Portfolio Index

Links to stories that focus on strong women in Indian literature.

Kaikeyi: the Good Queen

In this story, Kaikeyi learns of her genetic gift and uses it for the betterment of the kingdom, to help her and her husband’s other two wives be able to conceive sons.

 

Draupadi the Brave

Draupadi, one of the most influential women in the Mahabharata, receives her own narrative, a fictional representation of her childhood love and the events leading up to her marriage to the Pandevas.

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Week 7, Famous Last Words: Writing for Fun(?)

I really enjoy the “Famous Last Words” assignments because it gives me an opportunity to really reflect on my experience with this class, and regardless of the work-load, allows me to feel genuine gratitude for my opportunity to take it.

This week, I had much more time to work on the assignments for this class, but I did not receive it until the end of the week, unfortunately. I just finished working on a dance show as the light board operator, and it was really a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to have some down time to work on class work in the booth before the show.

I hope to get ahead over spring break. I really do enjoy this class, and the work that comes with it, and would like to pull my grade up significantly. While the number of assignments and the points I currently have do not reflect it, this class is right up my ally, and I believe that with a little extra time (which I, unfortunately, do not have in copious amounts) I could excel. I am working on doing some pre-production work this week while I am in town, so that I am able to dedicate my spring break to catching up and getting ahead for this class, specifically.

As far as my current work in the class goes, I really enjoy the project assignments. Image result for writingAlthough they are time-consuming, the sentence-level commentary that we receive is very helpful, and I do believe it is causing me to grow as a writer. Writing is something that I have always felt very passionately about, but have lost the time and motivation for as my life has become over-burdened with responsibilities; it is very refreshing, and I am truly thankful, to be in a class that forces me to do something I enjoy, and to get better at it.

 

Image Information:

The Art of Writing

Week 6, Story: Draupadi the Brave

Draupadi was one of the most beautiful women of her time. She had a dark complexion and silky hair as black as the night. Draupadi’s father desired for his daughter to be wed to Arjuna, royal son of the kingdom of Hastinapura. Now to earn the hand of the maiden Draupadi, Arjuna was sent on a quest to defeat a great rashaka that had been tormenting the people of the kingdom. Arjuna came to Draupadi the night before his departure, offering robes of beautiful golden silk as a token of his affections. Draupadi smiled and bowed in thanks, but would not look the handsome young prince in the eye.

She was absolutely inconsolable at the idea of being forced to wed the prince, convinced that none other than her first love, Karvanda, could offer her a lifetime of fulfillment. Karvanda was the court’s dance instructor, who choreographed all of the dances performed by the young ladies of the palace in honor of the king. Karvanda was much older than Draupadi, some fifteen years her senior, but had taught her to dance gracefully and eloquently from the time of her youth. He would commend her performances with much enthusiasm, each time placing a gentle kiss in her perfumed hair and saying, “like the wind, my andhra pradesh (lotus flower); you dance freely, like the wind.” As Draupadi matured into a young lady, she became the most envied female in the kingdom. Every eligible suitor attempted to court her, and she would always accept their requests for a dance with a coy smile and a seductive twinkle in her eye. Each time she took the floor, however, she would sneak a glance at her sweet Karvanda, who would smile brightly and wink at her.

When it came time for Draupadi’s father to choose a husband for her, her face was downcast for the time being. One afternoon, after a dance lesson, Karvanda approached Draupadi, who sat on the soft earth in the garden with tears in her eyes. “Oh my sweet andhra pradesh, why do you allow your spirits to be dampened? When you smile, it brightens even the gloomiest day. Let the world see your light shine today.”

“Oh Karvanda,” she spoke, “I am unable to bring myself to be happy. My father has betrothed me to the cocky prince Arjuna, and I am now to be miserable forever.”

“Silly girl,” Karvanda replied incredulously, “your married-life will be filled with wealth and prosperity. You disrespect the gods by denying your blessings. The future of our kingdom is entirely reliant on this union; you will be favored for your actions in compliance with your father’s wishes.” Draupadi heard his words, and her heart burned as she yearned to tell him of her love for him. She looked away so he would not see her cry; tears began to fall from her eyes. Karvanda departed from her company, gently placing his lips to her forehead. Draupadi felt her heart break in that moment.

Three days passed, and Arjuna returned to Panchala to claim his bride. Draupadi wept as she awaited his arrival, but remembered Karvanda’s words to her. She sat at her vanity and braided her long hair, reflecting inward on the responsibility that was given to her. She prayed to Krishna to guide her and give her strength. Krishna, touched by her humility in spite of her heartbreak, whispered to the wind to carry courage to the young maiden. Draupadi wiped the tears from her eyes and powdered her cheeks. As she arose from her vanity, perfuming her wrists with rose water, she felt a newfound sense of gallantry. She knew in her heart that Karvanda had spoken the truth, and that her marriage to Arjuna would allow her to do great things for the people of their kingdoms. She said goodbye to her childhood home, and the people she loved, with bittersweet tears in her eyes. She departed Panchala with Arjuna, turning to look back at her home. She saw, as she always did, her love smiling at her with pride. He bowed his head at her and whispered. Though she could not hear his words, she felt in her heart the words which he had spoken: “harmony to you, my andhra pradesh.”

Draupadi and Arjuna arrived in Hastinpura late that evening. Draupadi did her best to be brave, keeping the strength of Krishna in her heart. Arjuna led her to the throne room, putting his new bride on display for his mother and four brothers. Draupadi bowed humbly, as Arjuna’s mother motioned him to her. She whispered something in his ear; Draupadi held her pose, outwardly calm. Arjuna looked troubled, then slowly walked back to his bride.

“My mother orders,” he explained slowly, “that my brothers and I are to share you.” Draupadi rose slowly, her heart racing, as she locked eyes with the queen.She remembered her prayer to Krishna, and the moments of courage that followed. Feeling a sense of peace, she decided to be brave, and swore that she would thenceforth be brave in all that she said and did.

“As you wish, my queen,” she stated simply, fiercely holding her gaze with Kunti.

 

Image result for draupadi
Draupadi and the Pandevas

 

Author’s Note: 

I took this story from the Mahabharata, in which it is decided that Draupadi will be shared as a wife by the Pandevas, or rather that Draupadi will have five husbands because of a prayer she made in a past life. In the original story from the Mahabharata, Draupadi is born by fire, created by her father to bring an end to the Kurus. She is won as a bride by Arjuna-in-disguise in a contest of strength, held by her father. Arjuna, in disguise, shot an arrow through the eye of a fish, which was spinning on a rod in a pan of oil. Krishna, and the king Karna, also shot the fish’s eye successfully, but Karna was considered too low of birth-caste to marry Draupadi, and Krishna was only present as a spectator to ensure the betrothal of Arjuna and Draupadi; therefore, Draupadi was awarded as the bride to Arjuna. Kunti, the Pandevas’ mother, instructed the brothers to “share the prize” when they informed her that Arjuna had won a prize in a contest.

There is not much about Draupadi’s childhood in the Mahabharata, so I decided to concoct some possible ideas of one. Karvanda is a completely fictional character of my own making, but I liked the idea of this fierce woman having to make such a drastic choice early on in her life. I desired to give Draupadi, one of the most influential women in the Mahabharata, a chance to display her innocence and the struggles she may have faced in order to develop into the strong and brave woman that she was.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Draupadi Image

 

Week 6 Reading Notes, PDE Mahabharata Part C

In this part of the Mahabharata, Draupadi finds herself extremely upset at her husbands’

Draupadi and Krishna

lack of chivalry and their unwillingness to defend her. Krishna comes down to Draupadi to comfort her. She laments for days after that she is confined to exile and unable to seek out the luxuries that brought her comfort in her old life.

 

I would like to write a story in which Draupadi is approached and blessed by Krishna, and rather than sorrowing over her losses, is inspired to depart the Pandevas on a journey of her own. She could leave the forest and attempt to travel back to the palace, facing many hardships and trials on the way, but nevertheless returning. Upon her return, I believe she will find that her luxuries are nothing but worldly desires, and that her time spent living and battling in the forest on her own were entirely more fulfilling of her independent nature.

I really liked the nature of the curse bestowed upon Arjuna by Urvashi, given his exile in the city of Indra, that he must be lowly regarded among women as a musician and dancer. I would like to write a story in which Arjuna finds a passion for song and dance, and rather than playing in taverns or the court as a bard, becomes most famous for his work. I also would like to add in a romantic element; because Arjuna was cursed to be lowly regarded among women, I think it would be interesting to give Arjuna’s character the possibilities of a romantic relationship with a man, perhaps even a god in disguise, with whom he travels with for his music.

I was so excited that Hanuman made an appearance in the Mahabharata! I think it would be really interesting to expand upon his experiences after his adventures with Rama.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Image Link: http://widgets.bestmoodle.net/images/mahabharata/DrauKrishna.jpg

Mahabharata PDE: http://ouocblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/mahabharata-online-public-domain-edition.html

Week 5, Famous Last Words: I Do Not Suck

This week, I have found myself with a little more time to dedicate to this class. I am happy to say that I was able to do both parts of the reading and notes, the project and feedback, and the comments. With my major, it is very difficult to find free time, and sticking to deadlines and due dates is often a challenge due to late night rehearsals, meetings, and classes during the day. This weekend, I am working as the light board operator on a dance show, which has proved to be much less demanding than stage managing a show, and thus has offered me a few free moments.

I have found a lot of solace in working late nights at IHOP because it is open twenty-four hours a day. Last night, for example, I worked until 4am. It is a struggle for me to push through my heavy work-load, as far as classwork goes, because I am often so tired and so overwhelmed by the facets of my theatrical world. It takes nights like last night, when I find myself manically on a roll, for me to remind myself that I am, in fact, not a failure, not stupid, and not a bad student: I simply have a larger platter served to me than most. It is frustrating to feel down on myself, but I am learning ways to remind myself of my strengths. I really enjoyed working on some of the feedback assignments last night, and reading articles that placed emphasis on using the growth mindset and having a zero-tolerance policy for self-hatred.

Being a college student in today’s society is difficult; being a college student is difficult Image result for strength in womenanyways, however, I do believe that there are social and economic factors that have increased the stakes for today’s students. I hope that I can continue to look ahead to my final moments as a student, when I will walk across the stage for my diploma, and be reminded that my hard work will pay off in the long run.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwitzsrp_5zSAhWh0YMKHSLYDtAQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fquotesgram.com%2Finspirational-quotes-about-strength-for-women%2F&bvm=bv.147448319,d.amc&psig=AFQjCNH8ZfGJbgyT1I2L2HrzDDdVy1sYlQ&ust=1487622472946284

Story: Kaikeyi the Good Queen

Kaikeyi was the youngest wife of King Dasharatha; she was not the fairest, but she was the most favored. In the midst of the rainy season, Kaikeyi and her two sister wives struggled to conceive heirs for the kingdom of Kosala, and the king’s favor for Kaikeyi declined. She and the other two queens wept in their chambers, much to the displeasure of the kingdom. They desired to hear their children laugh down the halls of the palace; they desired to bear strapping boys who would grow into men that would make the kingdom swoon at their looks and their talent. Alas, the rainy season passed into another, and there were no heirs for the kingdom once more, and so the queens wept with the sky above.

Kaikeyi was the daughter of Ashwapati, king of the Land of the Finest Horses, and he awarded Kaikeyi a fine golden steed on her wedding day. Now Kaikeyi’s father possessed the gift of telepathy with birds, and thus heard a great many things of love and wisdom from the creatures that soared high above the earth and witnessed many happenings. The conditions of his blessings, however, prohibited him from speaking to others of the nature of his gift, threatening to take his life if he did so. Kaikeyi never knew of her father’s blessing.

Kaikeyi and King Dasharatha had a beautiful marriage ceremony, attended even by the most prominent nobles of the neighboring kingdoms. There was dancing and song, and Queen Kaikeyi was overcome with joy at the beginning of her new life with Dasharatha and his first wife, Kaushalya. Despite the splendors of the evening, Kaikeyi found herself wrought with anxieties on her wedding night. As a child, she sought comfort in the royal stables, and thus ventured into the night to see her new steed. As she stood in the coarse hay, she stroked her horse’s fur and whispered her fears to him. The steed nuzzled against her, and Kaikeyi found herself overcome with emotion; her body was warmed like honey flowing, and there was golden music of violins that moved her to bittersweet tears. Her hands trembled as she petted the silken coat of her steed. She heard a voice in her head, speaking to her of the wonderful life that awaited her. He declared that he would be there to advise her in her toughest moments, as long as she could keep the nature of his magic a secret. Kaikeyi felt a sense of bravery, and after thanking her enchanted horse, departed back to the King’s bedchambers and was taken into his arms.

In the years following, Queen Kaikeyi’s struggle to conceive a son caused her to feel troubled. Again as before, Kaikeyi ventured out to the stables to visit her mystical steed and listen to his sage wisdom. Once again, she stroked his honeyed fur and her tears began to fall. Her horse advised her to perform a sacrifice in honor of the gods, and to use his enchanted body as the offering. He spoke to her of the great wisdom she would acquire from his freed spirit if she released him from his earthly body. She presented the instructions to her King, careful not to divulge the origin of the idea. Dasharatha proclaimed that the Ashwamedha would be held in offering to win the favor of the gods.

The next evening, Kaikeyi released her steed to wander, and the king’s warriors stalked him for a year, observing his majesty and protecting him from anyone who dared to challenge him. When the year passed, the stallion was led home to Ayodhya, and the chief queen Kaushalya slaughtered him. As the adhvaryu priest dismembered Kaikeyi’s stallion, the horse’s spirit was released and absorbed by the heart of Queen Kaiyeki. Overcome with joy and emotion once more, she felt a great wisdom enter her body. That night in their chambers, Kaikeyi told the King and her consorts that they would conceive a great many sons. This was pleasing to the King, and he rewarded Kaikeyi with two favors, which she held thenceforth close to her heart.

 

Author’s Note: I have altered a the details of the story of Kaikeyi and Dasharatha; in the original episode from the Ramayana, Dasharatha is moved to perform the horse sacrifice, the “Ashwamedha,” so that the gods will look in favor on him and grant him sons. The Ashwamedha was performed by releasing a stallion to wander for a year, while the priests perform certain sacred rituals and mantras. The ceremony is also very territorial, with the king’s warriors battling anyone that challenges the authority of the king as the horse wanders into neighboring territories. When the stallion was returned home a year after being released,  Kaushalya, the eldest and favorite queen, slew and dismembered the horse upon an altar, and the three queens sat beside its smoldering body for the night. There are other parts to the ritual, including the sacrificing of additional animals and the symbolizing of the birth of a new king, that you can read about here.  I changed the details of this episode, adding in Kaikeyi’s gift and relationship to her horse, in order to spotlight Kaikeyi, and to add some significance for her to the ceremony beyond that of the other two queens, raising the stakes for her as the protagonist of my story. I took the inspiration for this story from what I learned of Kaikeyi’s background upon further research. Her father had the gift of speaking to birds, and I wanted to see this gift manifest in Kaikeyi, using the horse in order to tie into the tradition of the sacrifice. I desired to see Kaikeyi portrayed as a strong heroine with a selfless nature. In the Ramayana, the two favors that Kaikeyi is rewarded at the end of my story were actually received years earlier and used to exile Rama after Kaikeyi’s nurse convinced her that her own son should be king. I wanted to use the favors as a reward for her helping the king through the suggestion of the ceremony and the sacrifice of her beloved horse because I thought Kaikeyi, as the most cunning queen, could also be kind, and would have shunned the words of her nurse.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Ramayana episode used:

Dasharatha’s Sons

 

Image information:

Queen Kaikeyi

Feedback Focus

Maintaining focus while reading is often difficult for some people. In a world full of distractions, and a world where necessary reading is often less-than-enthralling, it is easy for us to glaze over an article or a chapter in a book without having retained anything. What a waste of time that is! Luckily, there are strategies to help maintain an appropriate level of focus while reading something. In this post, I am ranking some given strategies in order of usefulness, to me at least, and highlighting a few thoughts I have on each.

Copy-and-delete

This strategy was most helpful to me, and I definitely think it would be a good thing to implement while reading assigned readings for classes. Not only does it break up your reading into less daunting sections, but it forces you to maintain an active level of focus by having you jot down a note about the given section. Additionally, at the end of the reading, you are able to look back and reflect upon your thoughts during the reading process.

Use a timer

I also found this strategy helpful, although I think it has more specific usefulness than that of the copy-and-delete method. Using a timer, again, forces you to focus on one topic for a short period of time, which is great for breaking up the reading. I also like the idea of choosing what to do at the end of the time. Unfortunately, I find myself setting time constraints and becoming distracted within those time constraints. I think the key to this idea is using small enough increments of time that you do not find yourself day-dreaming or checking Facebook. Ten minutes is a great period of time to use, for certain.

Read out loud

As much as I believe reading out loud has its benefits, and as much as I understand the science and psychology behind it, this technique has never worked for me, and I doubt it ever will. I do think it is good to read out loud in order to uncover devices used by the author that one might have missed reading in their head (example: alliteration, assonance, etc.); however, for me personally, it is difficult to stay focused as I hear my own voice, and also not to get caught up on the theatrics of what I am reading (I blame drama!).

Overall, I found these techniques to be very beneficial to consider, and would like to try implementing them in some of my daily work, be it homework or otherwise.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Image: http://www.goodtherapy.org/admin/includes/ckfinder/userfiles/images/focusing-through-lens.jpg

Week 2: Feedback Thoughts

When I was in high school, a very dear friend of mine told me that I was the ugly duckling. Upon hearing this, I was mildly (or perhaps, not so mildly) offended. What seventeen year old girl wants to be told that they are ugly? As he explained his reasoning, however, I found myself struck by an idea that I have carried with me since. He said to me, “You think you are all alone, and that nobody wants to be around you because you are ugly inside and out, unwanted. What you don’t see, like the ugly duckling didn’t, is that you are actually a beautiful swan, and you have so much potential.” This philosophy has rang in my mind for the few years since that conversation, so much so that I consider the swan to be my spirit animal (for other reasons too, of course).

In the article, “Silence the Critical Voices in Your Head,” the author explains how important it is to find the positive feedback in your life, and to focus in on that positivity. It has been scientifically proven that the average person needs five positive voices to counteract one negative. I struggle with often-debilitating anxiety; I know all too well what it is like to be having a great day, and to suddenly feel my mood and my self-esteem plummet into darkness because of one comment or interaction. I loved how this article emphasized the importance of highlighting our strengths in order to achieve success, rather than absolutely obsessing over our weaknesses. It is so important to find the positive voices in your life, and to let that positivity fuel your actions. I like the focus on what you did well as opposed to what you did wrong.

My career-path revolves around management, and I have always been a psychology/sociology nut, but especially when considering their relationship to the success of any working group of people, corporate or otherwise. I liked how this article highlighted the “virtuous cycle” that occurs as a result of higher-ups valuing themselves and their strengths, rather than alienating or lashing out at others.

Similarly, the articles I read about giving feedback were interesting to me, again as someone in management, but also as someone with an extensive childcare background; the two articles I read were geared towards giving feedback to children in a beneficial way. The narcissism vs. healthy self-esteem discussion is one that I have had with my roommate, who is a psych minor, regarding my students who are in the earliest stages of development. I love the idea of gearing feedback and comments to others in a way that highlights their worth and accomplishments, but does not feed into the idea that they are more valued than others, rather equally valued with others.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

GETTING FEEDBACK:

Silence the Critical Voices in Your Head

https://hbr.org/2016/12/silence-the-critical-voices-in-your-head

Why Rejection Hurts and What to Do About It

http://ideas.ted.com/why-rejection-hurts-so-much-and-what-to-do-about-it/

 

GIVING FEEDBACK:

Be a Mirror: Give Readers Feedback That Fosters a Growth Mindset

http://literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2015/12/08/be-a-mirror-give-readers-feedback-that-fosters-a-growth-mindset

The Difference Between Praise That Promotes Narcissism vs. Healthy Self-Esteem

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/10/the-difference-between-praise-that-promotes-narcissism-vs-healthy-self-esteem/