In my opinion, Mahabharat has to be one of the (if not ‘the only’) greatest stories ever to be written and has stayed relevant for time immemorial. The numerous plots and back-stories that logically justify reasons behind participation of each of the many kings and clans in this epic war, make it a fast-paced page turner.
It has every ingredient of a successful pot-boiler; love, anger, deceit, forgiveness , curses, brotherhood, shame, righteousness, jealousy, responsibility and revenge (including the quintessential win of good over evil). There isn’t a single human-emotion that remains untouched by it!
But, before going further, I should probably confess about my borderline-obsession with the Epic. Which is why, after reading it as a course book and growing up with B.R Chopra’s narrative; I went on to read Draupadi’s pov (Palace of Illusions), Kauravas pov (Ajaya) and watched the Star’s latest offering before picking up this masterpiece.
While there is not much that one can play around with, in terms of the story-line, twists and turns; what makes this book stand apart is quite literally the manner of re-telling the tale. The author keeps the language simple and uses illustrations to drive the point home. While he doesn’t get too much into depth or details of each and every character, he manages to give an outline of their history and circumstances that influence their actions.
I loved how there was a tiny discussion/interpretation at the end of each chapter that tickled your thinking-cells and made you want to read-between-lines.
Not to forget, the mention of several variations of the tale, regional renditions and folk variations add layers to the original story.
All in all, while it may not suffice as the ‘one-stop-shop’ for the Epic in entirety, it’s most definitely the best written introduction to the tale. A must-read for those who are looking for a deeper understanding of a simple story of a warring clan!