Reading Notes: Mahabharata Part A

In the Ramayana, I thought that the gods had fairly little involvement in the mortal world aside from being reborn as humans. Yes, Rama and Sita were supposedly a god and his wife reborn, but in their earthly endeavors, the other gods would only visit for a bit of advice, then leave. 
Part A of the Mahabharata started off slow, with a lot of introductions to various characters. We learn about the background of each character, their personalities, and how each relates to the next. The first half of the reading sets up the background plot points that lead to the main conflict of the Mahabharata. 
For the first several stories, the various characters are fairly normal. Devavrata vows to never marry or bear sons, initially starting as the first as a condition by his mother to be wield the 8 Vasus's power and later as a vow to his father to allow his father to marry a woman that he loves. The other characters make human like mistakes, acting with the best intentions but making mistakes…

Reading Notes: Sita Sings the Blues Part A

This week, I chose to watch Sita Sings the Blues to get a feel of another version of the Ramayana. The style of animation was very interesting, and I noticed a few differences between this version and the full story. Also, I thought the side-plot of the couple from San Francisco was a bit unexpected but had a good connection to the Ramayana.

0:00 introduced to the cosmos with Shiva, Brahma, Kakshmi, and Vishnu; see the beating heart of the universe
5:00 San Francisco: we see a happy couple, Nina and Dave, living their daily happy life with their cat
7:00 introduced to 3 narrators, who will tell the story of the Ramayana together. They introduce Sita, who is also named Janaki and Vaidehi.
9:00 king sends Rama into 14 years of exile because of his wife Kaikey
11:00 Sita insists on coming despite Rama's warnings of demons (rakshasas) Here, we see the first song of the story. Sita sings of their life in the forest, her with Rama, and Rama fighting off demons. I also noticed that there…

Reading Notes: Ramayana Part A

During week 3, I was unable to complete the Ramayana Reading Part A, but I got a quick update from a friend and just decided to continue on with the rest of the reading. For the first reading this week, I decided to go back and take notes on the parts I missed. I tried to separate the major plot points for later reference. 

- The Ramayana begins in the life of Dasharatha, King of the Kohala kingdom, living in the kingdom's capital, Ayodha. While the kingdom was prosperous and happy, the King was given no heirs from his 3 wives.
- The King decides to perform a ritual to the gods, and after a long year of preparation and a successful ceremony, the gods blessed his first wife Kaushalya with a son, his second wife Kaikeyi with a son, and his third wife Sumitra with two sons. They were named Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana, and Shatrughna respectively.
- Meanwhile, the gods were having trouble controlling the demon king Ravana. He had become too powerful after performing many rituals t…

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Week 4 Lab: Stories and Storytelling

Quick Notes:
The danger of a single story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi (source)
-wrote stories very similar to the British stories she read--> impressionable children
-shift after reading new books--> stories aren't just one story you can't relate to but sound like other stories
-people have a "single story" towards things they don't know much about
-be sure not to show a group as one thing all the time, sticking with what everyone else defines them as
- some people read a story and it makes an unrealistic and single line of thinking, making an incomplete story of a topic

Imaginary friends and real-world consequences by Jennifer Barnes (source)
-How long have people invested in fictional stories?
-What effect does fictional characters have on us?
-Why do we feel so connected to fictional characters--> parasocial relationships
-it feels like we feel true connections with celebrities or fictional characters
-parasocial relationships can provide emotional sup…

Reading Notes: Ramayana Part D

Over this whole portion of reading, I saw a lot of beautiful imagery through the many fight scenes. In the first portion, we see Ravana's brother Vibhishan side with Rama's forces. Rama learns from the King of the Ocean how to build a bridge to Lanka. Through the course of the battle that ensues, the demons and Rama's army fight many times. Its seems that the demons have an advantage with their arrows that are guided by magic, which is very interesting. In the course his quests, Rama has had quite a bit of difficult when confronted with demons because of this magic. Initially, Rama's armies are wiped out by Indrajit, one of Ravana's sons. But a helpful man named Garuda swoops in (literally) to heal the armies.

The tide switches when the demons wake up their biggest demon brother Kumbhakarna. The demons thought their brother should help them win if anything but because of his size. But Rama meets him head on and slays Kumbhakarna.

Thenn, yet again, Rama's armies…

Reading Notes: Ramayana, Part C

The stories in the Part C reading of the Ramayana continued to show the heroics of Rama, and how he made acquaintances with some new characters to help get Sita back from Ravana. In the story of Sugriva and Hanuman, Rama seeks refuge from his exile and inadvertently meets a man in the same situation as him. Sugriva was run out of his own kingdom by his prideful brother who also took his wife as well. Rama saw the injustice in the details of this story, and sought to right the situation by helping Sugriva win back his kingdom and wife. Vali, Sugriva's brother, is very angry at the challange, and not heeding the wise words of his wife Tara, charged quickly into battle. In a strange twist where Rama shoots Vali in the back, Vali was defeated and Sugriva was returned to the throne.

Sugriva then agrees to return the favor by helping Rama. He sets up search parties to find Sita, and they are lead by the brother of Jatayu, Sampati, in the right direction towards Ravana's island kingd…