By Anand Neelakantan

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Sushasana, who had already let fly the ripe mango at Bhima, saw it miss and land on the ground, and roll towards a bush. “Bhai, you threw away our best mango,” whined little Sushala. ” hissed Sushasana, while Suyodhana smiled down at his pouting sister. Meanwhile, Yudhishtra had uncoiled himself from his meditative pose and was speaking reverently to the Brahmin, bowing and touching his feet and behaving in the obsequious manner Suyodhana had come to despise in his eldest cousin. Bhima was leaning over the low wall of the well while the twins pointed to their ball floating in the water far below.

Nakula & Sahadeva: Madri’s twins, also of divine lineage, play minor roles in the epic as sidekicks to their three older siblings. Draupadi: The wife shared by all five Pandava brothers. Dhristadyumna is her brother, and Shikandi (a eunuch), an adopted sibling. She is spirited and does not take insults quietly. Fiercely determined, she is perhaps the real ‘man’ in the Pandava camp. Gandhari: Princess of Gandhara, Bhishma forcibly carries her off to marry his blind nephew, Dhritarashtra. She voluntary chooses to bind her eyes to share her husband’s blindness.

Great works exist about Karna and Draupadi. There are literary masterpieces in vernacular languages about Bhima, Arjuna, and Kunti. However, except for Orubhanga, a play in classical Sanskrit by Bhasa, dealing with Duryodhana’s last moments, and Gadayudha, by the medieval Kannada poet Ranna, no authors have been sympathetic to the Crown Prince of Hastinapura. Ajaya is an attempt to view the Mahabharata from the side that lost the war. One of the meanings of Duryodhana is ‘one who is difficult to conquer’, in other words, Ajaya (Unconquerable).

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Ajaya by Anand Neelakantan


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