Mahabharat is one of the great ‘itihaasas‘ or histories of Indian culture. The other being Ramayana. Is it real or not, I am not the expert. But it is an amazing story. The Mahabharat is supposed to hold the answer to all our problems. It deals with a multitude of issues, dilemmas, lessons. If it could be a soap, it will last for centuries. It has stories and then backstories, then backstories for the backstories. Which has been aptly reflected in the book Forest of Stories by Ashok Banker. I can remember my mother quoting so often from the Mahabharat when faced with a dire situation. Like if we lost a dear one. Mom will immediately say, Draupadi survived the death of her 5 young sons, we will too.
Yudhishthir who is the epitome of righteousness had still made many mistakes even though he walked the prescribed path and never deviated from Dharma. Krishna who is God also commits cheating but he justifies saying it was the only way to win the war. He tells us to focus on the ultimate goal and not on the means to achieve the goal. There is no preaching in the book. Every character is flawed. And many more.
Almost all Indians are familiar with the Mahabharat thanks to TV Serials of the same name. Books retelling the Mahabharat have been around for centuries. Every story has its own elements, spiced with local flavours. It is the ultimate book of war between cousins for gaining power, to become the King.
Another of my favourites is Randamoozham by M T Vasudevan Nair. It is in Malayalam and has an English translation. But the translation is terrible and so not included in this list.
But here, I am selecting three books which have different takes. Continue reading