While I was at ConDor, a sf and fantasy convention last weekend, I realized that many people who read this journal, particularly the manga and anime fans but also the fans of fantasy novels and genre TV shows, would be very interested in reading the great Indian epic, The Mahabharata
, if they realized that it contained many scenes of half-naked sweaty men embracing each other while weeping and vowing eternal devotion.
And many more extremely fan-friendly elements! To list only a few more:
Thrilling battle sequences with elephants and chariot duels and warriors hurling magical weapons at each other— all very poignant and heartbreaking because it isn’t good guy vs. bad guy, but literally brother against brother.
The marriage of one woman to five brothers. When someone protests that this is immoral, someone else retorts that multiple husbands is every woman’s dream.
A kingdom lost in a game of dice.
A forced stripping thwarted by God, who makes Draupadi's sari go on forever.
Gods, demons, demi-Gods, assorted supernatural beings, immortals, and totally random vengeful talking snakes.
You can read the beginning of Ramesh Menon's adaptation here.
Note that, like an LJ, you start at the bottom of the page and proceed upward. Some chapters are split over several pages. yhlee
, there is math on the first page! Everyone else, there is masturbation on the second page!
But, to get back to the manly warriors embracing each other and weeping, here is a brief excerpt from Kamala Subramaniam’s adaptation. (I'm using hers because I have it and Menon's doesn't go that far online.) Here is the context:
As far as anyone knows at this point including himself, Radheya is a lowly charioteer’s son. Actually, he is the son of the Sun God and a mortal princess, and was born with earrings and organic armor— a golden breastplate which is part of his body and makes him invulnerable. But because his mother bore him while she was still unmarried, she floated him down the river in a basket, and never mentioned his existence to anyone. She then married a king and had five sons, the Pandavas, the oldest of whom will inherit the throne. Except he’s not really the oldest, Radheya is.
The Pandavas are generally considered the heroes of the story and Duryodhana, who is the Pandavas' rival contender for the throne, to be the villain, but some readers feel that this is debatable. Here's a lovely post which touches upon the matter.
But, returning to Radheya at the tournament, up till now, everyone has snubbed him, and the only way he could get any warrior training was to lie about his heritage, and the only person who has ever loved him is his adopted mother, the charioteer’s wife.
He came to compete in a tournament, but was disqualified because he wasn’t royalty even though he was obviously equal to or better than anyone else competing. Duryodhana is a crown prince, also there to fight in the tournament, who is meeting Radheya for the first time. In order to let Radheya compete, Duryodhana gives him a small kingdom on the spot…
[Excerpt begins here]
Radheya’s eyes were raining tears. His voice was choked with emotion. He said, “My lord, I do not know how I am to thank you for this great honor you have conferred on me. I do not think I deserve it. How can I repay you? How can I show my gratitude?”
The noble Duryodhana smiled and said, “Young man, whoever you may be, your noble qualities deserve not only this small kingdom of Anga but much more. You seem to be fit to rule this entire world. As for us, we do not want anything in return for this small service of ours. I want your love. I want your friendship. Duryodhana wants your heart.”
Radheya smiled through his tears and said, “My heart! That, my lord, you have already annexed.”
Duryodhana approached him. With his body drenched with the holy coronation bath, and his eyes wet with the even more holy tears of gratitude and love, Radheya approached the noble Duryodhana. The two friends embraced each other. The moving scene touched the hearts of all.
There are many, many scenes like that, involving those two and also many other characters. But since I’ve already introduced them, I will stay with them and jump ahead to a scene which occurs much later, on the eve of a great battle. This takes place in Duryodhana’s tent. ( If you want to stay unspoiled for total heartbreak of the last part of the story, don't click here, but if you're not sure you want to read the story, please click, because this just might convince you that you do )
Radheya smiled a very sweet smile, and Duryodhana embraced him with affection. It was the last night they were to spend together. […] Duryodhana said, “Go and rest in peace. You have a difficult day ahead of you.”
Radheya lingered outside of the tent. His heart was there. At the entrance of the tent he stood and looked back at Duryodhana, who was also looking at the retreating back of his beloved Radheya. Radheya rushed back and embraced Duryodhana once again. Duryodhana was touched by the affection of his friend. They shed tears together and then they parted.
I rest my case.
The group for reading and discussion is reading_maha
. We are all reading at different paces and from different versions and adaptations, not to mention different views on and experience with the text, so feel free to jump in with anything at any time.