India’s ancient saga, the Mahabharata, got a new twist on Tuesday when Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb claimed that it was the internet that helped King Dhritarashtra’s advisor track developments in the battle between the Kauravas and Pandavas. The epic had offered a more mystical explanation for how Sanjaya could offer real-time insight about the face-off even though he was miles away from the battleground of Kurukshetra. According to mythology, Dhritarashtra’s advisor and charioteer was gifted with divine vision. But for Deb, this prescience boiled down to something more material: internet and satellite communications.
“This is the country where the episodes of the Mahabharat war were narrated to Dhritarashtra by Sanjay,” Deb reportedly said at an event in Agartala. “This means technology was there, Internet was there, satellite was there...”
This is not the first time that Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have tried to place ancient India at the pinnacle of technological advancement through dubious claims about science. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the existence of the part-human, part-elephant Hindu god Ganesha proved that plastic surgery existed in ancient India. (Some of the BJP’s other trysts with pseudo science are documented here).
Unsurprisingly, Twitter exploded with humour after Deb’s latest claims, with many social media users offering their version of life in a tech-powered Mahabharata.
Historian Audrey Truschke offered a retelling of the Mahabharata in the internet era.
Some Twitter users found photographic evidence that backed the Tripura chief minister’s claims.
Meanwhile, Twitter user Unofficial Sususwamy started a caption contest on the theme with a photo from KV Reddy’s 1957 Telugu-fantasy film Mayabazar (read about the film here) which was based on the Mahabharata.