Friday, December 15, 2006

postheadericon The Mahabharata and Epic India: Paintings by M.F. Husain


Reading the "The Penelopiad" from the Myth Series recently made me realize how much I enjoy reading a condensed and modern version of the great epics. It also got me thinking about which epics I might like to see as part of Canon Gate's "myth series".. There are many I would like to read but the one I really,really would like to see is the "Mahabharata" (although, as motorama has reminded me in the comments, this great epic holds core philosophical and religious concepts that are central to the Vedic traditions and I would not like to refer to it as myth). For those of you who might not know, the Mahabharata is one of the world's longest epics, ten times the length of the Iliad and Odyssey combined!

Over the course of nearly a thousand years the story was told and elaborated, until between 300 and 500 C.E. the immense text was compiled in the sacred language of Sanskrit. The overarching narrative relates a battles between the army of the five Pandava brothers and the army of their 100 cousins, the Kauravas. The Kauravas resort to deeds of malicious trickery in order to defeat the Pandavas and possess their kingdom which leads to a war of near-total destruction.

One of Hinduism's most important texts, the Bhagavad Gita, is presented as the guidance Lord Krishna gives to the Pandava hero Arjuna just before the battle begins. The characters and events of the Mahabharata expose the conflicts between desire and righteousness that confront everyone human and superhuman, challenging even heroes with the difficult decisions that must be made.
(from a write up at the Peabody Essex Museum online)

If you would like to see eminent artist MF Hussain's splendid paintings of the Mahabaratha, please visit The Peabody Essex Museum site where they have created a wonderful slide show of the exhibition currently on display.

16 comments:

multisubj yb said...

Your name may be something like Padma Sarasvati or Padma Vaan`i.

Lotus Reads said...

Nuh-uh, not quite, but if Saraswati wasn't such an old-fashioned name, I would have loved to be called that! :)

beenzzz said...

Lotus,
I too would love to read a condensed version of the Mahabharata. I've read and heard bits and pieces of it. It looks like quite the undertaking!

Beloved Dreamer said...

Lotus, I took a look at Husain's Paintings and they were great. I loved the one called Bishma?
Of course I don't understand a thing about them but as an artist I will say that his use of color is wonderful and the flowing movements in his figures create feelings that something great is about to happen. I loved them.

-bd

hellomelissa said...

ooooh! lovely!

given my penchant for long, detailed drawn out books, i'd probably love this tale in it's entirety.

the paintingas are fabulous... i love the colors.

Sugarlips said...

Glorious work...!

I wanna read "The Penelopiad" since u mentioned u really enjoyed reading :)

Stay Beautiful...!!

ML said...

I think a condensed version is right up my alley. Or maybe I would really get into the hugeness of the story. Wow!

By the way, Lotus. I got my nose pierced last Friday. I was a huge chicken about it, but my husband literally dragged me there :)

Lotus Reads said...

Beenzzz I used to have a children's version of the "Mahabharata" which was excellent. It's such a pity I can't locate the copy anymore.

Beloved MF Husain is one of India's best known painters. The paintings he did for the Mahabharata were a little controversial because people didn't see the need for him to use so many nudes! ;)

Melissa LOL,yes, you are the undisputed queen of the Chunkster! ;) You used to have a copy of the "Ramayana", atleast I saw it on your bookshelf at Bookcrossing. Have you read it yet? Curious to know what you thought.

Sugarlips I just thought of another epic I would like to see in the myth series - "The Book of Kings" by the famous Iranian poet Firdawsi.

ml Fantastic!!! You've got to show us a picture. Did you get a cute little stone? I love it when it catches the light!

Lotus Reads said...

ml I'm really happy you had your nose pierced, I'm sure it looks beautiful! Hope it didn't hurt too much. Keep it in for about a month or so, so that it heals nicely. Nose piercings close really quickly because of the mucous membrane - sometimes it can close within 30 mins - so when you want to change the post make sure you go back to the place that did the piercing for you, they'll change it for you for a small fee, but it will be done quickly. Enjoy the piercing! :)

ML said...

Lotus, thank you for the nose piercing tip. I was really wondering about all that and now I know, thanks to you! I'll leave it in for at least month. I did get a teeny stud, but when I'm ready to change it, I'll go back to the place I had it pierced. They were really great too. And, except for a very minor pinch, it didn't really hurt. It just felt strange. Thanks again, Lotus :)

MotoRama said...

Somehow i would not like to club Mahabharatha as myth! I would like to believe a story containing so many great philosophies was embedded in reality! Thanks for the link. Really enjoyed it.

Lotus Reads said...

You know Motorama, you have an absolutely valid point and I stand red-faced and corrected - I would like to see Canongate or any good publisher put together a series of condensed epics of which I hope "THe Mahabharata" will be one. I am going to correct my original post now. Thanks very much for stopping by!

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

Have you read "Yugant'? (End of Era)

'Yugant', offers a refreshingly new outlook on Mahabharat. It was authored by Dr. Irawati Karve, a gifted anthropologist from Mahatashtra. Organized as a series of critical interpretations of a few protagonists from Mahabharat, this book was well received in literary circles and was awarded the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award in the year 1968. The reader is transfixed by the fresh, consistently rational enquiry into the usually well known territory (at least in India). The language is lucid, succinct, factual and at the same time packed with intuitive insights.

Lotus Reads said...

No, I hadn't heard of "Yugant" until now - thanks very much for the headsup. Will check it out for sure.

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

English Translation is available on Yugant.

And the Photo .Is it for Mohiniattam?

http://harekrishnaji.blogspot.com/2007/01/mohiniattam-and-sattriya.html

J said...

YES! I read the Peleponiad, and would love to see the Mahabarata done in this way. It would be fun and wonderful at the same time.