Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mahabharata Podcast

Thanks to a tip from Saad Akhtar, I found the Mahabharata Podcast (feed). I find myself listening to each issue, more than once even.

Lawrence Manzo does exactly what the name of the podcast suggests: he tells the story (stories) of the Mahabharata. And I am glad he does so. When I tried to follow UCLA's history of India courses, I found myself seriously lacking in knowledge and feel for this epic tale. Manzo claims the Mahabharata is especially fit to be retold on podcast and I think I agree. By all means I enjoy the podcast a lot and although I still struggle with the vast amount of characters, their outlandish names and complex identities (they are not just the figures they are, they are also very frequently incarnations and representations of the numerous gods) and with the unexpected narrative logic, the stories are invariably powerful.

Manzo makes a very good attempt to comprehensively retell the stories and keep us organized. He cuts out some of the too extensive elements and he goes into explanations on the crucial backgrounds and general story lines. He even leaves the Mahabharata a bit to tell a story from another tale, in order to ascertain the listeners are properly aware of the backstory around Krishna.