June 17, 2022
Namaste and Welcome to Week 4!
Our puranas, to me, are very special. Everything, from learning something as simple as to not disrespect our parents, to learning life-changing values. It has, quite literally, everything! But more importantly, it gives us a way of life. And everytime we look back at our puranas, we find something new to learn from it, to interpret something. Brilliant, isn’t it? And that brings me to this week's theme, Purana Perspectives.
Everyone in our puranas has a special story, a special message to convey. From the evilest to the greatest, everyone has something to give. But sometimes, it is not so obvious. Making us read in between the lines. Making us have to interpret.
This week, you can look forward to finding out some thought provoking interpretations of Draupadi’s life, our favourite Krishna and more!
Hope you enjoy reading!
Dance is the language I communicate in.
June 21, 2022
Krishna is the most intellectual yet childish, most complex yet the simplest of everyone in the Puranas. We have heard morals and anecdotes, lessons and poetry, narrations and translations. As explicit as those are, the implicit and personal understanding of Krishna can be as simple and complex as Krishna himself.
He who is worshipped as the eighth avatar of Vishnu, and the Lord of wonders, mischief, protection, compassion, tenderness, and love is none other than our beloved Krishna. In the Puranas, he is characterized as the most intellectual, loved, childish god ever to be. There are various things that one can learn from Krishna.
His leadership quality is something that I could spot as soon as I interpreted his character. He takes up leading his Bhaktas, followers, friends and everyone else when needed. For instance, in the Mahabharata war he was a great leader to the Pandavas and tactfully handled all situations by being beside them at tough times. Like a true leader, he included everyone, accepted everyone’s ideas without discriminating and thought about others’ comfort before doing anything.
Though he was the supreme power and a great God, he never lived majestically nor flaunted himself but rather was grounded to earth. He earned himself a very simple living without greed and desire for anything more. He grew up as a cowherd with his butter, flute and friends! He has always preached that “The Key to happiness lies in the reduction of desires”.
He had been a great teacher but had always been a student to all his gurus and the path of life he went through. Though he was a great preacher, for example; the life lessons he taught to Arjun through the Bhagavad Geeta, he still respected his lessons taught to him and he always remembered to follow what he preaches before conveying it to somebody else. What a great man he was, wasn’t he?
His calmness and cool attitude against the saddest of saddest situations is remarkable! From the time he had to leave Gokul, the place where he had resided during his childhood to seeing his clan getting disrupted, he had seen the worst but still managed to spread happiness throughout his life. Krishna, from being the sweet little mischievous boy to the supreme commander, he still is a huge inspiration to all of us and there are numerous things that can be learnt from him.
I hope we all will believe and remember that he is always inside our hearts and will guide us all through our tough times.
Krishna is a character in the Hindu scriptures and is depicted in all forms - from a baby to a teenage boy to an adult.
In Carnatic music and dance, the emotions are expressed accordingly. Certain characteristics of Krishna remain the same as he is mischievous and naughty, yet extremely mature.
As he grows old, he teaches us the concept of self realisation through the stories told in Mahabharata and Bhagvad Geeta!
It is the same Krishna, who is associated with the Sringara Rasa and shows us the different dimensions of romance.
From the little knowledge about Krishna that I have gained through Bharathanatyam, he is certainly a character who can give us insight for all types of situations.
Dhanya Mahalakshmi Murali
I consider dance a form of prayer that helps me connect to the almighty in a much easier way.
It serves as a vent to express my emotions, even my mood swings, through dance.
I love dancing as it gives me the freedom to express myself. I tend to be relaxed physically and mentally whenever I step onto the floor to dance and it allows me to exhibit my innermost feelings.
Dance brings out who I really am.
June 23, 2022
Draupadi, from the epic Mahabharatha, remains one of the most complex characters in our Puranas.
She carries with her a story of power, humiliation, tragedy, love, strength and vengeance.
King Drupad, bent on vengeance on Dronacharya, had conducted a yagna from which 2 children were born - the second being Draupadi. Draupadi emerges from the holy pyre at the bloom of her youth. She was extremely beautiful, intelligent and bold. Born of flames of vengeance, a celestial voice proclaims that "This unparalleled beauty has taken birth to uproot the Kauravas and establish the rule of dharma"- true to this appellation she burns with men's ill-treatment and she is also the reason of others burning on account of her reactions. The circumstances leading to her birth began to take shape while her father was still young.
Draupadi's exceptional beauty and intelligence becomes the cause of her misery. She is charmed by Arjuna, the winner of the archery contest, who wins her hand in marriage, but ends up living a life as wife of all five Pandavas because Kunti had asked them to share what Arjuna brought on winning. Her cruel fate divides her as a possession among five husbands and cuts up her personality, changing her emotions, attachments and lifestyle to suit each of her husbands.
There are a few women in Hindu mythology who were aggressive and spoke their mind in a world of men, and Draupadi is considered foremost among them. This is seen when she openly reprimands the elders for this cruelty, when she questions Yudhishthira’s actions of gambling her and questions the justice of the court. In her words, "where righteousness and justice do not exist, it ceases to be a court; it is a gang of robbers". Though being morally and legally correct, she ended up being humiliated.
Draupadi can be interpreted as a character who embraced her fate because of one sole reason. – the cosmic plan to restore dharma as the new yuga dawned. Born for vengeance and for destruction, she is a strong and resolute character and is presented as the primary cause of the battle of Kurukshetra. Her humiliation and resilience was rewarded by the destruction of the Kaurava clan and establishment of the rule of dharma.
It seems to me that hers was a life of much emptiness. Though she had five husbands, she had none. Though she had five sons - she was never a mother. Though she was married to the king of Bharathavarsha, she only had the empty status of a queen. Thus, Draupadi, a channel that the gods had chosen to destroy evil, burned so fiercely that, as the fire raged and destroyed much – it also blazed through her, consuming her emotions, dignity and well-being.
While the roll of the dice may have sparked the fire, the gods do not play dice. They know what they are doing.
I love dance because it allows me to craft beautiful and mindful moments with movements, music, and abhinaya, that make me feel free, spirited and upbeat.
Draupadi. If I were Draupadi. One of the toughest shoes to wear.
If I were Draupadi as a young girl, I would have had the dreams of soaring high. Conquering hearts and minds. Like any other strong-minded girl, I believe Draupadi would have envisioned herself a dignified and respectable life tailored with intellectual activities.
If I were Draupadi as the young lady ready to be betrothed, I would have had the dreams of a romantic and inspiring companionship. Some adventure and some solace. (Little would she have expected that her adventure would be to marry all five of the Pandavas).
If I were Draupadi, I would have been distraught when I realized my life and duties had to be split amongst five husbands. And despite her unusual situation, a situation that must have had her restless for days, she showed unmatchable integrity and dignity to stay by their side after she was humiliated in the Sabha due to the horrifying gamble made during the game of dice. She displayed unbelievable strength time and again without cowering in fear or dejection, when she was humiliated and harassed by multiple men - Duryodhana, Dushasana, Jayadratha, Kichaka.
If I were Draupadi during the battle of Kurukshetra, I would have channelled all my pain and fury into prayer for my husbands, and my family to win the fight. Was Draupadi aware that the fight was for Dharma, or was she consumed by her rage and deemed the fight to be her vengeance? Or was she aware of both and linked the cause and effect? But can we define the cause to be the Vastrapaharanam or was it the medium for the fight of Dharma to take effect?
And more so, was she truly conscious of the significance and the consequences of the epic battle that ensued? For if it were only her vengeance, her mind would not have settled down after the war. We often hear that a mind consumed by vengeance can never be satisfied. Was her consciousness in a realm beyond the human plane that understood the philosophy of the war even when she sought justice against those who wronged her?
If I were Draupadi, would I not have been happier with a life less turbulent? If I were Draupadi, could I have had more caution with my reactions? If I were Draupadi, weren’t my reactions an effect of my past experiences? If I were Draupadi, would all the words in our vocabulary be sufficient for me to jot down the emotions I felt through my life?
If I were Draupadi...
Research Intern, Computational Neuroscience
I love to dance. It's a way I breathe life into myself.
The stage, the dance floor, is my playground.
June 26, 2022
One can find characters in our Puranas analogous to the characters in stories of modern fantasy. Imagine a realm, a world, where these characters intermingled & interacted with each other, writing their own episodes.
Hindu mythology, Greek mythology, fantasies, fairy tales - all have wonderful characters which leave a strong impression in our minds. We think and imagine ourselves as a character from a story.
For instance, I really like the character ‘Alice’ from the Twilight series and I have always imagined how it would be to have visual powers like her or have a mental shield like Bella. When we read each kind of story from different genres and different origins, it is very natural to link and connect characters which have similar powers or similar behaviour. Bheema from Mahabharatha and Hulk from the Avengers both possess extreme superhuman strength and stamina; they could literally lift and move anything and everything. Vishvakarma and Hephaestus, both, were said to have extraordinary architectural skills. How cool it would be if they built a monument together! Both Zeus and Indra are the King of Gods / Devas. Both possess thunderbolt powers.
Like this many characters can be linked together.
Let's see how it would be if our Puranic characters and modern day fantasy characters come together in a story or a scenario.
During the dice game, the Kauravas were very cunning and used tricks to win the game in an unfair way which then led to an entire mishap and war. But how would it be if the Pandavas got a little help and won the game? So, when the Pandavas were called for the game, Yudishthira knew that the Kauravas would use tricks and so he decided to call Hermione, Harry, Ron and Luna Lovegood for the game. Since they were wizards and witches, they could use their magical spells to nullify those tricks done by the Kauravas. When they entered the Sabha, the Kauravas were surprised but they couldn’t tell anything, as it was the Pandavas' choice to bring anyone to the game. Soon the game began, and the Pandavas rolled the dice, following which Shakuni rolled the dice. But Shakuni had control over the numbers. When he thought of a number and decided to roll it, Hermione cast a spell secretly and nullified the trick. To Shakuni's surprise the dice didn’t roll as per his choice but a random number was displayed. As the game went on, Shakuni was surprised and even Duryodhana, as the dice rolled in a random way. No one knew that it was Hermione and Harry taking care of the game. Soon, Shakuni realised that it was the wizards who were taking control, but he couldn't complain as his tricks would come to light. The game ended and the Pandavas won the game. The Kauravas lost the game and their evil plans went in vain. The Pandavas returned happily to their abode, and the Kauravas were deeply disappointed. In return for the favour, Yudishthira promised to help Hermione, Harry, Ron and Luna anytime they were in need. They were also called for a great feast at Indraprastha and all four of them loved the food and desserts served. They were in awe of the sculpt work at the palace, and Ron helped to repair certain cracks and breaks in the mirrors by casting ‘Oculus Reparo’. They all had a great time and the Pandavas promised to visit Hogwarts with Draupadi.
On the whole, it was a happy ending for the Pandavas.
The Puranas are a source of Indian mythology, excluding our parents and grandparents. So, if I were to write a story for the Puranas, it would be about a normal person who got caught in the middle of a fight between the gods. The story will deal with the mishaps as the Gods meddle with the character’s life to prove that they are right. It will deal with the person's feelings as they get to know that everything that happened to them happened because of the Gods' meddling. The story would go on to say how the Gods realise their mistake and ask for forgiveness from an ordinary human being.
Snigdha N K
As a dancer, we can express so many emotions so easily, and I think that is very beautiful. It is one of the many reasons why I love to dance.
Dance helps me express all kinds of emotions. When I dance, both my mind and body feels refreshed. On the whole, it imparts a positive feeling in me.