Sacred Games: From Aswatthama to Yayati, decoding the meaning behind every episode in season one

FP Staff

July 13, 2018 15:36:22 IST

Netflix's first Indian original series Sacred Games is a truly groundbreaking show in the context of Indian shows and television programs.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane and based on a novel of the same name by Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games is a show that moves between the past and present in the city of Mumbai. The show is seeped in realistic portrayals of gangsters, communal violence, the nexus between the mafia, politicians and businessmen, and the workings of the police. It tackles controversial subjects like fake encounters, religious violence, and the corruption within the world of entertainment.

But another thing that captured everyone's attention was the names of the eight episodes of Sacred Games. The episodes, titled as following—Ashwathama, Halahala, Atapi Vatapi, Brahmahatya, Sarama, Pretakalpa, Rudra, Yayati — peaked the interest of the fans of the show. One such fan, who goes by the handle /i_rnb on Reddit, explained the meaning behind the episode titles.

*spoilers ahead*

Episode 1, Aswatthama

Aswatthama, a character from Mahabharata who fought against the Pandavas, was extremely powerful. Because of this, he was cursed with immortality for 3000 years. In the first episode, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who plays gangster Ganesh Gaitonde, commits suicide at the end. But as he holds a lot of power, his story continues even after his death. Gaitonde establishes his immortality when he says, "I told you, I am Ashwatthama. I am not going anywhere until this game is over."

Episode 2, Halahala

Halahala literally translates to 'black mass' or 'time puzzle'. It is also the name of a poison created from the sea when Devas and Asuras churned it in order to obtain Amrita, the nectar of immortality. This poison was consumed by Shiva to prevent everyone else from dying because just the fumes from the poison was enough to kill the Gods. In the second episode, Saif Ali Khan's Sartaj heeds Gaitonde's warning, starts an investigation, and unravels an international espionage. This espionage is the same as the poison as it can wreak complete havoc.

Episode 3, Aatapi Vatapi

Atapi and Vatapi, as explained in the episode by Pankaj Tripathi, were two demon brothers in Hindu mythology. According to legend, they invited saints to dinner after which the elder demon, Atapi, turned the younger one into food and served him to the priests. After the saints left and traveled some distance, Atapi would call out his younger demon brother who would tear open the stomachs of the saints and return to Atapi. Inviting people and showing them hospitality only to ruin them completely is a running theme in Sacred Games. It draws a parallel to religions that also welcome people before feeding on their souls.

A still from Sacred Games/Image from Twitter.

A still from Sacred Games/Image from Twitter.

Episode 4, Brahmahatya

Brahmahatya means 'killing of a Brahmin.' Gaitonde, who has very strong Brahmin roots, commits crimes which are against his religion; like consuming non-veg and agreeing to poach Muslims votes for conniving politician Bhosale. In this episode, he kills his Brahmin self, and hence the episode is called Brahmahatya.

Episode 5, Sarama

In Hindu mythology, Sarama is a being referred to as the female dog of the Gods. This episode shows how everyone, in the end, is like a dog on a leash. Sartaj is shown lying about a case which he knew was unjust, but, in the end, bows down to his boss' pressure in order to keep his job. Every major character, in one way or the other, is shown as a powerless entity being treated like a dog by someone with more authority.

Episode 6, Pretakalpa

Pretakalpa is part of the Garuda Purana, one of the 18 Mahapuraṇa texts in Hinduism. It talks about the cycle of life, death and beyond, and is read when the last rites of a deceased Hindu are performed. Katekar dies in this episode, and Sartaj ends up killing Katekar's murderer. Katekar is then cremated, and Sartaj kills his old self turning into somebody new.

Episode 7, Rudra

Rudra is a Rigvedic deity associated with wind or storm. One translation of the name is 'the roarer'. This episode is a representation of this very terror. Gaitonde's wife Shubhadra (Rajshri Deshpande) is killed in this episode. The episode then shows Gaitonde going on a rampage killing Muslims. It also shows the descend of Gaitonde into something that whips up terror inside anyone who knows him.

Episode 8, Yayati

Yayati was cursed with premature old age and had asked his son, Puru, to swap their ages. Yayati also conquered the whole world and was the Chakravartin Samrat. The last episode has Guru Ji finally convincing Gaitonde to join his cause, thus bringing his son into the fold.

Sacred Games has employed a lot of mythological foreshadowing and narratives that run parallel in the entire show, and the episode titles are direct explanations of what is about to happen in that particular episode.

Updated Date: Jul 14, 2018 13:00 PM