Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Know Thy Enemy - Douglas Misquita

The prelude to the Apocalypse Trigger that introduces two key characters from the full-length thriller novel. (The Apocalypse Trigger: here and here.) 

12 March 2003, just before the coalition invasion of Iraq.  

Yusuf Zaid could see Iraq's National Museum that had thousands of priceless artifacts from the civilisations that flourished in the region. The ruling party had declared it open – a rarity. The intent was to restore a sense of unity and self-regard given the increasing likelihood of a coalition invasion. (Since the Iraq-Iran conflict it was almost never opened to the public.)

Zaid was with Directorate 8 - the bureau of the Iraqi Intelligence Service responsible for developing offensive weapons. 

The US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq on the 20th of March 2003. As the war progressed, pressure mounted to find evidence of WMD in Iraq's arsenal. The coalition forces began questioning the prisoners in the numerous secret prisons. Teams were flown into Iraq from the various intelligence and military organisations to pool resources and get answers quickly.

Yusuf Zaid was arrested from the gallery adjoining to the Assyrian Gallery. Ibrahim saw the woman (Jane), there was defeat written on her face. She shook her head slightly. Fahima Zaid began praying for the end of the Ba'athist regime. ... It was in April of 2004 that Yusuf Zaid was released from his prison after a year. The officer in charge immediately sent for Zaid to be brought to Camp Victory.

The Blackhawk helicopter descended into the prison compound, raising a cloud of sand. Yusuf Zaid shielded his face from the swirling grit. His features were gaunt, his hair disheveled and he was reed-thin. He walked as if in a trance.  (Abraham Lincoln had a brief and undistinguished period of service in the Black Hawk War. Was he the Manu of Manu-Smriti?)

Zaid was ushered into a waiting Humvee. After bouncing along the road for a while, the Marine held out a hood for him to wear. The coalition forces did this regularly, he explained, when they brought non-military people in. ... He sighed and put it on. He saw (before the mask enshrouded him in darkness) the brightly lit façade of the Al Faw Palace, Camp Victory to the coalition forces. 

He had showered, shaved and his hair was combed neatly. They had given him a fresh set of clothes too. And then he had been escorted to where a hearty meal had been laid out on an ornate table. He inhaled the aroma, before grabbing the silverware and wolfing down the food. There was some orange juice too and it disappeared in one swallow.

Then he waited. It was five past five in the morning. The door opened and a woman stepped in. He recognised her immediately. She looked older. Under strain, he thought. She pulled up a chair, sat down and smiled at him. She introduced herself as Jane. "Now, we have a small window of opportunity..."

Prison had not dimmed Zaid's mind. The coalition had invaded Iraq claiming there were WMDs but so far none had been discovered. "You need a reason for the invasion," he said. Jane looked at him and nodded slightly. "This one has come right from the top." She told him that if he can give them the evidence of the bio-weapons and illegal human testing Directorate 8 was involved with, he'd be in the US within sixteen hours. 

Zaid put his hands on his thighs. "They interrogated me for days..." 

"... We were reassigned," she confessed. "But you are now, once again, important. So tell me what we need to know."

While there was a high probability that the information Zaid had to offer would be dated, the coalition was desperate to make a case before the world. Zaid's was the closest anyone had come to unearthing tangible evidence of WMD research sponsored by the Ba'ath regime. In short: anything would do at this juncture.

Jane – Agent Emma Burrows. Her father (the commanding officer) told her they face a lot of competition to find something to justify this crazy war. He pushed a dossier toward her.

She opened the dossier: Bradford, William Henry.

He would have been a professor at a university lecturing students on art and the history of art, or excavating ancient archaeology in South America or Africa... had it not been for the jealous love of a girl and his reaction to her lover. The result of that premeditated assault [with his bare hands] had been expulsion from college; he was in the country's academic blacklists. Indignant at the treatment meted out to him by the world of art, he responded by joining a group that was involved with the art black market in France. Within a year he came off his position of a front-end dealer and got his hands dirty in the smuggling aspect. So he disappeared into South East Asia under various aliases. In the tropics, he shed the trappings of civilisation entirely. Then, on the trail of artifacts in Ethiopia, he became involved with groups that (with him in the fold) quickly grew their wealth by dealing in antiquities pillaged from the countries they were deployed in. But at some point the Dark Continent became unpleasant for a group of whites. Fortesque and his unit then became involved with a group in Central Asia.

They had fantastic success (in a short time) in opium while deployed in Afghanistan. Now, Iraq was a land to be plundered: Fortesque had been following the stories of looting of Iraqi artifacts closely and had already brokered deals.

His team was in a raucous mood. The only woman on the team, Evangeline Rojas aka Hotstuff had Dash, in a chokehold. Dash could use and maintain any kind of land, sea or air vehicle but he lacked finesse when talking to women. Fortesque guessed he must have ribbed her about something. Other women just ignored him; Evangeline did not. The others were laughing, as Dash turned purple in the face. "Alright, let him go," Fortesque said, "before he suffocates." He kicked an upturned crate to the center of the tent and unfolded a map over it. Hotstuff let go and Dash crawled away, coughing.

According to Fortesque they were to take six, one for each. "I've got buyers lined up." (Parashurama [Sanskrit: Paraśurāma, Rama with an axe] is the sixth avatar of the Dasavatara.) "What's up, Nap?" Dragon, a beefy rogue asked. They called Fortesque, Nap – for Napoleon – a nod to his French roots. (Old Bluebeard?) Hotstuff looked at Fortesque. "You're sure this is safe?" "Yes. ... Ninety percent of the security is in its obscurity. Two guards. In, out. Half an hour tops. Think about it, Sharp." (Niyog pratha, a one-night stand? The importance of using safe and effective contraceptives? Half an hour Radha?) He explained to his team that they have a twenty-four hour window of opportunity before the artifacts were moved.

Bradford was Canadian Joint Task Force 2 but the Canadian government would never confirm JTF2s deployment in Iraq.

He was in the motor pool – lying on a mechanic's mat beneath an Abrams tank. "Captain Bradford! May I have a word?" He couldn't hear her. She bent at the waist (like an old person? Gandiv the bow of Arjuna?) and saw he had headphones on. (Karna?) She tapped his leg. (Jara the hunter?) A couple of marines whistled at her and she flipped them the bird. (Bhishma? The Birds is a 1963 thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the 1952 story "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier. It focuses on the unusual behaviour of birds of different species: seagulls, sparrows, chickens and crows. There's also a pair of lovebirds.)

Bradford was examining the underside of the Abrams with a flashlight. He aimed it at her face and she put a hand up against the light. "A word with you, Captain," she shouted. He flicked the flashlight off and pushed his body out. "What can I do for you?" She pointed to where it was quieter. He nodded and told the Marine that he'd be back. "Now why'd you want to come back to this, when there's her," the Marine said, only half-joking. "You won't be going back in a hurry," she told Bradford. "What's this about?" "I've got orders for you, Captain, effective immediately." He shook his head. "Not making sense, Agent Burrows." She told him there were a bunch of historic artifacts that needed to be taken to Camp Victory ASAP.

Forty-five minutes later, Bradford, Burrows and two other soldiers [Matthew Keller and Tobias Andrews], both JTF2 from Bradford's unit, were in a Humvee with a mounted M240 machine gun. (The Ashoka Chakra is a 24-spoke dharmachakra [dharma wheel]. It is also Samay Chakra, the "Wheel of Time"; the 24 spokes represent the 24 hours of the day.)

Half an hour later Bradford squinted and beyond the smokescreen [veneer, deception, trickery - Dhumralocana?] he could just discern a derelict car across the road. "Eyes peeled, everyone," Bradford ordered. Andrews racked the bolt on the M240. "Captain, there's a narrow stretch of road we can squeeze past." (Squeeze past – former sweetheart?) A sudden gust of wind had dispersed the smoke momentarily. (Gust: Roman Emperor Augustus, Octavius or Octavian?) Bradford saw the car wasn't long enough to block the entire width of the road. He could go around the boot. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dark figure emerge from concealment in the sand by the side of the road. "Andrews, to your right. They're buried in the sand." "He's a boy, Captain." "Got another one on the left," Keller called. Burrows saw another figure emerge from the sand on her side of the Humvee. ... Andrews crunched his eyes shut as the truck ploughed into the smoke barrier. (Bali: sand. Chokher Bali: eyesore or constant irritant. (The malefic Rahu?) Impressed by Bali's magnanimity, Vishnu referred to him as "Mahabali" – he was a great king and a great soul [maha atma]. Bali was a benevolent and righteous king. His noble deeds and valour was such that his people revered him. The fifth avatar of the Dasavatara is the Vamana-avatar [short, diminutive]. This avatar approached the [arrogant, self-obsessed] Mahabali (who imagined himself to be greater than Vishnu) and asked for three paces of land, and caused Mahabali's 'pataal-pravesha'. Vishnu granted that he could visit his people once a year. Mahabali grandson of Prahlada. Could it imply Mahabali was Hiranyakashipu? (The pious/devout and obedient Prahlada was Hiranyakashipu's son and a staunch devotee of Vishnu.) Also, could 'Bali' imply someone insincere or habitually deceptive, adept at throwing dust/sand into people's eyes (to befool)? There's also the story involving Vali and Sugriva. (Su: good, griva: jaw. Sugriva: handsome?) Kashi - cough. Tulsi is remedy for cough.)

Bradford's Humvee passed through the small village. A scattering of villagers stood by the side of the only through-road, watching them sorrowfully as they drove by. 

"Doesn't it get to you?" Bradford asked. "To be hated always." 

"I'm not here to be liked," she said curtly.

Andrews who had a higher field of view was the first to see the other Humvee. Then the others saw it as their truck crested the rise and came to a halt. A soldier was standing casually by the Humvee smoking, his assault rifle pointing at the ground. Bradford turned in a wide arc so that their Humvee was angled away from the other truck. (Noah's Ark was the vessel [ship] built by Noah in the Bible; the ark remained afloat throughout the flood and subsequent receding of the waters. Noah – the [symbolic] oarsman, Captain of the ship and/or the matsya-avatar?) Fortesque and the others were warned by Dash who was with their Humvee.

Hotstuff looked at Fortesque, "I thought you said it was clear today." 

"We can bluff our way out of this." Fortesque thought quickly. "Dragon, go to light switch and wait. Let's see what they want..."

Bradford and the others saw another soldier coming out of the depot. He stood in the doorway [Dvarka?] with his feet apart, cradling his rifle. (Macho manners? Hiranyakashipu/Vikarna [Joseph?] cradling the baby Prahlada? Or the demon Putana?) Keller and Andrews were asked to remain with the truck. Burrows introduced herself to the soldier "I'm here to retrieve an artifact." (Retrieve = reclaim.) The soldier took her papers, glanced at them. "Just the one artifact?" ... "I'm stepping out," Keller said. "It's cramped in here." Andrews nodded. He saw Bradford and Burrows disappear into the depot. He turned his attention to the soldier standing by the Humvee. Then he noticed something that could be nothing... and the fact that the other Humvee's tire threads in the sand were recent. He came into the main cabin of the Humvee and said, "Hey, Keller."

The soldier (who stood in the doorway) walked beside them, which was odd, Bradford thought. He should be leading them to the crate. Jane was looking at all the war gear. They walked deeper into the depot. (Ghatutkacha?) It was dim; some of the overhead bulbs were out.

There was an open space in the depot. Beyond, were wooden crates about four feet cube stacked three high and ten long. (The dice analogy? Crates - Socrates? Vishnu's final avatar is the Kalkiḥ-avatar; this is the tenth avatar, the avatar-of-the-future.) There was a woman standing besides the stacking and she appeared to be fussing over one of the crates. She looked up when she heard them.

The soldier was looking keenly at Bradford. Bradford noticed his rifle was no longer pointed at the ground. Bradford gave Burrows a cautionary glance. Her hand was inching toward her shoulder holster. He said to the soldier, "Which unit are you guys with?" The next instant, all four guns were leveled, two at two. The female soldier by the crate, side-stepped toward them, keeping them covered with her rifle.

"What's going on here?" Bradford asked cheek to his rifle-stock.

"Easy now, no one has to get hurt here. Just walk away and forget this happened okay?" the woman replied. (Bhrigu?)

They heard a groan from behind the crates and two things happened almost simultaneously. All the lights went out with a whump. (The advent of the age/era of demon kali, kali-yuga - the amoral age of darkness: illiteracy, ignorance, regressive aspects, indifference, lack of scruples [ethical decay], diminished scientific thinking and scientific temper [the application of logic and good sense], avarice/gratification?) And four guns went off deafeningly.

Burrows was lying face down, clutching her side. Bradford had taken a hit to his thigh. (The Duryodhana analogy?) Burrows had nailed the woman in the arm (the Balarama analogy? Or Surpanakha?) and Bradford's rounds had taken Fortesque in the side of his face leaving it a pulpy mess.

Bradford spoke into his throat mic: "Andrews, need you here... Get the medikit." (Vasuki Naag is coiled around Shiva's neck. Vasuki also became the "churning rope" wrapped around Mount Meru during "samudra-manthan". Meru – backbone. There is Sumeru [positive - thoughtful, wise, having character, adhering to ethics, virtues, scruples] and Kumeru [negative - mindless, unctuous [to pander], spineless, brownnose]. Samudra-manthan: churning of avaricious instincts, an enormous increase in such instincts?)

Someone had thrown the lights [alluding to kali-yuga?], Bradford thought as he limped over to Burrows. Bradford also tells Andrews there's another [imposter?] in the depot. Bradford felt under Burrows, her wound was above the navel. (Vishnu is Padmanabha (lotus navel). Padmanābha is also one of the great nava naag.) His fingers came away slick with blood. With all kinds of organs crammed into that abdominal cavity, she needed medical attention quickly. He heard running feet and then Andrews was beside him. "I'm gonna turn her over, staunch the bleeding." Andrews nodded and tore a coagulant pack with his teeth. (Dantavakra, an asura [rotten], was an ally of the tyrannical Jarasandha, emperor of Magadha. Kirmira [gnashing teeth], a rakshasa in the forest of Kamyaka, was the brother of Bakasura and an ally of Hidimba, the brother of the rakshasi Hidimbi. After a fierce battle, Bhima choked Kirmira.) Bradford flipped Burrows over, tore open her shirt at the waist, and Andrews applied the coagulant liberally on the wound; they slapped on gauze and a quick bandage. (Jatasura?) Bradford palmed his knife and cut open his fatigue pants, took another coagulant pack and applied on his wound, biting his lip against the sting. (Bhringi is a species of wasp. A blood test for the genetic determination of paternity? A venomous scorpion? There is also the demon Madhu. Bee-stung lips? Krsna is Madusudanah, the destroyer of the demon Madhu.) He looked at Andrews. Andrews nodded. They hefted Burrows across Andrews' shoulders and retreated for the door (Dvarka?).

Hotstuff grimaced with pain as she groped for her rifle, fingers closed around its stock. Her right hand was limp; she wouldn't be able to aim. (Napoleon is usually depicted with his right hand in his waistcoat. Did he have weak arm/muscle weakness/muscle spasms or trembling hand? Low blood sugar?) She needed something that didn't need precise aim. (Arjuna could only see the eye of the bird and the eye of the fish; he was oblivious to everything else; his aim was so precise he could pierce the eye of the fish whilst only looking at its reflection. This was his test before Draupadi [Krsna] married him in svayamvara [self-choice]. Krsna refers to him as "Maha-Baahu" - the mighty-armed. Arjuna was a great archer and Krsna's disciple.)

Hotstuff stumbled into the central aisle of the depot and saw them silhouetted in the rectangle of the door. Shrapnel and debris and whole equipment were tossed in every direction. Unable to shout a warning in time, Bradford had shoved Andrews in the back just as a large razor-sharp piece of metal was sent spinning over their prone forms. (Sudarshan Chakra or Kichaka or ploughshare?) Had they been running, it would have decapitated at least one of them. Debris rained down all around them. Covering their heads, they made for the door. ... They had reached the Humvee. Keller came forward to help. Bradford reached for their water flasks in the truck and soaked his scarf in it. "... Give me your scarves." "I'm coming with you," Andrews said, ripping off his scarf and soaking it as well. He shoved the water flask down the front of his shirt and handed another to Bradford. Keller nodded. "I'll take care of her." He gritted his teeth (Kirmira?) as he took Burrows; the front of his fatigues was stained darkly. "How bad?" Bradford asked. (Vibhisana – monstrous, odious, wicked/vile. Bad = Mandodari? Water flask Panipat?)

The heat was searing and intense (Jamadagni?). Bradford’s wound was beginning to send stabs of pain to his brain. He remained near the ground [mole, ground squirrel, porcupine, fox?], blinking away tears from his eyes (Dronacharya?). ... Bradford gestured they should keep moving. (The Vedas say, Charaiveti, Charaiveti. Keep moving. This advice is timeless: to not stagnate, to continuously evolve (knowledge, wisdom, creativity, self-improvement). Stagnation (especially intellectual laziness or intellectual stagnation or chewing the cud) is detrimental for a people and thereby a civilisation (since attitudes, mindset, thought process etc shape up [influence] the societal aspects/mindsets). Open-mindedness is required. Evolution is necessary, inevitable. Gautama Buddha too used these words as a message to the world to keep moving.

When they retraced their steps Bradford started. He discerned a shadowy hulking figure helping the woman whom Agent Burrows had shot. Bradford made out the shape of an automatic rifle. (Jambavan [jAmbAvan] – the king of the RkSAs is depicted as a bear. Jamba, Jambu or Jambul berry (Indian blackberry). Ursa Major (the Great Bear) is a constellation. It is probably the most famous constellation, with the exception of the Orion Constellation [The Deer].) A sixth sense made the figure look in Bradford's direction. Just then, a weakened section of the beam in the roof came swinging down in an arc and smacked against the crates. (Kambala is one of the great nava naag. "Naag" or "Nāga" is honorific for intellectual strengths, high levels of intellectual quality. Kaliya Naag and Shesha Naag are malignant.) Boxes and artifacts tumbled to the floor, some spilling their contents. When it was over – a few seconds later – the crates and smoke formed an in-traversable barrier between Bradford and the figure. (The 'lakshmana-rekha' analogy? The crates [Socrates?] and smoke [trickery or Dhumralocana?] formed an in-traversable barrier between Bradford and the figure – what could this imply? Also, Krsna married Jambavati (the daughter of Jambavan) – what could this be about? Burrows – rats, moles, porcupines, ground squirrels or foxes? Mole – til. There's Kautilya, 'the wily one' foxy, wicked. Anubis = Shesha Naag = Karna aka Balarama aka Lakshmana? Arjuna is Garuda (the eagle), the steed of Vishnu. Karna – Kumeru?)

Andrews saw the four men gasping for breath (asphyxiation?) tearing away their scarves, breathing the fresh air in deeply. Keller was supporting Bradford, whose leg was trailing limply along. The two marines whom they had rescued were coughing uncontrollably, helping each other. (Cough kashi.)

Bradford asked the marines whether they could handle it this time around. (Handle a "handled" cross?) They flushed in embarrassment. Bradford asked Keller to give them two rifles and some spare ammo. "Thank you," one of the marines said. "For coming back." Bradford shrugged it off. "About the only reasonable thing I've done in this war." (The return of the Krsna-avatar as the Kalkiḥ-avatar? The second coming of Christ?)

Luc Fortesque awoke suddenly to a throbbing headache and pain in the side of his face. He opened his eyes but his vision was obstructed. There was a howling sound of wind everywhere. (Duryodhana's birth was greeted by jackals howl and strong winds.) He flexed his fingers and gingerly reached for his face – and felt bandages.

He groaned and groped about in the darkness, felt cloth, clenched his fist grabbing the thick material – he was in a tent of some kind. The walls of the tent were billowing tremendously, buffeted by a storm. (Thick material – khadi? It is handspun and hand-woven cloth woven from cotton and may also include silk, or wool, which are all spun into yarn on a spinning wheel (a charkha). Khādī (khaddar) is sometimes starched to give it a stiffer feel.)

He felt firm hands on his shoulders and was gently eased into a sitting position. His head swam and he breathed deeply waiting for the dizzy spell to pass. (Vertigo feeling?) He felt hands around his head and then the pressure on his forehead began to ease as the bandages were unwound. (Migraines?) He blinked his eyes, focusing in the darkness, and became aware of an elderly woman beside him. In her hands she proffered an earthen bowl of steaming soup, gesturing that he should drink. Fortesque took the bowl in both hands and put it to his lips. As the hot liquid flowing down his throat awakened him, he struggled to remember what had happened to him. The last thing he remembered was the warning from Dash about the approach of another vehicle. After that, his mind was a blank. (Lord Shiva is Neelkanth the blue-throated one. Lord Shiva consumed the poison (halahala) that emanated during "samudra-manthan". This made the throat turn blue. Durga and Shiva is the same.) 

"I hear you're coming along pretty fine," Bradford said with a smile. He was leaning on his crutch by Burrows' bedside in the hospital.

She nodded at his crutch. "You're up and about, too."

She patted the bed. "Sit." 
He did. (Bhishma?)
"So, any news?"
He shook his head.
She was indignant. "I hope they arrested those imposters!"

Bradford told her he had been asked to leave the matter alone. "What?" She sat upright in bed. "Right from the top. ... They've gotten their hands dirty for the coalition. They know things that can be even more embarrassing and humiliating in this already incredible war."

They were silent for a few moments, then Jane rubbed her eyes and yawned. (Anantasayana Vishnu, Vishnu in a reclining position: to relax. Yoga Nidra or conscious cosmic slumber: sleepless sleep, yogic sleep, conscious sleep or sleep with awareness. This happens at the 'closure' of a kalpa [a time-cycle] and the beginning of a new kalpa. This is the creative mode of Vishnu: Brahma – the creator, to 'create' a new kalpa.)
"I should leave then." He made to get up.
"I never did thank you."
"Last I saw you, you were quite unconscious." Bradford smiled at her. "It's really nothing. Oh, you were right: we didn't need more than fourteen rounds."
She laughed. (Ramchandra was exiled for fourteen years. Rounds – phere?)

He also told her that because of his wound he wouldn't be of much help in the war in the next few months. "Doctors say I'll have a slight limp even when it has healed."  (Limp – polio or three legs? The equation between Krsna and Karna is the key.)

She made light of it. "Get yourself an eye patch to go with that limp." (Eye patch – pirate?)

(A vicious conqueror [of the Timurid dynasty] that walked with a limp and relished loot and spoliation, an opportunist who used religion to further his ambitions (in the justification of his rule and his conquests), and who rarely bothered to create any governance or administrative framework after destroying the existing/prevalent one, and who is [also] possibly the inventor of a more elaborate form of chess [large chess or perfect chess - perhaps he thought regular chess was not intricate enough] who was he?)

As he left the hospital, Bradford fished awkwardly in his jacket pocket. The folded sheets of paper were his final orders among other papers. He stopped and looked at one line, a smile forming on his face. He had been nominated for a Canadian Cross of Valour. "Not bad at all," he thought as he put the papers back into his pocket. He had been reading that one line at various intervals just to be sure he wasn't imaging it. He took a deep breath and limped to the waiting Jeep.

Little did he know that he had not seen the last of Luc Fortesque and that one day their paths would cross... fatefully.               

Review/opinion offered: The Tagores were Pirali Brahmin, a socially demoted group in the priestly hierarchy. The Tagores' entry was banned in the Jagannath Temple. A Pirali was one whose 'caste' had been tainted by willful or unintentional interaction with people of other faiths. The Tagores' 'stigmatisation' owes its origin to an event during the Mughal era. ... The Tagore's had ancestral gentry roots in Jessore (now in Bangladesh). An ancestor of the Tagores', it is said, had a land dispute in the district of Jessore; a revenue official invited him for mediation. The ancestor of the Tagores' went... and smelt beef, which was being cooked in the kitchen. Smelling was considered equivalent to half-eating (as per the prevalent Brahminical whims). So the Tagore 'lost his caste' for 'half-eating the beef'. The 'stigmatised' Tagores [thereafter] came to be considered as Pirali Brahmin (after the official, Pir Ali Khan), and [thus] experienced some discrimination for generations not excluding Rabindranath. Their immense achievements in literary and cultural activities, etc made no difference. Such is ignorance. Such is orthodoxy - illogical, mindless, rigid mindsets. What unprogressive minds are capable of, it is not easy to even begin to comprehend by applying today's sensibilities (ability to understand and reason). How societal conditions was even a few decades ago modern India couldn't even begin to comprehend... to be able to understand and appreciate the full significance of the effort made by people (individually and collaboratively) to improve the situation. Those who created science and scientific progress deserve gratitude. Those who struggled against a whole lot of regressive aspects [ignorance etc] deserve gratitude. Else, how would India have progressed? What kind of country it would be? It is because of the selfless and forward-thinking people and their sincere/continuous effort that it is a better; perhaps more progressive society, and the [societal] sensibilities are much improved.

The controversy over Agent Orange and its effects has persisted for several decades. Agent Orange is one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was sprayed (over the rural landscape) at up to 50 times the concentration the manufacturers recommended. It defoliated millions of acres of farmland (destroying food crops, mangrove forests, and defoliating trees and shrubs). Much of that land remains degraded and unproductive to this day. The chemical contaminant dioxin in Agent Orange remains toxic for decades, entering the food chain and causing health problems (various cancers, diabetes, psychological symptoms, nervous system ailments, muscular dysfunction and other disabilities). Dioxin in soil or deep in the sediment of rivers and other bodies of water can have a half-life of more than 100 years. (The first test spraying occurred August 10, 1961 largely from C-123 cargo planes; that was 95 percent of the herbicides sprayed. The U.S. Chemical Corps and other allied forces sprayed the remaining 5 percent from helicopters, trucks and by hand.)

The odious serpent-demon Kaliya Naag is depicted with a hundred and ten hoods. He is also considered as a thousand-hooded serpent: the proverbial 'birds of a feather flock together' concept? 'Kaliya-mardan' is the subduing [defanging?] of the wicked Kaliya. Kaliya Naag - a reference to demon kali?

Cows and calves are a metaphor for humankind; Krsna is a metaphoric shepherd to the flock [humankind]. Cows and calves are also (poetic) metaphors for rivers and streams, in the Rig Veda. (Veda from Vid, to know. Veda knowledge that is continuously evolving (expanding and improving the horizons of knowledge); knowledge is not stagnant or decayed (to not increase the horizon of ignorance). Vidya – from Veda. Vidya knowledge.) A civilisation should be progressive and knowledge-wise. It should not revel in avidya – illiteracy and ignorance. A new foundation is required; open-mindedness is necessary. The changeover from the tamas [darkness] of kali-yuga [the age of ignorance, indifference, avarice [urges for personal gratification], illiteracy, ethical decay, lack of scruples and sense of purpose, diminished human qualities and character etc] to satya-yuga [an enlightened, progressive time/yuga] will require a fresh approach/thinking/mindset or perspective, a new way of seeing and understanding things. More of the same thing (habituated or conditioned thinking), chewing the cud (a technique based on [mindless, thoughtless] repetition or regurgitation) will not do. It is necessary to think, to apply logic, to re-imbibe thoughtful wisdom, scientific thinking and scientific temper [the application of logic and good sense]. "Among cows (dhenu) I am the surabhi (kamadhuk)" BG 10.28. Surabhi is kamadhenu "that which fulfills human needs". There can be no civilisation without rivers (without water, without clean water, that is). Knowledge should not be straitjacketed either; it is like flowing water (Tagore's "the clear stream of reason"). Thought control etc diminishes the ability to think, it will lead to quagmire (the metaphoric 'kali-yuga').

SarasvatI is a 'river'; She is the deity of knowledge, wisdom, literature, creativity, music, arts, culture and eloquence; She is "Varadey Kaamarupinee" the fulfiller of wishes (as per effort, initiatives etc). In other words: Bhagya-Vidhaata – Lord of destiny, the dispenser of destiny (as per effort, initiatives etc). Kaamarupinee [perhaps] also alludes to the Mohini-avatar. Vishnu/SarasvatI is the Mohini-avatar, the deity [personification] of nature/earth. (Mohani or Mohini is the feminine of Mohan; Mohini – pretty, attractive, charming; a likable/agreeable or pleasant personality. Sundar, according to Tagore.) "Of procreators [or causes for procreation prajanaś] I am Kandarpa (the deity of love or cupid, kandarpaḥ)" BG 10.28.

Bakasura - the gluttonous demon. Bakasura could also imply: a compulsive talker, a frivolous talker, or a braggadocio [boastful]. Bhima trumped Bakasura. Bhima is Vṛkōdara ('with a wolf's belly') perhaps an allusion to his insatiable/voracious appetite. He used a club [gada, mace], which suited his enormous strength. (Mace symbolises law, justice.) Bhima's proficiency in wrestling probably has allegorical connotations. He had much contempt for Karna (given Karna's unflinching loyalty to Duryodhana). Bhima – enormously strong (immense physical power and strength), courageous, irascible, domineering [a bully] and truculent, vanquished Dushasana and Duryodhana (the chief antagonist), by breaking Duryodhana's thighs in a gada-yuddha. (Balarama had trained Bhima and Duryodhana in the use of the mace; Duryodhana was his favourite. Balarama is a manifestation of Shesha Naag. Balarama – adept at strong-arm tactics?). After a long battle Bhima was exhausted, however, Krsna quietly showed him where Duryodhana was vulnerable (his thighs – literally and figuratively below the belt). And though Duryodhana bemoans that unfair [unethical] tactics defeated him (he was invincible otherwise), Krsna had to uphold dharma. (If Yudhisthira = Ramchandra = Dushasana, Balarama = Lakshmana = Ravana = Duryodhana? Shesha Naag [Lakshmana] is the same as demon kali, or cohorts, same objectives/goals and deeply supportive of each other?) Bhima tears open Dushasana's chest and drinks his blood. Did Dushasana have chest fat (male breast)?

Yudhisthira steady-minded, i.e. steady in war/battle. Yudhisthira's honorific is "Dharmaraja" – a just king/ruler; he is considered as a righteous king unblemished by sin or untruth; his unflinching adherence to satya and dharma is much appreciated; he is considered the most virtuous, upright, honest and truthful king of all times, so much so his chariot always flew at a four finger distance above the ground (because of his righteousness). Does it imply he was contemptuous [arrogant, disdainful, having exaggerated self-opinion, exaggerated assessment of qualities etc], self-obsessed, self-righteous/considered himself superior to others/holier-than-thou? Yudhisthira had a weakness for gambling and played a game of dice with Duryodhana, wherein he pledged Draupadi [aka Krsna]. Draupadi's vastraharan [in the court of Duryodhana, Dhritarashtra's assembly] could be humiliation in the crudest of ways. Yudhisthira and Duryodhana were in cahoots with each other? Which of them is Karna? Karna taunted Draupadi using abusive/profane language (to please Duryodhana). According to him, she was unchaste. Draupadi vastraharan: calumny, to malign or slander, to indignify (to treat with disdain or indignity). Duryodhana was the initiator. Dushasana attempted it (by dragging Draupadi by her hair at the behest of Duryodhana). Krsna prevented it. The supposed clothes kept getting extended, and Dushasana was forced to stop; he was exhausted. Dushasana – a pathetic ruler or maladministrator [unjust, unscrupulous, ineffective, incompetent, apathic or indifferent]. It could also imply "unlawful ruler". Duḥśāsana - the younger [and devoted] brother of Duryodhana was also closely involved in his various schemes. Duryodhana: a wealthy warrior from afar? Karna was an ace archer and a strong competitor of Arjuna. The crafty Duryodhana understood Karna's usefulness vis-à-vis Arjuna. He made Karna the king of Anga. An obliged Karna gratefully pledged unfaltering loyalty to Duryodhana. (Anga: part or portion; was Karna given a share or portion of something? Duryodhana and Karna were partners/accomplices?) Karna was spurred by his ambition to prove himself better than Arjuna. (Draupadi had rejected him and chosen Arjuna in svayamvara, self-choice.) According to Draupadi, Karna was a 'suta' and hence unsuitable. Suta is thread. Does it imply he was emotionally threadbare, or that he was incapable of making his own decisions, with someone else pulling his strings? Kusalavya or Sauti is a wandering poet/minstrel. Sauti from suta? Did Karna have poetic leanings? Ramchandra = Yudhisthira = Dushasana = Karna = Kabir = Mirabai? ... There are about 1,200–1,300 prayerful songs [bhajan] in passionate praise of Krsna ascribed to her. They describe a personal universe where the only existence was that of Krsna her only object of desire. Her love of Krsna was so absorbing she neglected her responsibilities. Mirabai considered herself to be a reborn gopi, which explains her fervid [obsessive] proclamations of love. There is the popular legend about her final disappearance in the temple of Krsna in Dvarka. She is believed to have entered the sanctum of the temple in a condition [frame of mind] of singing ecstasy. The sanctum doors are believed to have closed (on their own) and when opened, the sari of Mirabai was enwrapped around the idol of Krsna. This is considered to symbolise the culmination of her union with her lord. However, in "Shesher Kobita" Tagore says, "Bichar aache dhorjo nei, buddhi aache khoma nei, jenechhe shikhechhe shanti paye ni. Peyeo paben na, peyeii haraben, peye dhore rakhtey hobe shheta janen na..." (Tagore's poetry is part of the mythology of the future (satya-yuga). The blueprint for the future has already been given. Spoon-feeding is unlikely. The mythology of the future will be such that religionism (religious schisms, orthodoxy, hypocrisy/affected piety, discord, bigotry etc) will fade away. Assimilation and human qualities will be the way forward. The ignorance and follies of kali-yuga will have to be corrected/rectified. All of humankind prays to the same Almighty. There will be a common sovereign for all of humankind. ... Worship, glorification or veneration of satan aka demon kali (his rules, his manifestations etc) will have to cease [dismantled]. Figuring out demon kali [in his next manifestation] is necessary. There will have to be 'closure' of kali-yuga 'the age/era of demon kali'. Satan aka demon kali [symbolising darkness, ignorance, illiteracy, avarice etc] is the lawless [amoral, wicked, unjust, unscrupulous, ignoble] one; he is "the deceiver" [imposter, usurper]; he is about untruth, false piety and every kind of wicked deception: a false messiah who appears responsible, dignified, righteous [ethical, scrupulous], spiritual and holy [genuine, just/fair-minded, virtuous, sincere].) 

A complete manifestation (purna avatar) has all 16 kala (necessary qualities, traits, particularity, virtue). Such an avatar [human manifestation] is the closest humankind can see divinity; such an avatar is the human manifestation of the Almighty.

Abhimanyu is considered an ace archer. Abhimanyu as a sixteen-year old: could it imply immature (stagnant immaturity), an obstinate refusal to grow up (to be responsible), the eternal adolescent, the proverbial Peter Pan? People who refuse to grow up come across as self-obsessed (malignant self-love, a feeling of grandiose self-importance, narcissistic traits and behaviours), self-centred and aloof, grouchy [crabby] or petulant, ungracious [impolite, uncouth], lacking empathy, haughty [arrogant] and brattish - in short: puerile. It is the discrepancy between one's advanced chronological age and one's psychological deficiency and dysfunctions, a tendency to shirk [abdicate] adult responsibilities, adult decisions and choices. It could be because of excessive pampering, overweening or suffocating love, spoiling, invasive/controlling/patriarchal parenting, excessive admiration, idolising, adulation or attention (by doting parents); incessant and compulsive subservience by parents (indulging every whim or unreasonable expectations), so much so that one becomes addicted to it and is unable to develop [grow, improve] emotionally. Such persons are self-indulgent, aimless or purposeless, capricious, obstinate, extravagant/squandering/showy, pompous, rancorous, oppressive/difficult or spiteful, have a condescending or egotistic attitude, are dependent on others for their self-regard and self-confidence; they are envious [jealous] of others, and they are also very susceptible to criticism (easily riled or displeased), even if it is merely implied or imagined. Adult narcissists are incorrigible, they are unable to understand or acknowledge, or accept the feelings, preferences, priorities, and choices of others. A narcissist seeks to legitimise his attitude and behavioural tendencies by refusing to grow up (to be responsible), and by forcing others to accept him as the eternal youth, an unbounded [intemperate, unrestrained] Peter Pan. Dharma-yuddha is 'battle' of ethics for the future of humankind. Abhimanyu could not be defeated in a one-on-one combat (dvanda yudha). He was vanquished when he was made to enter the Padmavyuha formation. Abhimanyu had partial knowledge about Padmavyuha; he did not know how to emerge from it. Parikṣit Abhimanyu's son. Kali entered into the crown of Parikshit. (Pariksha, test. Parikshan, to put someone/something to the test to ascertain quality, capability, efficiency, effort, genuinity, character etc. Parikshit, one who has been put through a test.) Takshak came out of an apple to vanquish Parikshit. Apple "forbidden fruit"? Janmejaya succeeded Parikshit. Janmejaya lucky?

The Upanishads, Ayurveda, Sthapatya Veda (part of Atharva Veda) says: As is the human body, so is the cosmic body. ... The human body has different phases: adolescence, youth and adulthood, old age and fadeout [to wither away]. This can explain the different phases [age/era] in a kalpa [a time-cycle] Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapar-yuga and Kali-yuga. Satya-yuga is the 'Golden Age', an enlightened, progressive time in the intellectual, cultural and spiritual evolution of humankind; Treta-yuga is the 'Silver Age'; Dvapara-yuga the 'Copper Age', and Kali-yuga - the 'Iron Age' (the amoral yuga of muddling through). Copper is tamra in Sanskrit. It is a malleable metal of a reddish-brown or reddish-orange colour. Dvapara-yuga (the metaphoric 'Copper Age') could be the age/era of trade and entrepreneurial temperament [tendencies, instincts] and opportunities. However, if such instincts were to become overwhelming, it would result in [i.e. regress into] kali-yuga (and environmental imbalance and pollution). Satya-yuga is the age of science: of knowledge, thoughtful wisdom, logical thinking, ability to reason and scientific rationality/scientific temper. In other words, humankind will have to use their brains. They will have to understand logic and non-logic.

American educator Helen Keller (18801968) overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians. Tagore met her in 1930 (in New York). There is a quote of Keller saying, "Sitting beside Rabindranath Tagore and sharing his thoughts is like spending one's days beside the Sacred River, drinking deep of honeyed wisdom." C.F. Andrews was an Anglican educational missionary. He was always at the service of India, especially India's poor. In 1912 Andrews met Tagore in London, and two years later joined him in Shantiniketan, having renounced his priesthood in the same year. Andrews was involved in the editing of various Tagore publications and acted as his representative to the publisher Macmillan. The royalties from his autobiography, What I Owe to Christ (1932), were donated to Shantiniketan.

Socrates, (469/470–399 B.C.E. Athens [Greece]), Greek philosopher who influenced ancient and modern philosophy. The impact of his life was all the greater because of the way in which it ended: at age 70, he was brought to trial accused of impiety [irreverence] and sentenced to death by poisoning (the poison probably being hemlock) by a jury of his fellow citizens. Plato's Apology of Socrates purports to be the speech Socrates gave at his trial in response to the accusations made against him. (Greek apologia is "defense"). It is difficult to distinguish the historical Socrates from the Socrateses of the later authors and interpreters. Did his trial and death at the hands of the Athenian democracy create a myth?

The blind Kuru king Dhritarashtra was father to a hundred sons and one daughter (Dusshala). The first born was Duryodhana. (Dhritarashtra – oppressed nation? Blind – ignorance, illiteracy?) When Duryodhana was born (emerged from a pitcher of ghee, that is) his birth was greeted by jackals howl and strong winds. The sagacious Vidura tells Dhritarashtra that Duryodhana brings hate and negativity into the world. Dhritarashtra ignores him.

The crafty Duryodhana understood Karna's usefulness vis-à-vis Arjuna. He made Karna the king of Anga. An obliged Karna gratefully pledged unfaltering loyalty to Duryodhana. (Anga: part or portion; was Karna given a share or portion of something? Duryodhana and Karna were partners/accomplices? Could anga imply prurience?) There is some speculation about the possibility of an unarticulated connection between Karna and Draupadi. ... In Dhritarashtra's assembly [Duryodhana's court] Draupadi is dragged by her hair and insulted (after Yudhisthira lost the dice game). Duryodhana makes an obscene gesture: he patted his thigh and exposed it to Draupadi (asking her to sit on it). The winds blew mightily, jackals began to howl, and asses from all directions began to bray in response. Duryodhana – a flasher, or made crude attempts to seduce, or a suave silver-tongued rogue? He is a character or there could be several Duryodhana? Could Duryodhana be Karna or have similar characteristics?      

Halāhala is the most vicious and venomous poison that is produced during "samudra-manthan"; it causes asphyxiation. Lord Shiva is Viṣakaṇṭha (the one who held poison in the throat).

Shesha Naag (Śeṣanāga) is one of the earliest or ancient beings of creation, and is sometimes referred to as Ananta Shesha. Shesha is said to be the soul of Balarama. Thus, Shesha emerged from the body of Balarama. A great white serpent that left the mouth of Balarama: this is considered as a reference to his identity as Ananta Sesha. Vishnu is Ananta Naag, the thousand-headed Ananta Naag: the eternal, the infinite.

Balarāma ("Strong Rama") adept at strong-arm tactics? Balarama is Sankarshana (a being transferred between two wombs). He was transferred from Devaki's womb to Rohini's womb (to keep him away from the tyrant Kansa, Krsna's uncle; vak - crane.) Balarama was taken to Gokula (Nanda-Gokula) where Nanda Maharaj and Rohini brought him up. Kansa is bronze. There are many different bronze alloys, but typically modern bronze is copper and tin. The addition of other metals (usually tin, sometimes arsenic) produces an alloy much harder than plain copper. (Unlike arsenic, tin is not toxic.) The word bronze probably originates from "bell metal, brass". Balarama wields the ploughshare (hala) and the gadā (club). He is Baladev, Balabhadra, plough-armed (Halayudha), irascible and much fond of wine. (A ploughshare [a hardened blade] is a component of a plough; it is the horizontal pointed cutting blade that closely follows the coulter (one or more ground-breaking spikes) when ploughing.) Balarama is the elder brother of Krsna and a manifestation of Shesha Naag. In "Shesher Kobita" Tagore says, "Peyeo paben na, peyeii haraben, peye dhore rakhtey hobe shheta janen na..."

Balarama – roguish, hirsute or a full, good, thick, etc. head of hair? Balabhadra – a suave, well-dressed, well-mannered, silver-tongued rogue?

Ramchandra = Yudhisthira = Dushasana = Vibhisana = Ravana = Shakuni = Virata = Vikarna = Hiranyakashipu = Shatrughna = Kabir = Mirabai? Balarama = Lakshmana = Ravana = Kumbhakarna = Mahabali = Indrajit aka Meghanada = Duryodhana = Karna = Jamadagni = Parashurama = Bhrigu = Kartavirya Arjuna = Kautilya = the malefic Rahu? Lakshmana unwaveringly focused on his aim. Enemy – shatru. Shatrughna was the twin of Lakshmana; he annihilated Lavanasura. (Lavana = salt.) Shatrughna – disease, malaise, or sworn enemy/adversary: the demon kali? Shatrughna = Vikarna? Arjuna = Nandi and Radha (Rai)? There could be two Arjuna or two Ramachandra? (Vibhisana a snake in the grass, aastin ka snaap, treacherous. Meghanada thunderous voice.)

Vikarna, a Kaurava, was the third son of Dhritarashtra and a brother to Duryodhana. He too was a powerful archer, although the mightiest archer amongst them was Karna. Vikarna was the only Kaurava who questioned the humiliation of his sister-in-law, Draupadi. According to him it is his dharma to support his sister-in-law, and it is also his dharma to support Duryodhana. Vikarna is somewhat comparable to Kumbhakarna. (Karna = ears, does it imply distinctive ears or a good listener (possibly: a spy or an eavesdropper?) Vikarna – a talker?) Lakshmana was devoted to Ramchandra (of Ayodhya). So, if Vikarna were to have a weak arm/muscle weakness/muscle spasms or trembling hand (Ayodhya not a warrior or a proponent/upholder of peace), Karna would stand-in for him? (Vikarna the demon kali aka Mahisasura aka Hiranyakashipu, the vicious buffalo demon, possibly buffalo-like characteristics ugly, lethargic, heavyset, wallowing in muddy water [rotten activities, negative thinking] etc. Mahisasura took different forms and manifestations – deceptive and/or histrionic talent?)  

Nandi and Bhringi (romantic rivals?) are symbolised by two bulls. Sage Bhringi is the ṛṣi with three legs. He was much devoted to and only worshipped the masculine (Shiva) aspect of the divine. His staunch refusal to worship the feminine (Shakti) aspect (of the divine) invoked Parvati's wrath. Bhringi was reduced to an emaciated figure; he was unable to get up. To enable him to stand upright he was given a third leg. Bhringi was originally the demon Andhaka (unenlightened, regressive). Nandi is sturdy; Bhringi is emaciated, austere, detached, etc? 

The demon Madhu (honey-sweet, bee):  bee-stung lips; saccharine-laced; the oldest sting in the book the honeytrap; intoxication; diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus [madhumeha, honey urine], prurience or sense gratification? Madhu and Kaitabha had usurped the Vedas (wisdom, progressive knowledge) from Brahma (the creator aspect of divinity); hence, decadence [ethical], ignorance, illiteracy and unprogressive aspects were gaining precedence. Vishnu, in the manifestation [avatar, form] as Hayagriva (the horse-headed or horse-faced Vishnu), retrieved the Vedas. This could imply corrective measures. Madhu and Kaitabha disintegrated into two times six — which is twelve pieces (two heads, two torso, four arms and four legs. (These are considered to represent the twelve seismic plates of the Earth.) Kaiṭabha — false luster [deception, trickery] or false dawn: something that seems to show that a successful phase/era is beginning or that a situation is improving when it is not? Appearances can be greatly misleading. Something that has lustre is not always what it seems, there are utterly useless things [without virtue] that have luster. This is relevant of human beings also.

The demon Putana (not son?) showed maternal devotion, Yashoda allowed him to suckle the infant Krsna. However, when Putana attempted it, the infant Krsna bit him. Putana: chest fat, male breast, foster-mother? (Yashoda was Krsna's foster-mother. Yash = success, glory, resplendence, magnificence, illustriousness, gorgeousness, eminence and fame.) 

Dhumralocana (smoky eyes) intoxicated? Could Dhumralocana also imply smoke and mirrors: deception so as to mislead [the people]; something/someone that deceives or distorts the truth, something or someone that is intended to confuse or deceive? Dhumralocana, a leader of the negative forces, is said to have had a retinue of sixty thousand asuras (rotten people). Dhumralocana is part of the Devi Mahatmyam/Mahatmya (part of the Markandeya Purana; Sanskrit: devīmāhātmyam magnanimity or glory).

Ghatutkacha - the son of Bhima and the rakshasi Hidimbi. His round bald/hairless head (utkacha) was shaped like a ghatam. He wielded the mace and made himself available to Bhima whenever he was needed. (Rakshasa huge and strong [vast size and great strength], a natural bully or voracious appetite.) Ghatutkacha = Kumbhakarna: a sleeping behemoth of great hunger, waking only once every six months. Perhaps Kumbhakarna exemplified lethargy, impassivity, indifference etc.

Surpanakha – sharp nails. Sur proboscis: the human nose (especially when it is large). Surpanakha was Ravana's sister. She was not beautiful and was envious of Sita. Ramchandra spurned her advances (during his exile), telling her that he was faithful to Sita. Surpanakha (on Ram's suggestion) approached Lakshmana, who too reacted in a similar manner; she was not what he desired. Lakshmana cut-off her nose and ears: could this imply rejection or much humiliation?

Jatasura was a rakshasa [evil] disguised as a Brahmana [a wise, knowledgeable person]. His intent was to ravish Draupadi. Bhima [who was away at the time] was deeply upset when he came to know of Jatasura's evil act; in the battle that followed he emerged victorious by decapitating Jatasura and crushing his body.

Sudarshan Chakra, Vishnu is depicted holding this [golden] chakra in the four-armed form. Sudarshan: good-looking, handsome. Chakra – Manasa (Mind) chakra.

Humvee: me too usurper? Humvees more than one usurper or fraud?

Kichaka (chak beehive). Kichaka was the commander of Matsya kingdom (fishy?) ruled by king Virata (mole?). He wielded much power within the kingdom. Draupadi was disguised as a maid (Malini) in King Virata's palace for one year. Kichaka's attitude was ignoble; he embraced Malini and tried to kiss her. (He offered her release from being a maid and a life of luxury.) Kichaka was also the brother of Sudeshna, the queen of Matsya. He requested Sudeshna to send Malini to serve wine for him. Draupadi consulted Bhima who was disguised as the palace cook (Ballava or Jayanta, in-charge of Matsya kingdom's kitchen for one year). They decided that Draupadi, disguised as Malini, would seduce Kichaka and arrange a rendezvous in the dance hall after dark. When Kichaka arrived he saw, much to his pleasure, a sleeping Malini. However, the person he thought to be Malini revealed himself as Bhima (who destroyed Kichaka with his bare hands, leaving him almost unrecognizable). Throughout all this, Arjuna, in his role as the [eunuch danseuse] Brihannala, loudly practiced on his drum to mask [drown] the noise of Bhima and Kichaka's brawl.  

Arjuna spent one year disguised as Brihannala [adept at song and dance] at king Virata's Matsya Kingdom (in his court). Brihannala a large reed or pipe. So Arjuna spent one year smoking something or as mouthpiece of a musical instrument (playing the flute, orchestrating something or spokesperson)? The eunuch analogy: diminished, enfeebled or enervated? The danseuse analogy: to dance to someone's tune to comply, to do whatever that person tells/wants? Arjuna [as Brihannala] was dancing to whose tune? Also, could Brihannala imply a bigmouth and/or a big drain [obnoxious, utterly useless, garbage, rubbish]. (Bigmouth: talkative, boastful, hyperbole, tall claims; someone who talks constantly, or behaves as though he knows everything [a hectoring tendency] and who carelessly disregards or ignores the opinions, or suggestions of others.) Brihannala = Karna? (Brihannala: a discreet ladies' man?) Arjuna was also Vijaya. Yudhisthira was disguised as Kanka (and Jaya) a game entertainer adept at dice (pasha). Yudhisthira = Virata = Shakuni? (Kanka = pusillanimous, effete [affected, useless, ineffectual, much self-indulgence or decadence]? Nawab Wajid Ali Shah = Yudhisthira?)

Nakula – not belonging to a prominent lineage/clan [kula]. Sahadev - an associate. Nakula and Sahadev are considered twins (possibly camaraderie).

Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers [scourge?] of Vishnu, were also [the demons] Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, Ravana and Kumbhakarna, and Sishupala and Dantavakra respectively. Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu are two characters in the purāṇas. Hiranyakashipu and his younger brother Hiranyaksha were both very disrespectful of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu is the symbol of the futility of desiring power over others. The arrogant Hiranyakashipu abhorred Vishnu and believed himself to be greater than Vishnu; he was also disrespectful of Vishnu's devotees. ... Jaya and Vijaya were born on earth [as enemies of Vishnu] because of their disrespectful behaviour with the four Kumara (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara) - the balakhilya rishis/hermits (diminutive). Jaya and Vijaya prevented the Kumaras at the gate when they went to see Vishnu, telling them that Vishnu is resting and hence cannot see them now. The enraged Kumaras replied that Vishnu is available for the devotees any time, and cursed both of them to be born on Earth. Vishnu appeared before them, and Jaya and Vijaya requested Vishnu to lift the curse of the Kumaras. Vishnu says curse of Kumaras cannot be reversed, and [instead] gives Jaya and Vijaya two options. The first option is to take seven births on Earth as a devotee of Vishnu, while the second is to take three births as enemies. They choose to be born three times on Earth even though it would have to be as enemies of Vishnu.     

Chaturanga (Sanskrit: caturaṅga) is an ancient strategy game. Chaturanga = quadripartite: consisting of or divided into four parts. Played on an authentic cloth game surface by 2, 3 or 4 players, Chaturanga combines the basic strategy of chess with the dynamic challenge of chance as the random roll of wooden dice determines each move. Unlike modern chess, chaturanga (recognised as the earliest form of chess, or a probable ancestor of the game of chess) was mainly a game of chance; results depended on how well one rolled the dice. In the game of dice (Sanskrit: aSTApada, pAsa, pA.nsA, bindutantra, prAsaka) Shakuni (Saubala, 'one who is equivalent to a hundred') played with a loaded dice (courtesy of a lizard nestling inside his dice). Shakuni (an evil genius, the prince of Gandhara [smelly] kingdom) was Duryodhana's chief advisor. Dice in Sanskrit is aksa; the oblong dice are distinguished as pasa, pasaka, parsa – all being variants of one another and connected with the Hindi pasa and the Punjabi phansa. (Phansa entrapment?) The oblong or cubical dice (akṣa) is the precursor of the more primitive vibhīṣaka small, hard nuts drawn randomly to obtain factors of a certain integer. (Aksa a spy? Ankh [a "handled" cross] is a symbol of Anubis.) Is the sobriquet 'Vibhisana' (atrocious, monstrous, odious, wicked, vile, morally depraved, unpleasant) derived from vibhīṣaka? Does Vibhisana imply excessive attachment to dice, a habitual gambler: someone with a taste for gambling (eccentric, fanciful or dicey decision-making) with a minimal sense of responsibility and blatant disregard for significance (i.e., excessively self-absorbed or too clever by half)?

aSTApada - creatures that have eight legs. There are several species of creatures that have eight legs. Most of these are arthropods and are classed as Arachnids. This group includes creature such as: spiders, mites, ticks, scorpions, harvestmen [daddy longlegs], pseudo-scorpions, and possibly horseshoe crabs and sea spiders. Spiders also have eight eyes. If "legs" is referring to appendages used for walking, then crabs can also fit the bill. Crabs actually have five pairs of legs in total, but one pair of these are called chelipeds and bear the pincer-like claws. The other four pairs are called walking legs, they are used for moving around. Another creature that is commonly thought to have eight legs is the octopus. This is actually in part a fallacy. While it is true that octopus have eight appendages, they are classified as arms and not legs as generally believed. (These help them move around and catch food. The little suckers on all of the long legs help to grip to things and have the same effect as a plunger.) The classes containing Arachnida are under the subphylum (or, some say, phylum) Chelicerata. This is considered by some to refer to creatures with pseudo-jaws. Chelicerata drink rather than eat, generally practicing external digestion by turning their food into a sort of soup using digestive juices.  

Augustus Caesar (Gaius Octavius Thurinus, 63 BCE–14 CE) was adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar in 44 BCE; he became Gaius Julius Caesar. After the honorific Augustus ("the illustrious one") by the Senate, he became Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. After Julius Caesar (in March of 44 BCE), Octavian allied himself with Mark Antony. Together with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Antony and Octavian formed the Second Triumvirate (a power-sharing agreement that divided up Rome's territories among them) in October of 43 BCE. 

Shiva ('the good') is an adjective or a quality, and hence could be honorific. There are many 'Shiva'. Whether the chillum-smoking, tandava-dancing (chaos-inducing) Shiva is a positive character or not – that is the question. 

Mandodari is praised as a woman of substance. Some consider her as Sita's mother, although as per the Ramayana she was the queen-consort of Ravana, the king of Lanka. Sita and Mandodari were very alike. Mandodari (mand = bad, udar = womb or abdomen) was beautiful, pious, very righteous and completely devoted to Ravana. The object of her veneration was Ravana, a man with many faults, moral/ethical transgressions, prurience and negative/adharmic [unscrupulous] tendencies, someone widely regarded as a demon (a negative person: a malefic, warped mind). Vibhisana married Mandodari on Ramchandra's advise. (Vibhisana = Ramchandra.) 

Positive aspects of the steed are often emblematic of the deity they are associated with. The bull is an embodiment of masculinity, strength, virility and power. Nandi or Nandikeshvara is the steed and a symbol of Shiva ('the good'). Nandi represents power, strength, virility, joy, and delight and moral [ethical] responsibility (highest human qualities). Immaculate: impeccable, unblemished. 

The difference between fate and destiny is a matter of looking forward and looking back. Fate is considered to be the factor that predetermines events and their evolvement (progression, evolution, unfolding) it is about how the future (of a person or a nation or of humankind) will be shaped (by the nation, humankind or person's history and the karmic accumulations both good and bad). Thus, fate is not changeable. Fate looks toward future events as inevitable. The unfolding of destiny [however] involves a set of factors (including one's decisions, choices, societal attitudes or thought processes [acquired behaviour], circumstances, virtues/ethics etc), and resultant effort/initiatives.

Parashurama (Sanskrit: Paraśurāma, Rama with an axe) is the sixth avatar of the Dasavatara. He is also Bhargava (descendent of Bhrigu, an archer) or Bhriguvanshi (one who belongs to Bhrigu lineage). He is the son of Renuka and Jamadagni, and is one of the Chiranjivi (immortals). This could imply: he'll never change. Parashurama beheaded his mother Renuka on the orders of Jamadagni (who suspected her of unchaste thought). Jamadagni = fire clothing (unimaginably haughty, arrogant, hot-headed = black hawk?). Jamadagni = Parashurama = the malefic Rahu? Tagore's "Rahur Prem" ['The Demon's Love'] is about Rahu and the moon; it is boundless and obsessive. Solar eclipse is known as Rahu. Rahu is the eighth gemstone in the Navaratna. Hessonite Gemstone or Gomed (Gomeda, Tamo-mani, Orange gem) is the representative stone of Rahu. (Gomed or Gomeda is cow's urine-coloured gem, the shade of honey tinged with blackish colour.) The code of conduct recited by Bhrigu is Manusmriti. Bhrigu an associate/collaborator and contemporary of Manu, the legendary first man and lawgiver. Or, could it be that Bhrigu = the Manu of Manusmriti? The epithet 'Dushasana' because of highhandedness [domineering attitude], assault, forcible violation, maltreatment?

Once, to test Lord Vishnu, Bhrigu went to meet Vishnu (who was asleep at the time). Bhrigu asked Vishnu to wake up, but the Lord was in deep sleep. At this, Bhrigu hit Vishnu on the chest (it left a footprint). Heartbreak? On realising that Bhrigu had hit with his foot, Vishnu asked him, "Maharishi, are you hurt in your foot? My chest is strong but your foot is not so strong." (Bhrigu is Sage Bhringi, the ṛṣi with three legs?) Parashurama could be Kārtavīrya Arjuna (the muscle-flexing Arjuna of Haihaya kingdom/clan), the Sahastrabaahu Arjuna (having a thousand hands/arms). He is a mentor to Bhishma, Drona and Karna. ... One day, as Parashurama slept, resting his head on the lap of Karna, a scorpion crawled up Karna's leg and bore through his thigh. And yet, Karna did not flinch so as not to disturb Parashurama's sleep. Parashurama = Karna and/or Kumbhakarna? Parashurama was scholarly and a warrior with an inordinate love for weaponry. He had a violent temper; he misused his powers and became a merciless tyrant. He will rule, i.e. he will have much influence (increase the horizon of ignorance avidya, tamas) until 'Maha Pralaya' – renewal, a new beginning (satya-yuga, an enlightened, progressive time/era). Ravana was scholarly and a good veena player; he gave in to lust, avarice/greed, ego, anger etc (his character/temperament flaws).

BG 11.12: || divi surya-sahasrasya bhaved yugapad utthita yadi bhah sadrisi sa syad bhasas tasya mahatmanah || ~ "If the radiance [light, luster, effulgence] of a thousand surya were to suddenly come forth in the sky, that would be like the light of the noble-minded (unbiased, uncluttered, high-minded, high intellectual strengths)." Krsna refers to a new dawn, a new era [yuga] - a fresh approach/thinking/perspective. Vignesh is Suryakoti Samaprabha. Tagore refers to an enlightened time [satya-yuga] through the metaphor of the sun that rises in the eastern horizon - clearing away the thick 'fog' or darkness [tamas: ignorance, illiteracy etc] of kali-yuga. "Perhaps that dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the sun rises..." 

(Mythology is ancient history; it is intellectually stimulating. It has been recomposed or retold innumerable times (in a somewhat imaginative manner, their flavour considerably different), each retelling inspired by and/or reflecting the prevalent social milieu (societal mindsets, attitudes, perspectives or points of view of various peoples, etc). The Mahabharata (initially 'Jaya' - Victory) is ancient history; it is the history of various peoples narrated imaginatively. Because of its significance, while the Mahabharata is also regarded as the Fifth Veda, it is at once equivalent to all the Vedas. Great authors, poets, littérateurs and playwrights have gained inspiration to form their own creativity. There has been much myth-making, oversimplification and folk-theatralisation of what should have been literary and cerebral effort, good sense and logical thinking. The flow requires narrative thinking and the need to understand. There's continuity. ... Valmiki composed the Ramayana. Veda Vyāsa (Krsna Dvaipāyana) recited the Mahabharata (a literary and poetic masterpiece). Sage Veda Vyasa requested Vignesh to help in compiling the Mahabharata. Vignesh agreed only if Veda Vyasa recited without a pause. Veda Vyasa agreed only if Vignesh were to understand the narrative before compiling. And thus the Mahabharata was composed. Correct understanding is also the essence of Kapila Muni's Sankhya philosophy, the yoga [science] of analysis.)

Agni is revered in the Vedas, in Vedic thought. Agnidev is Ishvara. There are hundreds of verses invoking agni in the Vedas. There are more hymns to agni than to any other deity. The quality of humankind (human civilisation) is because of intellectual aspects (the thinking process, mindsets, attitudes, habits, ethics/virtues, beliefs, etc). Agni is the deity of intellectual aspects/strengths. Hence, Agni is the basis of all creation. (Since mindsets [thought process, attitudes, etc] are the cause of everything.) Agni transforms: from kali-yuga to satya-yuga, a turnabout - i.e. to open the mind to new ways of thinking, to new ways of understanding, to new ways of seeing things. Agni is necessary for 'kshira-sagara-manthan' - exercise of the intellect to regenerate and strengthen the qualities of the mind, to bring about a sea change, a complete transformation, i.e. to "create" a new yuga (a turnabout is not more of the same thing). This is what the process of "creation" [a new chapter [yuga] in the intellectual, cultural and spiritual evolution of humankind] is all about. The fabled Somras is mind-opening reflections, cerebration, pondering, contemplation. Change is about inner transformation: mindset change or transformation of thought process etc. 

(Garuda - the birdman, the bird-king: the king of the skies. Garuda (Suparṇa) is depicted with an eagle's beak. (Possibly: eagle or falcon-faced, or eagle or falcon-like characteristics.) The Vedas provide the earliest reference of Garuda (the steed of Vishnu). The mighty Garuda is invoked in the Vedas as Shyena [Śyena, śyenaḥ]. As per the Puranas, Shyena and Garuda are the same. The noble-natured Brahminy Kite (purple-and-white plumed sea eagle, often referred to as the Singapore Bald Eagle) is considered as the contemporary representation of Garuda. Śyena [śyenaḥ] is eagle (in Sanskrit). In Vedic literature, Shyena is the divine eagle/falcon [supreme of falcons, falcon of the sky] identified with Agni, who brought about a renewal of all things that exist on earth. In the puranas this is attributed to Garuda. Śyena also refers to the 10,800 brick fire-altar (agní-cayana) in the shape of a flying falcon (symbolising the essence of Agni - knowledge, thoughtful wisdom, intellectual vigour/lustre, intellectual strengths, renewal, openness of mind etc) in the Vedic ritual/worship.)

Guru Drona asked for Eklavya's right-hand thumb so that Eklavya could no longer practice archery, this would make certain that his favourite/ace student [Arjuna] could remain the greatest archer. (He had declared Arjuna as the greatest archer, and promised him that none would be better than him.) In a maneuver to retain Arjuna's pre-eminent position, the cold and crafty Dronacharya (Kautilya? amAtya [minister] rAkshasa aka amAtya Kartikeya? Machiavelli?) made sure Arjuna had no competition, although this did not dissuade Eklavya, he continued to practice in front of Drona's statue. Drona succeeded in maintaining Arjuna's supremacy. (This Arjuna is a reference to Arjuna or to Karna? Eklavya – one love? Mirabai's love for Krsna was obsessive. Mirabai = Karna? Skanda is a reference to Kartikeya, he has six heads and twelve arms.) Drona is vessel in Sanskrit. Vessel – alms or a negative/ignoble/vicious/evil mastermind? Rona - to cry or weep, lament, tears. Rona could also imply a tendency towards vociferous and/or self-righteous complaint, blame/accusation/criticism, polemic or public clamour/remonstration. Eklavya had approached Drona to teach him archery. Drona, the royal teacher, turned him away. He did not accept him in his gurukula as his disciple. Eklavya was hurt, however, it did not diminish his resolve. He decided to teach himself. He created a statue of Drona out of mud, worshipped it and diligently practiced archery in front of it, accepting [considering] the statue as his teacher/guru. (Drona quietly helped [advised] Eklavya aka Vikarna?) He excelled to such an extent that Dronacharya was worried he would surpass his ace disciple, Arjuna. Hence, Drona asked for his right-hand thumb (as his fees). Though Eklavya did not have his right-hand thumb, he was considered a very powerful archer. With practice, Eklavya could shoot arrows with his index and middle finger; he became a greater archer than he was ever before. (A thumbs-up: a gesture of approval, appreciation, encouragement, kind feelings or optimism. 'To be under someone's thumb' is to be subordinate to someone, to be under someone's total control, at someone's command (i.e. to do one's bidding): to be controlled, greatly influenced or dominated by someone, to the extent that one cannot defy the other no matter how much one might want to. Right-hand thumb - could it imply thumbprint, an impression made by the thumb used especially for identification purposes (something that identifies)? Dronacharya asked for Eklavya's thumbprint: what could this signify? Forgery? Eklavya [Ekalavya] could shoot arrows with his index and middle finger: Vikarna? Index and middle finger: a hectoring style/tendency and prurience? If the five fingers were to represent Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadev, index finger is Bhima and middle finger is Arjuna?)

Vulture: a baldhead and/or a hooked nose (a massive bill). Shakuni, Jatayu and Sampaati – the three vultures. In the game of dice Shakuni played with a loaded dice (courtesy of a lizard [a meddlesome spy?] nestling inside his dice). Shakuni (an evil genius, the prince of Gandhara [smelly, spurious] kingdom) was Duryodhana's chief advisor. Shakuni = Duryodhana? Shakuni = Jatayu? Jatayu – age fraud or Jamadagni [malignant/cancerous/crab-like proponent of illogic, ignorance, illiteracy, unwise/selfish nationalism, lack of scientific temper [scientific rationality and logical thinking], obsessive and mindless ritualism and religionism, those who increase ignorance through habits, rituals, beliefs etc]? Shakuni = Jatayu = Jamadagni = Kautilya = Anubis = Satan = the "Manu" [lawgiver] of Manu-smriti = the obnoxious demon kali [the harbinger of darkness, evil mastermind]?

Garuda's elder brother Aruna had two sons – Jatayu and Sampaati. Sampaati was Jatayu's elder brother. Jatayu, the old, heroic and wise king of the vultures, was a massive vulture and an ally of Ramachandra and [his father] Dasaratha. Garuda: muscular energy [sturdy, strong, solid, tenacious, vigorous, hardy, mighty, rugged, steeled, tough-minded]. If Garuda is Bhima then his elder brother is Lord Hanuman. (Vishnu is Garuda-dhvaja. Arjuna is kapidhvaja. Dhvaja - insignia, flag. Kapi = Hanuman. Bhima = Arjuna? Krsna refers to Arjuna as Maha-Baahu, the mighty-armed. Bhima = Baahubali, strongman. (Bhima is always with Draupadi and indulges her.) ... Radha is one half of Radha-Krsna. (Radha from pradhan, pre-eminent?) There is a Karna also referred to as Radheya, brought up by Adhiratha and Radha. (Adhiratha the charioteer of king Shantanu of Hastinapura.) Radheya – of Radha. If this were to be figured out, then whether Bhima = Arjuna or not, can be understood. As per Tagore's poetry, both are to be depicted together (in the future), especially in Dvarka. There is likely to be clarity whether Radha Krsna = Jesus Christ or not. There could be a fraudulent Jesus and several anti-Christ. The eternal adversary could be the Anti-Christ, satan – "the deceiver" [malignant, ungenuine, evil, usurper, pretender], the lawless one [amoral/unethical, wicked, unjust, unscrupulous, ignoble]: a false messiah who appears responsible, dignified, righteous [ethical, scrupulous], spiritual and holy [genuine, just/fair-minded, virtuous, sincere]. There is likely to [also] be clarity about Joseph, Judas, etc and whether Mary Magdalene (Miriam of Magdala) is the same as the 'Virgin' Mary (Mother Mary) or not, i.e., whether she was Jesus' mother or his wife. The infant Jesus is the Christ child, perhaps similar to Jesus in temperament. (Radheya?) The 'virgin' epithet could be about the experience. Through his poetry Tagore has articulated his enthusiasm for Krsna; he is very eager to please.) 

It was while resting under a peepal tree that Jara the hunter's arrow pierced Krsna's left foot, the avatar smilingly left the physical frame, while Jara wept and sought to be forgiven; he had thought it was a deer. JarA = Karna = Balarama = Lakshmana = Jamadagni (Parashurama)? Did Vikarna/Ramchandra not have strong arms (muscle problem etc)? Jara = feverish, malaise or root cause of all negativity, evil etc (possibly: demon kali). The malignant Kaliya Naag has a thousand heads (similar mindset, attitudes, temperament, ethics, beliefs, etc). JarA (old age = irrelevance, refusal to change or progress for the better) could be Bhishma. JarA is also considered to be king Vali, elder brother of Sugriva. Which of them could be Mahishasura (the buffalo demon): Karna or Vikarna? Karna and Arjuna – different people, in cahoots with each other, or two aspects of the same individual (split personality, deceptive)? Karna = fraudulent Arjuna? Or, there could be two Arjuna fraudulent Jesus (Mirabai?) and the Anti-Christ (Satan [evil], the jackal-headed Anubis, Kautilya)? 

Sampaati and Jatayu, when young, used to compete as to who could fly higher (i.e. get closer to the sun). On one such instance Jatayu flew so high (hot air, self-glorification?) that the sun's heat almost seared him. (Jatayu = Karna? Spurned? Jealous? Infatuated? Hungry for fame etc?) Sampaati (Vikarna?) shielded him by spreading his own wings. (Shielded the Draupadi-Karna equation? Or Jatayu's doings?) In the process, Sampaati became wingless. (Grounded, unable to 'fly' [boast, etc] obscurity?) Ravana sliced off Jatayu's wings: clipped his wings? (Ravana has ten heads, which one? Shakuni: shak - distrustful, dubious, not to be believed.) Sampaati and Jatayu = Rukmini (lacking stature and/or another Mirabai?) and Satyabhama (deceptive, fraudulent Radha)?

Sita (also referred to as Janaki), the princess of Mithila, was the adopted daughter of king Janaka. Janaka [of/belonging to the people or people-oriented] was the honorific used by the kings of the Janaka dynasty that ruled the kingdom from their capital, Mithila. Janaka could also imply progenitor or patriarch. ("Manu" – lawgiver, is considered as the first man or progenitor of humankind. There are 14 "Manu" [honorific for lawgiver] in each kalpa [aeon].) Sita is Mythili or Maithili as the princess of Mithila. Sita is furrow. Ravana abandoned the infant Sita (left her in a ditch or buried in a field). Janaka found her in a furrow while ploughing (as part of a ceremony/ritual) for the rains, adopted her and brought her up as his own daughter. All this could imply Sita is the deity of the earth, of the Earth's abundance and well-being. In other words, Sita is the personification of the earth/nature (Prakriti). Sita's trial by fire (difficulties, hardships etc) – because of Ramchandra and/or Jamadagni? Ravana = Janaka (one of the ten heads)? 

Bhishma Pitamaha, the old grandsire, was an unparalleled archer and warrior of his time. He gave up his own claim and vowed to serve whoever sat on the throne of his father (the ruling Kuru king). Kuru or Kaurava - negative/evil, harsh [lacking decency or humanity], rotten minds. He promised to never stake a claim to the throne and obeyed the blind king Dhritarashtra. (Blind: illiteracy, ignorance, illogic etc?). He failed to correct Duryodhana from his wicked ways. Devavrata (vrata – vow) became Bhishma after taking the bhishma pratigya (severe vow/oath, kathor vrata) of lifelong celibacy, thereby giving up his 'crown-prince' status. This enabled his father Shantanu to marry [matsya-kanya] Satyavati. Bhishma's vow also made certain that Shantanu and Satyavati's offspring[s] would be rulers (ascend the throne). A pleased Shantanu blessed Bhishma with ichcha-mrityu (i.e. he could choose the manner and time of his demise, this made him almost invincible). His half-brother was the young king Vichitravirya (unusual masculinity/bravery) – the son of Satyavati [matsya-kanya] and king Santanu (of Hastinapura kingdom). Hastinapura: mere weightiness, not intellectual strengths hot air? (Elephants are among the world's most intelligent species.) Bhishma on a bed of arrows (shara shajya) for eighteen days: what could this imply? And, while on his shara-shajya he gave instructions to Yudhisthira on statesmanship and the responsibilities of a king. Bhishma - the son of Shantanu (a calm manner or inclined to peace, or detached, unenergetic/lethargic or timid?) and Ganga (unblemished, ethical or morally upright, knowledge stream, share/portion or unrestrained sense pleasures?). While his body was on the bed of arrows (above the ground), his head hung unsupported. Seeing this, many of the princes (both Kaurava and Pandava) brought him pillows of silk and velvet, but he refused them. He asked Arjuna to give him a pillow fit for a warrior. Arjuna then removed three arrows from his quiver and placed them underneath Bhishma's head, the pointed arrow tips facing upwards. (Pimp? Aphrodisiac? Menage a trois? Dirty-minded: tending to have vulgar, obscene, or lewd thoughts? Brahmastra? Macho? A male chauvinist? Gay or bisexual - the 'Brihannala' analogy?) To quench the war veteran's thirst, Arjuna shot an arrow into the earth, and a jet stream of water rose up and into Bhishma's mouth. It is said that Ganga herself rose to quench his thirst. (Alcoholism [a drinking problem] and a womaniser as a matter of habit? The older he got the younger he liked them?) Bhishma = Duryodhana = Karna? Bhishma was the supreme commander of the Kaurava [crow?] forces for ten days. Krsna provided guidance, did not use weaponry. However, when Bhishma took aim at Arjuna, Krsna came between them wielding a wheel (viprit buddhi etc?). Bhishma put down his arms and no longer fought when he faced Shikhandi (who had once been a woman). Using Shikhandi as a shield, Arjuna showered him with arrows. (Bhishma: does it imply he was scathing or witheringly harsh and/or bitterly denunciatory (scornful, nasty, scurrilous, mocking, truculent, reproachful)? Shikhandi is metaphor for veneer [a false front], a deceptive trick or tactic. Shikhandi a crossdresser? Shikhandi = Sugriva = Angada = Alexander? Angada = fitness freak? Hastinapura = Porus and/or Porus' elephant, and/or the metaphoric 'white elephant' (cumbersome, useless)? Did Porus [Puru] agree to serve Alexander as a vassal or client-king? Were Alexander and Porus similar personalities? Porus – leaky, gossipy or talkative: canary-like? Puru: thickheaded, a dullard, and/or insolent, smug, foolhardy, pompous, disdainful [full of himself]? Puru – the Himalayan king Parvatka?)

Bhishma could also be a metaphor? Bhishma was Shantanu's eldest son (and crown prince). He was Shantanu and Ganga's eighth child – premature or preterm birth? The other seven were drowned in the Ganga (by Ganga). What could this imply: aborted or given up for adoption? (Ganga = unblemished.) Satyavati and Shantanu had two children, Chitrangada (angada = a fitness freak, powerfully-built [muscular] or stocky?) and Vichitravirya (pusillanimous, spineless? vichitra = odd, unusual). Maharshi (sage) Parashara and Satyavati's son (born of gandharva-vivaah before her marriage to Shantanu) was the prodigious Maharshi Veda Vyasa (Dvaipayana Vyasa). Dvaipayana because he was island-born. However, Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa is a reference to whom? Satyavati as 'matsyagandha' ("one with the smell of fish") fishy? There could be a dubious/fraudulent Satyavati? 

"Immaculate Conception" – unblemished or perfect conception, or surrogacy? "Virgin-birth" is [very likely] euphemism. What could it signify, though? Is it a reference to niyog-pratha (a one-night stand or donor); gandharva-vivaah (a live-in relationship, no rituals were necessary: a 'love-child'); a brief marriage or unpleasant experience? ... Mary realised that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit before she was married to Joseph. What or who is the Holy Spirit? The virgin birth of Jesus is the belief that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother, Mary, through the Holy Spirit without the involvement of a human father and born while Mary was yet a virgin. Who is this Jesus? ... There is some speculation about Jesus and Mary Magdalene: about the alleged marriage of Jesus, that Jesus was married to Miriam of Magdala, the possibility of a secret marriage between Jesus and Mary, that they had two children together, that Jesus held Mary in the highest regard, though not as his wife, or that he had a relationship with her beyond marriage [ladylove], and that Mary Magdalene was the same person as the Virgin Mary. ... The Holy Grail is a legendary vessel, believed to be the cup that Jesus Christ drank from at the Last Supper. 'Jesus Christ drank from at the Last Supper' signifies both were involved. Holy Grail = a kiss? What could be 'last supper'? If it were to be a liplock, what did they 'drink'? The Grail legend became interwoven with legends of the Holy Chalice. In Christian tradition the Holy Chalice is the vessel that Jesus used at the Last Supper to serve the wine. (Wine – celebration? Chalice – forty? Holy Chalice the forty thieves? Christ – from Krsna? Jesus – Jishu. Arjuna is Sabyasachi and Jishnu ambidextrous, and irrepressible or indefatigable.) What is the "the kiss of Judas" the archetype of the betrayer, of treachery. And, is "Judas" (unconnected, separated, divorced?) a reference to fraudulent Jesus or dubious Christ or Joseph, or all of them? Could Joseph have been a fraudulent Jesus?

There could be two or three [dubious] Arjuna, and one or two [or perhaps three] fraudulent Krsna (that constantly dallies with gopis [milkmaids], relishes butter, etc). What could 'butter' imply? Inducement or grease to entice, ingratiate or butter-up? Bhishma on a bed of arrows (shara-shajya); Mirabai on a bed of nails. (Surpanakha will have to be figured out. Fraudulent Jesus (aka dubious Garuda) could be Mirabai aka dubious Radha.) Shesha Naag is depicted with five or seven heads: similar attitudes, beliefs, ethics, etc. He is anti-Christ and [very likely] fraudulent Jesus (unfeeling, self-obsessed, austere, orthodox/closed-minded, detached). He could be another Bhishma? Shesha has an insatiable thirst for fame, etc and symbolises all vices, negativity, ethical or moral hypocrisy and regressive aspects in humankind. He is [very likely] the avid collaborator of the Anti-Christ – Jamadagni aka Parashurama ("Rama with the axe") aka Bhishma (grandsire [a male chauvinist] and harsh [kathor]: unfeeling, austere, lacking human qualities) aka JarA (malaise, root cause or old man = irrelevance, stale, closed-minded: refusal to change, progress or evolve for the better) aka the demon kali: the root cause of orthodoxy [including orthodox religion and religionism, and orthodox revivalism], cultural malaise, stale thinking/attitudes, ignorance or illiteracy (regressive, illogical, unscientific or inane aspects: attitudes, behaviour, philosophy, rituals/ritualism, etc). He is the root cause that intellectual strengths the ability to think logically (to understand and apply logic) or to do clear thinking, dulls considerably. This brings about the toxic kali-yuga (the 'iron' age of ignorance, illiteracy [regressive aspects, illogic, etc]). Also, if Bhishma were to be a discreet Casanova or womaniser as a matter of habit, and [possibly] the older he got the younger he liked them, there could be a fetish for a May-December thing? There could be several 'Mandodari' - dubious 'women of substance' (false luster). JarA could be Kautilya and the jackal-headed Anubis, someone whose true nature [essence, sva-dharma] is that of a jackal. He is Satan, the devil himself (in human form). He is Balarama (adept at strong-arm tactics or arm-twisting). Or could there be two of them? ... There is JarA, the hunter. There is Guha, the Nishaada chief (in the Ramayana). He was an ally of Ramchandra. Guha or Guhaka: caveman instincts or primitive instincts, regressive-minded. (Nishaada, hunter.) Sage Valmiki composed the Ramayana. He was the highwayman (thuggee) Ratnakara. Valmiki = Jamadagni? Perhaps he also had much anger within himself, despite appearing otherwise? Whether Socrates was a dubious philosopher or a genuine one, whether he was wise or otherwise – that is the question.

BG 10.34: "Among women (those that truly inspire) I am kīrtiḥ (appreciable and inspirational initiative and effort [scientific, creative, literary etc] and thereby a great legacy, genuine admiration or fame), śrīḥ (beauty, a charming, attractive, affable or positive personality), vāk (the ability to speak well), smṛtir (gifted with a good memory, qualities of head), medhā (intellectual strengths: to be knowledgeable, wise or sagacious, to have the ability to do original thinking, not mere 'chewing the cud' (regurgitation, more of the same thing), dhṛtiḥ (steadfast, to not give up), kṣamā (magnanimity, the ability to forgive, to be large-hearted)." 

The essence of kali-yuga is the dulling of intellectual strengths: the inability to do clear thinking, to understand or apply logic, and [hence] the predominance of ignorance and illiteracy (regressive, illogical aspects). There is predominance of 'chewing the cud' [regurgitation]. With the 'closure' of kali-yuga, a lot of characters that are admired or venerated, their true nature (essence or sva-dharma) is likely to be clear to humankind, so that positive change or corrective measures (change in thinking, attitudes, etc) can happen. A lot of the imagery, statues, malignant or dubious 'wisdom', literature or philosophy, 'tradition' and 'culture' (normative behaviour, notions, habits, beliefs, proverbs/idioms), thoughtless, illogical or unscientific rituals, festivities, etc will be cleared away. Knowledge, sagacious [thoughtful] wisdom and a scientific temper (an open-minded approach, logical, thoughtful debate etc instead of hypocrisy or squeamish behaviour) will be necessary. A fresh approach/thinking, a fresh perspective (points of view, understanding), a new way of thinking, of seeing or understanding things, will be necessary. A new foundation and narrative will be necessary to clear/cleanse/wash away the 'soot' (kali) from the thinking process, to remake [reform] mindsets, to remake [reform] humankind, to 'create' satya-yuga (euphemism for an enlightened, progressive time/era/yuga). Only by discarding [and rectifying] illogical, inane, regressive and irrelevant aspects [attitudes, practices, behaviour etc] can the human mind rejuvenate [reform] itself. Only then can humankind progress. More of the same thing (ignorance of kali-yuga) will not do. Attitudes shape behaviour. Changes in language (idioms/proverbs, phrases etc) will change attitudes. Satya-yuga could be the equivalent of "the kingdom of God" ("Thy kingdom come...")? BG 10.34: "I am all-consuming time (to clear away, winds of change), and I am too the generating cause [creator] of all that is yet to be (bhaviṣyatām)."

To be open-minded is to be positive or progressive-minded: to be objective, to think and rethink (to take corrective measures, to self-correct or rectify) wherever necessary, and to have a cultured approach (including common decencies). It is the ability to adapt, to understand (the deficiencies) and absorb from various/diverse cultures. Such an approach helps to continuously evolve (as a people) and progress for the better; to be smug, to be illogical, self-righteous, irresponsible, condescending, clumsy, inane, uncouth or frivolous, or to stagnate (cultural chauvinism, selfish nationalism, a simplistic approach/understanding/perspective (feel-good narrative, intellectual lethargy, thought control, etc) will lead to quagmire, and a clown society. ... Avidya is ignorance, a lack of scientific temper/thinking/approach (an attitude that involves the application of logic and common sense or good sense). Scientific explanations (that can also be understood by laypersons) of cosmic [celestial], natural and biological phenomena (including health and hygiene) are necessary (for corrective thinking and measures). A scientific approach (including edutainment) will not only impart basic knowledge but also rectify the thought processes; attitudinal changes will clear ignorance and misperceptions. It will also popularise science (which is different from technology) and foster a scientific temper/thinking/approach (to be intellectually curious) as a way of life, i.e. as an individual and social process of thinking and behaviour that involves the application of logic. There is a difference between education and knowledge (to be knowledge-wise). A study-by-heart approach gives the myth of knowledge; it neither fosters a scientific temper, nor improves the memory (the proverbial light-bulb in the head, to understand or remember basic concepts (conceptual clarity), to be intellectually curious), nor provides clarity of scientific concepts. Creating a reading habit/culture is necessary: to read for pleasure. Increasing the literacy rates (basic literacy) for adults and youth is necessary. Literacy increases confidence (self-regard, morale), equips with knowledge and better understanding (the ability to think and understand) and creates opportunities to overcome poverty, ignorance, make better choices, etc. ... A paradigm change, from "traditional way of thinking" to a new [progressive] way of thinking, is necessary. Kumbha is pitcher (a full vessel). It could be euphemism for qualities of head or thinking people. It is necessary to bathe in the rays of progressive knowledge, good sense, a positive or wise approach and thoughtful logic.     

The mythology [narrative] of the future (some of which is preordained) is likely to be such that religionism will fade away (become irrelevant). Whether it is Mary or Krsna or Durga or Vishnu, it is the same Almighty that all of humankind prays to; humanity [human qualities, ethics, virtues] will prevail. Those that thrive on religionism and ignorance, their wings are likely to be clipped. Orthodox revivalism is unlikely. ... Inability to think clearly, to apply or understand logic, brings about kali-yuga the amoral/unethical age of ignorance, illiteracy [regressive thought/aspects], intellectual stagnation, thoughtless rituals [obsessive ritualism], avaricious instincts, non-logic etc. This will have to change. Continuing with the mindsets, narrative etc of kali-yuga will not do. Mindsets (attitudes, beliefs, rituals etc) will have to be cleansed of regressive, deceptive, or illogical influences of kali-yuga. There will have to be clarity of thought and purpose – the 'creation' of satya-yuga (the age of science; an enlightened, progressive era of wisdom, progressive thought, good sense and knowledge) by clearing away the darkness (ignorance, illiteracy etc) of kali-yuga. All the characters that are venerated or glorified, if they are fraudulent (i.e. manifestations of Satan, Kaliya Naag, Shesha Naag etc – the harbingers of kali-yuga) they [and their influences] will also have to be cleared away. This will be part of corrective measures: the remaking of humankind, the 'creation' of an enlightened, progressive era/yuga.

The First Battle of Panipat was fought on 21 April 1526 between Ibrahim Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi, and Babar. Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babar (1483-1530) succeeded in creating the Mughal dynasty/empire and became the first Mughal emperor. He had inherited his father's precarious throne (the insignificant kingdom of Farghana in Central Asia) when he was about eleven or twelve years old (1494/95). He had a great ambition to conquer Samarkand and in 1497, he besieged it for seven months before eventually gaining control over it. He was about fifteen years old; it was a big achievement for him. However, during his attempt to regain Farghana, a rival prince conquered Samarkand (which Babar had conquered for less than a 100 days). He would obsess over this even after his conquest of India. Babar considered himself a Timurid, a Genghisi and a Turk. He was 29 or 30 before he had his first drink; he was also fond of ma'jun (a narcotic preparation). He was difficult to please, capricious, authoritarian [obedience mattered to him], temperamental [of fractious temperament], matter-of-fact, a connoisseur of the arts with an admiration for great architectural creations, and a poet who was also good at reciting poetry. For Babar, Samarkand was the manifestation of civilisation, elegance [cultivation] and culture. He liked pleasure, good food, revelry, entertainment, architecture and music. He had a great admiration of beautiful landscape and horticulture, and spent much time digging wells and planting fruit trees. After being unsuccessful in his third attempt to conquer [and hold Samarkand], Babar gave up all hopes of re-establishing the empire of his ancestor Timur, and turned towards India. He wanted to reclaim what he thought was his legacy through Timur, and sent an emissary to Ibrahim Lodhi demanding the restitution to him of territories that had once belonged to his ancestor. Babar defeated Ibrahim Lodhi [of Delhi Sultanate, Lodhi dynasty] and his numerically superior army [one lakh strong, many elephants] at Panipat, on April 21, 1526 (the first battle of Panipat) - with a well-trained army of 12,000. He also led his army to victory over a confederacy of Rajput kings headed by Maharana Sangram Singh (Rana Sanga). Before this battle he vowed abstinence; he took a public oath of temperance (though he did not find temperance easy). Perhaps, Babar had extraordinary military acumen. His superior weaponry [matchlock guns, artillery, cannons] and training, along with superior generalship and modern tactics, combined with his long-practiced use of the encircling tactics of Central Asian cavalry proved to be effective against the Rajputs as well as the Afghans. Had it not been for the cannon, the Rana (with his eighty thousand strong army) might have achieved victory. It was Babar's cannon vs. obsolete/antiquated/archaic trends in Indian warfare. Babar's army was well-trained even during peace times, while Indian soldiers were used to self-indulgence and overindulgence/revelry during peace times. Babar appears not to have been enamoured of Delhi and India: the people were different - he did not understand them, the climate was too hot [heat, strong winds and dust], the fruit unfamiliar, and there was no artificial watercourses; he was almost dissuaded by the desolate appearance of the country, it induced melancholy. He was filled with nostalgia and yearned for his roots. (Central Asia, where his roots lay.) Babar was a curious person, a writer and a poet; he was not an intellectual. He perhaps lacked adaptability, a broader approach; his thought process was rooted in and influenced by his upbringing; he had not evolved intellectually. Much of his character was moulded in his early years in Farghana. Babar is the only emperor who maintained a journal. His candour is remarkable, for instance, he mentions the loss of his loose half-tooth while eating, or that he could not help crying often over his defeats, or his vaulting ambition and his strong faith in himself. He was also infatuated with Baburi, a teenage boy. He was a conqueror, adept at empire-gathering, governance and administration was beyond him; he was unable to create a bureaucratic and administrative framework. Humayun lacked the experience and the tough fiber necessary to consolidate a new dynasty. Akbar was in control of his court and empire, rather than being a tool of palace intrigues. In 1582 he decided to provide the people (in his empire) with one universal eclectic religion: Divine Monotheism, and presented himself as the viceregent of the Almighty.

Ma'jun is a narcotic preparation. Mahjong (also majiang, mah jongg, and numerous other variants) is a game similar to the Western card game rummy. Mahjong is a game of skill, strategy, and calculation, and involves a degree of chance.

Wajid Ali Shah is said to have netted 2000 sparrows in a single night. Sparrows were treated as a delicacy and their flesh used for making chidi pulao, eaten only in winter as it was considered an elixir too hot to be consumed during summer. The nawab was eventually destined to be the last ruler of Awadh (anglicised to Oudh); he had ascended the throne of Awadh in 1847. A man of pleasure, a great patron of singers, musicians, dancers and artists, he was also known as Qaisar, but preferred "Akhtarpiya" for his numerous compositions. He was a poet, playwright, composer, dancer and great patron of the arts, widely credited with the revival of Kathak as a major form of classical dance, besides being a munificent patron of the light classical form of thumri. An accomplished dilettante, he found himself a misfit for the high office to which he was elevated. He established his famous Parikhaana in which hundreds of beautiful and talented girls were taught music and dancing by expert teachers engaged by the royal patron. These girls were known as paris (fairies). Widely regarded as a debauched and detached ruler, maladministration and lawlessness gave the British the reason they were looking for, and formed the official basis for their annexation. Although Awadh was, for all practical purposes, under British rule well before the annexation, with the Nawab a little more than a purported ruler, the British were [nevertheless] determined to grab the coveted throne of prosperous Awadh. And so, Wajid Ali Shah's kingdom, long shielded by the British under treaty, was eventually annexed in an atmosphere of gaiety and merriment on 11 February 1856 – days before the ninth anniversary of his coronation. 


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