Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Mahabharata: Sunda and Upasunda

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Mahabharata: a Book Report, in which I'm slowly reading through the Hindu epic poem The Mahabharata, and writing a book report on what I read. 

The five Pandavas ruled happily and righteously from the city of Indraprastha.  One day, they were visited by the seer Narada, who warned the brothers not to get into conflict over their shared wife, Draupadi.  To illustrate the danger of brotherly love feuds, Narada told them the story of the two demon brothers Sunda and Upasunda, which is as follows…

Once upon a time, there were two demon brothers named Sunda and Upasunda, and they were very close.  Because they performed such fierce austerities, Brahma offered them a boon (a special gift).  The brothers chose mighty strength, the ability to change shape at will, and invulnerability except to each other.

Armed with their new powers, Sunda and Upasunda set about conquering the world.  They killed many Brahmins and kings, chased away the gods, and basically laid the earth to waste.  In desperation, some seers approached Brahma for help.  So Brahma asked a guy named Visvakarman to create a very beautiful woman to seduce the demon brothers.  So the lovely Tilottama was created, and when Sunda and Upasunda laid eyes on her, they each fell madly in love.  Then they fought and killed each other.

Upon hearing this story, the Pandavas agreed that if any brother laid eyes on another brother sleeping with Draupadi, he must be exiled for twelve years of celibacy in the forest.

Sunda and Upasunda fight over Tilottama.

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