Mahabharata Pilgrimage

CD Tracks

  •   1. LISTEN!
  •   3. WAX PALACE
  •   6. DICEY EXILE
  •   10. DHARMA

  • The Mahabharata is one of two ancient revered Hindu epics. Every Indian, whether Hindu or not, whether literate or not, knows the story. The epic has been sung, danced, printed on cloth, carved and painted for over 2000 years. It is still inspiration for Bollywood movies, new novels and popular TV series. It is 100,000 couplets long and relates the history of a dynastic conflict between the Pandavas and the Kauravas of the Bharata clan. Mahabharata means Great Bharata. The clan was so influential in the ancient history of India, the whole country was referred to as Bharata. So Mahabharata can also be translated Great India.

    "Listen! When great sage Vyasa felt the birth pangs of the Mahabharata throbbing in his heart, he prayed, 'I need one who is capable of writing it down! If I stop to write, it will be lost.' Into his heart came an answer, 'Meditate on Ganepati, remover of obstacles.' Vyasa meditated with all devotion to preserve his epic and the pink faced, elephant headed, boy god appeared. It took three long years to sing the 100,000 couplets of the Mahabharata, while the gods and demons alike listened, enraptured.

    Vyasa was the grandfather of our heroes. As Vyasa has said, 'If you listen carefully to this story, at the end you will be a new person.' Do not worry about the many names, they are just notes to the music; enjoy the song."

    This epic is the subject of my CD, Mahabharata Pilgrimage. The most difficult aspect of creating this recording is to edit a long, complex story to be understood in one hour by listeners not of the Hindu culture. When I saw a 28 year old Hindu woman perform a piece of this epic on her knees while several musicians sat behind her playing tabla, harmonium and veena, I was fascinated. She chanted, sung, and told with enchanting perfection. I began reading as many translations as I could find and learning to tell one episode at a time. I have traveled India searching out performers of the Mahabharata, in many styles and in many dialects. Many have been studying the story since they were teens. I observed the performances entranced, interviewed the performers and traded stories with them. I now perform over 4 hours of the epic and am likely to continue to learn more each year.