Wednesday, January 14, 2009

PDE Mahabharata: Maya's Palace

Reading Guide.  Mayasura proves true to his promise and builds an amazing palace for the Pandavas, one which drive Duryodhana even more mad with jealousy. This palace provides the central metaphor for Chitra Divakaruni's novel, Palace of Illusions, which tells the story of the Mahabharata completely from Draupadi's point of view — a book you might want to read in the second half of the semester!

Source. The first passage about the building of the palace is from The Mahabharata, A Summary by John Mandeville Macfie (1921), and the second passage about Duryodhana is from Vyasa's Mahabharata, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli: Sabha Parva [400 words].

Burning the Forest | 35. Maya's Palace | Victories

Maya was so grateful to Arjuna for saving his life in the burning of the Khandava forest that he promised to build a palace for the Pandavas. He was the architect of the demons and had great stores of gold and gems, which he kept on the Himalayas guarded by rakshasas and yakshas. In fourteen months he built a palace the like of which had never been seen on earth. It was so brilliant with gems that it seemed to be on fire. Maya brought eight thousand rakshasas who could travel through the air to be its guards. When Narada the rishi came to see it, he was so impressed that he was led to compare it with the heavenly palaces of Indra, Yama, Varuna, Kubera and Brahma.

~ ~ ~

And one day King Duryodhana in going round that mansion came upon a crystal surface. And the king, from ignorance, mistaking it for a pool of water, drew up his clothes. And afterwards finding out his mistake the king wandered about the mansion in great sorrow. And sometime after, the king, mistaking a lake of crystal water adorned with lotuses of crystal petals for land, fell into it with all his clothes on.

Beholding the plight of Duryodhana, the mighty Bhima and Arjuna and both the twins all laughed aloud. Being unused to putting up with insults, Duryodhana could not bear that laugh of theirs. Concealing his emotions, he even did not cast his looks on them. And beholding the monarch once more draw up his clothes to cross a piece of dry land which he had mistaken for water, they all laughed again. And the king sometime after mistook a closed door made of crystal as open. And as he was about to pass through it his head struck against it, and he stood with his brain reeling. And mistaking as closed another door made of crystal that was really open, the king in attempting to open it with stretched hands, tumbled down. And coming upon another door that was really open, the king thinking it was closed, went away from it.

And the heart of King Duryodhana was afflicted at the sight of the prosperity of the Pandavas. The prince thought of nothing else but that assembly house and that unrivaled prosperity of the wise Yudhishthira.

Burning the Forest | Maya's Palace | Victories

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