Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mahabharata Ch 54-56, Adi Parva, Adi-vamshavatarana Parva

[Ch 51-53 « Ch 54-56  » Ch 57-58]

This parva tells the story of the "partial incarnations" (from "vansha" and "avatarana") of the characters in the Mahabharata.
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Adi-vamshavatarana; Chapter:54; Shlokas:24
Upon hearing of Janamejaya's presence at the snake sacrifice, Krishna Dvaipayana, the son of the virgin Kali and Shakti's son Parashara, went there. Krishna Dvaipayana, once born, mastered the Vedas, Vedangas, and Itihasa, and was the first to divide the one Veda into four parts.
When he entered the sacrificial arena, Janamejaya offered a golden seat to Vyasa and paid him his respects. After that Janaejaya asked Krishna Dvaipayana to narrate the story of the Kurus and the Pandavas, the reason behind their quarrel, and the great war. Krishna Dvaipayana asked his disciple, Vaishampayana, to "relate in full, exactly as you had heard it from me, the account of the ancient quarrel between the Kurus and the Pandavas."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

4 stars

One-line review: Ghastly ghosts and a Good Old Western Shootout

Review: (minor spoilers)
One of the most anticipated sequels in recent times, Stephen King's "Doctor Sleep", a sequel to "The Shining" thirty years in the making, is one good yarn - better if read on its own merits. If compared with the iconic "The Shining", it will fall short. This one does not match the sheer claustrophobic terror of the original.
"I ain't got any relatives. Unless you count the ex, and if I was on fire she wouldn't piss on me to put me out” 
Dan Torrance, the boy with the double-edged gift of the "shining" - that allowed him to look into people's minds as well as into the future, though somewhat hazily, had escaped from the Overlook Hotel with his mother, and with help from the Overlook's chef, Dick (Richard) Hallorann.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

4 stars

One-line review: Girl gone, be gone, bygones be bygones?
Review (minor spoilers): Amy goes missing on her fifth marriage anniversary, and as the police start investigating, suspicion begins to zero in on her husband, Nick. There are signs of a struggle in their house, overturned furniture that looks like it was overturned after the fact, broken glass, and later the police even find evidence of a sloppily cleaned-up blood stain in the house. Nick lies to the police, one lie after another, to cover up for the fact that his marriage with Amy had been on the rocks for some time. Things get worse when Nick's sister, Go (Margo), finds that he has also been having an affair with one of his students for over a year. Amy had, it seems, made one last attempt to resuscitate their marriage by leaving several clues in the form of letters, like she used to do, on the eve of their marriage anniversary. Nick figures these clues out, one after the other, but they bring him or the police no closer to cracking the case. Circumstantial evidence mounts and the rising evidence of a motive all point to Nick. Then there is the huge life insurance policy that would accrue to Nick in the event of Amy's death.

Mahabharata Ch 51-53, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 41-50 « Ch 51-53  » Ch 54-56]
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:51; Shlokas:23
Janamejaya was impressed with Astika, who, while still a child, spoke "like a wise old man", and wanted to grant him a boon. The sadasyas agreed with the king, "but not before Takshaka" had been consigned to the sacrificial fire. Janamejaya asked the hotar to speed up the sacrifice so that Takshaka came there without delay. The ritvijas informed Janamejaya that the shastras had revealed, and the fire confirmed it, that Takshaka had taken refuge in Indra's palace. Suta Lohitaksha informed Janamejaya that Takshaka was was protected by Indra and that the fire would not be able to harm him. An angry Janamejaya asked the priests to continue with their sacrifice. Soon enough, Indra himself arrived, with Takshaka hidden in his garments. Janamejaya told his priests to hurl Takshaka along with Indra himself if Takshaka was hiding in Indra's palace. Soon, Takshaka's "terrible roars and fearful cries" could be heard, and the priests informed the king that Takshaka had been abandoned by Indra, his body "disabled through our mantras", and that it was now "proper for you to grant a boon to this best of Brahmanas." Janamejaya agreed.

Mahabharata Ch 41-50, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 36-40 « Ch 41-50  » Ch 51-60]
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:41; Shlokas:30
The story now returned to Jaratkaru. He had been constantly on the move, "having adopted the vow of sleeping at night wherever he happened to find himself in the evening." Thus one day he came upon his ancestors, in a cave, hanging upside down, "hanging on to a single thread of grass" and even "that single strand was being eaten away by a rat that lived in the cave." A distressed Jaratkaru asked these "wretched ones" who they were and if he could help them, by giving a quarter, a half, or even all his austerities. The ancestors replied that they were in this state because of austerities. They "were descending into this hell because of lack of offspring." They said that they were rishis named "yayavaras". The single strand that bound them and prevented them from falling headlong into the cave was the last one in their lineage, someone named Jaratkaru, but who "in his greed for austerities, ... had reduced us to this state."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mahabharata Ch 36-40, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 31,32,33,34,35 « Ch 36,37,38,39,40 » Ch 41,42,43,44,45]
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:36; Shlokas:26
Shounaka now wanted to know from Souti why Jaratkaru came to be famous, and what that name meant. Souti replied that "Jara" meant decay and "karu" meant gigantic. "The sage had a gigantic body, but he decayed it slowly through severe austerities." It was for the same reasons that Vasuki's sister also had the same name.
Even though Jaratkaru had promised his ancestors that he would take a wife, even as he placed severe conditions on that promise of his, he continued with his austerities, and "[E]ven in his thoughts, he showed no desire for a wife."