There are several moments in Jeyamohan’s VenMurasu that do not occur in the original Mahabharatha. These additions elevate the story, chisel out defining moments, and provide more insight into the psyche of characters, helping us see their internal evolution. This prose-poem is inspired by one such moment – a seminal moment in the tale.
Sakuni’s rendezvous with the dying wolf in the desert on his way back to Gandhara, a broken man, when Yudhishtra is chosen to be the crown prince of Hastinapuri, and the wolf’s advice to his fellow desertman is ironically reminiscent of a momentous event that was to follow later in the Mahabharatha – probably the most significant part of the epic – Geethopadesham or the Divine Song/The Song of the Lord. Krishna’s rousing words to a dejected Arjuna – His friend and nephew – breaks the stalemate on the battlefield and inspires Arjuna to fight the righteous war. He talks about Dharma, duty, and the need for nissangathwa as Arjuna went about doing what he was destined to do.
In the desert, the wolf reminds a broken Sakuni of his true self, his duties as the son of a desert, his vows to his sister and nephews, and how he, a desertman, descended from a primitive lineage was not bound by any rule that governed the men of cities.
The nephew-uncle relationship, one’s duty, realization of one’s true self and Dharma, the need for detachment while doing one’s bound duty are the common topics here. The crippling despair of Sakuni and Arjuna is debilitating, makes them give up their most powerful weapons – a razor sharp mind for one and the Gandeeva for the other – and almost stops them from carrying out their duties. The wolf and the Lord inspire their proteges into action, changing the course of history in their set times.
There’s a play on the words with Lupine/Divine, and Wolf/Lord.
Call it a parallel (yet another of those uncanny mirror images/events/characters peppered through Venmurasu) or a parody, but both scenes are eerily similar!
The Lupine Song/The Song of the Wolf
The Uncle left the great city
with no goodbyes to press his humiliation
In the deep of the night, not even a torch
to light his craven path
Broken bits of his dreams and vows
lay strewn around the royal yard,
Mocking him through broken teeth
that grinned beneath the moonlight.
There, a failed promise to a sister
here, a crushed dream for a nephew.
Turned his back to the patient years
and crossed the desert enroute to his home,
There a lone wolf lay waiting one dawn,
with the spark to consume him.
The dying wolf’s groan drew him;
he approached it broken, head bowed, hands atremble,
His finest weapon slipping off unclaimed,
the tormented man bowed before his master,
And the wolf preached his principle,
the lupine song to live by.
Laying bare his heart
naming the forces that drove him
“Look within you,
recognize the wolf, oh, son of the desert!
The laws of the land don’t bind you,”
he spat out through his faltering jaws
“Arise, awake and unleash the wolf within you;
this is what you were born to do, do it well!”
The desert’s son soaked in the lupine wisdom
the haze lifting off his fractured mind.
Raised his eyes just as the wolf lunged
and felt sharp teeth plunge into his shin
The wolf held on with his dying breath
slurping down on fresh, warm blood
And passed on the unquenchable fire
in his desert veins into the slacking veins of the pupil.
The wolf within reared its head
pulled out a blade and made a clean sweep.
The teacher breathed his last still smacking his lips.
the student rose and broke apart the jaws of steel.
And limped back to camp,
a burning man.
“Hurry on,” he barked,
as Jatara feasted within,
“Not ahead, but back; there’s a job left undone;
turn our horses around to Hastinapuri!”