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1-Ashwamedh Parv Variations
Let us first examine this great event as it is portrayed in the Sanskrit version of the epic. As the events proceed in the Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat, after the disastrous war and the pyrrhic victory of the Paandav in the great war Vyaas proposed king-designate Dharm Raaj Yudhishthir to organize the Ashwamedh Yagya (primarily to counter-act the deep-seated gloom and dejection from their mind ) with two horses, one white the other dark. Arjun rode the white one following the dark one on its trail. First, the dark steed got into the territory of Trigart and its king Sooryavarmaa held up the horse. As a result, Arjun had a fight with king Sooryavarmaa and his two brothers, Ketuvarmaa and Dhritavarmaa, in which the three brothers were defeated.
The next point that the dark horse found itself on its journey was the Sindhu province which was being ruled by Surath, the able son of the deceased king Jayadratha. Both Surath, the young king and his mother, the widow of king Jayadrath (who happened to be the sister of Duryodhan), got panicked and sought shelter with Arjun.
From the Sindhu province the horse proceeded to the North-east province Manipur. Incidentally Manipur was being ruled by Babhruvaahan, the son of Arjun and princess Chitraangadaa, which Arjun himself wasn't aware of. Although Babhruvaahan accorded the best of reception and honor to Arjun the latter looked at such hospitality as a mark of cowardice and unheroic disposition. Arjun was really harsh and offensive to Babhruvaahan and in fact provoked him to a fight. This tense situation was further aggravated by Uloopee, the Naag Kanyaa (snake-princess) from the nether-world. Then a terrible fight ensued between Arjun and Babhruvaahan in which Babhruvaahan killed Arjun. After Arjun got killed both Uloopee and Chitraangadaa arrived on the spot. Chitraangadaa was crest-fallen to see Arjun dead and appealed to Uloopee to bring him back to life.
On the other hand, Babhruvaahan (who too had lost his senses) on his recovery felt miserable and was filled with a terrible sense of guilt and remorse for being the cause of his own father's death. However, Uloopee, on the pitiful persuasion of Chitraangadaa, used Sanjeevanee herb to bring the dead Arjun back to life. After this high drama was over, Uloopee revealed the whole mystery how Arjun was cursed by the Asht Vasu for his unethical act of putting Shikhandee on the front and killing Bheeshm who was without arm. The Asht Vasu had got the approval of mother Gangaa before cursing Arjun. Somehow the Naag Princess Uloopee could know this well in advance and had approached her father, the king of the Naag (Cobra), Anant. The Naag king Anant, however, had fervently requested the Asht Vasu to call back the curse they had inflicted upon Arjun. The Vasu complied with Naag Raaj's request in a way by designing the killing of Arjun by his own son (Babhruvaahan) at Manipur and again getting back to life after his liberation from the impact of the curse. This whole trend and mystery was wonderfully narrated by Uloopee to Arjun which made him feel so happy. Then Arjun embraced and caressed his son Babhruvaahan and invited him to come to Hastinaapur with both his mothers, Chitraangadaa and Uloopee.
After this high drama in Manipur the sacred horse entered the territory of Magadh where Arjun defeated the young King Meghasandhi, the grandson of Jaraasandh. In the south Arjun defeated Sharabh, the son of Shishupaal, in Shaktipur of the Chedi's. In the same row Arjun went on defeating the Mlechchh kings of Bang, Pundra and Kosal. Similarly, along the Coromandal and the Kankon coast Arjun fought and defeated the Dravid, the Aandhra, the Mahaashika and the Kollwapineyas. Of course, there were many (such as Sauraashtra, Gokarn Desh, Dwaaraavatee Nagaree, Panchanad Pradesh and Gaandhaar Desh) who humbly accepted the sovereignty of the Paandav and were invited to the Ashwamedh Yagya.
As the holy horse returned to Hastinaapur after its long and eventful journey the Yagya was formally treated as over and then preparation was in full swing for the journey of the Paandav to the Heaven (Swargarohana).
In Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat, the love episode of Chitraangadaa and Arjun, their marriage and the birth of their son Babhruvaahan, figure in the Aadi Parv. Further, in the course of the Raajsooya Yagya Arjuna's reunion with Chitraangadaa in Manipur again and Arjun's invitation to Babhruvaahan to the Yagya is elaborately portrayed in the Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat. Yet another relevant point mentioned in the Aadi Parv of the Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat is that Chitravaahan, the king of Manipur, had kept a condition before he agreed on the issue of Arjun-Chitraangadaa marriage that the son of the couple would succeed to the throne of Manipur, not Hastinaapur. As per this condition Babruvaahan became the king of Manipur and Chitraangadaa stayed back in Manipur to aid and advise her son like a regent.
In the course of the Ashwamedh yYagya after the fight between Arjun and Babhruvaahan and Arjun's defeat and death and again his getting back to life and his reunion with his son and two wives (Chitraangadaa and Uloopee) Arjun directed Babhruvaahan to go to Hastinaapur with his two mothers. As the Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat further mentions, while Babhruvaahan finally leaves Hastinapur after his sojourn King Yudhishthir gives him a lot of wealth and gifts.In the Aashramvaasikaa Parv of the Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat it seems that while Gaandhaaree was leaving Hastinaapur with all the Kuru widows on their Vaanprasth (retirement to forest, the last phase of Vaidik life) Chitraangadaa was very much present there.
As such, in view of the above discussion we reasonably assume that Vyaas Jee has given special attention and importance to the entire Ashwamedh Parv in general and to Arjun-Chitraangadaa affair in particular. The histrionics of the situation and the excitement of winning war might have impressed the later kings and emperors who might be drawing ample vicarious pleasure from the fast-track dramatic sequence of events of the Ashwamedh Parv. That partly explains why Jaimini Rishi claimed himself as a disciple of Vyaas Jee and composed Jaimini Bhaarat in the style of the Ashwamedh Parv of Vyaas' Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat. In the entire stretch of Eastern India Jaimini Bharata became greatly popular especially in the courts of kings and chieftains.
On closer examination we notice a few deviations in Jaimini Bharat from Vyaas' Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat. For example, Vyaas mentions two holy horses (one white, the other dark) while Jaimini has only one white horse in his story. Further, as per Jaimini Mahaabhaarat, this holy white horse was recovered by Bheemsen defeating king Yuvanaashwa of Bhadraavatee Pur.
Again, on the advice of Vyaas Jee, Yudhisthir sent Bheemsen
to invite and bring forth Shree Krishn and all his Ashtapata Vanshee. Shree Krishn's
Another deviation from Jaimini Bhaarat is the abduction of the holy horse by Anuswal, demon Shaalv's brother, at the time of the initial ritual (Vandapana) before releasing the animal.
A new addition to the story-line by Jaimini is Shree Krishn's fight with the abductor Anuswala and His deliberate act of getting defeated and losing His senses. When Anuswala was begging apology for his insolence at the feet of Shree Krishn the latter revealed His Chaturth Moorti and Anuswala gave the holy Yagya horse back and sought shelter at His feet.
In the sequence of events as we see in Jaimini Bhaarat, the holy horse first enters the territory of king Neeldhwaj of Maahishmatee Puree. On the wise counsel of Agni, the son-in-law of king Neeldhwaj, his son Praveer honorably returned the holy horse to the Paandav as they were the committed followers of Shree Krishn.
A series of interesting, yet complex chain of events are mentioned here in Jaimini Mahaabhaarat as how the daughter of king Neeldhwaj and Queen Jwaalaavatee, was getting married to Agni, his wife getting turned into a piece of stone being cursed by a Rishi along the Gangaa River, the holy Yagya horse getting stuck to that stone, on the touch of Arjun the horse being free and the cursed character (Chandee was her name) getting liberated simultaneously and so on and so forth.
Next, the horse enters the Champak province. Here we get the story of Indumatee and Sudhanvaa. Sudhanvaa got a protective ring (Kavach) from Gangaa with the help of Indumatee. Finally, at the direction of Shree Krishn Arjun applied his Vaishnavee power and made Sudhanvaa free. Surath too was killed by a salvo from Arjun. At last, Hansdhwaj escorted the holy horse back to Hastinaapur.
After this dramatic journey the Yagya horse enters the Pramilaa kingdom. That is a cursed land. It was Goddess Paarvatee who had cursed her to be deprived of male companionship. The moment they saw Nar Naaraayan Arjun, she was free from the curse instantly. On the counseling of Shree Krishn Arjun sent Pramilaa away to Hastinaapur with his promise to marry her.
Then the horse gets into the land of the terrible demon (Ugra Raakshas). That is a strange country where human beings appear like fruits on trees in the noon hours and the carnivorous demons eat them. By the grace of Goddess Saraswatee Arjun was successful in killing that terrible demon and could make the horse free.
In Jaimini Bhaarat
On the other hand, Shree Krishn eludes Arjun whenever he tries to remember him before paying his obeisance to mother Gangaa. As a result, Babhruvaahan, on the advice of Uloopee, begs the "Power" from mother Gangaa and with that he kills Arjun. Then both Uloopee and Chitraangadaa arrive on the spot that gives a turn to the tragic sequence. Uloopee somehow realizes the blunder and sends Babhruvaahan to Dhritraashtra (the minister of Naag Raaj Anant) and got the Sanjeevanee herb. Shree Krishn too arrives just on time. He comes with the severed head of Arjun which is stolen away by Dhritraashtra (Naag Raaj Ananta's Minister), and with the touch of the Sanjeevanee Arjun gets back his life. Brother Bheemsen and mother Kuntee also arrive there. This part of the story is not there in Vyaas' Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat. It is a wonderful family reunion. Both Uloopee and Chitraangadaa are cordially invited to Hastinaapur. As the mystery slowly unfolds itself, all such complications and tragedy happen due to mother Gangaa's curse. This secret was known to Ulloopee alone. Hence she had advised Babhruvaahan to worship mother Gangaa and seek her favor.
The holy horse of the Paandav got into the city of Kaantaavatee in the country of Shubhravativaan on the borders of Manipur. The righteous king of that country Shikhidhwaj had in his life-time already performed seven Ashwamedh Yagya. Taamradhwaj was his eldest son. Both the father and son were committed / a vowed Vaisnav. In the fight Taamradhwaj had defeated both Shree Krishn and Arjun and was carrying them on his shoulders to his father when both feigned unconscious. And both Shree Krishn and Arjun got into disguise and approached king Shikhidhwaj as two Braahman. Shree Krishn, finally, was merciful enough to reveal Himself (in His Chaturbhuj Roop) before king Shikhidhwaj. After this obviously, the king and his retinue fell prostrate at the feet of the lord and returned the holy horse with profuse apology.
The next destination of the Yagya horse was Ratnapur which was being ruled by an able king Veer Varmaa. The five able sons of the King (Sulol, Sulok, Neel, Nakul etc) launched an attack on Arjun and his army. Arjun, however, could make them flat and unconscious. After this Arjun had a fierce fight with the king's son-in-law Yam Raaj. Yam Raaj sldo got collapsed and unconscious. But when Arjun failed to defeat the King Veer Varmaa, Shree Krishn dispatched Hanumaan to tackle the situation. At last, the king took shelter at the feet of Shree Krishn and the lord was pleased to reveal His original form (His Chaturbhuj Roop) to king Veer Varmaa. The high drama ended peacefully as the king returned the Yagya horse and accepted the lords sovereignty.
The Yagya horse entered then King Chandrahaas' territory of Kontal. He was the worthy son of King Sudhanya, His father had a notorious minister called Dhritabuddhi who had killed the king and forcibly occupied the throne. He too had tortured the prince and the King apparent, Chandrahaas. But at every point of his crisis Shree Krishn had come to his rescue. At last both Shree Krishn and Arjun were bound by a lasting friendship with Chandrahaas instead of fighting over the Yagya horse. King Chandrahaas rather took it as a great privilege to hand over the holy animal to the Paandav and got the rare favor of lord Shree Krishn's Darshan and blessings.
In the course of its long journey the Yagya horse reached the holy Aashram of Rishi Bakadant in an oceanic island. Both Shree Krishn and Arjun had given their Darshan to Rishi Bakadant earlier. In the next leg of the horse's journey, it entered Sindhu Desh where Surath, the son of Jayadrath and his mother Dushalaa (Jayadrath's widow and the sister of Duryodhan), surrendered gracefully at the feet of Shree Krishn and Arjun.
Then the great ritual of Ashwamedh Yagya then comes to an end and the Paandav set out on their journey to the Heaven (Swargaarohan) entrusting the throne to Pareekshit.
In Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat
According to the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat only three persons (Shree Krishn, Uddhav and Krit Varma) had come from Dwaraakaa Puree in response to the invitation of King Yudhishthir to attend the Ashwamedh Yagya, whereas in Jaimini Bhaarat Shree Balaraam and Shree Vasudev too were in the company of Shree Krishn and others who came to Hastinaapur. As Jaimini Bhaarat puts it, Anushaalv had abducted the Yagya horse only to get the Darshan of Shree Krishn while fighting with him. This is well in consonance with the attitude and approach of the demons in Hindu myths and scriptures. They believe more in challenges than surrender even if it involves their matter of spiritual liberation.
Whereas in Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat we get some other explanation. As it goes, Shree Krishn was under moral pressure and duress (as He was cursed by Garg Muni) to go for a fight with Anushaalv and to court defeat. Both the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat and Jaimini Bhaarat mention that the holy horse first entered Maahishmatee Puree, the territory of the King Neeldhwaj. The only point both the accounts differ is on the name of the queen (Neeldhwaj's). While the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat calls her Janaa, Jaimini Bhaarat calls her as Jwaalaa. Similarly, in Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat the name of the queen of Prince Praveer is Madan Manjaree; whereas in Jaimini Bhaarat it is Prabhaavatee.
The wedding of the daughter of King Neeldhwaj and Queen Jwaalaa receives different illustration in both the texts. In Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat we get an elaborate account of the background and mystery of the wedding of Princess Swaahaa (the daughter of King Neeldhwaj) with Agni. It depicts the fascinating account of how mother Vasumatee felt jealous of Lakshmee Jee as all the time she was sitting on the lap of Shree Naaraayan. That enraged Lakshmee Jee who cursed Vasumatee to take birth as a mortal on earth. In turn Vasumatee too cursed Lakshmee Jee for which Shree Naaraayan was forced to take incarnations on Earth. This anecdote is only found in the Ashwamedh Parv of the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat.
Both the texts, however, give an identical approach to the holy horse's entry into the Champak province of Karnaatak. The only variation is marked on the matter of Indumatee-Sudhanya affair which Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat doesn't have.As Jaimini Bhaarat narrates, Shoorsen, the King of Karnaatak, had a beautiful daughter called Indumatee. She worshipped lord Viswanaath with faith and devotion to get a very good husband. By the grace of lord Viswanaath Indumatee, on her way back from the temple, saw Sudhanya, the handsome and virtuous son of King Hansdhwaj. At first sight Indumatee was drawn to him and courted the Prince as her desired person. As Sudhanya was already married he turned down the offer but Indumatee was committed to him all her life by not marrying any one else and keeping herself by Sudhanya's side on the war field assisting and encouraging her lover all the while. At last Indumatee felt completely overwhelmed when she saw Shree Krishn with her lover Sudhanya.
Next, the Yagya horse entered the territory of Pramilaa (a land of women only). There was not a single male in the country. And the land was ruled by the female ruler called Pramilaa. Arjun considered it both delicate and embarrassing to fight with a woman. So he prayed Shree Krishn. As a result Pramilaa got infatuated with Arjun and wished to marry him. On Shree Krishn's advice Arjun married Pramilaa in accordance with the Gandharv ritual and sent her to Hastinaapur. She was accompanied by other women to Hastinaapur too. Each woman of this Pramilaa kingdom was a cursed one (by Paarvatee Jee) and was forbidden to meet any male companion. Arjun, being verily a Nar Naaraayan (God in mortal form), liberated them from their state of curse and despondency.
The same Pramilaa anecdote appears in the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat in a slightly different manner. As it puts it, Pramilaa was drawn to Arjun as he was accompanied by Kaamadev or Cupid, the God of love. All those cursed women were, in their previous life, the children of king Dileep. Paqrvatee Jee's curse sent them down as women. When Arjun asked Pramilaa, she gave him the entire account. She entreated Arjun to marry her. and Arjun promised her to marry her and left for Hastinaapur.
Then the holy horse entered the Ugra Province. It was a forbidden land of deadly demons surrounded by tall mountains and deep forest. There was a strange country where human beings appeared on trees like fruits which the ferocious cannibals ate. Arjun, however, could kill those demons and retrieve the horse. While in Jaimini Bhaarat it is mentioned that those demons were patronized by the demon King Sadaashiv; in Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat they had the blessing and support of both Shiv and Paarvatee Jee (Har-Gauree). Similarly, in Jaimini Bhaarat the land of the demons is called Ugra Desha while in Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat it is called Vriksh Desh). The rest, however, remains same.
According to Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat, when Babhruvaahan had been to the Nether world to get the Sanjeevanee, Dhritraashtra (the minister of Naag king Anant) refused to give him. It was because he happened to be a good friend of blind King Dhritraashtra of Hastinaapur. In Jaimini Bhaarat, on the other hand, it is mentioned that in the great fire of Khaandav all the kith and kin of Dhritraashtra (a cobra) were killed for which he wanted to take revenge on Arjun. So he refused to give the Amrit Mani or Sanjeevanee, whatsoever. Apart from this minor variation both the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat and the Jaimini Bhaarat are nearly identical in their approach and presentation.
Again, while in Jaimini Bhaarat the city of Shikhidhwaj King is mentioned as Kaantaavatee Pur, in Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat it is named as Ratnaavatee Pur. Further, the Braahman (in disguise) refused to take the sacrifice from the King as tears rolled down his left eye when he gave away his right limbs. As the Jaimini Bhaarat narrates, Queen Kumud Vatee made humble request to the Braahman in disguise to accept the Daan (donation); whereas in the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat it is mentioned that the Brahmin-in-disguise was humbly requested to accept the half-detached head of king Shikhidhwaj as sacrifice. The rest of the narration remains mostly identical in theme and approach.
The entry of the Yagya horse in Ratn Pur and the capture of the same by Veer Varmqa remain same both in the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat and the Jaimini Bhaarat though, they only differ in the name of the Rishi concerned. While the former calls the Rishi Bakadant.
The Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat mentions the holy horse entering Sindhu Desh which was being ruled by the son of Jayadrath and his widow Dushalaa (Duryodhan's sister). It further mentions the name of their son as Manibhadra. But this son's name doesn't figure in Jaimini Bhaarat And as per the account of Jaimini Bhaarat the King Manibhadra died of shock when he heard the coming of Arjun. But in Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat it is mentioned that King Manibhadra ran away when he heard that Arjun was approaching. The rest, however, remains same.Then the Yagya came to an end and the Paandav set out on their journey to Heaven (Swargarohan).
In Book Babhruvaahan Yuddh
This episode with the emotion packed reunion of the father and son duo (Arjun and Babhruvaahan) is elaborately drawn in the Ashwamedh Parv of the Assamese Mahaabhaarat. The Assamese version of the great Indian Epic is not a literal translation of the Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat. Though the main story line and the basic structure is maintained, there have been changes and variations now and then in the Assamese version. The original composition of poet Rama Saraswati's was later re-composted by three poets (Ganga Dasa, Subuddhi Ray and Bhabani Dasa) on a collaborative basis. They have mainly focused on the Ashwamedh Parv and achieved their imaginative and stylistic excellence.
The ancient long narrative called "Lang Goi Sagol Thaba" that exists in Manipuree literature focuses on a horse that is meant to be sacrificed in a ritual (Ashwamedh). That was composed in the manner of the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat written by poet Gangadas Sen, especially its fourth chapter narrating the Ashwamedh Yagya. In Manipuri dialect, the Ashwamedh Parv was composed in 1724 by Langjam Prasuram's son Langjam Chandrashyam and his disciples. In this Manipuree version, we find the entire focus on the fight between Arjun and Babhruvaahan. When son Babhruvaahan comes with gifts and the Yagya horse to receive his father Arjun, Arjun turns harsh on him and abuses him calling him the son of a harlot. Babhruvaahan swallows everything as a son, but such horrific aspersion on his mother (Chitraangadaa) brings him to his elements who challenges Arjun and beheads him at the end. Babhruvaahan's step-mother Uloopee, the daughter of the snake-king Anant, had sent Pundareeksh to the nether-world to fetch the life-giving GEM.
While the snake-king Anant was too willing to part with the GEM for the sake of his son-in-law (Arjun), his own minister and people were opposed to it. Incidentally, Babhruvaahan launched an offensive on the Nether-world and realized the GEM. But in the meantime yet another conspiracy was hatched by the minister of snake-king Anant. He had stolen the severed head of Arjun without which the revival of life was not possible. However, the crisis was soon resolved as Shree Krishn arrived on the wings of Garud over there in Manipur and the high drama ended with Arjun getting back to life and united with his son.
This text, however, makes a point that mother Chitraangadaa was quite unhappy with her son Babhruvaahan's impulsive decision to fight with his father Arjun without consulting her. At the happy ending and reunion of Arjun with his heroic son Babhruvaahan and both his loyal and committed wives (Chitraangadaa and Uloopee) he made a fervent request to both Chitraangadaa and Uloopee to spend the rest of their lives at Hastinaapur.
In the Bangaalee Mahaabhaarat there is a minor variation of the story which mentions that Bheem, Kuntee, Yashodaa and Devakee too had accompanied Shree Krishn to Manipur when Arjun was reported lying dead over there. The Manipuree version of the Ashwamedh Parv, however, mentions about Shree Krishn going alone to Manipur on the wings of Garud. Sarala (Sharalaa) Mahaabhaarat in Oriyaa simply mentions Shree Krishn's act of reviving Arjun from death. In the Jaimini Mahaabhaarat there are elaborate accounts of Babhruvaahan's offensive in the Naag Lok (Nether-world) the possession of the life-giving GEM from there and finally bringing Arjun back to life. As we see, the Ashwamedh Parv of the Bangaalee, Manipuree and the Assamese Mahaabhaarat was largely influenced by the Jaimini Mahaabhaarat. In the Bangaalee version of the epic composed by poet Parameswar Das (under the patronage of Pargal Khan) there is a brief description of the Ashwamedh Parv. Here we notice a perceptible influence of the Sanskrit Mahaabhaarat. On the other hand, poet Shreekar Nandy's Bangaalee version was heavily influenced by the Sanskrit Jaimini Bhaarat. Similarly, poet Kasiram Das' Mahaabhaarat (the Ashwamedh Parv in particular) was composed visibly in the shadow of the Sanskrit Jaimini Bhaarat.
In the Oriyaa Mahaabhaarat of Sarala Dasa, however,
there is only a passing reference to the Ashwamedh Parv. While in all other versions
of the great Indian epic across the eastern and northeastern Indian peninsula we notice
a massive thrust on the Ashwamedh Parv, Sarala Dasa doesn't seem to subscribe to it.
This is yet another original deviation of this great genius.
True, we know nothing further of Pramilaa after she is sent to Hastinaapur by Arjun. In he Jaimini story, it is not exactly sex for reproduction that the women have in mind, though that too obviously is a reason. But far more than that, they seem to enjoy sex for its own sake - aggressive, tempestuous sex. The Greek Amazons are all eventually conquered by men, one way or other. That is what happens in the case of Alee too. Pramilaa's story is very confusing - rather than surrendering to marriage, she seems to be actively courting it. Which is very uncharacteristic of Amazons. True, Krishn does not seem to encounter Amazones. He is present and active in the Alee's story, though.
Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 12/01/12