Sunday, May 30, 2010

Panorama Kurukshetra

The Panorama is one among the places of interest relating to the Mahabharata in the city of Kurukshetra. This is a large 360 degree panorama that depicts ten scenes from the Mahabharata. You climb up the stairs to the second floor of the building, where the panorma is spread over a couple of hundred feet, and is over ten feet tall. You can start at any point and traversing the panorama in either direction will get you to where started from.

This is what you see as you climb upto the floor where the panorama is situated. An otherwise dark room, only the scenes from the Mahabharata are lighted. It makes sense to start from the first day of the way, so you can follow the scenes in a chronological manner.

This is the panorama that depicts Lord Krishna, Arjuna's charioteer, who has got off from his chariot, Sudarshana Chakra in hand and ready to be dispatched to kill Bheeshma. Lord Krishna wants to remind Arjuna of his promise to do his duty, his karma and dharma, and fight in the war. Arjuna was swayed by his love for his grandsire, Bheeshma. Lord Krishna had promised not to take up arms, so this act of the Lord to take up arms would have meant a lot to Arjuna. That Narayana had to break his promise on account of Arjuna's vacillation. This then was a pretty big deal. What we have here is Arjuna beseeching Lord Krishna to stop. Arujuna promises to fight with all his strength and vigour. Bheeshma is standing with his hands folded, ready to receive death at the hands of the Lord.

The tenth day of the war. Bheeshma lies on a bed of arrows, the literal reflecting the metaphorical. Arjuna kneels by the grandsire's deathbed. While Bheeshma was the commander of the Kaurava army the war was fought by the rules laid down and agreed upon by both sides. While he was alive the rules of war were not broken. His fall in the war also saw the fall of righteous conduct in the war. It started with the death of Abhimanyu, and culminated in the murder of the Pandava's sons on the night of the eighteenth day of the war. There is the story of Pareekshit too that is so much an integral part of the Mahabharata...

This section of the panorama below depicts the episode where Bhagadatta (Wikipedia) shot a lethal weapon at Arjuna, only to have it be intercepted by Lord Krishna. The weapon turned into a garland upon hitting Lord Krishna, thus saving Arjuna from certain death.

One of the most villainous characters in the Mahabharata has to be Jayadratha. Almost every negative character in the epic has some trait or redeeming value in him. Duryodhana had envy. Dhritarashtra was blinded by love for his son and the throne. Shakuni was seeking to avenge a perceived insult to his Gandhara kingdom. Karna was a tragic figure caught between his duty and loyalty to Duryodhana and the need to do the right thing.
Not Jayadratha. Perhaps the single most villainous character in the epic.
He was the brother-in-law of Duryodhana, and had carried off Draupadi from the jungle where she was spending the 12 years of the Pandava's exile. He was captured by Arjuna and Bheema, only to have Yudhishtra spare the villain's life. But what Jayadratha is most famously remembered for is his pivotal role in the death of Abhimanyu, Arjuna's son. Jayadratha, the recipient of a boon that made him invincible on the battlefield, for one day, to all enemies save Arjuna, stood at the entrance of the chaktravyuha, a battlefield formation devised by Drona. The chakravyuha could be breached only by Arjuna and Abhimanyu. Arjuna was drawn away from the scene of battle by other warriors, leaving Abhimanyu to breach the chakravyuha formation. However, before the other Pandavas could enter the formation, Jayadratha stood at the entrance and prevented them from entering in to help Abhimanyu. The boon had him unconquerable on that day.
So, while the seven warriors from the Kaurava army, who so gallantly attacked and killed an unarmed and wounded Abhimanyu, were guilty of cowardice, the one held centrally responsible for Abhimanyu's death was Jayadratha.
Jayadratha Vadha
Karna possessed a weapon that could kill Arjuna, his mortal enemy, and also his younger brother. However, Karna had to use that weapon to kill Ghatotakacha, the rakshasa son of Bheema. Ghatotakacha had been rampaging through the Kaurava army, and threatened to end the war with his deeds. Karna was very reluctant to use the Shakti on anyone except Arjuna, since it could be used only once, and having been used, would return to Indra.

Among the final acts in the Mahabharata was the death of Duryodhana. Bheema fulfilled the terrible oath he had taken 13 years before in the court of the blind king Dhritarashtra, of breaking Duryodhana's thighs in battle. This scene depicts that, with the Pandavas and Lord Krishna and other people watching this duel between the two warriors.

Some more photos from the Panorama:

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See my earlier posts on Kurukshetra:

© 2010, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.