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The Mahabharata Chronicles

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    What would happen if newspapers were present in mythological times? How would they report the epics? This mad thought put me on the way to rewriting part of the Mahabharata Epic as a series of newspaper articles and reports. I thought I’d share them here. (This is a weekly affair, so watch this space every Wednesday).


    The Mahabharata Chronicles (1)

    It has been said that history is written by the victors in a war, so it necessarily has to be skewed. All of us must admit to the truth of this. So, the only way to get at the truth is to look at contemporary news reports.

    I can hear you screaming “fake news!” Yes, you are right to a certain extent. But there is one advantage to biased media – the bias works both ways. So by scanning through various news reports on both sides of the spectrum, one can arrive at the truth, situated somewhere in between.

    So is the case with the Mahabharata. We have been confused by various interpretations of the epic, and people bellowing from rooftops only their particular interpretation is the correct one, that most people nowadays don’t know what to think. So to aid the common man, we have sent our reporter into the past (using the time machine created through the technology developed by the Vedic scientist Kalachara) to collect news reports from the era, and we must say that our efforts have met with more than moderate success.

    It seems ancient Hastinapura had a lot of newspapers, and whatever be their faults, these kings were all totally supportive of media freedom. So from today onwards, we propose to bring you reports, interviews and news analyses from a number of sources.

    Let this be our small contribution to the “greatest story ever told”.


    Report from the ‘Times of Hastinapura’


    King Shantanu Still Incommunicado – No Clarity of Information from Palace Sources

    Samachara Data

    It is understood that King Shantanu, who has withdrawn to private chambers after he returned from a recent hunting trip, is still shunning publicity and talking to no one except his son and the heir apparent Devavrata. He has not appeared in his court for more than a week now; all the matters of state are being handled by the Yuva Raja and the council of ministers.

    There is no official press release from the Home Ministry or the Monarch’s Chambers, but speculations are rife that the King might be suffering from the recurrence of chronic depression which affected him when his wife disappeared some years ago, and which was cured only by the return of Prince Devavrata to the palace. It will be remembered that the Queen, who is said to be the river goddess Ganga, had sacrificed the seven princes born before the Yuva Raja by throwing them in the river. (See the full story featured on page 11.) Prince Devavrata was reunited with the King four years ago, but the Queen refused to come back.

    There are also rumours of a potential romantic dalliance by the King during his sojourn in the forest, but official sources rubbish this claim.


    Snippet from ‘Palatial Corridors’ (a tabloid of dubious veracity – ed.)


    Monarch Out Fishing Got Hooked?

    Well, well, friends! Our friend the little bird has got it from a little fish that a certain king out on a fishing expedition got himself hooked!

    This monarch is known for his love of forests and rivers. We all know the episode of the ‘River Maiden’ and the sacrifice (won’t talk much about that, because you know – walls have ears). This time, it seems as though it’s a fish maiden, who has already been hooked once by a rishi! The king seems to have tried the same tactic, but unfortunately, it seems he got hooked. Now, the father of the maiden is trying to reel in his enormous catch.

    That’s all for now. Anything more and you know what happens! (Who’s not afraid of the midnight knock?)


    Report from the ‘Bharata Chronicle’


    Absence of King Unconstitutional and Worrying – Sages


    The week-long absence of King Shantanu from Court is “totally unconstitutional and worrying”, said a sage, an expert on Raja Dharma, who refused to be named.

    “Even though in the past, monarchs have stayed away from royal duties, there were solid, declared reasons for the same,” said the expert. “This undeclared absence is unheard of and total violation of Raja Dharma. I hope the palace pundits have apprised the king of the gravity of the situation.”

    The most disturbing thing about the situation is the total silence from palace circles. No official communique has been put forth by the Prime Minister, and no official is available for comment. “In this situation, one can hardly blame the public if they give credence to the rumour that the king is in a romantic alliance,” said a palace official who preferred not to be named.


    Somehow this slipped right past me, Nandu (that’s a good sign – Conversations of a Higher Order now has enough participants that it’s getting harder to keep track of all the conversations in play!).

    This approach is inspired! I especially like the way you move back and forth between a relatively objective journalistic voice and that of a gossip columnist. Given the length of the Mahabharata versus today’s short attention span, this could conceivably be the best way to distill its essence to the social media generation.

    When can we expect the next installment?

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