasure. He relished his every emotion and held nothing back. He was always himself, never being prudent as to hide his ill qualities behind the mask of diplomacy and ideal kingship. He rose and fell; undulating and scattered. There is a benign beauty in such a life of chaotic freedom. There is beauty in being alive, expressing every thought mightily, regretting nothing because every mistake creates the amalgam you are! There is beauty, much beauty….

    Like

    • Hi Tushara,

      I liked the introduction to your piece, where you wonder about mythology and what they teach us. Indeed, our whole religion is contingent on the belief that a certain sect of people know the language of the Gods and they speak to them on our behalf. We revere them as Gods on Earth, and they occupy the most prominent position in our social structure. The epics, the Vedas, the Upanishads, and just about every ancient text of our culture is written by this group of people who claim to know the divine tongue.

      There’s no reason for us to believe them, yet we do.

      Now, coming to Ravana, I take your point that he lived freely and well, but in abducting another king’s wife without first defeating him in battle, he was breaking the social and legal rules of his day. The modern equivalent would be a robber. While a robber can also be a free, emotional man, his act of robbery is illegal in a society which believes in private property, and therefore he must be punished. So Ravana is punished for this one act only. Otherwise, even the Ramayana celebrates him as a great man.

      Thanks for a thought-provoking comment.

      Like

  29. Sumeet Bhalla says:

    I roared as i saw everyone below scattering in all four directions. I could watch them confused and dazed on not being able to locate the source of the roar. They held their spears up as if they would protect them. Down came this huge silhouette from the sky. His roars shook their spines. His wings could create twisters. There was an aura of silence in the air as everyone gazed at me, the magnificent Griffin.
    If i could be any mythological character i would want to be a griffin. It combines ferocious power of a mighty lion with wind like agility of an eagle. Creatures don’t get better than that. A griffin was the complete [package when it came to raining down destruction on the enemy. No one would expect something so magnificent and powerful to swoosh down from the sky.
    A griffin is the perfect combination of power and speed, my favorite kind of combination. The feeling of knowing that there is nothing on the ground or the sky mightier than you is a feeling can cannot be described in words. being the king of the Jungle and the Air is the perfect combination.
    Not just that. Griffins had the greatest job in the world, to protect treasures and priceless possessions. He must have been a thief’s worst nightmare.
    Having great lifestyle, Gods as friends and the best job in the world, i would not mind trading my boring life with a griffin.

    Like

    • I didn’t know much about Griffins before I read this comment, Sumeet, but after reading the Wikipedia entry on them, I must say I like them too. But I would think twice on your confidence that there is nothing on the ground or the sky mightier than you. If you want to be the member of the mightiest species in the animal world, being human is the best bet.

      But for one day, yes, I wouldn’t mind trading my life with that of a griffin. Provided I am given the assurance that I won’t be killed when in flight.

      Like

  30. In my defence I can say that I am mild mannered and entirely incapable of violence. Anyone who has been part of my obscure past could vouch for that.

    ‘It wasn’t me,’ I sobbed. ‘It was Him.’

    The story of the’Him’ happened on a day at a museum.
    ‘This is Loki.’ The guide said. ‘The trickster God. The one who loves chaos. Chaos actually initiates the beginning of a new order. It’s only in times of distress that heroes are born. If everything was in status quo, words like bravery or courage will never be required. It’s the villain who brings out the hero in us.
    ‘Moreover an inscription says that this particular image of Loki when in possession of a man bestows on him a great power, which can push the world into a new age.’

    I was captivated. And with that followed the botched robbery. I told everyone that it wasn’t me but the Loki in me who did it. Only the guide was sympathetic.

    Later at tea the curator spoke with the guide.
    ‘So many break-ins and all for that image of wood! It’s not even half as valuable as our other pieces and yet it’s the most heavily guarded. It is bewildering.’
    The guide nodded.
    ‘It’s surprising how a small trick like a fictious story of a legend can do to unleash chaos in a man.’
    ‘A trick?’
    ‘Yes. Just a small trick.’ The guide said spreading his lips out in a wicked grin.

    Like

    • Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for the comment. I think it’s generally those of us who are most mild-mannered and incapable of violence that find it captivating. I didn’t quite understand the story itself (for instance, the significance of the exchange between the curator and the guide at the end), but I liked the small passage in the middle which talks about the necessity of chaos.

      Like

  31. Being the son of Dharma, Yudhistira was genetically endowed to do the right thing always. This urge always forced him into conflicts and he always chose the path which he felt was favorable to Dharma, in-spite of it being mired in difficulty. Yudhistira transforms during the epic from an idealist to a pragmatic person.
    Probably, he can be termed as the decision maker of Mahabharata epic which finally led to the destructive war. He chose to play the game of Dice not once but twice to uphold what he felt was right (Refusing to play Dice when invited by father or elder was against Dharma), He had two tremendous warriors at his disposal in the form of Bhima and Arjuna but still shows restraint trying to follow what he felt was Dharma. The lofty ideals finally takes a step down when the war begins, he gives a free hand to Krishna resulting in decimation of Bhishma, Drona, Karna and Duryodhana through unfair means (Krishna had a broader picture about Dharma) . He had finally realized that sticking to ideals was not going to win him the war. If he had shown the same pragmatism earlier by refusing to play the game of Dice the whole clan might have survived, Duryodhana wouldn’t have dared to attack a powerful Pandava kingdom and would have sulked away into oblivion.
    Yudhistira’s character shows how ambition and ideals don’t go hand in hand and to succeed materialistically some pragmatism is needed.

    Like

    • The change of Yudhisthir from an idealist to a pragmatist is the overarching theme of the Mahabharat if we put the war to one side. The main theme of the story is man’s quest for this abstract concept called ‘Dharma’, and Yudhisthir’s journey depicts this better than everyone else’s. Thanks, Mithun.

      Like

  32. There are lot of characters from Indian mythology I could think of but only one character I want to be: Ram.
    I know it’s too mainstream selection but after reading the cause behind it you could relate.
    Ram was the first son of Ayodhya King Dashrath who has three queens. He was the son of the first queen Kaushalya. He completed his education and skill learning from Rishi Vashishtha. He was fine till he got married. After getting married, situation became so drastic for him that he had to live with many conflicts and struggles through out of his whole life:

    1. 14 years of Vanvas: When Kaikeyi the Dashrath’s second wife asked for 14 year exile out of jealousy. Ram accepted it after rejecting the Ayodhya’s throne just to keep the promise made by his father to his step mother. He was being an ideal son. Sure it was unfair for him but the real unfairness he had to impose on his mother ‘Kaushalya’. This was the first conflict he had gone through.

    2. During his Vanvas, He lost his wife as Raavan kidnapped her for seeking revenge on Laxman’s barbarism on Surpnakha.

    3. In order to help Sugreev to save him from his big brother Bali’s atrocity, he had taken an immoral way to kill him. As Bali was out of control in his power and someone had to take him down, so, Ram did it. The conflict was whether whether he should have chosen fair way to beat him or impious way what he ultimately chose.

    4. After defeating Raavan, when he returned to his kingdom, few rumours were raised about his wife Sita’s Character. So, as a King of Ayodhya, to keep the Kingdom’s dignity he fulfilled the demand of people of Ayodhya by asking Sita to walk over the fire. Sita was disheartened by this decision. He gave the ‘Agnipareeksha’ but couldn’t forgive Ram and left Ayodhya. Yes, if we look from Sita’s point of view, Ram took a very harsh and juvenile decision. But if we look from Ram point of view, he was helpless to decide whether to go in favour of Sita, who actually dedicated her whole life to Ram and left everything for him or to go in favour of people, among which he had to save his dignity. Also after this, he had gone through a painful severance for many years. No doubt, even Sita had gone through the worst period of her life.

    5. When he found Sita again but She sought final refuge in the arms of her mother Bhumi after the acceptance of her sons by Ram.

    I want to live Ram’s life so that I could understand the choice he made in his whole life, those decisions were actually best for the situation or he had some better choices to keep his idealism.

    Like

    • As you say, Shivesh, this is a bit of a mainstream pick. If you were to live Ram’s life all over again, would you make the same choices he did, or would you have made choices in keeping with your character? For instance, would you in the first instance allow yourself to be exiled based on your father’s word?

      Sometimes we focus solely on the ignoble deeds of heroes and forget that the same people performed acts of nobility that are beyond many of us. So a thought experiment, I think, should include both. What do you think?

      Like

  33. abhi1one says:

    Dragon of earth
    Silent and unhurried

    Honnining tools
    To build something worthy

    Beware of his movement
    He is not yet asleep.

    Like

  34. abhi1one says:

    Firey phoenix
    Living the life

    Burning through changes
    Flying through life

    Building from ashes
    Renewing the life

    Death is but a part
    Of the cycle of life

    Like

  35. Chaitanya Krishna Pippalla says:

    My heart smiles –
    When I paint you at heart,
    When I feel you at thought,
    When I dream of your poster in full or part.

    Every word of yours –
    Depicts sanctity at heart,
    Clarity at thought,
    Respect for the sought,
    Glorify teachings of the taught.

    My Heart Astonishes –
    At War, when I see his ferocity,
    At Far, when I see glory,
    Bravery, At Par with Almighty.

    Maharshi Valmiki –
    Manuscripted your story,
    Your children chanted your glory,
    Enchanted your bravery.

    Rama!.. Raghunandana!.. Dasarathy!.. My Salutations to you. Thank you for showing me and to the entire world how to be a righteous king, ideal husband, loving son, ferocious warrior, sincere friend and favorite student. You have taught us, not by words, but by actions the art of following dharma even in the toughest times.
    Always, I had a feeling of “Why Me?” and used to get angry on my father and literally used to say that “I hate to live” even for the smallest of the smallest problems, which are actually miniscules when compared to hardships you ever faced. When I was taken through your journey – Ramayana from one of my teacher, I felt ashamed of myself, cried alone for misbehaving with my wife and parents, I understood that in today’s world Rama and Ravana are in the same physical body. It is the heart that elevates us to become close to Rama.

    Jai Sri Ram.

    Like

    • Nice idea that Rama and Ravana often exist together within the same person. I am happy to know that the story of Rama has inspired you to turn a new leaf in your life. Thanks for leaving a comment, Chaitanya.

      Like

  36. The darkness of the forest,the echoing silence – punctuated by the distant screech of wild animals…Nothing could shake her…nothing could move her…
    The agony, humiliation and anger had numbed her senses..The purpose was clear…Vengeance was the goal…
    She gathered the dry leaves around her..with a prayer on her lips…and immolated herself…
    Amba – the princess of Kashi….killed herself…to be reborn as Shikhandi…to avenge Bheeshma

    Amba was in love with the King of Salwa…

    But destiny had other plans…was it Destiny — or was it Bheeshma.

    Bheeshma came unannounced to the swayamvar and abducted the three sisters….
    Salva chased Bheeshma..only to be defeated and humiliated..

    Her sisters accepted their fate and married the incumbent prince.But Amba protested

    Impressed with her courage ..Bheeshma set her free …..Amba went to Salwa, who rejected her as he had lost her in the battle.Was it the Kshatriya Dharma or his ego?

    A furious Amba returned to Bheeshma to accept her.He refused due to his ‘oath of celibacy’

    Amba was a victim of Bheeshma’s dedication to his oath and Salwa’s ego…

    Amba is unique because she never stopped fighting against the system for her rights.With her determination equalling Bheeshma himself..she got the blessings of Lord Shiva to be the reason for Bheeshma’s death in her next birth……

    In my view — Amba comes across as a Strong emancipated woman…who braved the norms of the society..the might and power of Bheeshma…and fought a lonely battle for her rights and her dignity..

    Like

    • I liked this very much, Vibha, not least because I wrote extensively about Amba when I was working on the second book of the Hastinapur series. I also think that Amba is an excellent role model for the modern woman, because she is the sole character in the whole story who ‘makes it’ pretty much on her own. Bhishma, Shalva, Parashurama and Drupad; all four men in her life fail her, and yet she somehow claws her way towards he goal, alone but defiant.

      I’m glad you wrote about her. Thank you 🙂

      Like

  37. It is not an invalid contention to say that what mythological character I would be will depend on when you ask me about it. For example, this very afternoon, I was feeling rather favourable towards Shiva. But right now, I’m more inclined to be Heimdall. Or Heimdallr, as the Norse would say it, though I never like how nearly it rhymes with dollar.

    It’s difficult to rank the incentives my position at the Himinbjörg would offer me. The view from atop the divine rainbow, Bifrost, the gateway to Asgard, would be tempting enough, were it not to be coupled with the luxury of clearing my lungs into the Gjallarhorn now and then. Add to all that the blissful hours spent watching the edgier of the Aesir freak out on hearing my lilting crescendo and concluding that the Ragnarök is here, and you have just described my dream job. And I haven’t even begun on my Spiderman-like senses and the pampering I will receive from my nine mothers.

    There are drawbacks, of course. Creating the races, for example, paying diligent attention to all the bothersome details, when I seldom have enough patience to fill a bottle at the aquaguard. Or the shady business of my hljóð being hidden under the life-tree Yggdrasil. Not to mention the detestable company of the ever-prowling Loki. But hey, I am a son of the mighty Odin. I can live with that.

    Like

    • This is excellent, Ritam. I know a little of Norse mythology thanks to this video game I play quite regularly (The Age of Mythology – check it out when you have time. Best game ever!) so I could relate to many of the images you refer to in your comment. I especially liked the turn of phrase in this sentence: ‘Add to all that the blissful hours spent watching the edgier of the Aesir freak out on hearing my lilting crescendo and concluding that the Ragnarok is here.’

      Very nice 🙂

      Like

  38. There have been grays in most of the characters in the iconic epic of ‘Mahabharata’, however, among all, Krishna is the only one who cannot be determined as the good or the evil one. Rather he has been ranked as above all.
    Krishna plays a vital role in Hindu mythology. His assertion as ‘Swayam Bhagwan’ has not only influenced the religion and philosophy, but also the literature and heritage of our country.

    Krishna, one of the most powerful incarnations of Lord Vishnu, was very much in the battlefield but at the same time out of the war. He appears in ‘Mahabharata’ successively as guru, strategist, philosopher and others, though I personally find his role as ‘Sakha’ (the friend) the best.

    Krishna considered Draupadi as ‘Sakhi’ and sister. When she was humiliated in the court of Kauravas, she berated her husbands for their cowardice and seeks help from Lord Krishna, who braces her with infinite folds of sari. During Pandavas exile, he answers Draupadi’s prayers when she had no food left to serve Muni Durvasa and his disciples. Krishna ate the one grain of rice left in the bowl and the saints feel no more hunger & left peacefully.

    Besides the profound effect what Krishna had on the war of Mahabharata and its consequences, he was an unfeigned friend to the Pandavas.

    Like

    • Hi Parul,

      Nice to see you participating here. Krishna is everything to everyone in the Mahabharata, and perhaps as the only incarnation with the knowledge of who he is, it’s no wonder that he manages to do what he does. Reading the Mahabharata on its own, though, a different Krishna emerges, free from later Bhakti interpolations. This Krishna is nothing more than the brother of the king of Dwaraka, Balarama, who is out to procure for himself the title of the Vasudeva. In this light, all his actions take on a slightly greyer hue.

      You may want to read a recent series of books by Krishna Udaysankar called ‘The Aryavarta Chronicles’. While the writing is a little clunky in places, the character of Krishna has been drawn purely as an ambitious – albeit charming – man. I think you will enjoy it.

      Like

  39. Palash Nandi says:

    Death is so sweet. I wonder why it make people afraid. Even the strong and wise and intelligent quiver and lose their composure when pressed against the calm silent face of death.

    Perhaps I will finally have been absolved of my sins. Sins of gratitude to my friend and brother. My poor deluded brother, Duryodhana. The only man among kings who had the courage to stand up against the demeaning eyes of his elders and the scorning scoffs of his enemies and give me the opportunity to live with my head held high, to be able to do justice to the divine knowledge of my guru Parasurama.

    I hope he wins this wretched war and lives on. He has been more of a brother to me than my own. He has been more of a family to me than my own mother, who will not call me her son, but can beg me to die for her other sons. Perhaps this is all for the best. What use is it to live on, in the coming time when all rules and customs of good men have been tossed around. Not just Men, even the best and the strongest among men live for lust of glory , pride , wealth and pleasure. They burn with Jealousy and scorn at the capable. Fight deceit with deceit is the way of man now.

    But if such is the case, who remain be truthful or noble among the living.I am afraid even the victorious will be shamed on this Field. I know it is Krishna who pushed my little brother to attack me. But is he not also a father who saw his son butchered unjustly by the so called greats of the Kauravas. But then even I have lost my dear sons. There cannot be any blame, but only regret, perhaps not even that.

    [somewhere in the heavens]

    Indra : My dear Surya, you rise up and force the world to wake up. Your heat, kills countless and your light gives life to all. Yet your son is defeated in battle by the son of this humble king of the gods.

    Surya : You are always proud My king. This I cannot argue, but it is easy for anyone to see that even when the Fate of the world is in the palms of vishnu, my son is not only brave and strong but also humble and generous, two saintly qualities which are sometimes even lacking in the gods and their kings. He may have been raised by an ordinary charotier, but was it not you
    whom he donated his kavach and kundal out of generosity. A man donating to the gods, it was truely amusing.

    Indra : Mind your tongue, it was a test after all. As for qualities you mention, I am a King, and I behave as such. But if you make that claim on your son, let us test him for his true worth. When he has forgotten his guru’s teachings and has tasted his own blood, let us see if he still remembers the taste of his so-called generosity.

    Surya : If you insist. Let him prove it once again to the world while he still breathes. But this time, I will accompany you and see for myself too.

    [both gods appear as brahmins in front of the dying karna]

    Surya : Great Karna, Famous King of Anga, we are poor brahmins who have heard tales of your immense generosity. Hence we have come here amid this battle to meet you and experience your generosity with our own eyes.

    Indra : Give us something , oh great king. Show us your kindness. We are poor and will die, without your patronage.

    Karna ( bleeding and weak ) : I am blessed that I have an opportunity to give to respected brahmins. Truely, the giver is so much more blessed than the receiver, however I donot have anything now. I merely hang on to my weak life force, which I will also soon give away.

    Indra : But you are a King. Kings have always had items of wealth and virtue. Your chains of gold and gems, your rings of diamonds, do you not posses anything of value now, or has your kindness shrunk and you wish to send us away in your time of misfortune.

    Surya : Leave it be, Great king, If you donot posses those ornaments. Who would wear those in the midst of war. Let us leave you at peace in your last moments.

    Karna( feeble and delirious due to the loss of blood) : Wait.. Oh learned and respected brahmins. I am a khastriya and I donot take my virtues lightly. A man who has lost everything can also give.

    Karna, picks up a stone and smashes it against his jaw to the horror of these two brahmins. As blood oozes out of his disfigured royal face, he pulls something out of his mouth and hands it over to the brahmins.

    Karna ( weak smile ) : Truely blessed am I that I can uphold my virtue even now as the world around me drowns into chaos. Please accept this gold from my body. They have served their purpose long enough and I will not be needing them any more.

    Karna becomes unconscious and his fingers open up revealing amid the mix of blood and saliva , a few golden teeth shining brightly at the two humbled gods.

    Indra : I have nothing more to say Surya. Truely , your son was a King like no other. Last time I offered him the Vasavi shakti with which he felled ghatotkacha. But now, I donot posses anything that can compare even close to the value of those few pieces of golden teeth. Karna truely is a great man.

    Surya : I too am humbled my King.

    [both brahmins disappear and ascend the heavens and more blood, death and chaos spills all over the battle field. Krishna smiles on.]

    Note to Sharath: I think i butchered the 250 word limit in a very cruel way. Some one once told me when I start talking , I cannot stop. Eligible or not, I could not stop writing as it came to me. Do let me know if you enjoyed reading this.

    Like

    • Hi Palash,

      Thanks for sharing this. I was looking for this little story in the many comments about Karna that this post received, and I was glad to find it here. More than that, I enjoyed the four paragraphs at the beginning where you tell us about Karna’s final thoughts. The realization that an epoch is coming to an end, and that in the new age there may not be room enough for his like, is striking. I loved this line: There cannot be any blame, only regret, perhaps not even that.

      That holds true for all wars through the ages. Even today when we look back at how World War 1 started, it’s amazing how so many lives were lost for such silly reasons. War is always silly in hindsight.

      Like

      • Palash Nandi says:

        🙂 Thanks…. I was following this post for the last hour or so and I realized, you were actually going through each and every post and reply. Great Dedication Bro… I am glad you liked it, I really enjoyed writing this piece.

        Like

  40. Priya Annadur Gomatam says:

    Kannagi of Madurai for me!!
    The grit and determination shown by this woman and how she took revenge on Pandiyan King – Cheliyan who beheads her husband for a crime that he did not commit.

    When the king learns his mistake and realizes his fault for having failed to deliver justice , he ends his own life. Having lost her husband in a deceitful manner, Kannagi then utters a curse that entire city of Madurai be burnt. Lo!! The whole of Madurai city is engulfed in flames. Then with the divine intervention of Goddess Meenakshi , Kannaga softens her stand.

    Even today, Kannagi is considered an epitome of chastity and worshiped as a goddess

    Priya

    Like

    • Hi Priya,

      Thanks for the comment. You’re a bit too late to enter the contest, but the story of Kannagi sounds very interesting.

      Why don’t you write something for our second contest? That is live now.

      Welcome to the blog 🙂

      Like

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