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Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata
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Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  5,373 ratings  ·  492 reviews
High above the sky stands Swarga, paradise, abode of the gods. Still above is Vaikuntha, heaven, abode of God. The doorkeepers of Vaikuntha are the twins, Jaya and Vijaya, both whose names mean 'victory'. One keeps you in Swarga; the other raises you into Vaikuntha. In Vaikuntha there is bliss forever, in Swarga there is pleasure for only as long as you deserve. What is th ...more
ebook, 372 pages
Published August 16th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Riku Sayuj
EDIT: I am stripping a star and retracting the positive aspects of this review (well, at least in statement) in light of later readings. Pattanaik's myths are not to be read to 'know' the myths but only for fun. Think of them as a modern variant of the Amar Chitra Kathas for the modern professional who has no time for unabridged epics!

Original Review:

The book started well as it provided a fresh and clear take on Mahabharata without rationalizations and without apology. Devdutt adopts a very trad
Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik, meet your latest die-hard fan: ME!

Hats off for accomplishing the task of rewriting the Mahabharat in such a lucid easy fashion, fit to be enjoyed by everyone who don’t want to weigh themselves down with dreary details, but taste the brilliance of the world’s longest epic.

Indeed, I had tried several times before this to read the Mahabharat in its entirety, but could never finish it. Not that I was not familiar with the stories: every Indian child is fed on them with their u
Manu Prasad
I consider myself more well-versed with the Mahabharata than the average person, because of my interest in Hindu mythology and the amount of reading I've done on the subject. But I'm really glad I read this, not just because of the small details I learned about (I counted 6 things I hadn't known about - Sahadeva's precognition gained by eating Pandu's flesh, Draupadi cursing dogs to copulate in public for stealing Yudhishtira's slippers, Vibhishana being present at Draupadi's swayamwar, a couple ...more
Kartik Singhal
Wanted to read Mahabharata before I moved on to reading some other books which compare their content with Mahabharata and its characters.

I remember reading the condensed version in grade 7 which was part of the syllabus under Hindi literature but never had a chance to go deeper. There are many variants of the epic with different point of views, delivering different level of depth and in different languages. After a bit of search on Quora and on a friend's recommendation I settled on this one.

I don't always judge a book by its cover but in this case, the cover just lured me in.

I hardly ever write a review (I'm too lazy; rating the book is as far as I go because all it takes is a click) but in this case I felt like making an exception.

Where to begin? With the beginning.
So the author chooses to call his book 'Jaya - An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata' rather than simply 'Mahabharata retold' or some such... It is not just to stand apart from the other versions, no maam; he just
Henna Achhpal
Loved it! A complete page turner. I don't think there's any other book that puts the Mahabharata so simply for the lay person. Initially it might get overwhelming to keep track of all the numerous characters. But as you go further into the book, it's a pleasant read. Devdutt uses extremely simple language. The 108 chapters feel like 108 short stories. His interpretation and explanations at the end of every chapter make it even better. A must read, for sure.
Where do I even begin to review this book? I was on my way back to Boston from Hyderabad, India and had a lot of time to kill at the airport after the security check. As I was wandering in the airport bookstore, I came across this book, read the back cover and was hooked. It goes thus,

A son renounces sex so that his old father can remarry
A daughter is a prize in an archery contest
A teacher demands half a kingdom as his tuition fee
A student is turned away because of his caste
A mother asks her so
In my teens in India, I used to be fascinated by the retelling of the Mahabharata by Rajaji in Tamil. I read it repeatedly over the years and was well conversant with the myths, the war and its aftermath. One thing that always stood out as an anamoly was the repeated conduct of 'adharmic' actions by the Pandavas during the war and Krishna's collusion in most of them. However, Rajaji, being a devotee of Krishna himself, always glossed over these acts of adharma and presented mostly a sanitised pi ...more
Jan 16, 2014 BookSmith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Indian mythology fans
Am IMPRESSED. Confession - am not a die hard mythology fan. I sometimes get bored by the various stories and sub stories. But this was a refreshing read. Was more like a precise guide to Mahabharatha. It made me think, made me understand many incongruities in the story and now that I see the characters as ordinary people I like them more, even the Kauravas. This was a mine house of less known facts. At least 1-2 illustrations per page, which made reading pleasanter. Many thoughts which prodded a ...more
Rudrangshu Das
Reading mahabharata was a sudden and unexpected choice on my part. I have never been much interested in mythology but I remembered some of Mahabharata from B.R Chopra's epic TV adaptation and I thought to give it a try. I didn't realize reading this would be such an epiphany. Whether Mahabharata is a myth or history maybe a matter of perspective, but the one thing it is for sure is an epic, in all sense of the word. The numerous characters, their inner conflicts, their complex relations, their d ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Ipshita marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The year was 1988. Indian households awaited the stars, planets and celestial bodies to fill their television screens while the background voice of 'Samay' (Time) echoed 'Main Samay hoon' (I am Time).

One of our first associations with the Mahabharata probably dates back to B.R. Chopra's televised series on Doordarshan, a programme part of our daily routine that let us enter the gates of a kingdom full of stories on romance, love, revenge, murder, death and war. How we rejoiced reading about the
When I picked the book I was totally intrigued by the description given in the cover saying towards the last "God is cursed"
Now how is possible that God gets cursed!? aren't we the ones who receive the boons and curses from God? Then who dares curse the Almighty. I knew only bits and pieces of the tale. But such a large epic I wasn't sure if I wanted to boggle my head with so many names of Kings and queens and plots. But once I started "Jaya" I just couldn't put it down. Jaya is not the same as
Awesome were past few days spent with this book. I was literally transferred to that era and those places where Mahabharata took place. Thanks to Author Devdutt Pattanaik who made it so real with his simple language, deep research, unknown facts and beautiful illustration!! Needless to say this book became more and more interesting and unputdownable every time I picked up, so I did not even think of any other book till I finished this one. Mahabharata is a story which always leaves me wanting mo ...more
Based on an classic Indian epic, Devdutt Pattanaik created a masterpiece book. He captures not only the story/plot but conveys the nuances and philosophies within this Indian epic.This text is extremely focused for reading compared to the plethora of books on this topic. Nonetheless, it captivates the reader. Devdutt Pattanaik is a great storyteller.Excel
I think I will never get tired to read about the Mahabharata. It is such a deep epic full of wisdom and teachings to improve our life, the spiritual one but also everyday life.
"Jaya" could be considered a good introduction that contains also basic explanations of the Mahabharata. I have already read the Mahabharata and I'm following lessons with a Swamini about the Bhagavad Gita, so I know there is a lot more and deeper meanings but "Jaya" is really a very good book. I have found a lot of things
When this book was released last year, it immediately caught my attention. Many readers in my circle were reading this book and the attractive book cover and the subject itself was so interesting, I ordered a copy for myself without much thought. Now that I have finished reading this book, I can safely say it was a wise decision.

Jaya, in simple words, is Mahabharata retold. It narrates all the stories connected to the war between Pandavas and Kauravas - the incidents that led to the war and whic
I am not a big mythology fan but this book got my attention as soon as I read the back cover of book which mentioned that Mahabharata is an ancient Hindu epic where:
a daughter is a prize in a archery contest
a student is turned away because of his caste
a mother ask her sons to share a wife
a man is stripped of his manhood for a year
a war is fought where all rules are broken
God is cursed
until wisdom prevails

It made me really curious about such epic which I saw in childhood just for fun but never th
Harsh Gupta
Why would someone read this? Because this book makes you think. This book is
great not because of the answers it gives but because of the questions it asks
and perspectives it presents.

The characters are round and complex. Everyone has their own tales
and all those stories are woven in a war story where everyone wins, or you also
say where everyone loses, depending on the measuring stick you take.
Abhinav Jaganathan
I have always been an ardent fan of the Mahabharata and this book had only increased my love for the epic. Written in clear prose with beautiful illustrations almost on every page, this is a must read if you have read any version of the epic before. The notes at the end of every chapter drawing parallels between the tales and the times during which they were entwined with the Mahabharata are absolutely brilliant. It provides great insight into the workings of the minds of the people at that time ...more
Samata Joshi
Incredibly written and illustrated - for anyone who wants an unbiased view on the Mahabharat, should read this. I also recommend it to people who have never been interested in mythology but want to read some for the stories. Believe me, this book has many stories to tell. Also, I'd like to break this to you if you didn't already know - Draupadi was married to all the five Pandava brothers and Krishna and Radha were only lovers, never got married. I am sorry, but this was news to me. My life has ...more
Kanishka Sirdesai
When I was suggested to read this book, I took it on with a little hesitation. I didn't want to spoil the experience of my childhood, the time spent in reading all the epics and cherishing every moment of it. Surprisingly this book proved me wrong. Its a treasure trove of information for people who are already familiar with this epic. For readers who aren't familiar or want to read the Mahabharata, I am envious as this book is really short and gets to the crux of the story from the get go. Loved ...more
Ishita Moitra
Like most of us, I have read various retellings of Vyas's epic ever since I could read. My favourite one before I read this book used to be Chitra Banerjee's Palace of Illusions. For some reason this story finds its way into my life each time when I need it the most. Carl Rogers in his theory of self speaks about how every person has a "real self" and an "ideal self". I think that is the key difference between the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. The Ramayan is about the ideal self, while the Mahabha ...more
This book is written in Devdutt's typical un-pedantic yet elegant style and filled with so many back stories, different perspectives, and snippets from other versions and interpretations of the Mahabharata. A wonderfully simple retelling of an epic which usually makes my brain hurt after reading just a few chapters.
Sarthak Pranit
A must for religion aficionados. This is Mahabharata for the IT age. Brilliantly put, Pattnaik manages to grasp the messages of every fable of Mahabharata. This is a book for every Indian who confuses the Pandavas' victory over Kauravas as the essence of Mahabharata. Its a lot more.
Sourav Bangotra
This re-telling of Vyasa's epic tale is perhaps the most accessible form of the epic available to the modern reader of our age. For someone like me, whose knowledge of the Indian mythology is restricted only to the faint memories of the TV shows watched during childhood, this book was full of surprises and some really good ones. The fact that the writer, Devdutt Pattanaik, writes an unbiased account of the epic is the most impressive aspect of the book. The stories and perspectives collected fro ...more
Tanmoy Mondal
I read Mahabharata before and also a few books on this epic. The story was not new, yet I really enjoyed this short version. It is a good research work and is written in a very lucid style.

It is full of small details and I have found many things I didn't know before.

The comments after each chapter helps to understand the story. Author has emphasized on the symbolical importance of any action taken by the characters.

Concepts like dharma, justice, karma etc are well explained. I found chapter f
Sukanta Maikap
I stated reading this book because my wife is a big fan of Mahabharata and she watches this sitcom version of the same, which is a over acted, immature, cheap and loud. Somewhat like a cheap Telegu movie ( comes on *Plus). I definitely hate the sitcom but wanted to understand and know about Mahabharata.

I'm not a big fan of religious or fairy tale scriptures because as per me they are irrational, unexplainable, unscientific and almost always contradicting in nature. Mahabharata is no exception.
Tnahsin Garg
“Atha shri Mahabharat katha...Mahabharat katha...”, the title song of BR Chopra's melodramatic TV series in the 1990's, plays in my head every time I come across anything related to this great Indian epic.

I could not understand then, when I was so little, what was all the fuss about. Why the family used to gather around our old Doordarshan on fine Sunday mornings to go through the ordeal of listening to monologues of jewelry-laden characters, always escaped my wits. Unfortunately, the situation
Kritika Swarup
I had always wanted to approach reading Mahabharata. But the sheer size of this mythological book seemed discouraging.
I am sure this version/translation captures only a few points. The major idea remains in the acceptance of what the book offers, and letting it sink in. If one can do that, the purpose of the book should be fulfilled, or, at-least for me it did.

Another point about Mahabharata and Gita is that it is integral to the stem of many religions in India. It makes it more tempting to rea
It really was amazing.
I remember the long hours I spent reading the "Sampoorna Mahabharatha" - the huge book with all the intricate details of the story within the story within another story.

Author has done justice to that.
The tidbits and trivia explained in the boxes at the end of each chapter are wonderful takeaways. Thought inducing in many levels.

A good refresher of all the stories I heard and read during my childhood.
A must read for anyone wanting to read a bit more than the usual Mahb
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Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik (born December 11, 1970) is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist and author whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology, and also management. He has written a number of books related to Hindu mythology, including Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology, a novel, The Pregnant King, and Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharat ...more
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“Refusal to accept the flow of the world is the root of all misery.” 8 likes
“Through Karna, Vyasa reiterates that our knowledge of the world is imperfect based on perceptions and false information. We are surrounded by Kuntis who hide the truth in fear. We are surrounded by Karnas, villains who are actually brothers.” 4 likes
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