Reading Notes: PDE Mahabharata: Part B

 

Bhima fighting with the rakshasa

I was very captivated by the episode in which a rakshasa woman, Hidimbi, the sister of the man-
eating rakshasa, had fallen in love with Bhima and offered to help him escape from her brother. I would like to take this story and turn it into a narrative from the rakshasa woman’s point of view. I think it would be interesting to do research on the rakshasa as it applies to Indian culture, and to perhaps delve into the life of this particular rakshasa woman and her thoughts and feelings as she crosses paths with Bhima.

 

In the episode “Bhima and Hidimbi” the Pandavas awake to behold the rakshasa sister’s

Gatokacha, the son of Bhima and the rakshasa woman. 

beauty as she keeps watch while Bhima fights the rakshasa chieftan. I am intrigued by the nobility and care of the rakshasa woman that she is so struck by love that she acts in the interest of Bhima and the Pandavas. Again, I would like to delve into the heart and mind of the sister and her character. The entire involvement of her character as it pertains to the Mahabharata, including the marriage to Bhima and the birth of their son, are very fascinating to me.

 

I already am enjoying the Mahabharata more than the Ramayana. I think that my stories in this section will reflect the strong female characters in the Mahabharata (shocker), such as Hidimbi, Queen Kunti, and Draupadi. I am both surprised and amused by Draupadi’s taking of five husbands and her past life; again, I would like to explore this narrative from the woman’s perspective. I am also curious as to how Arjuna’s time in exile would be in more detail, especially that of his time with Ulupi. I find it interesting that Arjuna would just take another lover and have a child with her upon departure from his wife.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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

IMAGES:

http://widgets.bestmoodle.net/images/mahabharata/Death_of_Hidimba.jpg

http://widgets.bestmoodle.net/images/mahabharata/bhimaghat.jpg

 

Reading Notes: PDE Mahabharata, Part A

I find it very interesting that Ganga casts her children, the Vasas, into the river to return them to their celestial state. I do not find this action to be noble or just, however, it does remind me slightly of the biblical story of Abraham and God’s wish for him to sacrifice Isaac. I wonder what it would look like if there were to be a story in which Ganga falls in love with the King Shantanu by way of his compassion and soft heart when she drowns her children.

Again, I am reminded of biblical settings as Vyasa is born of the virgin Satyavati. I think it would be interesting to write a story in which Shantanu is driven by lust and does in fact disinherit Devavrata in order to marry Satyavati. In this narrative, the mighty Ganga could become driven by anger, or heartbreak depending on the direction the author takes, and seek her vengeance on Vyasa and the king.

Lady Amba

 

Obviously, I am not into the whole idea of the patriarchy, and would definitely alter some details in the story of Lady Amba. I would not have Amba submit herself to manhood because she believes that she is incapable as a woman. Additionally, I desire to see a story in which Lady Amba seeks her revenge on the king that turned her away, rather than on Bhishma. I also do not think it necessary for Amba to lose her beauty in order to become stronger. Perhaps as she seeks solace in the forest, she grows both physically and mentally stronger and more beautiful still. Women are absolutely allowed to be simultaneously strong and beautiful, and I do not wish to see beauty as a sign of weakness.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

PDE Mahabharata

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

Image:

 

 

Reading Notes: Ramayana Part B-D

***Reading notes derived from of the plot summaries for parts B-D of the Ramayana.

I find Rama’s exile to be interesting, and somewhat cliche, however there are very intriguing details of the episodes. I was compelled by the story of the golden deer used by Maricha as a disguise to draw in Sita. I would have liked to see the deer itself distract Sita, or perhaps bewitch her, rather than Sita having had Rama set out to capture it. I do like, however, how the capturing and killing of the deer breaks the cliche. I also would like to think that Ravana does not seek to capture Sita because he fell in love with her, but rather as revenge for the mutilation of his sister. In truth, if I were writing the story, Shurpanakha would not have been so violently mutilated by Lakshmana, but would have been a great and fearsome opponent to behold.

The one aspect of these epics that I find displeasing is the position of female characters; I found Rama’s test for Sita, for example, to be irritating. Jumping into a fire to prove one’s virtue for a man is not exactly my cup of tea. I do understand the sacred and cultural philosphies behind the Ramayana and the culture that surrounds it, and that is part of the reason I find this class so interesting. I desire to read further Indian stories and discover some truly strong female protagonists or characters. Sita is a very strong character, in my opinion, however I do not think that the story has been set up to display her courage. I would love to read or write a narrative from Sita’s point of view. She quite cleary acts out of her love for Rama and her desire for good. While she is in Ravana’s captivity, I believe that Sita would show courage, finding comfort and strength in the knowledge that Rama would come for her, rather than being consumed by her grief and pushed to a suicidal state.

I also found the monkeys to be very interesting. (How sad that I was reminded of the Wizard of Oz!) I would like to read more into the monkey civilizations, and more heroes like Hanuman.

Sita and Hanuman. 

 

Bibliography:

Ramayana Parts A-B

http://iereadingguides.blogspot.com/2015/05/week-2-of-2-narayans-ramayana-reading.html

Ramayana Parts C-D

http://iereadingguides.blogspot.com/2015/05/week-1-of-2-narayans-ramayana-reading.html

Storytelling, Week 2: Kaikeyi the Good Queen

Kaikeyi was the youngest wife of King Dasharatha; she was not the fairest, but she was the most favored. As her and her two sister wives struggled to conceive an heir for the kingdom, however, the king’s favor for Kaikeyi declined. Kaikeyi was the daughter of Ashwapati, king of the Land of the Finest Horses, and Kaikeyi was awarded, on her wedding day, a fine steed of gold. Now Kaikeyi’s father had been given the gift of telepathy with the feathered creature, and thus had heard a great many pieces of guidance and wisdom from the fowl that soared high above the earth and witnessed great happenings. The conditions of his blessings, however, prohibited him from speaking to others of the nature of his gift.

Kaikeyi and King Dasharatha had a beautiful marriage ceremony, attended even by

Kaikeyi and Dasharatha

the 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, Kashaulya. Despite the splendors of the evening, Kaikeyi found herself wrought with anxieties on her wedding night. As a child, she had 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, bittersweet tears falling down her face. She heard a voice in her head, speaking to her of the wonderful life that awaited her. Kaikeyi felt brave, and after thanking her enchanted horse, departed back to the King’s bedchambers.

In the years following, Queen Kaikeyi struggled to conceive a son, as did Dasharatha’s other wives. Again, Kaikeyi ventured out to the stables to visit her enraptured steed, and listen to its sage wisdom. Her horse advised her to perform a sacrifice in honor of the gods, and to use its enchanted form. He spoke to her of the great wisdom she would acquire from its spirit if she performed a sacrifice. She spoke of the idea to her King, careful not to divulge the content of the conversation held between her and her horse. It was proclaimed that a sacrificial ceremony be held three days from then in offering to win their favor.

The patrons of the kingdom gathered in the royal hunting grounds to witness the royal horse sacrifice, the Ashwamedha. Kaikeyi’s enchanted steed was released and hunted as per the traditional guidelines of the sacrifice. As the King slew the steed, its spirit was released and directed to the heart of Queen Kaiyeki. She was overcome with joy and emotion once more, feeling great wisdom enter her body. She told the King that she and her sister-cohorts would conceive a great many sons. This was pleasing to the King, and he rewarded Kaiyeki with two favors, which she held thenceforth close to her heart.

 

Author’s Note: I have altered a few minor details to the original story of Kaikeyi and Dasharatha, and added in Kaikeyi’s gift and relationship to her horse. I took the inspiration from some Greek mythology, and desired to see Kaikeyi portrayed as a strong heroine with a selfless nature.

Reading Notes: Narayan’s Ramayana, Section A

As always, a king is sad because he wants an heir. I found myself initially wondering how the three queens felt. “Their faces brightened.” In many stories in history and fiction, royal families are torn apart by the queen’s inability to produce an heir. This story reminded me much of Henry the VII and his relationships with his six wives. In a new narrative, the king would be driven mad with grief and pride, such as Henry the VIII was, however I would like to see the downfall of the patriarch and to have his wives band together for the benefit of the kingdom.

I would like to write a story about the queen Kaikeyi from her perspective. I would also like to change the details of her banishing Rama, and instead have her act selflessly to use her favors for the good of the kingdom, rather than personal gain. In my story, Kaiyeki scorns her nurse for insulting her husband, and remains a loyal and kind woman with her kingdom’s best interest at heart.

I find the ability to call upon celestial weapons very interesting. I would like to consider the idea of calling upon objects other than a weapon. For example, if Rama had instead needed to outsmart a riddle of sorts, like an enchanted door, and used his power to call upon a lockpick or key.

Rama and Sita’s wedding 

I also want to write a story about Ganga getting lost in Baghirathma’s hair and her experiences of weaving through the unknown for years. Perhaps she has to face antagonists within his hair. I see the landscape as a silken forest of gold, as if Baghirathma’s hair was golden.

I loved finally being able to learn about Rama and Sita and their origins. I will definitely
incorporate them into one of my stories, however, I desire to see a stronger and more powerful Sita. We shall see what the future reading brings.

It is difficult to sort through the traditional language of the Ramayana, but I find it inspiring and the language is beautiful.

 

Bibliography:

Notes and comments from

  1. “King Dasharatha”
  2. “Rama Battles Demons”
  3. “Bhagiratha”
  4.  “Sita”
  5. “Kaikeyi”

 

Growth Mindset

 

The posts and videos on the topic of having a “growth mindset” were very informative and thought-provoking. Carol Dweck’s thoughts on changing our way of teaching youth were very powerful. In our society, we so often place so much emphasis on quantitative measures of intelligence and success that we cause harm to the mental and emotional development of younger generations. In the American public education system, students are judged by their grades, their test scores, and their ability to score within an acceptable percentile established by the district, state, or federal government.

While grades do have their place, it is simply ignorant to assume that because a student scored lower on a test than another student, they are stupid, or at the very least more stupid than the other student. This numbers-based system ignores the way children learn on an individual basis and tries to mass-produce students as we would during the industrial revolution (which, by the way, is the model for our current public education system). Additionally, those of today’s younger generations are often chastised for the need for constant validation, called “too soft” and “overly-sensitive.” Lest we forget, the participation ribbons and certificates and fifth-grade graduations and even the grading system itself that the younger generation has grown up to expect was, in fact, established by those older than us. I received participation trophies as a child…I never asked for them. We as a society cannot condition children to expect certain things and then berate them for expecting what we have given them.

In terms of our grading system, the letters awarded to students for certain achievements is actually more indicative of the need for constant validation that is criticized by others. A student working solely to get an A on a test or project, rather than working hard and challenging themselves to learn, contributes to the idea that you will get a tangible reward for everything you do. Sometimes, the reward that should be emphasized is the value of knowledge and learning. In Dweck’s video, she talks about students being rewarded when something is easy for them, and chastised when something is a challenge or “too hard.”

Image result for inspirational quotes stars
Inspirational Quote 

I absolutely love her point that challenge must become our new comfort zone because challenge begets growth and learning. Speaking from personal experience, when I was in elementary school, I was placed in the Gifted and Talented program because tests were too easy for me. The perception of this program alone is flawed, and my peers often assumed I was there because I was smarter than them. The level of work I was given in class also damaged my study habits later on in life. When I entered high school, my self-esteem plummeted; I was used to being the smart one, or at least feeling like the smart one because I turned my test in first or didn’t have to study, and suddenly having the option to take challenging courses made me feel like a failure when I did not receive all As or took the longest on a test or quiz. I also had to train myself to study and work hard for good grades because the quantitative success had previously come naturally to me. For the first time in my life, I felt stupid; I wasn’t.

I am excited to use the “Growth Mindset” philosophy in my school work and daily life. It will be a difficult task to train my brain to fight the now natural inclination to beat myself up for my failures and feel stupid when I do not know something. In stage management, I find myself feeling stupid all the time for not knowing how to do something; I aim to work to remind myself that I am here to learn, and that challenges, while uncomfortable, will make me a better stage manager, student, and individual. My two challenges for myself this semester are to:

  1. Ask myself what I can learn from each course and how it will benefit me, and
  2. Keep a journal full of inspirational quotes (like the H.E.A.R.T. posts suggested doing with memes) and document my progress in overcoming challenges.

Time Strategies

“The best way to get something done is to begin.”

-Author Unknown

 

I frequently fall subject to the clutches of procrastination, even when I am consciously

Image result for procrastination
Edward Young Quote 

aware of the fact that I am doing so. In my experience, procrastination easily slips into the guise of being “burnt-out,” because I have such an active lifestyle. I often find myself frustrated that I have been going and going for hours on end, and rather than pushing myself to do an assignment or write an email or look for internships, I make the decision to relax. Now, while I am a firm believer in the motto of “work hard, play hard,” I like the philosophies touched on in “The Important Habit of Just Starting” regarding delayed gratification versus instant gratification, and the idea that procrastination is causing harm to our future self.

I love the idea expressed in “10 Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets to Staying Focused” that emphasizes the importance of actively directing your thoughts. I am a big believer in meditation, as well as the psychological aspect of success, and I think that being present in a moment without letting other thoughts and distractions affect you is a huge component of actively enjoying and taking control of one’s life. That said, this is a feat that I have not exactly mastered yet; I constantly worry and overthink about the most insignificant, and often potentially toxic, topics. This frequently distracts me from what could have been a joyful or productive moment. I think mental health issues also play a huge part in success, not in the sense that they inhibit us, but in the idea that if we give our illness too much power over us, it can become a slippery slope that prevents us from feeling the way and accomplishing the things that we want to. For me personally, it is and must be an active fight with my anxiety and depression to be who I want to be and do what I want to do. I liked that Oliver Kharraz used his experience in a Jesuit monastery to demonstrate the idea of pushing your mind and directing your thoughts in a positive and beneficial way.

Ultimately, I think it is important to set goals and reminders for yourself (I LIVE for my planner!), however I also believe that the mental battle against one’s impulses and negative thoughts plays a huge role in success. This semester, I hope to better train myself to believe in the possibility of my success, and to consider the direct correlation between the amount of energy I put into something  and the benefits I will reap from it.

Reading Options

Illustration from Damayanti

Upon reviewing the reading options available for this class, I find my intrigue and my excitement growing. I am very excited about all the different possibilities for reading options. My goal is to read the public domain anthology version of the Ramayana; the possibility of viewing various styles and excerpts from different authors is very appealing to me, and the ability to access the anthology online is incredibly convenient. I have also decided that I want to view the Nine Ideal Indian Women book by Sunity Devee. I am a huge advocate for women’s rights and the representation of women in society, and I find it both inspiring and refreshing to read about strong-willed women in history. What an incredible opportunity to be able to read about women from another culture, especially one that I desire to experience someday.

I am already very pleased with the layout and scheduling flexibility of the class; as a drama major, I run on little sleep and a lot of hope, usually the hope that I will find free hours in my day to be able to do my homework (or sleep, often times I need to force myself to do that too). This class appeals to me for two reasons: one, I am fascinated by Indian culture, and India is, in fact, in my top three destinations I desire to visit in my lifetime; and two, I love to read and write, and this class gives me the artistic freedom to write what I like while learning about something that I find interesting.

I have always had an affinity for mythology. When I was younger, I knew some, but not much, about Greek mythology and Roman mythology because it was taught in my schooling. As I grew older, however, I found myself oddly fascinated by and immersed in Norse mythology. I cannot wait to now become immersed in Hindu traditions and Indian mythologies as well.

Rama and Sita 

Author’s Note:

I chose this image because I find great inspiration in the story of Rama and Sita. While I do not know much about it (yet), save the premise, I desire to know more about the female deities in Hinduism, and their stories.

Storybook Favorites

In this post, I will outline a few details from a select three “storybook” projects made in the past.

Tales From the Love Gods

I greatly enjoyed viewing this storybook, a presentation on the Gods

Orpheus and Eurydice

of Love: Cupid, from the Greek/Roman belief, and Kamadeva, from the Hindu tradition. The storybook introduction is quite clever, set up as a dialogue between the two.

In this presentation, Cupid and Kamadeva, affectionately nicknamed “Kam,” compare and contrast the stories they have of love both lost and found. One of the stories immediately caught my eye
because I have become familiar with it through my theatrical work. The tale of “Orpheus and Eurydice” is a classic Greek tragedy. I admire the way the author of this project altered a few minor details to modernize the piece, and established Cupid and Kamadeva as matchmakers.

https://sites.google.com/site/talesfromthelovegods/introduction

 

The House to a Wife of Many

The introduction for this storybook was very interesting, claiming to expand upon a story told to the author as a child. The story itself is a bit of a cliche, however, one could also look at it as a classic mystery. The reclusive owner of a beautiful, castle-like home is left alone, merely to be inquired of by the townspeople, but everything changes when her husband is found dead, and her attitude is not indicative of a grieving Christian wife. When a suitor comes along, months later, and is also found mysteriously dead following the couple’s marriage, the mystery grows and the story takes on a murder, ghost story type of mood. At the end of the introduction, the author claims to be on her way to explore the abandoned house in investigation. I think the premise of the storybook, while perhaps cliched, is fun and eerie in the most interesting of ways.

https://sites.google.com/site/housetoawifeofmany/introduction

 

Character Therapy: Healing in Stories

Group Therapy Session

This last storybook resonated with me immediately upon my opening of the page. The introduction takes a second person perspective, with the author acting as the head of a group therapy session and the reader as a participant. It then highlights a few members of the group and their respective stories. This really resonated with me because I am an active participant in therapy, and am very serious about mental health issues and advocating for them.

https://sites.google.com/site/charactertherapy/