Mahabharata is an epic that has been told, retold and re written many times. Every Indian and a lot of non Indians are very familiar with this story of good versus evil, and doing good at all costs, even if it means to kill your own family in a battle that will decide the fate of the world. An Indian would have been confronted with this epic all his life, in the form of stories, lessons, sermons, moral lessons and what not. So, what makes this book different from the rest, is its fresh perspective.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 15th 2013 by HarperCollins India
Edition Language: English
PLOT: The plot of the Mahabharata is definitely not new: two brothers fighting for what they think is their rightful place on the throne, each wanting to be king, one because it is his dharma(duty) to do so, whereas the other for power and by using whatever means possible. This story and its right and wrong have been debated many many times. So what is new about this book or different about the plot? It is the story of how it all began. Why Ganga had to kill her sons? Why Satyavati made Devavrata take that oath? Did she regret it? Well you find probable answers here.
CHARACTERS: The characters of the Mahabharata are not new, but the books shows and tells us the stories of the characters that were responsible for the Mahabharata, before it could actually reach the time of Yudishtira and Dhuryodhana. It talks about the women such as Ganga, who was chosen to carry out a task that sets it all into motion. Her willingness to do what is expected of her initially, her regret, her attempt to rebel, her resignation to fate, all so clearly etched out. And Satyavati, her independence, her choices that affect the history of an entire nation, and her realization that she had an option, and had she chosen differently, there might have been a better outcome.
WHAT I LIKED: The best part about this retelling is that the characters are portrayed as almost Human and not the faultless demi Gods. The people on Meru and those on earth are real, with real emotions, faults and strengths. The women have real feelings and are not shown as some kind of perfect dolls, who can do no wrong. I especially liked the way the author throws the theory of immaculate conception out the window, puts forth the view that it is not wrong for women to have desires, needs and a say in politics or important decisions. That, done using the Mahabharata as a backdrop, is really commendable.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE: I actually liked the book. The narration is so smooth, that when it changes from first person to third person and back, you don’t realise that it has happened.
The story is not new, but the perspective is. Don’t pick up this book if you are one of those fanatics who believe in the sanctity of the epic. This is one book that will make you question the beliefs that have long been held right. Waiting for the next installment of the book.
The book is my personal copy. My opinions are honest and unbiased.
Words: Jaibala Rao