(Update Aug 2014: The podcasts are no longer available thru Charsur.
They are now available from Rasa – Experience of Art . Pl contact firstname.lastname@example.org )
नारायणं नमस्कृत्य नरं चैव नरोत्तमम् |
देवीं सरस्वतीं व्यासं ततो जयमुदीरयेत् ||
Bowing to Narayana (Krishna), to the greatest of men Nara (Arjuna), to Goddess Saraswati, and to Vyasa, let Mahabharata be told thereafter.
Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all!
Salutations, again and again, to the great God Ganesha, the one who scribed the greatest of epics, The Mahabharata! May his blessings be showered on the whole world!
Some of you may have noticed (and perhaps wondered about), the reference to “Soota” in the title of my blog. Soota is a term that refers to a charioteer, who is more importantly, a Pauranika, a story teller. It was Soota Ugrashrava who related the mighty epic Mahabharata, to the Rshis at Naimisharanya. As also a Soota it was who narrated all the eighteen Puranas composed by Vyasa.
A decade or so ago, fascinated by the Indian story-telling tradition, I found my new calling, as a story-teller.
And in line with this Soota tradition, I have had the joy of relating the Mahabharata in English, every week, last eight years or so, to a core set of listeners in Chennai, as also to another set of listeners in Bengaluru, whenever I happen to visit there. And so huge is the Mahabharata, that the flow is still on.
In my story-telling, keeping the Sanskrit Mahabharata of Vyasa as the primary source, I have attempted to convey the “Rasa” of the Vyasa original as experienced by me. At some places, I have also related variations from Mahabharata versions of other languages, and from independent treatises that were inspired by stories of the Mahabharata.
And now, there has come an opportunity to share some of this with a larger audience.
Charsur Arts Foundation, a digital music publishing company, has come forward to make this available over the Net.
We are commencing with the story of the great war of Mahabharata, the 18 day Dharma-Yuddha. Extracted and edited from live recordings done over the years, the ‘Great War’ has been related in a set of around fifty episodes, perhaps one of the most elaborate renderings of the great war.
To begin with, we go online with eight episodes, starting from the first day of the war, and ending with the fall of the great Bheeshma.
The next forty two episodes will follow in due course.
To access the audio podcasts, you can go to the Home Page of Charsur by clicking here, and click on the ‘Charsur Arts Foundation” link on the left frame displaying the catalog. One of the options below is the link “The Great War of Mahabharata”. Click that to go to the Mahabharata page.
In India, click here to access page listing the full podcast set of eight episodes.
Individual episodes can be got by clicking the appropriate links in the Mahabharata page. Each episode is around 45 to 50 minutes or so in length. Each has a one minute sampler that can be listened to, and a bullet-list of what the episode is about.
Why story telling? Why did I take up Mahabharata? Why begin with the war? Who is the target audience?
I have tried to answer these questions in the audio bit, “Prelude to Mahabharata”, which can be downloaded at no cost.
In my experience over these years, I have seen the Mahabharata stories deeply touch people of all ages. From teenagers, to regular adults, to senior citizens….
Such is its sweep and appeal, that Soota Ugrashrava says in Mahabharata:
श्रुत्वा त्विदमाख्यानं श्राव्यमन्यन्न रोचते |
पुम्सकोकिलरुतं श्रुत्वा रूक्षा ध्वाङ्क्षस्य वागिव ||
Having heard this story, one does not relish listening to any other. After hearing the song of the Koel (cuckoo), who would be interested to listen to the caw-caw of a crow?
न तां स्वर्गगतिं प्राप्य तुष्टिं प्राप्नोति मानवा: |
यं श्रुत्वैव महापुण्यं इतिहासमुपाश्नुते ||
Not by attaining heaven do men achieve satisfaction, happiness, as much as they do after listening to this great PuNyA, The Mahabharata!
So welcome to Kurukshetra! And experience the sky filled with the sound of Sri Krishna’s great conch, Paancajanya!
Welcome to Dharmakshetra! Where there is Dharma, there is Krishna! Where there is Krishna, there is Victory!