Sacred Games- Meaning of episode titles

While the world is still celebrating France’s new world title and praising Croatia for a brilliant performance, India is drooling over its new found love: Netflix’s Sacred Games. Binge-worthy beyond compare, this series has some of the most talented actors today like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, and many more. You may have even watched the series but do you know the meaning of the peculiar episode names in the series? Read on to understand the relevance of episode names to the plot.

Episode 1 : Ashwathama

A character from the oldest yet well-recorded legend and an Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’, Ashwathama was cursed by Lord Krishna to live for 3000 years with various diseases that would make him desire death. The protagonist of the story, Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who is raised by his parents with the teachings of the Bhagvad Gita, always wanted to become immortal in the sense that he wanted to be an undefeated gangster in Mumbai. His story is so important that it remains to affect everyone even after his death, signifying his immortality.

Episode 2 : Halahala

During an important event in the Hindu mythology called Samudra Manthan, the gods and the demons started churning a mythical sea to find Amrita, the nectar to immortality. But before they could reach Amirta, the most potent venom in the universe, ‘Halahala’ was produced which was later consumed by Lord Shiva as a sacrifice for the good of the universe. In the series, Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) starts an investigation of his own along with RAW Agent, Anjali Mathur (Radhika Apte) which may turn out to be a detrimental step for his career and even his life.

Sartaj Singh
Episode 3 : Atapi Vatapi

Atapi and Vatapi were two demon brothers who used to invite Brahmins with an intent of offering them food but would instead kill the guest and eat them. Their appearance as devotees lured and trapped innocent Bhramins and passers-by. A character in the series, Khanna Guru Ji draws a parallel of these demons to various religions in modern times.

Atapi Vatapi
Episode 4 : Brahmahatya

The most heinous crime in the Hindu religion is Brahmahatya, meaning murdering a Brahmin. This episode signifies Ganesh Gaitonde’s strategy of  completely neglecting his Brahmin identity to play the game of appeasing politics. It is indicative of Gaitonde’s betrayal to his Brahmin self for votes.

Episode 5 : Sarama

A mythological being, Sarama or Deva-shuni is referred to as a female dog in the Rig Veda, who aides Lord Indra by walking on the path of truth and finding the mythical cows. In this episode, an honest police officer, Sartaj Singh tries to find and save his informant from any threat but is forced to lie. Other characters are also forced by either their superiors or fate, to do something they don’t believe in, signifying that everyone is controlled and put on a leash.

Episode 6 : Pretakalpa

A section in the Mahabharata texts, Pretakalpa describes, in brief, the cycle from birth to death, and it is also read as a part of crematory rituals. This is relevant, as the death of a key character brings about a significant change in Sartaj Singh’s personality, indicative of him being born as a new person.

Episode 7 : Rudra

Rudra is a God of hunt, storm, terror and destruction as described in the Rig Vedas.  Among the many translations of his name, the one that fits the best is ‘ the most frightening one’. Sartaj Singh and Anjali Mathur now fiercely try to uncover the truth about the most notorious character yet, Trivedi, who was mentioned in Ganesh Gaitonde’s prophecies.

Sartaj and Anjali
Episode 8: Yayati

An important character in the Puranic times, King Yayati was cursed by his father to be forever stuck in old age, due to his disobedience with respect to an important instruction. The only solution to get rid of the curse was to pass it on to one of his sons if they willingly agree to bear the curse. His youngest son, did agree to do so and hence, Yayati sacrificed his son’s youth to attain his own and to fulfil the desire of one of his subjects to bear his children. A parallel story in the series is of Khanna Guru ji, considered as a father figure by Gaitonde, who is willing to sacrifice Gaitonde to accomplish his objective.

Pankaj Tripathi