Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reading Diary B: Pandavan Exile

Okay, so a battle will undoubtedly occur – between who, though?

Based on the description of Khandavaprastha, I would say that it sounds like a modern day Palm Springs, California.

Narada is quite the character – he stirs up conflicts only to go ahead and resolve them? Hmm.

 What envy Duryodhana has towards the Pandavas. The war must surely be between these two groups.

Overall, I have found this book to be captivating. It has thus far been a much more pleasant read than the Ramayana.

Yudhistira succumbed to the power yet pitiful gamblers mentality. I can not believe that he bet absolutely everything he owned – and lost! Duryodhana has done quite a terrible thing here.

The loser of the second game of dice will have to go into exile for twelve years—what is the significance of this? Rama was forced to do the same in the Ramayana. Coincidence? I think not.

Yudhistira mentioned that he was not to act in anger; imagine what the world would be like today if that principle could be held by men.
                                                                         12 Years in Exile

Reading Diary A: The Banished Brahmins

I found a few of the events that occurred early on in the Mahabharata to be interesting.

How dare King Drupada turn his nose up to childhood friend Drona. I can say that I have seen the same happen to people I know – what a shame that is.

The house of joy – that was a great surprise. I found it interesting that the corpses of five men and a woman were found in the mansion.

I like the sliver of foreshadowing thrown in by Narayan when he spoke of Ghatotkacha’s ability on the battlefield; I now want to know just how this battle comes about.

How about that encounter with Vyasa? At times I feel much like the characters here when they are told by Vyasa, “Ahead I see victory for your principles.” I know that if I am patient and diligent, then I’ll finally accomplish my goals.

Draupadi requested to be married to all five men in a past life – quite interesting.


Overall, I’m curious to see how the plot is going to unfold.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Extra Reading Diary: Moral of the Story

I appreciate the moral of this story. So often people become occupied with insignificant things that go wrong when there is much more of significance going well; I think that college student in particular fall into this category.

Again, I appreciate the moral here. So many things seem to occur in our lives for seemingly unknown reasons. In retrospect, they are (for me, at least) typically the best things that could have happened.

The last story about the monkey and the boar was applicable to me. I tend to think about businesses and government spending as excessive, my roommate, however, is a business major and tends to write it off as ‘the nature of the business.’ I find it quite comical when smaller, parsimonious businesses do well and the ‘big guys’ fall because of their own vices.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 7 Storytelling: Jovial Jackal

The 5 o’ clock whistle rang at the Canine Brothers law office. All fifty workers logged out of their computers, grabbed their suitcases, and headed for the door.

“Ah, what a WONDERFUL day it is,” thought Mr. Jackal as he strolled down the tree-lined sidewalk.


“Looking great, Mrs. Equine”

“Good day, Mr. Hare.”

Mr. Jackal said all of this as he made his way home. He strolled up along his fence and gave a great grin to his children as they played in the yard.

“Honey!” cried Jackal’s wife.

“Why the commotion, dear?” said Mr. Jackal.

“That tiger! He is at it once again!” exclaimed Mrs. Jackal.

“I saw it all from the window!”

“And what was it that you saw, honey?” beckoned Mr. Jackal.

“Well, you see, there was a mighty nice Brahman fellow making his way down the sidewalk when he came across the tiger pleading for help,” said Mrs. Jackal.

“Wasn’t he [the tiger] in there because of a failed attempt at murder? That’s the word down at the office,” said Mr. Jackal.

“Yes!” cried out Mrs. Jackal.

“What I’m trying to get at is that the tiger managed to coax Brahman tourist into opening the cage!”

“The poor man didn’t have any idea of who that tiger really is.”

“Now you need to hurry out there or that tiger is going to eat that poor Brahman!”

Mr. Jackal, well-equipped to handle situations like this because of his law background, hurried onto the scene.

“Tell me what is wrong, dear Brahman,” said the jackal calmly.

The Brahman, trembling in terror, proceeded, “The tiger lamented and pleaded for anyone to help him out of the cage he was locked in.”

“Uh huh, I see. Go on,” said the jackal.

“He [the tiger] claimed that he was locked in by accident. I thought he looked to be a man of good character,” declared the Brahman. “And as soon as I opened the door he pounced on me and roared that he was going to eat me.”

“Well why don’t we go and hear the tiger’s side of the story?” responded the jackal.

“My good sir, Mr. Tiger, how are you today?” asked the jackal.

“Mighty fine!” said the tiger. “And even better after I devour this Brahman for supper.”

“About that,” said the jackal, “why don’t you explain just what happened?”

“So I was locked in this here cage,” responded the tiger.

The jackal, looking puzzled, said “What do you mean locked in?”

“You know, confined within the bars,” beckoned the tiger as he approached his former prison.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” said the jackal. “I can be slow to grasp situations at times.”

“Ah! Perhaps a visual would help me to better understand your story,” exclaimed the jackal.

“Fine you idiot,” shouted the tiger as he jumped in the cage.

“I was trapped. Like this. In the cage.”

The jackal, having set up the tiger just right, pounced on the door and saw it slam shut.

“Now have a fine day, my Brahman,” commented the jackal, “and see to it that you don’t fall for the ploys of these thugs.”


Author’s note: I told this story in third person to elaborate on the character of the jackal. In the Indian Fairytale  In the Indian Fairy Tales the jackal is simply brought in out of nowhere; I thought it would be nice to have known more about him. The original story line had that the Brahman helped the tiger who was trapped in the cage and pleading for his life. Upon being freed, the tiger threatened to eat the Brahman. Next, the jackal came about and tricked the tiger into being locked back up. I didn't change the overall storyline much; what I did manage to do was to create a story for the jackal and slightly readjust the conversation that led to the tiger's self-imprisonment.

Bibliography: Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1912).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reading Diary B: Words of Wisdom

This idea of an acquaintance or friend who, although seemingly candid, will try and use others is something that I’ve come across a few times. I can see the striking similarities between those I know and “wrong-mind” glaringly.  

From my experiences, it always seems like the “wrong-mind” character ends up with the short end of the stick – maybe there is some divine intervention going on.

I can completely to relate to the proverb given by right-mind in his defense of wrong-mind’s accusations.

Wrong-mind went to the length of even having his father give a false statement and they were both compensated fairly for their works! What could they have expected to happen?

I find the proverb in this section about no true “good” deed to be interesting. In some circumstances, it seems certainly true; however, I firmly believe that some deeds are done out of nothing more than benevolence.

I’m glad that they were able to resolve the issue with a sense of humor.

I enjoyed the moral of the story. It is quite true that people are quick to judge, and they often pay for it, too.

Reading Diary A: Attack on the Ocean

The idea that those in power are not the wisest is very -- hmm, applicable-- to some instances today.

I can’t believe that the rabbit is going to make an attempt at defeating the lion. However, I do believe in his saying that wisdom will prevail against all. This is sure to be interesting!

How entertaining it is to read the rabbit and lion to cite poems back and forth at each other justifying their reasoning; this is a metaphorical presidential debate!

What a masterful job by the rabbit to outwit the lion. He used the lion’s own arrogance to defeat Numskull.

I enjoyed this story. The author did a fine job of incorporating multiple facets to make up a well-rounded fable.

What a clever scheme on the part of the author to incorporate all of the ‘tributary’ stories to great one great piece. I was surprised at how well the stories flowed and connected so easily.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Extra Reading Diary: Indian Fairy Tales

I can surely relate to this. I’ve attempted to help people in sincere need who showed no true appreciation for my assistance. More importantly though, was the manner in which the crane responded – by leaving in humility.

Ah, what a great job on the part of the jackal to solve the problem by using the same pity that the Brahman displayed to save the tiger -- in order to trap the tiger and save the Brahman.
                                                                       Justice Served

The seems to me like a 16th century version of winning the lottery. How much more lucky could this Harisarman possibly be? By deception and dishonesty he built up a fortune; how could someone live contently knowing this?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 6 Storytelling: Lei Tree

The boys walked one on each side of their grandfather as they made their way down the cognac dirt trail thru the forest. Their dogs wandered about closely, sniffing through the grass and trees that lined the path back home.

“What a spectacle that sunset is,” said Ralla as he marveled at the pastel on the horizon as the sun was busy on its way illuminating the western sky.

“Grandpa, it’s just the sky. Why do you find it to be something special?” remarked Kuroff.

The grandfather had no response – not that it had any effect on the kids, anyway.

“What do you think about trees, Danzell?” asked Ralla.

Danzell laughed. “Eh, they are good for climbing, I suppose.”

“What if I told you that many of the seemingly mundane facets of life are actually sometimes the most intriguing?” said Ralla.

“Have either of you heard of the lei tree?”

                                                                         Tree of Lei

“The lei tree? No,” said Kuroff.

“This tree blessed an entire valley of villages with the most fertile farming soil, the ripest fruits and an abundance of shade. It actually produced all kinds of fruit; each with its own unique succulence. Its branches served as arms open wide for any tender heart or weary traveler. Its sap provided the secret ingredient for teas of elixir,” claimed Ralla.

“What good was this tree for children like us, Grandpa?” Asked Danzell.

“Well, it was known for its ability to all with wisdom,” claimed Ralla.

Danzell and Kuroff cried, “Is that it?”

Right around this time the grandfather and his grandchildren reached their estate. Ralla’s wife and the boys’ grandmother, Kirsa, had prepared the boys a snack. The three took their treat and made way towards the backyard. Then, four of them and their dogs sat around the base of a shade tree.

“I was just now telling Danzell and Kuroff about the lei tree. In particular, I was mentioning that it was a fountain of wisdom for adolescents,” said Ralla.

“Ah, yes!” exclaimed Kirsa.

“This tree yielded many a tactical genius in battle, sages and medicine men.”

“These men were able to discern the correct path to take in order to carry out their highest ambitions.”

“Even the great Rama was known to frequent the tree in times of uncertainty.”

The boys squealed, “Rama!”

“The warrior Rama? The brave and noble prince of fair Ayodhya?” asked Kuroff.

“Yes, that Rama,” exclaimed Ralla.

“Well, can we visit this tree of lei that you speak of?” beseeched Danzell.

“If your mother permits,” responded Ralla.

“We’ll ask her when she comes by to pick you boys up in the morning.”

The boys, looking as desolate as could be, obliged and continued to eat their snack. Luckily, the boys were taxed by the walk to the Ganges and fell asleep with no problem. Danzell and Kuroff awoke the following morning to the smell of fresh eggs and toast.

The two hopped up as soon as they heard their mother, Sarep, speaking to their grandmother.

“Mom! Mom! Can we go with Grandpa to see the lei tree?” asked the kids.

“The lei tree? That will be quite the walk. Are you sure you want to trek such a distance?” said Sarep.

“Yes!” shouted the children as they jumped up and down.

“Well, go outside and find your grandfather boys,” said Kirsa.


Author’s note: I elected to write this story in third person to continue to add to my storybook. I found the story about the lei tree in the Khasi Folktale section of readings. I did change the original story by omitting the idea that the tree grew large and began to be destructive. Also, the actual story didn’t mention anything about the tree bearing fruit or providing people with wisdom. After reading the story of the lei tree and how stunning it was, I automatically thought that it would be a great fit for my storybook. Link to story:

Bibliography: Folktales of the Khasis by K.U. Rafy (1920).

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Reading Diary B: Khasi Folktales

I found this story to be so unbelievable that it was very funny. I guess that I should have predicted what was coming from the title; however, it was quite a stretch for me to take this story very seriously. Maybe it was meant to be humorous?

This story of the tortoise reminds me of Cinderella. This turtle, however, is more like one of the sisters.

I suppose that this could have been plausible at the time given the anatomical features of the tortoise.

I appreciate how the idea of frugality is so very applicable to college students ha ha!
                                                                           Hollow Thorax

Reading Diary A: Khasi Folktales

The Tiger and the Monkeys:

I’m going to predict that the poor workmanship on the part of the monkeys causes the head to fall off of the model.

I’ve enjoyed the vocabulary choice in this story thus far. It’s far more engaging for me than 100+ pages of the Ramayana.

I’m enamored with the way in which the author of this story described the scene – I think this could very well be a story to incorporate into my storybook.

I enjoyed this tale. It is very much like mankind to ignore the advice of one who lacks the appearance -- or degree in many cases – of one who wants to contribute.

The Stag and the Snail:

It looks reminiscent of the hare and the tortoise so far; could this be where the story originated? I find it amusing that all of these stories have depicted human pitfalls in animal characters – possibly serving as common entertainment when they were originally told?

Interesting to read that no deer possess a gall bladder. It makes sense because the organ (in the human body) serves as a reservoir for bile— and a herbivore would have no need for such.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 5 Storytelling: Help Needed

“Why I thought you would never ask,” exclaimed Ralla with a glaring smile on his face. “You see, deception can be quite a powerful tool. And when used only for the greater good of humanity it is permissible.”
“You mean that you tricked someone into carrying out a work for you, Grandpa?” asked Kuroff.
“Well, you see, [we] hermits were for some time ravaged by the Rakshasa. They we were a sinister breed who, for joy, terrorized the people of the Dandaka forest. Ever since the Rakshasa occupied our grounds, all things tied to mother earth – game, foliage and the like-- died, migrated away or was eaten.”
“Grandpa, what does a Rakshasa look like?” questioned Danzell.
“They are a hideous people. They have wings for flight, claws for battle and fangs for preying on just about whomever they please,” responded Ralla.
“Now, like I was saying, the Rakshasa were a menace to our existence. We hermits had no way of combatting them and their malicious attacks,” said Ralla. “We in Dandaka had heard of a great warrior who hailed from great Aydohya – Rama was his name.”
“What did Rama look like, Grandpa?” asked Kuroff.
Ralla grinned. He said, “As broad as two mature ox. Hair as dark as the fur of a black bear. As tall as the three of us stacked one atop the other.”
“Whoa!” shouted Kuroff.
“As I was saying, we knew that Rama had previously defeated several Rakshasa with only his bow. We also knew that a warrior of his greatness wouldn’t waste his time venturing into Dandaka unless he had to,” exclaimed Ralla. “So when we heard that he was in the vicinity, we devised an attempt to bring him to our modest Dandaka.”
“We knew that Agastya, being a demon-slayer himself, would likely know the great Rama personally. You see, men [Rama and Agastya] of such character demand respect from all men they encounter. As such, we sent Agastya out for a day in order to repay a former favor. We quickly sent a hermit over to Agastya’s abode to pose as Agastya himself.”
“Grandpa, you committed an immoral act!” shouted Danzel and Kuroff.
“Yes, but only for the greater good – as I’ve already mentioned,” stressed Ralla.
“Luckily, the hermit was quite the impressionist and carried out the plan to perfection. He directed Rama and his entourage to Dandaka to help out us hermits.”
“You see, a warrior of his character was obligated to help out laymen like us.”
“But Grandpa, why couldn’t you just have asked Agastya to help you?” inquired Danzel.
Ralla chuckled. “Only a few men in this world could accomplish the feat Rama did,” said Ralla, “thousands of Rakshasa would engage in battle once they heard who was in their territory.”
“The Rakshasa, seething at the opportunity to fight, showed up before sundown.”
“Rama, noble as he was, ordered his entourage to seek protection. The night sky crackled with thunder as the Rakshasa set out for northern Dandaka.”
“What happened next, what happened next?” squealed the boys. “I bet that Rama destroyed them with a single blow,” cried Kuroff as he demonstrated the fighting moves he’d envisioned.
“As soon as the Rakshasa spotted Rama they bee-lined right towards him,” explained Ralla. “Rama, being the seasoned warrior he was, darted to his side so as to line the Rakshasa up one after the other. He drew his bow back as far as the string allowed and fired an arrow – piercing the hearts of a dozen nearly instantaneously.”
Kuroff and Danzel, thrilled by the story, drew and aimed their imaginary bows and fired them into the sky.
“Rama burned through his arrows in nearly no time; he then drew his seasoned blade and jumped tree limb to tree limb slicing through the Rakshasas as they zipped through the trees like angry hornets,” said Ralla.
“Rama would not be defeated, no. He single-handedly dismantled the Rakshasa army headed by Khara.”
“You were present to witness ALL of this?” asked Danzel.
“Why yes,” proclaimed Ralla.
“Our plan to purge the Rakshasas from Dandaka had worked to perfection it did.”
“Gradually, the beasts of the field and plants of the ground found their way back to graceful Dandaka.”
Kuroff and Danzel imitated the battle with imaginary weapons on the banks of the Ganges.
“Has ANYTHING else happened to you that we should know about?” asked Kuroff.
“Let us first make our way back home and I’ll see what I can do,” remarked Ralla.
Author’s note: I told this story in third person in order to maintain the style for my storybook. The purpose of the storybook is to describe some of the more notable landmarks mentioned in the Ramayana. For this story in particular, I hoped to continue telling stories as the grandfather of the two boys, Danzel and Kuroff. I did change the way in which Rama ended up in the Dandaka forest – my story entailed a hermit posing as Agastya.
Bibliography: Buck, William (1976). Ramayana: King Rama's Way. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week 5 Reading Diary B: The Search Begins

I find it interesting that in Buck’s version of the Ramayana that Surpanakha mentioned that when Rama defeated the Rakshasas in Dandaka that he was effectively making it possible for hermits to travel there safely once again.

Ravana is a truly a terrible character – raping a young, married woman.

I’m again impressed by the loyalty to Rama. Jatayu fought Ravana to his death in order to attempt to save Sita. In return, Rama performed a proper burial for Jatayu.

Vali may have uttered the most misogynistic phrase I’ve heard in quite a long time when he said, “… the only reason to consult a woman is to find out what not to do.”

I’m impressed with how Buck described the events concomitant with the rainy season. Providing depth and breadth mad it a much more interesting read as compared to the Narayana version. Consequently, Buck’s version of the Ramayana can seem a bit repetitive. It seems as if several pages at a time are dedicated to content that could be covered in only a couple.

I wonder what, if any, significance the one month carries in Hinduism. It was mentioned to each army as they ventured out to search for Sita.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Week 5 Reading Diary Post A: Rama's voyage

I think that Vasishtha’s proclamation of what will happen to Kaikeyi in her future life was awful. Although she did go through with asking the wishes of Dasaratha, it was Manthara who influenced Kaikeyi. Shouldn’t more of the blame fall on her?

Chitra is described as one of the most spectacular places on earth here. I wonder what it would be like to trek the same path that Rama and Sita did in this story. Buck is great at describing the setting of his stories.

I’m intrigued by the personification of Ayodhya. From what I remember, Narayan didn’t personify Ayodhya nearly as much as Buck. What is the significance of this city? Is this a custom in Hindu culture – affording great significance to a city?

Again, I find the commitment to Rama impressive. The city of Ayodhya chooses to live like him for the 14 years he is in exile just to honor the guy.
I find it commendable that Sita attempts to dissuade Rama from going into Dandaka looking for battles. She does a good job of keeping him grounded.

Why was it that Agastya was so eager to provide Rama with a new bow? Possibly foreshadowing the encounters to come in Dandaka?

                                                                  Well-equipped Rama

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 4 Storytelling: The Story Behind the Scar

                                                          Where the Fruit Grow

“Grandpa, grandpa,” cried out Danzl and Kuroff, “what happened to your back?”

“What do you speak of?” responded Ralla.

“Your back! You have that massive scar on your back. How did it get there?” pleaded Danzl and Kuroff.

“Well, you see there once ruled a villain named Ravana. And Ravana enjoyed wreaking havoc on any and everyone. For a few thousand years Ravana was especially violent. Village after village was destroyed because Ravana simply found violence to be – fun.” explained Ralla.

“But the scar, how did you get the scar?” asked Kuroff.

“Oh, yes! The scar. Where were we now?” said Ralla.

“Did you fight the villain yourself?” implored Danzl.

Ralla chuckled. “Oh no! I was simply collecting the fruits that had come to season. It just so happened that I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.” exclaimed Ralla.

Ralla, with a look of bewilderment on his face, said, “So you’re telling us that the FRUITS scarred you?”

“Now let me explain,” remarked Ralla, “I was in the fruit fields that are fed by the Ganges just south of Mount Kailasa. I was harvesting the fruits for the family when I heard a thunder from the mountains. I could not tell what was going on, but the mountains themselves looked very peculiar. Black were the clouds, red were sparks flying and green was an odd aura surrounding two figures on mountainside.”

Ralla and Kuroff, both wide-eyed, were engaged in nothing but the tale.

“It was the tenacious terror – Ravana. On this particular day he had chosen to fight the mountain god Shiva. Shiva was no chump now. Ravana, even with all of his trickery, was up for quite the battle with artist of war like Shiva.” Explained Ralla.

“So how did the SCAR come about?” begged the children.

“Ah yes, the scar! You see, the battle between the two was quite turbulent; the ground shook, the water in the Ganges crashed against the banks and rocks exploded from the side of Kailasa.” detailed Ralla.

The children, not knowing their grandfather had ever experienced anything half this exciting, were on the edge of their proverbial seats.

“The fight was back and forth – hours went by as the two exchanged blows. Then, Shiva grabbed Ravana by the neck and thrust him to the ground. Shiva then picked up the entire Himalayan mountain range and pinned Ravana down with it.” said Ralla.

“And when Shiva jabbed the Himalayas down as his sword, boulders tumbled from its side. And, unfortunately, one of those boulders struck me in the back as I ran for cover.” described Ralla.

“Awesome!” exclaimed the kids. “Do you have any more cools stories to tell?” beseeched Kuroff.

Author's note:
The background for this story is that in the Hindu culture, mount Kailasa is a venerated landmark. This is due to the belief that Shiva still resides there. I chose two write this in third person because I wanted readers to understand the emotions on both sides of the conversation. This was my attempt at explaining the events at Mount Kailasa that afford it special attention. I thought it would be more realistic to include traits of the characters like impatience on the part of the children and a tendency to side-track by an elder. My motivation for telling this tale was to be able to incorporate it into my storytelling website. The goal of the storytelling site is to depict why some of the most beautiful natural Indian landmarks are culturally significant. My hope is to be able to tie this in with other stories told by the grandfather that essentially guide the reader through the India. The image that I chose was actually of Mount Kailasa; it included a body of water which I mentioned in the text. I thought this would be a somewhat accurate image that the children listening to the story would have envisioned when listening to their grandfather.

Bibliography: Buck, William (1976). Ramayana: King Rama's Way. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Reading Diary 4B: An Exceptional Exile

I found it surprising that Buck decided to include king Dasaratha’s expression of remorse and the attempt to keep Rama from leaving.

I can’t believe that the chariot carrying Rama ran over guards on its way out of the Kingdom. Rama was truly committed to carrying out his father’s wish. He 1) chose to ignore his father’s request to stay and 2) elected to barge through several rows of people who wanted him to be the heir.

Was it coincidence that the weather seemed to turn violent shortly after Rama left the gates of Fair Ayodhya? I think not!

It amazes me that Rama’s presence demands such respect from seemingly everyone he encounters – even in the forest. Great sleeping quarters are construed, feasts are prepared, and fine clothing is donated by seemingly everyone Rama encounters. These people speak of his great character and noble deeds; it would be quite the experience to spend time with someone who commands such veneration.


Week 4 Reading Diary A: Ravana Reeks Havoc

I found it quite interesting that William Buck included all of the evildoings committed by Ravana. This paints a more vivid picture with which to evaluate him and allows the reader to better predict the outcome once he hears about Sita. I found it significant that Buck included just how Ravana came about obtaining all of the powers he eventually uses against Rama.  He was depicted as being quite ruthless and therefore it should come as no surprise that he fights Rama till the death.

I also appreciate how Buck includes a more thorough description of Rama. Although Narayana did mention the quality of his character, Buck provided clear-cut instances which provided an even better depiction of Rama.

Also, I think the attention Buck placed on the Rakshasas in the opening sections of this epic served an important purpose. In this story we have a better feel for their history and why they lived in Lanka, Mount Kailasa, etc.