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Yuganta: The End of an Epoch

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,520 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
Yuganta studies the principal, mythical-heroic figures of the Mahabharata from historical, anthropological and secular perspectives. The usually venerated characters of this ancient Indian epic are here subjected to a rational enquiry that places them in context, unravels their hopes and fears, and imbues them with wholly human motives, thereby making their stories relevan ...more
Paperback, 217 pages
Published 2008 by Disha Books (first published 1967)
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Mrityunjaya by Shivaji Sawantকাবুলিওয়ালা by Rabindranath TagoreYajnaseni by Pratibha Rayतमस by Bhisham SahniGora by Rabindranath Tagore
Best Indian books in vernacular languages
6th out of 121 books — 101 voters
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniJaya by Devdutt PattanaikAjaya by Anand NeelakantanKarna's Alter Ego by Surendra NathMrityunjaya, The Death Conqueror by Shivaji Sawant
Books on Mahabharata
7th out of 112 books — 45 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 24, 2016 Swetha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who can't get enough of Mahabharata
When you learn Corporate Law, you come across a section called Interpretation of Statutes where there is a certain set of rules on how an Act must be read. It says "English language is not an instrument of mathematical precision. It would certainly save trouble if Acts of Parliament were drafted with divine precision and perfect clarity. In the absence of it, when a defect appears, a judge cannot simply fold hands and blame the draftsman. He must set to work on the constructive task of finding t ...more
Riku Sayuj
Irawati Karve strips the great epic of its embellishments and additions to lay out before us this stark, thought-provoking. character study. This picture forces us to expand our views on the epic and the people tossed about in it. Full review to follow.

Edit: Irawati Karve deserves much less credit than I initially attributed to her. Most of the radical ideas were in play in Randamoozham and MT does not even try to sensationalize them as Karve later did.
Arun Divakar
Jan 10, 2015 Arun Divakar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Note : This is an insanely long review which I did not think much of until I finished and posted. So consider yourself warned !

A short while ago, five of us undertook a road trip which was roughly over 3000 KM in all. As road trips go, it was truly one of the most memorable trips that we had undertaken. Since there was also a lot of driving involved at night, we resorted to telling stories to keep each other awake. Being an incorrigible Mahabharata lover, I chose to tell them in detail of the
Gorab Jain
Jul 25, 2016 Gorab Jain rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people with keen interest in Mahabharata!
Recommended to Gorab by: Aarti
Shelves: indian, 2016, mythology
Interesting dissection of Mahabharata from a totally different angle, structured into essays for individual characters.
Leaves you gasping for more with so many new questions :
-Why didn't Bhishma renounce when he had so many apt opportunities?
-What forced Pandu to renounce into forest at such a young age leaving the kingdom behind?
-Why Arjun and Krishna had to burn the Khandavaprastha forest *so mercilessly*?
-Have you noticed the contrast between Drupada-Drona story vs Krishna-Sudama story, bo
Jul 04, 2011 Manish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a brilliant work of analysis. Irawati Karve studies the key characters of the Mahabharata, strips them of their mythical powers and presents them as ordinary humans struggling and grappling with issues that are as alive today as they were 3000 years back. Pick of the lot for me was be the essay on Bhishma! Spellbinding.
Dec 06, 2011 Em rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all who are interested in ancient Indian culture
Recommended to Em by: Manasi Vaidya via group read suggestion
this was a 'fantabulous' book. I had not even heard of this before being recommended for our Group Read by a fellow member. I am glad to have read it. To my understanding this book is a critical analysis of the characters of the great Indian epic, 'Mahabharata' the true events of which were said to have taken place around 1000 BC. I had read Mahabharata as a child, the abridged version, as well as many stories from it detailed in various other books. I had also imbibed the great Hindu puranas an ...more
Apoorva Sripathi
Jan 18, 2013 Apoorva Sripathi rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Every little flaw of every character in The Mahabharatha is pointed out and I haven't come across such a brilliant piece of work in this genre before. If you're a fan of Indian myth (esp. The Mahabharatha) then I suggest you go for this after you read the epic.
Manu Prasad
Jun 16, 2016 Manu Prasad rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
Yuganta is not a linear retelling of the Mahabharata, instead it uses a few characters to do a critical analysis of the epic. At a simplistic level, the basic story thread is indeed communicated, while delving into these characters and placing them in the context of the story. But more importantly, the examination of various characters, their motivations and actions, belief systems and relationships with each other, as well as the societal frameworks of class, makes up most of the book.
Akash Nair
Once in a while you read a book you will cherish all your life. This is such a book. It took me a paltry 3 days to read it but the things I have learnt from it will stay with me forever.
The book is a critical analysis of the characters of Jaya(Mahabharatha). All characters are dealt as humans and all divine references are avoided. There are many points in the book which can be contested and debated.
The author highlights the differences between the literary style of Mahabharatha and Ramayana. She
Shweta Ganesh Kumar
Oct 09, 2013 Shweta Ganesh Kumar rated it really liked it
Written by Irawati Karve, India's first woman anthropologist, this Sahitya Academy Award winning book is an attempt to peel of the multiple layers of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata.
Yuganta is an effort to delve under the interpolations that have become part of the structure over the years and to get to the actual crux of the story that it was.
And this is the "Eternally human' vivid depiction of the life and ethos of a whole era and class."

It is also an attempt to bring closure to many e
Vikalp Trivedi
Mar 27, 2016 Vikalp Trivedi rated it it was amazing
'Yuganta : The End Of An Epoch' by Irawati Karve is a book which studies the pivotal events and characters of the Mahabharata with a logical , analytical and critical point of view . The brilliance of late Mrs. Karve's knowledge and understanding of the epic can be seen by reading this work of hers .

Mrs. Karve has unveiled each of the main character's both virtues and vices [in between these two vices are more because the criticism in the book is mainly negative] with such an ease that the comp
Suman Srivastava
Oct 08, 2013 Suman Srivastava rated it it was amazing
Loved the book. I am surprised that it isn't better known. Irawati Karve brings to life (as opposed to caricature) the characters of the Mahabharata and relates their actions to social mores of that period. This is a must read for everyone who is interested in the epics and in Indian cultural history. Good thing that she wrote this in the 1960s. Not sure the Hindutva brigade would have allowed this to be published in today's era.
Girish Malkarnenkar
Jun 07, 2013 Girish Malkarnenkar rated it it was amazing
This is definitely one of the best analysis of the Mahabharata or rather of the major characters from the Mahabharata that I have read. The book is written in the form of various long essays most of which are critiques of different characters such as Gandhari, Kunti, Draupadi, Karna and Krishna while a few dwell on relationships such as the ones between Yudhistira & Vidura or Ashwhathama & Drona.

The original book is written in Marathi, of which I read a translated and revised English ve
Irawati Karve (antropologa, pedagogista e scrittrice indiana) ci offre un'interpretazione molto interessante del Mahabharata.
I personaggi vengono spogliati della loro divinità e vengono analizzati nella loro umanità mettendo a nudo le emozioni e i sentimenti terreni: rabbia, sete di vendetta, invidia, passione, amore.
Irawati Karve mette a confronto anche le varie edizioni del Mahabharata evidenziando le incongruenze e le parti che sono state aggiunte successivamente sicuramente per mano dei brah
Jaykumar Buddhdev
after hearing about Irawati Karve endlessly, everyday in college from my Sociology professors and even my English Literature profs, i decided to hunt for this 'classic'...

i stumbled upon it at my favorite store where i'd rather go than DisneyWorld, Crossword. i began reading an hour after i bought it, however, it took me a while to finish the enormously rewarding task it was.

Mahabharata has always been a fascinating piece of work for me with so many characters wherein each of them have a unique
Dec 16, 2011 Ankur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i have always been fascinated by the history or religion - how we came to believe in what we believe today, and how our myths and folklore have been created.

i am also a rationalist, who looks to find the kernel of truth which has grown into the mythic belief. So my interest was obviously aroused when i heard of this book which critically analyses the main characters of Mahabharata, and actually dares to say Krishna was a mere mortal! i was hoping that the book will give me a different point of v
Apr 14, 2015 Parikhit rated it really liked it
Shelves: india, e-books
That Mahabharata is a wonderful work of literature needs no mention and Irawati Karve made reading Mahabharata an out-of-the-world experience. There is so much to Mahabharata than the magic and occult we know of. My only knowledge of Mahabharata was from the television soap that aired in Doordarshan decades ago and then the only attraction was the phantasmagorical scenes of weapons being suspended in mid-air emanating bright rays, of demons raiding jungles, of the macho Bhima and his mighty blow ...more
Mar 21, 2014 Sweety rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She wields the pen like a scimitar and her mind like a microscope.

As she dissects various personas of Mahabharata, she is brutal, incisive and decisive.
Usually, many scholars leave alone Krishna, for fear of a (?religious/fanatic) backlash. But not Irawati. She finds him 'Ambitious' , even a little cold-blooded.' But she sums him up aptly as, 'He did not merely speak the Gita; he lived it.'
Her unemotional perspectives on Bhishma, Gandhari ,Kunti and Karna are equally original and path-breaking.
Jul 17, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
A series of essays on a demythologised Mahabharata was a frustrating mixture of omg I finally got it moments intersected with annoyances at the fragmented structure of the book and the occasionally abstruse writing. I really wish I could read it in the original as I suspect the translation hasn't done justice to the authors voice. Despite this I had to read the book from end to end..a knowledge of the mahabharata is assumed, so be prepared to flick back and forth to check on who's who. The autho ...more
May 02, 2016 Rahul rated it liked it
Shelves: mythology
A good attempt from the author to present his views on Mahabharatha from an anthropological point of view. Some interesting thoughts were presented which elevated my interest to explore more.

After reading a few books written on Mahabharata,namely Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata, Ajaya: Roll of the Dice, The Great Indian Novel and രണടാമൂഴം Randamoozham...I was surprised to read it from a whole new point of view.

One low point I observed was repeat of tales when discussion of a
Tanupriya Mukherjee
May 12, 2016 Tanupriya Mukherjee rated it it was amazing
Unputdownable. A must read for all. The thorough character dissection of the five protagonist of Mahabharata & a way of vedic life, as portrayed by Karve is one of its kind.
Kalpana Behara
Aug 23, 2013 Kalpana Behara rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, mythology
Such a practical logical take on Mahabharata. This book is for keeps and I anticipate reading it multiple times.
Karan Gupta
Jun 17, 2015 Karan Gupta rated it it was ok
Shelves: indian
A friend posted on facebook that she was giving off her books. Of the list only this one caught my fancy enough to make me look it up. 'Yuganta' was a treatise on Mahabharata, an epic that had captured my imagination to the hilt in my childhood. So I rode half way across the city to her "small" going away party, realised that it was a too big a gathering of unknowns for me to feel in place, wished her luck and got the book with a warning that I was not to expect much of it. Since then it was sto ...more
Abhishek Desikan
Feb 15, 2016 Abhishek Desikan rated it really liked it
If setting a precedent as to what one can expect by reading a book, and delivering on that promise, was a measure of a book's stature, then Yuganta by Irawati Karve ranks very high in that regard. It presents a realistic take on the events of the Mahabharata and explores the main characters in depth, as humans, stripping them of their divinity. What made it compelling was the concise, no-nonsense narration, the evidence which backed the author's interpretation, and the logical conclusion one can ...more
Saurabh Sharma
Dec 15, 2011 Saurabh Sharma rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of History, Mythology, Fiction, Epic
Recommended to Saurabh by: Goodreads
Yuganta is a really well written book by Irawati Karve. It is an analysis of the various elements from the epic Mahabharata. The book is an attempt at understanding the Mahabharata in its true sense, as an historical event, distanced from the divine and magical elements that became a part of the epic over the centuries. The writer focuses on the major characters such as Bhishma, Kunti, Gandhari, Karna, Krishna etc. and tries to unravel the motives and the intentions behind their acts. She looks ...more
Prasad Gokhale
May 04, 2016 Prasad Gokhale rated it it was amazing
It is hard to find an 'honest work' on Indian History. Most historians these days seem to forget that historical fact isn't always set in stone. Lost letters are discovered, de-classified information, changing economic conditions that help us reflect on policies from decades ago, and other such new information help us re-frame bygone events and see them in a new light. Why don't historians acknowledge this fact? Why do they take an unbending view of history and why do so many of them try to cast ...more
Swatie Chawla
Jun 27, 2014 Swatie Chawla rated it really liked it
a detailed, neat, well carved and comprehensive illustration on draupadi! be it draupadi's longing for arjuna; the nubile bride's mind play on repressive questions; or her ultimate ability to see love in Bhima... irawati karwe sketches each of her characters with utmost sincerity. such is her writing that she throws these volley of questions that boggle the mind. unknowingly, the reader is carving their own version of the characters. her questions have a theme. Figure this: so this happened (the ...more
Srividya Arathri
Jan 02, 2016 Srividya Arathri rated it really liked it
Yuganta is an interesting book and a recommended read ,because analyzing the Mahabharata through character essays are very rare and offers you a glimpse of the intentions of the top 10 characters in the book and there are many questions to ponder as well.
Personally I am not able to agree with the conclusion or common thread in all of the essays that "All human efforts are fruitless and human life ends in frustration ".I mean can we assign life objective to any of the characters with empirical d
Haaris Mateen
May 16, 2016 Haaris Mateen rated it really liked it
Critical literature of this kind has been written by several other authors in various local tongues. Karve's book has some very profound and memorable moments - the first chapter on Bhishma, for example, asks questions that carry the flavour of existentialism but they also go much beyond to offer a glimpse into a uniquely Indian philosophical perspective. Karve also shows the sense to judge events by the standards of the context they are placed in something she reminds the reader from time to ti ...more
Komal Mehta
Feb 17, 2012 Komal Mehta rated it liked it
Shelves: indian-authors
I picked this book up as small, easy, light read, to revive the little Indian mythology, I know through the TV episodes of Mahabharata. I was also longing to find out how can someone epitomise a cult of hundreds of page into a small book.

The hand picked characters are intrigued thoroghly in the light of modern, scientific thinking, not expecting them to be any magical characters. For example, calculation of Bhisham's age, at the time of the great war is unmatched. But I still missed the portrait
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Karve received a master's degree in sociology from Mumbai University in 1928 and a doctorate in anthropology from a university in Berlin, Germany in 1930.
Karve served for many years as the head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Deccan College, Pune (University of Pune).
She presided over the Anthropology Division of the National Science Congress held in New Delhi in 1947.
She wrote
More about Irawati Karve...

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“That values are always relative to time and place is the stand taken by Indian philosophy. And even their acceptance might be more theoretical than practical. For example, genocide is now recognized as an international crime and yet it is still committed and connived at. The great saint Tukaram admonished that 'Slaves be treated as kindly as one's own children'. A modern man instead of admiring the compassion behind this statement would be indignantly pointing out how Tukaram condoned a society which allowed a man to possess slaves!” 0 likes
“पुढल्या जन्मी पांचातला थोरला भाऊ हो, भीमा!” 0 likes
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