Thursday, April 28, 2016

Historicity of the Mahabharata by B. B. Lal - A Glimpse

धर्मे च अर्थे च कामे च मोक्षे च भरतर्षभ
यदिहास्ति तदन्यत्र यन्नेहास्ति न तत्क्वचित् ।

Mahabharata has been a subject of limitless fascination for me, now since two years. It is amazing what interest can make you do. In two years, I have read more texts on Indian history, myths and mythology than anything else, as a result of which, I have grown a lot more thirsty for knowledge than ever before. The desire to know more and more about these historical epics is unquenchable, and it is motivated by this steady desire to understand the origins.

I have this strange belief that if I could understand where I come from, where we come from, where are stories come from, and where our languages come from, I will have a clear vision of where I am and where I am headed.

When I noticed this amazing book titled 'Historicity of the Mahabharata' is the library of Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon, I know my heart thumped at insane decibels. While we were still debating in the realm of imaginative discourses if Mahabharata is a historical text, or an imaginative narrative conjured by an ancient bard, here comes in front of me a research laying down ample, convincing evidences to show how a great war did actually take place at Kurukshetra.

Since it a work of pure research, I can provide a plotline of the book. What I can tell you is that to test the veracity of claims of the MB narrative, researcher B. B. Lal undertook many routes - through internal extracts, through excavations, through architecture and through contemporary and later secular texts.

While building an understanding of historicity, the text also serves well to educate a reader about the various topographies to traverse while trying to build an archaeological-historical argument. Not just that, it also delves deeper into relevant sections of the Mahabharat to throw light on the politics of certain instances. For examples, were the Pandavs really being humble in their demand for the paanch graam from Duryodhan, or was they a larger game at play? Think geography and you will have your answer.

While I admit it is an unimaginatively written text, it serves its purpose well - that of piquing interest and setting a seeker on course to find more instances of truth a literary body shrouded in myths, not acquiring religious colours.

Must read for MB lovers!

PS - The next Maha Varta session, whenever that happens, shall revolve around the myth v/s mythology v/s history discussion. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dear Anonymous Letter Writer - Birthday Chronicles

I make a big fuss of birthdays, each time. Especially if it is mine. Of course.

And you know what counts as luck? When you find others who make a bigger fuss of birthdays than you. And I'm the lucky one, who has not one, but about a dozen crazies around her, who've been investing time and mind into creating little gestures of warmth, leaving a wide, uncontrollable smile on my face.

A recent pretty phenomenon is a red coloured note, which I find stuck to my almirah with the help of magnets, each day when I get back home. These notes/letters contained words of love, which, as hard as I might try, I cannot identify the source of. I thought of cheating, because, it is easy to (all I need to do is steal my sister's phone - I already know the password). But then, I thought of living the experience through. I have analysed the handwriting, the tone, the language, the emotions - and honest admission - I have zero idea of who he or she is. I think the writer is a 'he'. Just, instinct.

So, while I have given up trying to establish the identity of my anonymous pen-friend, let me write him (assuming 'he') a letter of my own. I am doing this, because unresponsiveness is among the things which irks me most in life. Even though I do not know who I am responding to, I will still go ahead and do it, because words deserve words, love deserves love, emotions deserve emotions, and letters deserve letters.

Here goes, a short one, for the person counting down 26 days to my 26th birthday.

Dear anonymous letter writer

I want to thank you. Not for writing to me, but for writing in general. People have quite forgotten the genuineness and touch which ink and paper hold. People have also forgotten that at times, all it takes is one little gesture to completely light up someone's life. Like you are lighting up mine. I look forward to your notes each day. It is a habit I could fondly cultivate. 

Thanks for making me realise how old am I going to be. No sarcasm. I am happy to know how far I have come in life, and also to get a glimpse of how others have journeyed along with me. 

A little word of caution though. When I finally get to know who you are, we'll work a little on your handwriting. No offences, just, my way of saying I think I like you enough to want to work with you. 

Looking forward to note number six. 



Saturday, April 9, 2016

#FolkInVogue - Revisiting Roots

It’s in the click of my heels,  
The bend of my hair,  
the palm of my hand,  
The need for my care.  
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
- Maya Angelou

The evening of 30th March, 2016, was beautiful for many reasons. These reasons, primarily, would fall under three categories - the Place, the People and the Cause. 

Place - We were gathered inside the Asian Paints Color Store, a place I love calling my personal wonderland, for the amount of ideas, expressions and creativity it inspires. A store which gives you live experiences of how wall colours alter and enhance the look your spaces, it has given me many a cool ideas to implement back at home and feel thoroughly satisfied about. 

People - Gathered in the store were some women, who had succeeded in creating an impact by following the call of their passion. They belonged to diverse fields, but were united by the conviction they carried on their faces aglow with the happiness of being together. Each had a story worthy of sharing, and each shared personal narratives worthy of putting into wisdom capsules. 

Cause - A unique concept which blended the tradition with fashion, Asian Paints conceptualised #FolkInVogue to grant greater contemporary relevance to our many dying folk art forms. Gond, Pattachitra, Madhubani and Warli art forms found manifestation on dreamcatchers, scarves, vases and mugs. 

What's even better is that one could witness all these art forms in action - artists practising these many styles of painting were invited to the store to give all the gathered ladies a first hand experience, and even a brief tutelage into practising the art. 

A simple gathering of some stunning ladies, by the end of the evening, turned out to be an experience worth being remembered for a lifetime. Asian Paints surmised the life story of all these ladies in flawless videos, the screening of which evoked pretty emotions in everyone's eyes. In the past too, I have witnessed Asian Paints curate experiences which give voice to diverse shades of art - my own association with them began through poetry.  As they celebrate the modern woman, carrying ahead her roots with elegance, why don't you also attempt to revisit traditions and see how they may apply to your contemporary living spaces? Hop into their Color Store today!