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Mahabharata Podcast

This podcast is for anyone interested in the epic literature of India, its spiritual philosophy, the life & background of Krishna, or any of the fascinating stories of the great epic the Mahabharata.


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Mahabharata Podcast
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The Sage Markandeya continues with his storytelling. He begins with his own version of the Four Ages or Yugas. One interesting point is that in his reckoning, the Kali Yuga lasts 1,200 years in total. Since we are told elsewhere that the Kali Yuga began for us on the death of Krishna, then the Kali Yuga must have ended centuries ago, and we happy people have made it into the next Golden Age! After an apocalyptic vision of the future, Makandeya gives us the Tale of the Frog, which culminates in...
Topic: Markandeya
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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News of Kicaka's death reaches the neighboring kingdoms, and precipitates an attack from the Trigartas and the Kauravas. Virata sends his entire force against the Trigartas and leaves the rest of the country open for the Kuru's sneak attack. Kanka, Balava and the twins are all recuited into the army, but Brhannala is left at home. Thus, it is up to the young crown prince and the eunuch to rescue the kingdom from invasion. As they are riding out to meet the Kurus, the 13th year of exile comes to...
Topics: Susharman, Trigarta
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Sanjay's mission clearly did not accomplish much, so this time Krishna offers to go to Hastinapur as the Pandavas' chief negotiator. When the Kauravas hear he is coming, Dhrtarastra plans on bribing him, while Duryodhana hopes to imprison him. Krishna senses all the bad vibes and decides to only stay & eat with Vidur. He also visits with the Pandavas' poor widowed mother Kunti, whom he tries to console. Surprisingly, Kunti blames her father for all her suffering. Kunti's father, Sura, was...
Topics: Durvasas, Krishna, Kunti
Mahabharata Podcast
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It is the morning of the first day of battle. Already Krishna has revealed his great song to Arjuna, and now there are some final formalities, as Yuddistira runs to his elders on the enemy side for their blessings. Krishan tags along and tries to tempt Karna over to the Pandava side, just until Bhisma is dead. It must have been tempting, since it would have given him the chance to even kill the old bugger. But Karna is too loyal to go for such an under-handed thing. He turns Krishna down...
Topics: Kurukshetra, Yuyutsu
Mahabharata Podcast
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This concludes Krishna's dialog with Arjun about Dharma, Bhakti, Yoga, and the Gunas. During the course of this, Arjun is granted divine sight, and is able to catch a glimpse of Krishna's true appearance; it nearly blows his mind. Getting back to Arjun's original question-- Does Arjun's Dharma really require him to kill his relatives and gurus? and how can this can be a good thing? It seems like a lot of Krishna's teaching is addressed to posterity, because advice to meditate more often isn't...
Topics: Bhagavad Gita, Gunas
Mahabharata Podcast
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Vyasa finishes his comforting storytelling, and then vanishes, leaving it up to Yuddistira to deal with breaking the news to Arjun that his son is dead. Arjun comes home expecting a party, only to find the camp in mourning over the loss of his son. He responds by swearing to kill Jayadratha by sunset tomorrow. The Kauravas find out about his oath and hastily make plans to keep the prince safe long enough for Arjun's vow to fail. That is all it will take to get the Pandava out of the war! Now...
Topics: Kurukshetra, Vyasa, Arjun
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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We begin the Book of Peace, the Shanti Parva. After boasting to his uncle about his special clairvoyant powers, Yuddistira is blindsided by the news that he & Karna shared the same mother. Now the Dharma Raja has learned that he killed his own brother-- aside from killing one's parents, perhaps one of the worst things a person could do. The brothers spend a month outside in the city walls as a sort of penance, and are joined by the great sages of the ancient world. Narada comforts the...
Topics: Karna, Parashurama, Rama Jamadagnya
Mahabharata Podcast
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A few more stories from Bhisma's final teachings. We learn that Vyasa had a son, named Suka, who really did not seem to be pleased to be born. And Bhisma himself tells us what he really thinks of Buddhist philosophy!
Topics: Buddhism, Janaka, Mithila, Suka
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The Dark Age is now unquestionably upon us. The elder Kurus, living austere lives in the forest, found themselves consumed by a forest fire of their own creation. Let this be a lesson to all you Hindu campers out there to douse your sacred campfires!! 18 years later, things go from bad to worse when news arrives of the death of Krishna and all his relatives. This story alone is deserving of an extended treatment, but we only get a sketchy account of how things went down. With the death of the...
Topics: Balarama, Daruka, Dhrtarastra, Krishna, Krtavarman, Samba, Samvarta, Satyaka
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The Battle Books, but not the battle, begin here. Since we are at the second most important beginning of the epic, aside from the very beginning, there is a lot of unnecessary material stuffed into the narrative. I tried my best to make sense of it, and to leave out the voluminous details that had nothing to do with the story at hand. I also tried to iron out the repeated descriptions of the armies' dispositions, and the scene of the two sides lined up prior to battle. This is one of the most...
Topics: Bhisma, Krishna, Sanjay
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The Pandavas range the Four Directions and conquer the world, bringing home mountains of treasure. Soon after, the Rajasuya Sacrifice commences. Krishna is given the top honor among the guests and this causes a tumult of disgruntled kings and nobles. They point out the problem that has become apparent in the story, which is that Krishna is a nobody in terms of societal ranking. He's a former cowherder from a caste of shudras who claims his father is a prince (alas, there were no witnesses to...
Topics: Krishna, Rajasuya, Rukmi, Rukmini, Sishupal
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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We follow Arjun's journey into the Himalayas and beyond. This episode includes Arjun's famous battle with the Mountain Man. He doesn't come out of the fight very well-- Shiva crushes him into a meatball and ends the fight. I like to think that he killed Arjun and then revived him and sent him on to Heaven, but the text is a bit vague; did he just get crushed, lose his eyesight and cease breathing? Or did he go all the way and die on us? Either way, he's sent off to his dad's kingdom up in...
Topics: Indra, Mountain Man, Shiva
Mahabharata Podcast
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While Arjun remains in heaven, relaxing with his father Indra, news reaches the Kaurava court of Arjun's exploits. Dhrtarastra then has one of his bouts of regret while Sanjay scolds him for being so stupid. We then cut over to the rest of the Pandavas, who are still living off the dirt in the foothills of Dehra Dun. Bhima is ready to chop off some heads and he takes his frustration out on his elder brother. The sage Brhadashva then shows up with a story of a king who actually had it worse off...
Topics: Brhadashva, Damayanti, Nala
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The four Pandavas who were left in the forest set off on a tour of the sacred sites of Ancient India, with the Sage Lomasha as their guide. At a stopover near the historic hermitage that once belonged to Agastya, we are treated to one of the stories about this fabled hermit. I have to confess to skipping a second story, because I simply couldn't make much sense of it. While it tangentially involved Agastya, it also involved King Sagara, whose wife gave birth to a pumpkin and he was advised to...
Topics: Agastya, Lomasha
Mahabharata Podcast
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This is the final installment of the "Krishna Episodes", where I've covered Krishna's back story up to and beyond the point when the Pandavas met him in Panchala. There are still some interesting details in the Bhagavata Purana which I want to compare with later events in the Mahabharata, so I'm not completely done with that book, but for the upcoming episodes, we'll get back to the Mahabharata and see what the Pandavas do next.
Topics: Balarama, Jarasandh, Krishna, Rukmi, Rukmini, Sishupal
Mahabharata Podcast
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While Krishna is still hanging out at the camp, the sages Narada and Markandeya show up. After some prodding, Markandeya finally opens up and gives us his take on reincarnation, sin and the afterlife. He follows that up with two stories about Brahmins, and then gives us his rendition of the Fish, Manu, and the Flood. I also present my theory that the five Pandavas are somehow correllated with the five extremities of the human body. Yuddistira is clearly the head, while Bhima is associated with...
Topic: Markandeya
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Vaisampayana begins telling the Mahabharata, beginning by telling us that Vyasa spent three years daily working on the poem. Following that, we hear about the Fishy-Fragrant Satyavati and Vyasa's birth.
Topics: Mahabharata, Satyavati, Vaisampayana, Vyasa
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This episode is about Krishna's spectacular entry into international politics. Having established his manhood by cuckolding the entire tribe of cowherders, Krishna returns to Mathura to get his revenge on Kamsa. Killing Kamsa has repercussions, however, because Kamsa had a powerful ally in King Jarasandh. Krishna ends up killing more than 130 million soldiers as he defeated 17 armies raised by Jarasandh and an 18th army belonging to the Black Greek. You'd think there were no soldiers left in...
Topics: Kamsa, Krishna, Balaram, Ugrasena
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The continuing adventures of the Pandavas in the forest. The story picks up with Maitreya's curse and angry departure from the court at Hastinapur. Dhrtarastra, apparently tired of all the dire predictions decides it is time for a fight scene, and asks Vidur to tell the story of Bhima and Kirmira. Vidur then recites the battle scene as Bhima kills another Rakshasa. We then move back to the forest where a meeting of the Pandavas' allies is taking place, Krishna among them. Krishna and Arjun...
Topics: Saubha, Shalva, Vimana
Mahabharata Podcast
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We finish the story of Nala. Brhadashva suggested that this story would cheer up the Pandavas, since there was indeed a king who had it worse than they. But shortly after hearing the story, they get news that Arjun was up on a mountain top starving himself and they were once again plunged into depression and hopelessness. At least Yuddistira learned Nala's dicing secrets, so he need not worry about another match with Shakuni. The story of Nala as it is told in the Mahabharata has some...
Topics: Dvapar, Dvaparyuga, Kali, Kaliyuga
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The Pandavas send away their hangers-on, and enter hiding at the kingdom of the Matsyas, in the service of King Virata. Things go well for the first 10 months, but then the king's brother-in-law gets smitten with the Queen's new serving girl. Kicaka takes his infatuation a little too far, and Bhima ends up restoring her virtue the hard way. By the end of this ordeal, everyone is terrified of Draupadi and her Gandharva husbands. King Virata is so frightened of her that he sends the queen to beg...
Topics: Kicaka, Sudeshna, Virata
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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On the previous day, Duryodhana was quickly losing faith with his uncle. He began to suspect that Bhisma was throwing the contest in favor of the Pandavas. Karna didn't help any when he offered to take charge in place of the old man. So Duryodhana asked the old man to either fulfill his oaths or get out of the game. Now today, on the 9th day, Bhisma sets out to finish off his Dharma so he could move on to the next phase in his life. On the battlefield, he kills hundreds of thousands, including...
Topics: Kurukshetra, Bhisma, Arjun, Krishna, Duryodhana
Mahabharata Podcast
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Bhisma is out of commission, and his book is nearly over. In one last scene, Karna comes to meet his fallen nemesis. Bhisma is quite affectionate toward his prodigal nephew, and he tells him that he was only pretending to be antagonistic. He really didn't mean it, he just wanted to discourage Karna from enabling Duryodhana's evil ways. Bhisma begs Karna to forget his grievances and to join with his brothers and end the war this moment. But Karna is too far gone. He owes Duryodhana too much, and...
Topic: Drona Parva
Mahabharata Podcast
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We continue with the events of the 14th day of war. You can relax because we find out that both Satyaki and Bhim made it to Arjun's side, and everyone is OK after all. Arjun finally spots Jayadratha, but he is very well protected, and the sun is about to set. It is time for one of Krishna's tricks! Following Jayadratha's "exploding head syndrome", the Kauravas are so bent out of shape that they ignore the sunset and just keep fighting. Next episode will cover the night battle of the...
Topics: Gatotkacha, Jayadratha
Mahabharata Podcast
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This episode covers the final day of the great war. If you were expecting things to go out with a bang, you'll be disappointed. Once the Kaurava general Shalya is killed, things just sort of disintegrate. Duryodhana's remaining brothers are all killed. Shakuni is killed. Karna's sons are exterminated. The Pandavas make one final sweep over the field, killing literally everyone who was left standing. They spend the rest of the day sifting through the corpses in search of Duryodhana. By this...
Topics: Duryodhana, Yuyutsu
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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It's deja-vu all over again, as the Pandavas move from the hermitage of Nar-Narayan to another one on the slopes of Mt Kailash, named for Arstisena. Another flower wafts down the hill, and Draupadi again sends Bhima off in search of the source. Bhima completely forgets Yuddistira's injunction about making trouble and he invades Kubera's kingdom, starting a war with the god's "genial leprechaun" army. There's no Hanuman this time around, but we do at least get an explanation for...
Topics: Agastya, Arstisena, Kubera, Manimat, Nivatakavacas, Vimana
Mahabharata Podcast
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The episodes are getting a little longer now, as the stories get more detailed. Before the book gets to the "direct line" of characters, it takes a bit of a detour to introduce some of the important ancestors in the Bharata Dynasty. These include Bharata himself, plus his ancestor Yayati (and his son Puru), as well as Bharata's descendent Kuru. The sketches are in fact quite brief, and the lengthy portions are generally about very specific aspects of their lives. In the case of...
Topics: Bharata, Dushanta, Kuru, Puru, Shakuntala, Yayati
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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We finish off the Book of the Forest with a couple of the more famous vignettes from the epic. The first is the classic tale in which Karna is forewarned that Indra will come to beg from him his magical armor & earrings, but Karna refuses to prevent it. He lives up to his claim of complete generosity and literally flays the armor off of his body and hands it all over to Indra. Since transactions with Gods usually go both ways, Karna for his part demanded the "Never-failing Spear",...
Topics: Karna, Yaksha
Mahabharata Podcast
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The white horse returns home, only to be tied to a post, killed, & cut up into little pieces. The priests do their best to follow the old rules, but there's no way Draupadi is going to pretend to copulate with a dead horse! Jump ahead 15 years and Dhrtarastra finally decides to take leave of worldly cares, and he, Gandhari, & Kunti leave for a forest ashram. One year after that, the Pandavas and many citizens pay a visit to the old folks, where Vyasa allows them all to re-unite with...
Topics: Ashwamedha, Dhrtarastra, Durvasas, Kunti, Satayupa, Vyasa
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This is the final piece that brings us around, back to the beginning. We covered some of this territory before, back in Episode 2, but at the time, it was hard to explain that Parikshit was Arjun's grandson and that Takshaka had an ancient feud with the dynasty going back to the fire at the Khandava Forest. Also, back then we were anxious to get going with the story itself, and all the digressions with angry brahmins and talking snakes only made things confusing at the time. So now we have...
Topics: Astika, Janemejaya, Parikshit, Takshaka, Ugrashravas, Vaishampayana, Vasuki
Mahabharata Podcast
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I'm excited to announce that the first episode of my podcast about the Mahabharata is now available. There are more episodes to come shortly. This one is just a brief introduction to let you know what this project is all about.
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Topics: Ancient India, Epic, Mahabharata, Podcast, India, Mahabharat
Mahabharata Podcast
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Drona has been in charge now for two days, and so far he has failed in his mission to capture Yuddistira. This despite the fact that they have sacrificed a whole nation of warriors just to keep Arjun away long enough for them to grab his brother. The Trigartas are nearly all dead so they need to come up with a new idea. This time, Drona implements a fancy new formation, based on a wheel, which few know how to break. It turns out that Abhimanyu is one of those who know its secrets. But with...
Topics: Abhimanyu, Daushasani, Jayadratha
Mahabharata Podcast
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I present my wild theories and hypotheses about the Mahabharata. Among other things, we discuss its relationship to the Precession of the Equinoxes and the Yuga cycle as defined by Markandeya and Sri Yukteshvar. We look into the role of magic in the story and our prospects for regaining this lost knowledge in the future. We delve into the mystery of the metaphysical origins of the Pandavas and consider whether the five brothers might have originally been based on just a single hero-- the...
Topics: Joseph Selbie, Markandeya, Precession, proto-Arjun, Sri Yukteshvar, The Yugas
Mahabharata Podcast
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This is a big day in the war. Bhisma fulfills one of his oaths by killing Dushasan and drinking his blood. Now he will be gunning for Duryodhana. Arjun & Karna finally get busy with their final showdown. The whole universe apparently took sides in this conflict, with everyone choosing a champion to cheer for. The pair begin fighting with conventional weapons, but soon escalate to magical weapons. At one point, Arjun gets the upper hand, and strikes Karna until he's lost his wits and drops...
Topics: Dushasan, Karna
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This episode begins the voluminous Last Teachings of Bhisma. As Bhisma lies on his bed of arrows, the Pandavas, Krishna & Satyaki gather around to listen. Yuddistira poses the questions, which mostly revolve around Dharma and kingship, and Bhisma answers. These teachings are exceptionally difficult to convey in the form of a podcast, mostly because they are so boring. There are very few stories, and most of the stories revolve around conversations in which one character instructs the other...
Topic: Bhisma
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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So this is it-- the final installment from the Mahabharata. Book 18, the Svargarohanika Parva, is done, and the 18 parvas of the Mahabharata are now complete. Please be sure to visit my blog and let me know you made it! And then treat yourself to something nice, because you have really accomplished something. We've reached the end of the story, but this isn't quite the end of the podcast. You can expect a few more episodes-- an epilogue where the story is carried forward up to the time of the...
Topic: Svargarohanika Parva
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The story begins. In this episode I describe how the Mahabharata begins, with the storyteller Ugrasravas telling the hermits in the forest about the great Snake Sacrifice of King Janamejaya, and how Vyasa's composition was told during the festivities.
Topics: Janamejaya, Mahabharata, Naimisha Forest, Snake Sacrifice, Ugrasravas
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This episode, Yuddistira gets it into his head that he should be King of the World! As he has been inclined to do since becoming king, he calls for Krishna to advise him on how to accomplish this task. Krishna tells him to send Bhima and Arjun to Magadha and get rid of his main rival to the imperial title, King Jarasandh. And so, Krishna, Bhima and Arjun go down to Magadha and pick a fight with Jarasandh. Bhima wrestles the old guy for fourteen days and finally body-slams him, killing him...
Topics: Jarasandh, Magadha, Bhima, Krishna
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This is a longer, pithy episode, covering the way the brothers decided to prevent future conflicts over their shared wife, and Arjun's subsequent adventures when he breaches those rules. Despite the punishment he receives for breaking the oath he swore, Arjun ended up having a lot of adventures and getting to know a lot of hot princesses around India. Draupadi would have been better off keeping him closer to home! So Arjun ends up coming back from his year-long exile with a new wife-- Krishna's...
Topics: Dhananjaya, Ghandiva Bow, Gudakesha, Madhusudana, Mahabharata, Partha, Vasudeva
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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I briefly give my opinion of the previous episode on Shakuntala and Dushanta, and then get going with the birth of mighty Bhisma and his two not-so-mighty brothers. This is an important episode, because in many ways, it is Bhisma's over-reaction to his father's desires that ultimately sets the whole tragedy in motion.
Topics: Bhisma, Dyaus, Santanu, Satyavati, Vasishtha
Mahabharata Podcast
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I know it feels like this war is really dragging on; but I think that is precisely how Vyasa wanted us to feel by this point in the battle. We are all getting tired of the unending violence. Even the main cause of all the violence, Bhisma, is getting tired of this, and he has begun looking for a way out. On day 9, the old Kuru apparently relieved himself of the last of his commitments, which was to wipe out the army of the Saumakas. Now the only thing left for him to do was to find the most...
Topics: Kurukshetra, Bhisma, Saumakas, Pandavas, Arjun, Sikhandin
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The Pandavas resume center stage as the main characters of this episode. They continue their trek through the mountains until the going gets too rough for Draupadi. Bhima summons his half-Rakshasa son, Gatotkacha, who can fly, and they are carried the rest of their journey to the Ashram of Nar-Narayan. While hanging out at this heavenly retreat, Draupadi sends Bhima off to find her some special lotus blossoms. Along the way, Bhima meets up with Hanuman, who it turns out is his brother (both are...
Topics: Gatotkacha, Hanuman, Kubera, Yaksha
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This one covers Duryodhana's reaction to the humiliation of being captured by the Gandharvas and then released by the valor of his hated cousins the Pandavas. Unable to face his clan after the ignominious defeat, the prince resolves to sit down and starve himself to death. This decision sets off alarm bells in Hell, where the Daityas and Danavas have big plans for Duryodhana. They summon a genie and have her deliver Duryodhana to them, and they tell him about the cosmic nature of this conflict,...
Topics: Daityas, Danavas, Duryodhana, Karna, Vaishnava
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Now that both sides are armed to the teeth and infested with vast armies, they are ready to talk peace terms. The Pandavas start the first round by sending Drupad's unnamed priest as their ambassador. This priest travels to Hastinapur and asks only for the terms of the Dice Game to be fulfilled. Dhrtarastra responds well enough, sending his Charioteer Sanjay as the returning ambassador. Sanjay's message is also for peace, but the terms are rather unacceptable. The Kauravas suggested that the...
Topics: Sanatsujata, Sanjay, Vidur
Mahabharata Podcast
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This episode is devoted to the classic scene of the Mahabharata in which Krishna reveals to Karna his true descent. He never was the Son of a Suta, which everyone called him with scorn. No, he was in fact the eldest of the Pandavas-- the original Partha. Now that the truth was out, all Karna needed to do was embrace his Dharma, join his brothers, and assume the title of King of India. Poor Karna, always the victim of bad timing. It was way too late for such an offer. Perhaps if Kunti had stood...
Topic: Karna
Mahabharata Podcast
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Krishna returns from his mission to Hastinpur with war on his mind. Yuddistira, having spent the last 12-14 years undergoing massive hardship to prevent this war, is reluctant to accept this truth. He begs for more information, trying to find any way out of this situation. So Krishna obliges by giving us the details of a few more speeches made in the Kuru court, but none of it helps. War is truly inevitable. So both sides round up their armies and march on Kurukshetra. When they arrive, each...
Topics: Bhisma, Drupad, Kurukshetra
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The second day of battle comes and goes. If the first day went to the Kauravas, the 2nd day certainly belonged to the Pandavas. The day ends with Bhimasena and Arjun dominating the field, and the Kaurava soldiers crapping their pants. The cream of Kalinga manhood has been exterminated on the field, and even their enemies are forced to admire the way the two brothers cleared the field of all comers. Lots more people died, but so far, not much has been accomplished. Maybe day 3 will go better? I...
Topics: Kurukshetra, Kalinga, Arjuna, Bhimasena
Mahabharata Podcast
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For some reason, the first three full-fledged stories from the Anusasana Parva all center around a Banian tree. They also share the theme of low-caste hunters and their cruelty. Remarkably, in the 2nd story the three characters are all saved, but all three die violently. In the 3rd story, the Brahmin Gautama is an unreformed scoundrel, but he is brought back to life! NOTE: I ran out of allotted space on my ISP, so this audio file got truncated. I've modified this post to point to another site:...
Topics: Gautama, Rajadharman, Virupaksha
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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We finally get started with Krishna. His mother and father were both of the house of Yadu in Mathura-- Krishna's mother Devaki was King Ugrasena's daughter. Unfortunately, Devaki's brother, Crown Prince Kamsa was a bad guy, and he got an early warning that his sister's eighth child would be the death of him. After a palace coup, King Kamsa threw Devaki and Vasudeva into prison and killed their first six babies as soon as they were born. The seventh child, Balaram, was magically transported into...
Topics: Balarama, Devaki, Kamsa, Krishna, Vasudeva
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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With this episode, we finally get back to the main characters and the main storyline. The news of the Pandava's emergence from obscurity has reached Hastinapur, and King Dhrtarastra has to make a decision-- does he go along with his favorite son and launch a surprise attack on Pancala? Or does he follow his uncle Bhisma's advice to make Yuddhistira heir to the throne. His conclusion is to try to strike an impossible balance between these two extremes, and he divides the kingdom, making...
Topics: Panchala, Indraprastha, Pandavas, Kauravas, Dhrtarastra
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This is a big one; this episode covers the tangled details of the incident that sets off the rest of the story. At the heart of it, it is about Duryodhana and Shakuni cheating at dice to win from the Pandavas all their possessions and even their freedom. That much is clear, and the match culminates in the deliberate humiliation of Draupadi before the court. Bhima swears oaths to kill both Duryodhana and his younger brother Dushasan, and the future conflict all arises from the fears and hatred...
Topics: Dice Game, Yudhistira, Kaurava, Duryodhana, Shakuni
Mahabharata Podcast
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This episode covers the Pandava's departure for the forest and the initial fears of theKauravas as they considered what they had done. As things washed out, only the five brothers, Draupadi and a gaggle of Brahmins went into the forest. Yuddistira did some yoga and some austerities and memorized the 108 names of Surya, and was able to get the Sun God to give him the ability to magically feed everyone while they were in the forest. Please leave comments at iTunes. The more the better! Thanks!
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Topics: Aranyaka Parva, Pandavas, Draupadi, Surya
Mahabharata Podcast
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Let's admit it, we were all impatient for this war to get started. Like the characters in the story, we concluded many episodes back that there was never going to be a peaceful solution, and it would take nothing less than a massive bloodletting to make sure the bad guys were punished and the good guys got their rightful honors. But now that the war has started, those frustrating days of exile in the forest are looking more attractive. Sure, we all feel that Duryodhana deserves a good kick in...
Topics: Bhisma, Kurukshetra, Arjuna
Mahabharata Podcast
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Earlier in day 15, Drona is killed by Dhrstadyumna. The Kaurava army literally comes unraveled until Ashwatthaman hears the news. The boy is outraged at the way his father was treated and swears revenge on both Dhrstadyumna (for killing him), and Yuddistira (for betraying his trust). Drona's son then pulls the army together and rushes to battle waving his WMD. First he tries to use the Narayana weapon, but Krishna is too tricky for that-- he knows its weakness, which is that it is ineffective...
Topics: Agneya, Ashwatthaman, Dhrstadyumna, Nar-Narayan, Narayana
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The brothers learn of the massacre of their sons & allies, and summon Draupadi to break the news. As usual, all she wants is revenge. Thus the Pandavas go off on one final mission to avenge the death of their sons. They track down Ashwatthaman and find him hanging out with Vyasa and Narada. As soon as they set eyes on each other, the boy Brahmin sets off his Brahmashira weapon, which is 100s of times more powerful than the Brahmastra, and sounds a lot like a hydrogen bomb-- "All living...
Topics: Ashwatthaman, Daksha, Shiva
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Bhisma begins telling the story of Amba/Sikhandin-- the only person, barring the Pandavas, whom he will not fight in the coming battle. The reason for this is that Sikhandin had once been a female. She was not just any female at that-- she was Draupadi's sister, and in her past life, she'd had a bad run-in with Bhisma, making her his sworn enemy from beyond the grave. We begin the story with Amba's abduction, along with her sisters Ambika and Ambalika, by Bhisma to provide wives for his...
Topics: Amba, Rama Jamadagnya
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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I've put together my review of the epic, in its totality. I discuss the strange way in which the epic goes into fine detail on some parts of the story, and breezes over others. Some of the most critical moments in the story, like when Dhrtarastra was skipped and then later made king, or during the dice game, or in dealing with the birth & death of Krishna, the story is ambiguous and full of holes. The only explanation that I can come up with is that the author himself may not have known...
Topics: Bhakti, Channeling, False Vasudev, Karma Yoga, Krishna, Vyasa
Mahabharata Podcast
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This episode is the first in a series that will break away from the Mahabharata and use the Bhagavata Purana as the primary source instead. This is necessary if you want to find out Krishna's life stories. Up until the Pandavas meet Krishna at Draupadi's Swayamvara, no mention is made of Krishna's birth, childhood, or rise to power. That information is only available in other books, and the main source is the Bhagavata Purana. The first time I read a faithful translation of the Mahabharata, I...
Topics: Devayani, Krishna, Puru, Sarmishta, Shukra, Vrishaparva, Yadu, Yayati
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Things get hot and heavy this episode, when Krishna plays a tune on his magic flute and all the girls come running. The association of religious devotion with carnal love is found in Sikhism, Sufi Islam and even mystical Christianity. I've always suspected that the idea was born in India as Bhakti and then gradually made its way westward through the Islamic world and finally into Western Christianity. It would be an interesting study-- the timelines certainly fit! Next episode, we'll get back...
Topics: Krishna, Radha, Gopi
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The Pandavas journey south, out of the Himalayas and back to the plains. Along the way, Bhima goes hunting and finds himself captured by a giant magical snake. The Snake takes his time and tells Bhima his life story before proceeding to eat the hero. Meanwhile, Yuddistira sees dark omens and heads off to look for his brother on his own. For the purposes of the later story, Arjun stays at home and Yuddistira does the rescuing. When Yuddistira gets to the scene, Bhima tells him what is going on,...
Topics: Kanyaka forest, Krishna, Markandeya, Nahusha, Narada, Pradyumna, Satyabhama
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This one starts with some girl talk. Draupadi and Satyabhama get bored of Markandeya's endless mythologies, and sneak off for a more private conversation. Satyabhama wants to know how Draupadi maintains her hold over all five husbands. Draupadi then advises us on the behaviors a woman should perform to keep her husband from straying to other women's beds. Krishna too finally gets bored of Markandeya and decides it is time to head for home. He loads up the wife and they head out. If he knew of...
Topics: Draupadi, Satyabhama
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Vyasa stops by the Pandava camp and tells the story of Mudgala, who turns down the opportunity to go bodily to heaven because it wasn't permanent enough! He chose instead to stay on earth, eking out his miserable existence until his natural death, when he finally attained total extinction. That seems to be Vyasa's only mission, because after the story, he leaves. Soon after, King Jayadratha of Sindh passes by the camp while the brothers are away hunting. He spots Draupadi alone and undefended,...
Topics: Durvasas, Jayadratha, Mudgala, Sindh
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Krishna is dead. Balaram is dead. The city of Dwarka sinks beneath the waves, and the refugees of that once-great city are making their way to Indraprastha with only Arjun as their protector. But the influence of the Kali Yuga pervades the earth, and Arjun is not the man he once was. When the vulnerable procession is attacked by bandits, his magic quivers run out of arrows and his magical weapons no longer obey his command. Only a fragment is saved, along with Krishna's grandson Vajra, who is...
Topics: Arjun, Indraprastha, Vajra, Vyasa
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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So this is it; the moment everyone has been waiting for. Ever since Episode 7 when Duryodhana was born, he has finally received his well-deserved defeat. But even as he falls, the finger pointing, hand-wringing and grief at the price that has been paid for this victory has already begun. Balaram shows up just in time to referee the final death match between Bhima & Duryodhana, only to get really annoyed when Bhima is forced to bend the rules a bit in order to win.
Topics: Duryodhana, Balaram, Bhima
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Well, it seems there is no end to the tit for tat revenge cycle that Duryodhana forced into motion so long ago. Now that he has been defeated, his survivors seek revenge for his fall. Ashwatthaman is unable to let it go, and since he is vastly outnumbered, he prays to Shiva for the power to kill his enemies. Shiva allows him to exterminate the remains of the Pandava army while they sleep. So now there will be another vendetta. How much further can this go? Find out next time!
Topics: Ashwatthaman, Draupadeyas, Shiva
Mahabharata Podcast
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It seems like Yuddistira always had a secret desire to give up the world and live like a sadhu. But now he has a pretty good justification-- after all, he even killed his elder brother. Crimes like this demand extreme penance, and Yuddistira would like nothing better than to embrace that lifestyle. No one else agrees with the new king however, and his brothers, Krishna, and the Rishis all take turns trying to convince him that the best use of his life would be to take up the crown and rule,...
Topics: Narada, Parvata, Suvarnashthivin
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The Pandavas have come out of hiding and are demanding their lands back from the Kauravas. Duryodhana has already indicated that he has no interest in giving these back, so it would be best to negotiate from a position of strength. An arms race ensues, with both sides scrambling to get commitments from their allies across India and beyond. Duryodhana wins the first couple of rounds at this game. He rushes to Dwaraka, and gets Krishna to commit his armies to the Kaurava side. The Pandavas get...
Topics: Indra, Nahusha, Sachi, Shalya
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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The brothers formally come out of hiding, and thick-headed Virata finally realizes he has been sheltering the famous Pandavas. To avoid any question of scandal, Virata's daughter is quickly married to Arjun's son, Abhimanyu. The allies are summoned for the wedding, and the brothers set up a temporary headquarters at Virata's second city, Upaplavya. This ends the book of Virata. Next time, we'll start the Udyoga Parva-- the Book of the Effort.
Topics: Abhimanyu, Udyoga, Uttara, Virata
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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As if intending to seal his fate, Duryodhana warms up the Pandavas by sending over an odious gambler Uluka as a messenger to goad them into fighting. Then Bhisma kindly gives us an inventory of the fighters who will take place in the coming battle. There are a bunch of guys who I've never heard of, and do not seem to have any important role to play in the story, so I've left them out, trying to keep the cast of characters under control. As for the rest, they are all rated between Rathas and...
Topic: Uluka
Mahabharata Podcast
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Karna begins the 17th day of the war by fighting each Pandava except Arjun. He is actually defeated by both Yuddistira and Bhima, but then he defeats Nakul and Sahadev. Both of the elder brothers spare his life, out of consideration for Arjun's oaths. Yuddistira then goes for a second round with Karna, but this time it doesn't work out so well. Karna defeats Yuddistira and nearly captures him, but he reconsiders and lets the Pandava go. Yuddistira then flees to his camp to have his wounds...
Topics: Arjun, Krishna, Yudhistira
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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This is the last episode that covers Book 7 of the Mahabharata, called "The Origins". Almost all of the story I have covered so far comes from Book 7. The earlier books are much shorter, and full of geneologies and creation myths that are almost impossible to make narrative sense of, so I left a lot of that out! I spend some time at the beginning of this episode describing what we're up against in terms of the original Mahabharata as a source. Then the story gets under way, where we...
Topics: Arjun, Bhima, Drona, Krpa, Shakuni
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
audio
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This episode begins with Drona's revenge against King Drupada for reneging on a promise to share his wealth with his former schoolmate. The princes have come of age, and perform a demonstration of their battle skills. The pageant is interrupted by a mysterious Suta, son of a charioteer, named Karna. Karna has an inexplicable resentment for Arjun and challenges him. Duryodhana is delighted with the turn of events, and quickly befriends Karna. When the battle is about to commence, the master of...
Topics: Anga, Ghatotkacha, Karna, Rakshasa
Mahabharata Podcast
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Two more stories from the Sage Markandeya. The first is a rousing fight story, where the king of Ayodhya gets super powers from the god Vishnu and defeats a dragon. I find the second story more interesting. Yuddistira wants to know about the specific problems that women and servants must have in following their dharma. Markandeya replies with a story about a short-tempered Brahmin Kaushika, who encounters a particularly wise peasant woman, whose devotion to her husband grants her great wisdom...
Topics: butcher, Kaushika
Mahabharata Podcast
- Lawrence Manzo
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Two more stories from the Book of the Forest.  The first involves another Bhrgu Brahmin with a Kshatriya wife.  The second story, about Mahdhatar, is short, but interesting in how it differs from all the other stories we've had so far from Lomasha. The first story in this series, Nala, is about a King and his very loyal wife.  The subsequent stories were by and large about Brahmins with very loyal (Kshatriya) wives.  So each story so far has the element of an obedient wife despite hardship....
Topics: Sukanya, Cyavana
Mahabharata Podcast
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This is a long one - over 30 minutes, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out. You might have noticed that I'm still experimenting with the audio, and I think this one came out clearer than the rest. I'm trying to keep the file sizes under control, so it is a matter of striking a good balance. Also, the story is getting interesting. We've got a few good fight scenes, plus Vyasa intervenes a couple of times to keep the story on track, and we get to meet Krishna for the first time! By the end,...
Topics: Drupad, Drupada, Panchala, Panchali, Draupadi