Friday, March 04, 2011

About the Mahabharat

When we were growing up, B.R Chopra and Ramanand Sagar did us a huge favor by making television serials out of the two most recognizable and popular Indian epic stories. Namely Mahabharat and Ramayan.
I was happy to hear the story and then read it but it wasn't like they stood out in my literary conquests!
Things have changed today. I was told to try and read 'Bhimsen' (Bheem's version of Mahabharat)
and 'Palace of Illusions' (Draupadi's version of the Mahabharat).


I have to say that in both the stories, one common trait stands out. Yudhisthar was a scum bag! Yes, I said it! Despite all his virtuous ways and following the 'dharm' always, he was one conniving son of a gun!
- He made the rules about sharing Draupadi, and made sure he got to be with her the most.
- He pawned off his brothers and his wife.
- He fought a battle, which he didn't fight, others fought to make him the king.
- He got to heaven, others didn't!

I wasn't surprised to see how much influence the woman have on men in either of the three versions. Be it the mother or the wife. They had their sons/husbands well dancing on their little finger!

Both Bhim and Draupadi, in their respective books feel responsible for the war and feel bad about it. Draupadi more so and the way her mind works is interesting to read.

Another thing which I found interesting is that, the authors don't try to depict the characters as holier than thou and living on shrubs and such in the wild. Meat references are plenty and it makes me happy to think that Indian mythology did not purport Vegetarianism. 

Both are fun and interesting reads and both stick to the facts in Vyasa's Mahabharat. They both make their own interpretations, that is the fun of these books.

What I didn't like:
POL:  the author glosses over the most important part of the story. Draupadi's humiliation in the court of Hatinapur is the pivotal point in the book, but Divakaurni doesn't treat it well enough. Doesn't show how all hell broke loose on Mrs. Pandava. How she felt a few moments after she went back to wherever she went. This should have been emphasized more. It irked me no end when this part comes and goes away. There is too much emphasis on Karn and her non existent love story! I like the battle between Kunti and her for dominance, and D's realisations later in life. It's good to know that such battles happen even in the royal families ;)

Bhimsen, on the other hand. Seems more accurate from a guy's perspective in those times. His frustrations with his elder brother, his helplessness is a little hard to believe though. His lust for the wife, who he couldn't have every four years. His love for his wife Hidimbi, which he couldn't show much. The love he had for Arjun and the teasing he got from his cousins and brothers. The pleasure he got out of killing and in turn the pleasure it gave his wife.


  1. POL: There was something lacking in the story for me, till the end...maybe it is what you point out about it glossing over the important part which changed the course of the story.

    I never knew that D had a thing for K...until I read this book.

    B: on the other hand felt very heartfelt and relatable though it was written from a guy's persp.

    I thought both books enlightened me more towards the epic.

    I am in love with mahabharata and Krishna. I love Krishna! I find him so human, full of mistakes and smart assness. I love mahabharata because everything is gray. everyone is human. people react to life and do things they do and everyone from their point of view can be justified.

  2. read jaya- devdutt pattnaik's.
    complete mahabharat
    very well written.