Mahabharata Part 1
When the fiery Pandavani performer Teejan Bai from chattisgarh, holding aloft an Ektara and alternating verse with prose describes the dialogue between the Pandava King Pandu and Queen Kunti, she is receating familiar episodes from the Mahabharata. Indeed the Ramayana and Mahabharta were the oldest names faliliar to Nehru from his earliet childhood. His mother and other ladies told him stories from the epics, taking him every year to the popular open-air performances ehwre the Ramayana story was enaced as Ramlila and vast crowds to witness it. These narratives and shows represented the typical Indian method of catering for various audiences, from the highest intellectual to the simple unread and untaught villager.
Nehru opines that the Ramayana was an epic poem with a certain unity of treatment, while the Mahabharata was a vast and miscellaneous collection of ancient lore. Both must have taken shape in the pre-Buddhist period, though additions were no doubt made later. The Mahabharata eventually acquired 100,000 shlokas (verses)!
Teejan Bla takes forward the narrative by donning roles of Kunti and Madri, who are anticipating their five mighty sons. Gambling games were common in the past-Vedic times and the dramatic narrative describes the royal bout of dice, where the eldest Pandava prince yudhishtira plays against the devious Kauravas and loses. He forfeits his money, jewellery,kingdom, weapons and horses, and even four brothers and himself, pawning quite unjustly wife Draupadi. The infamous Kauravas are seen attempting to disfobe Draupadi in the Pandavani performance, which leads to Bhima's resolve to wreak vengby killing violently the Kaurava brothers, Duryodhana and Dusshasana, in the eventuality of war. The Pandavas are banished of the forest and, on return, Krishna acts as an earnest plenipotentiary to prevent war, but without success. The inevitable battle ensues, but since only the killing of relatives and friends is foreseen, Arjuna wonders what is the whole purpose.
As Nehru observes, Arjuna is the symbol of the tortured spirit of man, which from age to age has been torn by conflicting obligations and moralities. In the classic discourse of the Bhagavata Gita, we are taken step-by-step to higher and more impersonal regions of individual duty and social behavior; of the application of ethic to human life; and of the spiritual outlook that should govern all. Essentially, the Gita deals with the whole human existence and is a call to action: to meet the obligations and duties of life, but always keeping in view the spiritual background and the larger purpose of the universe. Inaction is condemned, and action must be in a spirit of detachment, not concerned with its results. Nehru views the message of the Gita not sectarin, but universal in its approach.