The Mahabharata (Original Soundtrack)

Various Artists

Released 24 January 1990

  1. Nibiro Ghono Andare
  2. Draupadi
  3. Ontoro Momo
  4. Satyavati
  5. Virata
  6. Bushi Oi Sudure
  7. Cities
  8. Bhima (vocals by Mamadou Dioume)
  9. Markandeya (part I) (narrated by Bruce Myers)
  10. Duryodhana (vocals by Georges Corraface)
  11. Amba
  12. The War (Prepare To Fight! / War / Dhire Bontu Dhire)
  13. Markandeya (Part II)
  14. Svetasvatara Upanisad (Traditional Text)

Various Artists

Liner notes

The story

The Mahabharata is one of the world’s greatest books.  It is also the longest poem ever written.  It was written in Sanskrit, and is more than a hundred thousand stanzas long – about fifteen times the length of the Bible.

‘Maha’ in Sanskrit meanst ‘great’ or ‘complete’.  ‘Bharata’, in general sense means ‘Hindu’, and even more generally, ‘man’.  It can therefore be interpreted as ‘The Great History of Mankind’.

“…it’s the story of your race, how your ancestors were born, how they grew up, how a vast war arose.  It’s the poetic history of mankind.  If you listen carefully, at the end you’ll be someone else.  For it’s as pure as glass, yet nothing is omitted.  It washes away faults, it sharpens the brain and gives long life.”

This ‘great poem of the world’ tells the story of the long and bloody quarrel between two groups of cousins:  The Pandavas, who were five brothers; and the Kauravas, of whom there were a hundred.  This family quarrel over who will rule ends with an enormous battle where the fate of the world is at stake.

Indian tradition says: ‘Everything in The Mahabharata is elsewhere.  What is not there is nowhere”.

Jean-Claude Carrière


The Music

It is not often that music for a film needs many years work before being accomplished, which has been the case here.

The music has taken its inspiration from many sources, as various as they are powerful:

the will to rediscover the musical inspiration of mankind in his most spiritual roots, particularly in Tibet and the Indian Sub-Continent.
involving artists of various origins in this reach, all inspired and cultured instrumentalists, to improvise from and adapt these musical sources.
Under the musical inspiration of Toshi Tsushitori, the Japanese Master, who has been studying traditional music in several countries for many years, four other musicians, all well-known masters of their own instruments, have worked together for five years all over the world, enriching the composition with their own cultures.

In 1989 after the shooting of the film, we decided to develop the music further, to create with our occidental feeling a more original fusion.  We retained our first approach based on improvisation, dismissing all written music.  Even the use of synthesizers and musical technology remained faithful to these ideas and the personalities who worked together.  We didn’t want to review historical music, but to dip into it inspiration, trying to bend it into modernity.

With Sarmila Roy we recorded the Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest Bengali poets of this century, trying to retain the heart of the music – its emotion and melodic simplicity.  Sarmila’s voice is extraordinarily lyrical, as clear as source water, and she gives to these recordings a unique and magical character.

This album represents a rare vision shared by musicians of different cultures and races in 1990.

Rarely, I believe, has musical creation as much deserved to represent what we call today world music.

Philippe Eidel
The Markandeya Story
A long time ago all living creatures had perished.  The world was no more than a sea – gray, misty, icy swamp.  One man remained, all alone, spared from the devastation.  His name was Markandeya.  He walked and walked in the stale water, exhausted, finding no shelter anywhere, no trace of life.  He was in despair, his throat taut with inexpressible sorrow.  Suddenly, not knowing why, he turned and saw behind him a tree rising out of the marsh, a fig tree, and at the foot of the tree a very beautiful, smiling child.  Markandeya stopped, breathless, reeling, unable to understand why the child was there.

And the child said to him: “I see you need a rest.  Come into my body.”

The old man suddenly experienced utter disdain for long life.  The child opened his mouth, a great wind rose up, an irresistible gust swept Markandeya towards the mouth.  Despite himself he went in, just as he was, and dropped down into the child’s belly.  There looking around, he saw a stream, trees, herds of cattle.  He saw a woman carrying water, a city, streets, crowds, rivers.  Yes, in the belly of this child he saw the entire earth, calm, beautiful; he saw the ocean, he saw the limitless sky.  He walked for a long while, for more than a hundred years, without reaching the end of the body.  Then the wind rose up again, he felt himself drawn upwards; he came out through the same mouth and saw the child under the fig tree.

The child looked at him with a smile and said, “I hope you had a good rest.”


Further Listening

  • Weaving My Ancestors’ Voices

    Sheila Chandra

    Released 10 May 1992

    On her Real World debut Sheila Chandra explores the musical territories of her spiritual ancestors, drawing upon South Indian, Celtic, Spanish and Muslim influences. This album concentrates on the purity and emotional intensity of Chandra’s extraordinary voice.
  • Tibet, Tibet

    Yungchen Lhamo

    Released 11 August 1996

    This album is a rare insight into the heart of Tibetan spirituality through the devotional songs of Tibet’s most inspiring female singer. At 25, Yungchen Lhamo walked over the Himalayan mountains from Tibet to India, on a perilous journey to meet and receive the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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