Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Palace of Illusions...


A beautiful story of the Mahabharata told from the eyes of a strong, smart, emotional, calculative, introspecting and a humane Draupadi. The Palace of Illusions - a love story of Draupadi and Karna, the one man she was in love with all through her life; a love story of Draupadi and Krishna, a relationship that had no name. Her husbands play a secondary role. There were some beautiful passages in the book such as the one when she realizes Yudhistira's greatness when she got to know that he knew all along that she loved Karna more than any of the Pandavas, or the one when Karna confesses his love for her to Bheeshma, or when she realizes that she loved Krishna, or when she was outraged that Kunti offered Karna to be her sixth husband but secretly she was happy, or the time when she questioned who the real winner of was as Duryodhana was sent to Heaven and Pandavas were left to rule a kingdom devastated by death or the passage when Bheeshma recounts his past life sins when he learnt never to trust any women as it was because of a woman - his wife in his previous birth, that his brothers were condemned to death as soon as they were born. Chitra writes in a simple way, bringing out the small observations of difficult relationships, even though we know how the story will pan along. Her Draupadi is no sati savitri, she will kick every one's ass, willing to fight her mother in law to take control of her sons, feeling jealous of her husband's other wives even though she herself harbored feelings for Karna. A whole new perspective on Mahabharata..just like my favorite book Cuckold.

Some lines from the book.. 

Stories changed with each telling. Or is that the nature of all stories, the reason for their power?

Truth, like diamond, has many facets.

As for being pawns, aren't we all pawns in the hands of Time, the greatest player of them all?

Love comes like lightning and disappears the same way. If you are lucky, it strikes you right. If not, you will spend your life yearning for a man, you can't have. I advise you to forget about love. Pleasure is simpler, and duty more important. Learn to be satisfied with them.

Doesn't the imagination always exaggerate or diminish truth?

Fear makes us selfish.

Gandhari's marriage like Kunti's was not a happy one. I wonder if that was what gave them strength, both these queens. But perhaps I'd got the cause and effect mixed up? Perhaps strong women tended to have unhappy marriages.

Maybe that is why Duryodhana was great friends with Karna as he came into the world in strange ways.

Can our actions change our destiny? Or are they like sand piled against the breakage in a dam, merely delaying the inevitable.

Expectations are like hidden rocks in your path - all they do is trip you up.

For isn't that what our homes are ultimately, our fantasies made corporeal, our secret values exposed? The converse is also true. We grow to become that which we love within.

That seemed to be the nature of boons given to women - they were handed to us like presents we had not quite wanted.

One couldn't depend on a man like Bheeshma who plucked frailty and desire so easily out of his heart. How could he have compassion for the fault of others, or understand their need? Keeping his word was more important to him than a human life. That is why he had sent Amba without a moment's hesitation.

Your childhood hunger is the one that never leaves you.

The beauties we dote on had no existence outside of our own longing.

Time is like a flower. It visualized a lotus opening, the way the outer petals fall away to reveal the inner ones. An inner petal would never know the older outer ones, even though it was shaped by them, and only the viewer who plucked the flower would see how each petal was connected to the others.

Is this desire for vengeance stronger than the longing to be loved? What evil magic does it possess to draw the human heart so powerfully to it?

A situation in itself is neither happy nor unhappy. It is only your response to it that causes sorrow.

A burning stick, in trying to burn you, is consuming itself. That's what happens to a burning heart.

We cannot force ourselves to love or to withhold it. At best, we can curb our actions. The heart itself is beyond control. That is its power and weakness. 

When you share a man's pillow, his dreams seap into you.

Battle against the six inner enemies that plague us all - lust, anger, greed, ignorance, arrogance, and envy.

What is more numerous than the grass? The thoughts that rise in the mind of the man.
Who is truly wealthy? The man to whom agreeable and disagreeable, wealth and woe, past and future are the same.
What is the most wondrous thing on earth? Each day countless humans enter the Temple of Death, yet the ones left behind continue to love as though they were immortal.

Perhaps this is the miracle of stories, they make us realize we are not alone in our folly or in our suffering.

How a promise - made to another or to oneself - could paralyze a life! How pride had kept them from admitting their mistakes - and thus from the happiness that might have been theirs. Only much later did I realize I was weeping for myself as well, my own lethal vow of vengeance that had locked these brothers in the stance of enmity.

Happiness, like a mischievous bird that hops from branch to branch, continued to elude us.

This is the nature of sorrow - often it fades with time, but once in a while it remains lodged below the surface of things, a stubborn thorn beneath a fingernail, making itself felt every time you brush against it.

There was an unexpected freedom in finding out that one wasn't as important as one had always assumed.

Prayer is one of those few things that can travel from this realm to that next amorphous one.

Sometimes, one has to drop logic and go with the instinct of the heart, even if it contradicts law.

Krishna loved me even when I behaved in a most unlovable manner. And his love was totally different from every other love in my life. Unlike them, it didn't expect me to behave in a certain way. It didn't change into displeasure or even anger or even hatred if I didn't comply. It healed me. If what I felt for Karna was singeing fire, Krishna's love was a balm, moonlight over a parched landscape. 


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