Mahabharata Podcast



An English language re-telling of the ancient epic Mahabharat.


  • Episode 20 - King of the World

    Episode 20 - King of the World


    Episode 20 - The Pandavas range the Four Directions and conquer the world, bringing home mountains of treasure.  Soon after, the Rajasuya Sacrifice commences.  Krishna is given the top honor among the guests and this causes a tumult of disgruntled kings and nobles.  They point out the problem that has become apparent in the story, which is that Krishna is a nobody in terms of societal ranking.  He's a former cowherder from a caste of shudras who claims his father is a prince (alas, there were no witnesses to his alleged birth by Devaki).  But even if he were not lying about his descent, he was still a noble of the 3rd tier, and from an insignificant backwater kingdom, where they had been forced to move by Jarasandh's armies.The general of that army, Sishupal of Chedi, was particularly outraged by this elevation of a milkman over the heads of all the kings of India.  Sishupal had other grievances against Krishna, since his fiance Rukmini had been abducted by Krishna

  • Episode 19 - Killing Jarasandh

    Episode 19 - Killing Jarasandh


    Episode 19 - This episode, Yuddistira gets it into his head that he should be King of the World! As he has been inclined to do since becoming king, he calls for Krishna to advise him on how to accomplish this task. Krishna tells him to send Bhima and Arjun to Magadha and get rid of his main rival to the imperial title, King Jarasandh.And so, Krishna, Bhima and Arjun go down to Magadha and pick a fight with Jarasandh. Bhima wrestles the old guy for fourteen days and finally body-slams him, killing him instantly. This whole Rajasuya thing will result in 13 years of misery for the Pandavas, and finally the destruction of nearly the entire race of Kshatriyas. Since dieing on the battlefield is one of the surest means of getting to heaven, I guess it all worked out OK for the men. All those widows probably wished Yuddistira had stuck to his little kingdom of Indraprastha, and been content with his reservation at Lord Yama's palace...Sorry I've slowed down my production lately. I've had some musical commi

  • Episode 18 - Arjun Slept Here

    Episode 18 - Arjun Slept Here


    Episode 18 - This is a longer, pithy episode, covering the way the brothers decided to prevent future conflicts over their shared wife, and Arjun's subsequent adventures when he breaches those rules.  Despite the punishment he receives for breaking the oath he swore, Arjun ended up having a lot of adventures and getting to know a lot of hot princesses around India.  Draupadi would have been better off keeping him closer to home!So Arjun ends up coming back from his year-long exile with a new wife-- Krishna's sister-- and leaving a trail of baby boys across the sub-continent.  After his return home, he and Krishna spend a lot of time together in Indraprastha, and we are told that they are the re-incarnation of the ancient seers Nar and Narayan.While they are hanging out together, Krishna suggests that they go to the river for a kind of picnic, and while they are there, Agni the god of fire meets them and requests their aid in burning down the Khandava Forest, which was the home of Taks

  • Episode 17 - Cut the Baby in Half

    Episode 17 - Cut the Baby in Half


    Episode 17 - With this episode, we finally get back to the main characters and the main storyline.  The news of the Pandava's emergence from obscurity has reached Hastinapur, and King Dhrtarastra has to make a decision-- does he go along with his favorite son and launch a surprise attack on Pancala?  Or does he follow his uncle Bhisma's advice to make Yuddhistira heir to the throne.  His conclusion is to try to strike an impossible balance between these two extremes, and he divides the kingdom, making Yuddhistira king of the lesser half of the Kuru lands.This episode has a little more commentary than I usually give, and I hope no one is too bent out of shape by my critique of the Bhagavata Purana and the way Krishna is portrayed in there.  If you have anything to say that might change my opinion on the matter, please leave some comments on this blog.  I'd love to hear from you!Unfortunately, my day job has gotten busy lately, so I've not been able to prod

  • Episode 16 - Dont Mess with Balaram

    Episode 16 - Don't Mess with Balaram


    Episode 16 - This is the final installment of the "Krishna Episodes", where I've covered Krishna's back story up to and beyond the point when the Pandavas met him in Panchala.  There are still some interesting details in the Bhagavata Purana which I want to compare with later events in the Mahabharata, so I'm not completely done with that book, but for the upcoming episodes, we'll get back to the Mahabharata and see what the Pandavas do next.I have to apologize for narrating this one kind of fast.  I guess I just had a cup of coffee before I got started, because I did some fast talking.  Next time I'll make it a glass of wine, and I promise I'll slow down a bit, as was suggested to me in one of the comments!

  • Episode 15 - Kamsa Goes Down

    Episode 15 - Kamsa Goes Down


    Episode 15 - This episode is about Krishna's spectacular entry into international politics.  Having established his manhood by cuckolding the entire tribe of cowherders, Krishna returns to Mathura to get his revenge on Kamsa.  Killing Kamsa has repercussions, however, because Kamsa had a powerful ally in King Jarasandh.  Krishna ends up killing more than 130 million soldiers as he defeated 17 armies raised by Jarasandh and an 18th army belonging to the Black Greek.  You'd think there were no soldiers left in ancient India after that, but Krishna is only getting started!  Krishna also checks in on his cousins the Pandavas, sending an embassador to report back on how the boys are being treated.Our two stories are beginning to come together, so next episode we'll have some more adventures of Krishna and Balaram, get them married off (16,000 wives!!!), and see how their sons come along, and then we'll finally be caught up, and will resume the story of the Pandavas.

  • Episode 14 - Krishna and the Gopis

    Episode 14 - Krishna and the Gopis


    Episode 14 - Things get hot and heavy this episode, when Krishna plays a tune on his magic flute and all the girls come running.  The association of religious devotion with carnal love is found in Sikhism, Sufi Islam and even mystical Christianity.  I've always suspected that the idea was born in India as Bhakti and then gradually made its way westward through the Islamic world and finally into Western Christianity.  It would be an interesting study-- the timelines certainly fit!  Next episode, we'll get back to the bloodletting and chopping of heads, so never fear, this sexy stuff is nearly behind us!

  • Episode 13 - Top God

    Episode 13 - Top God


    Episode 13 - The further adventures of young Krishna.  This time we cover his youth and teenage years.  He kills a bunch of demons, imitates every boy in the clan plus all the calves, kicks Indra's butt, and then compels the girls to emerge naked from the river to retrieve their clothing-- all in the name of religion of course!  He promises to each one of them that he will make love to them before the end of Autumn, and next episode, he'll make good on it!

  • Episode 12 - Krishna at Play

    Episode 12 - Krishna at Play


    Episode 12 - We finally get started with Krishna.  His mother and father were both of the house of Yadu in Mathura-- Krishna's mother Devaki was King Ugrasena's daughter.  Unfortunately, Devaki's brother, Crown Prince Kamsa was a bad guy, and he got an early warning that his sister's eighth child would be the death of him.  After a palace coup, King Kamsa threw Devaki and Vasudeva into prison and killed their first six babies as soon as they were born.The seventh child, Balaram, was magically transported into the womb of Rohini-- Vasudevas other wife living in Vraja with the Gopas.  Unlike Balaram, Krishna managed to be born in his natural mother's womb, but was secretly exchanged with the Gopa chieftain's daughter within hours of their birth.  As far as anyone could tell, Krishna was born to the Gopi Yashoda, and Devaki had a daughter who was killed by Kamsa as soon as she was discovered.So, while Krishna and Balaram are technically full brothers, it appeared as if they were unrelate

  • Episode 11 - The Loves of King Yayati

    Episode 11 - The Loves of King Yayati


    Episode 11 - This episode is the first in  a series that will break away from the Mahabharata and use the Bhagavata Purana as the primary source instead.  This is necessary if you want to find out Krishna's life stories.  Up until the Pandavas meet Krishna at Draupadi's Swayamvara, no mention is made of Krishna's birth, childhood, or rise to power.  That information is only available in other books, and the main source is the Bhagavata Purana. The first time I read a faithful translation of the Mahabharata, I was shocked that Krishna just appears in the story, fully grown, and no information is given about his background.  So in the next two or three episodes, I will try to rectify that, starting with Krishna's common ancestor with the Pandavas, King Yayati.I meant to push on and cover Krishna's birth and childhood in this single episode, but I was afraid that all the names and details would get overwhelming if I tried to put all this together, so next episode we'll cover Krishna

  • Episode 10 - Five Men and One Woman

    Episode 10 - Five Men and One Woman


    Episode 10 - This is a long one - over 30 minutes, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out.  You might have noticed that I'm still experimenting with the audio, and I think this one came out clearer than the rest.  I'm trying to keep the file sizes under control, so it is a matter of striking a good balance.Also, the story is getting interesting.  We've got a few good fight scenes, plus Vyasa intervenes a couple of times to keep the story on track, and we get to meet Krishna for the first time!  By the end, we have our heroes married off to Draupadi and enjoying their honeymoon at King Drupada's palace.  We'll leave them to enjoy that for a while, and in the upcoming episodes, I'll go back in time to cover Krishna's story from the start. Please visit my blog and leave comments.  I'm really interested to hear what you all think of the production so far!

  • Episode 9 - Burning down the House

    Episode 9 - Burning down the House


    Episode 9 - This episode begins with Drona's revenge against King Drupada for reneging on a promise to share his wealth with his former schoolmate.  The princes have come of age, and perform a demonstration of their battle skills.  The pageant is interrupted by a mysterious Suta, son of a charioteer, named Karna.  Karna has an inexplicable resentment for Arjun and challenges him.  Duryodhana is delighted with the turn of events, and quickly befriends Karna.  When the battle is about to commence, the master of ceremonies asks him to recite his lineage.  Karna reveals that he is from a lower class, so Duryodhana rectifies the situation by making him King of Anga.  The day is over by then, so nothing is settled between Karna and Arjuna. Later, Duryodhana schemes to have the Pandavas sent to a neigboring town, and has a house built for them that is highly flammable.  The house burns down, but the boys escape with their mother.  While in the woods, t

  • Episode 8 - Princes in Training

    Episode 8 - Princes in Training


    Episode 8 - This is the last episode that covers Book 7 of the Mahabharata, called "The Origins".  Almost all of the story I have covered so far comes from Book 7.  The earlier books are much shorter, and full of geneologies and creation myths that are almost impossible to make narrative sense of, so I left a lot of that out!  I spend some time at the beginning of this episode describing what we're up against in terms of the original Mahabharata as a source.  Then the story gets under way, where we meet the two Gurus Krpa and Drona, and find out some of the early enmities between the Pandavas and their cousins the Kauravas.  Duryodhana's maternal uncle Shakuni makes his debut in the role of chief conspirator, which he will maintain to his dying day!  I think you'll also agree that the good guys are not 100% good after all-- Bhima is kind of a bully, and Arjun is a serious kiss-up to their teacher and is not above a little cheating to make sure he is unchallenged as the

  • Episode 7 - The Heroes and the Villains are born

    Episode 7 - The Heroes and the Villains are born


    Episode 7 - This episode covers the marriage of the three princes Dhritarastra, Pandu and Vidura.  Here's the map I promised of India during the time of the Mahabharata.  What's important to notice is that first, the Kuru nation was in a very central location and must have been very important in the politics of the age.  The Himalaya mountains acted as an enormous bulwark, keeping each kingdom safe from attack from the north.  Thus the marriage alliances seemingly secured peace with neighbors to the west and south, and Pandu was able to wage a military campaign against the kingdoms dowstream along the Ganges to the east.It is interesting how Pandu eventually thought of his natural father and tried to convert to a Brahmin later in life, giving up the crown.  In addition to all that, the five Pandavas (good guys) and the 100 Kauravas (bad guys) are born, then Pandu dies, leaving his five sons orphans.  Everyone agrees that the eldest Pandava, Yudhistira should be the first in

  • Episode 6 - No Good Deed Unpunished

    Episode 6 - No Good Deed Unpunished


    Episode 6 - In this episode, Bhisma's extreme oath comes back to bite them all, when both his brothers die childless and there is no one to continue the Dynasty.  But never fear, because Satyavati has another son, the very author of this story, and he can step in from time to time to set things right.  In this case, he gives us the three brothers, blind, pale & bastard!Please visit my site -, and leave comments, I'm interested to hear your feedback!

  • Episode 5 - Shantanu  Sons

    Episode 5 - Shantanu & Sons


    Episode 5 - I briefly give my opinion of the previous episode on Shakuntala and Dushanta, and then get going with the birth of mighty Bhisma and his two not-so-mighty brothers.This is an important episode, because in many ways, it is Bhisma's over-reaction to his father's desires that ultimately sets the whole tragedy in motion.

  • Episode 4 - Shakuntala and King Bharata

    Episode 4 - Shakuntala and King Bharata


    Episode 4 - The episodes are getting a little longer now, as the stories get more detailed.  Before the book gets to the "direct line" of characters, it takes a bit of a detour to introduce some of the important ancestors in the Bharata Dynasty.  These include Bharata himself, plus his ancestor Yayati (and his son Puru), as well as Bharata's descendent Kuru.  The sketches are in fact quite brief, and the lengthy portions are generally about very specific aspects of their lives.  In the case of Bharata, we'll hear a lot of information about his conception and the questions of his legitimacy, and that's about all.  As for Kuru, we only hear that he recovered the throne of Hastinapur sometime after his father lost it to the King of Panchala.  The story of Yayati and his sons is much longer, but it is also quite odd.  I'm going to save it for later because it also bears on the descent of Krishna, plus I'm anxious to get going with the main story!So for this time, it's the s

  • Episode 3 - A Fishy Beginning

    Episode 3 - A Fishy Beginning


    Episode 3 - Vaisampayan begins telling the Mahabharata, beginning by telling us that Vyasa spent three years daily working on the poem. Following that, we hear about the Fishy-Fragrant Satyavati and Vyasa's birth.

  • Episode 2 - The Origins

    Episode 2 - The Origins


    Episode 2 -The story begins. In this episode I describe how the Mahabharata begins, with the storyteller Ugrasravas telling the hermits in the forest about the great Snake Sacrifice of King Janamejaya, and how Vyasa's composition was told during the festivities.

  • Episode 1 - Introduction to the Podcast

    Episode 1 - Introduction to the Podcast


    Episode 1 - I'm excited to announce that the first episode of my podcast about the Mahabharata is now available. There are more episodes to come shortly. This one is just a brief introduction to let you know what this project is all about.There are a lot of different interpretations of the Mahabharata out there, and they are all so different from each other, because the original writing is often so obtuse that it is very hard to get past. But buried beneath all the archaic language and reptition is a really fascinating story. My problem with the abridgements and adaptations out there is that they all without exception change the facts of the story, and skip a lot of the detail that I think gives one a real feeling for the authors' original intent. I will try to remedy this as best I can in this podcast. Finally, I really appreciate all those great podcasts out there that help me to while away the boring moments of my life, and I hope this offering is a way of giving back.  I hope you enjoy it!

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