Sunday, 5 October 2014

Jaya: Confounding

***Spoiler Alert***

"The Mahabharata is an ancient epic where:

A son renounces sex so that his old father can remarry: Bhishma
a daughter is a prize in an archery contest: Draupadi
a teacher demands half a kingdom as his tuition fee: Dronacharya
a student is turned away because of his caste: Ekalavya and Karna by Drona
a mother asks her sons to share a wife: Kunti
a father curses his son-in-law to be old and impotent: Shukra
a husband lets another man makes his wife pregnant: Pandu
a wife blindfolds herself to share her husband's blindness: Gandhari
a forest is destroyed for a new city: Khandava-Prastha
a family is divided over inheritance: Kuru clan
a king gambles away his kingdom: Yudhishtira
a queen is forced to serve as a maid: Draupadi and Sarmishtha
a man is stripped of his manhood for a year: Arjuna
a woman is publicly disrobed: Draupadi
a war is fought where all rules are broken: Kuru-kshetra war
a shift in sexuality secures victory: Shikhandi
the vanquished go to paradise: Kauravas
the victors lose their children: Pandavas
the earth is bathed in blood: Kuru-kshetra
God is cursed: Krishna by Gandhari
until wisdom prevails"

Although I admire this great epic to a great extent, I have a lot of pet peeves about the story.

First of all, Devapi was not allowed to ascend the throne as he had skin disease and therefore his younger brother Shantanu succeeded him. By the same law, if Dhritarashtra cannot take the throne because of his blindness, then Pandu also should not have been crowned the King for he was born pale and weak.
When Draupadi was disrobed, Bhishma and Drona were silent as the Kauravas did not go against any rules and no law was broken. So dharma was not disturbed hence they did not protest. But when Pandavas sent the sages to claim their territory back after their 13 years of exile, Duryodhana refused to it. Why didn't Bhishma and Drona speak up then? Clearly Duryodhana was going against dharma. Even when Krishna pointed out that it is adhrama to go back on one's words, Duryodhana did not cave.Why were Bhishma and Drona dumb then? This subjects the reader's mind to the suspicion that Bhisma and Drona might have in fact taken sides with the Kauravas, something which Bhishma should not have done on account of keeping up his oath.
How can Drona even consider killing Pandavas? They were the ones who restored his pride against Drupada and got himself half a kingdom, which is way luxurious for a priest's son.

There were so many other incidents that were unfair to Pandavas and even Kauravas at some point of time. Pandavas, though they fought for the right cause, to restore dharma, they chose the wrong path. They won mostly by deceiving and misleading. So they were doomed in hell. But even though Kauravas were selfish and greedy, they attained the heavenly bliss because they renounced hatred and were killed in the Holy land of Kuru-kshetra. All is fair in love and war but that rule is applicable only on earth I guess.

Krishna says in Bhagavat Gita that the world we perceive is a maya: a delusion, and life after moksha or mukthi is the real world. Considering for argument sake that this is true, if we were thrown into a fantasy world, is it smart to make the best out of it or to wait in the fantasy world to get to the real world without actually experiencing anything? Everything is maya, materialistic. Yes it is. But that raises a bigger question: Why create such a fantasy world then? Why create it with both good and bad? To teach humans the value of life? Seems a little silly.

The author has showed his rationalism in his little notes in between chapters, which had a totally different and logical perspective of the ambiguous incidents and in some other cases where the epic is trying to hide the embarrassing, socially non-acceptable events.

Anyway, the mystery of Mahabharata is solved. The difference between Jaya and Vijaya is made clear. Vijaya and Jaya mean the same: Victory. Vijaya is material victory. It earns you temporary place in either Swarga (heaven) after you attain moksha, or Naraga (hell), based on the merits and demerits you have committed in your mortal life on Earth. Swarga is where all your desires are fulfilled. Jaya is spiritual victory. You attain mukthi and ascend straight to Vaikunda, eternal paradise, where you are free of all desires.

How much of this is true? I suggest you read the book yourself to choose your path.

The Mistress of the Game: Not up to the mark

Tilly succeeded in bringing back Sidney Sheldon's characters alive but the characters were dancing for Tilly's tune and not Sidney's. If you want to be famous, write a sequel to a bestseller, don't go after the legend! Sidney Sheldon was and forever will be the master storyteller.

As for the characters, I'd like to start with Gabe. He is a drug addict, loser, criminal and a prisoner. When he is released and suspected for a fraudster again, the natural reaction would be to think he is guilty. But the detective who inquires the case believes in him even though he knows Gabe is an ex-con. Seriously? What was I reading? Sidney Sheldon's sequel or some self motivating crap? The characters were co-operative and lending a helping hand in every step of his. Dhai helps him in real estate business. His friend from "prison" (yeah that's right. People are very generous and kind) is financing him to start a real estate business from scratch. Tara agrees to marry him on a lousy second date. He works for AIDS charity. He hires a detective to spy on Lexi. Now that is purely Tilly not Sidney! This is not Jeffrey Archer's or James Rollins.. It is Sidney Sheldon's! It has to be thrilling, manipulative, evil cut throat competition. There was no room for warm sentiments in the Master of the Game nor should there be any in its sequel!

I am kind of disappointed to see how Robbie's character turned out. In The Master of the Game, the last scene goes like Kate getting tuned to manipulate her great grandson when she sees him at the Piano, waiting to build up a career as a Pianist and not as a Chairman in Kruger Brunt. I'd have least expected that sweet little aspiring pianist to be gay.

Lexi (Late Alexandra's daughter)is supposedly a wild cat (I don't see it) who is ambitious and righteous right from her childhood. Her moral values are crushed and her emotions are evidently shattered when she is kidnapped and raped as a child. But she doesn't let that or her deafness from the bomb blast affect her in anyway. She tracks down the rapist and kills him in the prison. She strides Kruger-Brunt office along side Max (Eve's son) and proves to be a prospective Chairwoman of the company. But the tide turns over when Max seduces her and lures her into bed (That's so gross because their mothers are twin sisters and they are cousins!). Anyway, their secret relationship and Max's sweet talks make Lexi believe in him. Max takes over as the chairmanship of Kruger-Brunt at the right time and Lexi is expelled. Now here is the part where the author's drawing comparison between Kate and Lexi has to ridiculed! Kate would have seen right through Max and his ruse, and she would would have out-witted him long before he could lay the trap for her. Lexi could not have been more of a puppy here. And she emerges back from ashes and builds her own company and loses it to win Kruger-Brunt back. While that is appreciated it is not really what one would expect from the Mistress of the game to short-sell her shares from Kruger-Brunt to rebuild the empire again. Lexi is definitely not the Mistress of Kate's game.

Max is just a lame pathetic despo and Eve is the puppet master. Eve is the only evil character but the credit goes to Sidney Sheldon as she is from Master of the game. The final touche with the letter even from her death bed, her intention to destroy everyone she blames for her misfortune was so like Eve.

I'd have rather preferred to read The Master of the Game again.

All that this book does is uplift Sidney Sheldon's fame and image. This book talks bad about Tilly Bagshawe: that she cannot be the Mistress storyteller.