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Few works in world literature have inspired so vast an audience, in nations with radically different languages and cultures, as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, two Sanskrit verse epics written some 2,000 years ago.

In Ramayana (written by a poet known to us as Valmiki), William Buck has retold the story of Prince Rama—with all its nobility of spirit, courtly intrigue, heroic renunciation, fierce battles, and triumph of good over evil—in a length and manner that will make the great Indian epics accessible to the contemporary reader.

The same is true for the Mahabharata—in its original Sanskrit, probably the longest Indian epic ever composed. It is the story of a dynastic struggle, between the Kurus and Pandavas, for land. In his introduction, Sanskritist B. A. van Nooten notes, "Apart from William Buck’s rendition [no other English version has] been able to capture the blend of religion and martial spirit that pervades the original epic."

Presented accessibly for the general reader without compromising the spirit and lyricism of the originals, William Buck’s Ramayana and Mahabharata capture the essence of the Indian cultural heritage.

440 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1951

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 558 reviews
Profile Image for Sharon.
Author 26 books281 followers
April 20, 2019
This is a very bad version of the magnificent epic. It's obvious that Rajaji was not a writer -- he was a politician, and he really has no way with words.
The writing is stilted, awkward, the narration dry and just boring. The Mahabharata is a simply magnificent story and this version does not do it justice. Apart from that, the author insists on giving little moral lectures here and there. This is one of the worst versions.
Profile Image for Michelle.
109 reviews37 followers
March 10, 2012
I still vividly remember the very first time I read Buck's translation of the Mahabharata. It was my first semester back to school after taking time off to have my son. We lived in a large room that was a sort of add-on to the side of my parent's church and doubled as the nursery on Sundays. My husband was working nights while going to school full time. I was trying to juggle a 21 hour semester at school while simultaneously only having my toddler in daycare for half days. Needless to say, I had little enough time for school work, and even less for reading for pleasure. It was assigned reading for our Honors Humanities Project - basically a four semester course that combined World Literature, World History, Composition, Religions (and a bunch of other things I am sure I have now forgotten).

So, late one night as my son lie sleeping on a mattress in one corner of the room, I curled up with a lamp and Mahabharata in another - ready to get my assigned reading done for the week. As I began reading, though, something magical happened. I could no longer hear the soft snoring of my son, the whisk of cars along the highway outside the window, or the steady crunch of gravel as people pulled in and out of the liquor store across the street. (There is always a liquor store across from the church, isn't there?) Nor could I feel the weight of all the things I needed to do but hadn't yet done pressing down on me. For the first time in a long time I was transported somewhere else. Buck's words washed over me, through me, surrounded me, engulfed me. I did not stop at whatever arbitrary page had been chosen on the syllabus, but continued on until I had devoured it in full.

For a long time after that, I carried it with me to revisit. I loved the stories within stories within stories. I could reread the whole book, or the 30 page story within the book, or the 11 page story within the 30 page story, or the 2 page story within the 11 page story. I cannot read the Mahabharata in its original language, but I like to think that Buck did something very right in the way he chose to translate it. His language is lyrical. Reading it is like listening to the ocean, humming a lullaby, or listening to crickets and tree frogs in spring - but not quite. The cadence is comfortable, but also slightly unfamiliar. I understand all the words, but he puts them together in new ways that completely change the way I think about the words.

Five years and innumerable readings later I still love it as much as the first time I picked it up. The edges are a little worn, the pages a little smudged, the cover has some deep seams where it has been folded and can't be smoothed. Now, I read those small stories within the stories to my son at bedtime. Slowly working my way out to the larger stories, the bigger picture, even so far as to tell the story of Buck himself - a young man entranced by the spirit and flavor of the sweeping epics of India, intent on sharing them in his own language. I love becoming part of this tradition of stories of storytellers telling stories of storytellers, spiraling forward through the generations.
Profile Image for Paul Haspel.
529 reviews54 followers
October 24, 2022
“Maha” means “high” or “great” in Sanskrit; a “maharajah,” accordingly, is a great king, a high king. And the Bharatas are an ancient royal house, the descendants of the legendary emperor Bharata (“the cherished one”). Therefore, for readers from outside India, the title Mahabharata need not be mysterious; as The Iliad is “The Epic of Ilium” or “The Epic of Troy,” so The Mahabharata is “The Epic of the Great House of the Bharatas.” And it is good to have that information from the beginning, as a non-Indian reader may need a bit of context in order to properly appreciate this seminal epic of classical India.

In the book’s foreword, John D. Smith of Cambridge University not only describes the challenges of providing a helpful translation of the Mahabharata (unabridged, it would be twice the length of the Bible), but also situates the Western reader in the social, historical, and religious context that produced the poem.

In order to understand The Mahabharata, Smith emphasizes, one must understand the concept of dharma, as all of the poem’s characters talk constantly about it. As Smith explains, “A person’s dharma is what it is right for that person to do, but one person’s dharma is different from another’s” (p. xviii).

The importance of this concept makes perfect sense in the context of a rigidly hierarchical society that, from top to bottom, consisted of the following four classes: the priestly brahmins who maintained humankind’s relationship with the gods; the brave and noble kshatriyas who led kingdoms in war and peace; the vaishyas, farmers and merchants who provided the economic basis for the society; and the humble shudras who did the low-down dirty work at the absolute bottom of the social scale.

As The Iliad is at its heart an epic of war, so too is The Mahabharata. The combatants here are not the Greeks and the Trojans, but rather two groups of warring cousins: the Pandavas, who have a legitimate claim to the throne of the Bharatas, and the Kauravas, who usurp the throne for a time, giving rise to the catastrophic Kurukshetra War.

The eminent Pandavas include Yudishthira, the king, who is said to be ever in harmony with dharma; Bhima, who like Samson or Heracles combines superhuman strength with a hot temper and a tendency not to overthink issues; and Prince Arjuna, the “wealth-winner” who is brave, handsome, and irresistible to women. All five of the Pandava brothers are married to the same woman, the beautiful Draupadi. Helping Arjuna is Krishna, an avatar (a god in human form). Krishna serves as Arjuna’s charioteer during the Kurukshetra War, provides much-needed help at crucial moments, and conveys a sense that the gods are watching over these calamitous events and will make sure that everything turns out as it should.

Chief antagonist among the Kauravas is Duryodhana, the spoiled and willful son of the Kaurava king Dhrtarashtra. Combining Iago’s motiveless malignity with Loki’s love for mischief-making and general chaos, Duryodhana is consumed with jealous rage at the very idea of the Pandavas enjoying their throne in peace and ruling the world with justice. Therefore, Duryodhana concocts a plan to hurl the Pandavas from their throne, and to rule the world in their place.

Disregarding the advice of the wise counselor Vidura, Duryodhana connives with his uncle, the gambler Shakuni, to set up a rigged dicing match through which Yudishthira will gamble away his entire kingdom. The gambling match works as planned, from Duryodhana’s point of view; not only do Yudishthira and the Pandavas lose the kingdom, but they are sentenced to twelve years’ exile in the forest. Yudishthira may be the supreme lord of dharma and all that, but it’s clearly not safe to let him anywhere within 200 miles of Las Vegas.

The Kauravas add insult to injury, publicly dishonouring the beautiful and virtuous Draupadi in front of her five husbands. One of the Kauravas, Duhshasana, “laid hold of Draupadi Krishna with her deep black hair and led her towards the hall, unprotected in the midst of her protectors, dragging her as the wind drags at a battered plantain tree” (p. 143) – even though Draupadi is in the midst of her period and is wearing only a single garment. One need not be deeply versed in the nuances of classical Indian culture to know that this disgrace against Draupadi will give the Pandavas a powerful motive for revenge.

The Pandavas serve out their exile and return; but Duryodhana, disregarding once again the wise advice of Vidura, will not share the kingdom with his cousins, and the stage is set for war. As the Pandavas prepare for war, Arjuna receives extended advice from Krishna, in the form of the Bhagavad Gita, itself one of the core texts of the Hindu faith. The ideas of dharma discussed above receive strong emphasis here, as Krishna declares, “Better one’s own dharma ill-done than the dharma of another well performed” (p. 357).

At last, it is time for the Kurukshetra War, and for battle passages that go on and on and on. The great heroes of the Pandava and Kaurava sides kill thousands and thousands of their lower-ranking opponents; charioteers in particular seem to be in an especially vulnerable position, like those guys in the red security tunics from Star Trek. When a great hero on either side is killed, it takes dozens of pages for said killing to happen, and only after said hero has displayed his heroism – the killing of Bhishma, one of the noblest of the Kauravas, is characteristic in that regard, and it takes Bhishma a particularly long time to die (more about that later).

If you like to read about battlefield violence, it is here in abundance – as when the strong-armed and strong-tempered Bhima finally gets his revenge against Duhshasana, the Kaurava prince who disgraced the princess Draupadi after the gambling match:

“Drawing his sharp sword with its excellent blade, and treading upon the throat of the writhing man, he cut open his breast as he lay upon the ground, and drank his warm blood. Then, having quaffed and quaffed again, he looked about him, and in his rage spoke these extravagant words: ‘Better than mother’s milk, or honey with ghee, better than well-prepared mead, better than a draught of the water of heaven, or milk or curd, or the finest buttermilk, today I consider this draught of the blood of my enemy better than all of these!’” (pp. 510-11)

Interesting to wonder what Quentin Tarantino would do with a passage like that, if assigned the task of bringing The Mahabharata to film.

There is an interesting note of moral ambiguity to the way the Pandavas win the Kurukshetra War, as Bhima, preparing for a climactic duel with the wicked Duryodhana, is advised by Krishna that “if Bhima fights according to dharma, he will never triumph; but if he fights unfairly he can kill Duryodhana. It is said that the gods defeated the demons by means of deception” (p. 549). Cheat to win? Really? But it is on that note that the war concludes in a Pandava victory. And the cost is high: the eighteen-day war has a final body count of 1,660,020,000 dead and 24,165 missing. Yes, that’s 1 billion, with a “b.”

The end of the war is followed by a long passage of catechism, as the still-dying Bhishma, lying on a bed of arrows, instructs the victorious Yudishthira on the duties of a good king. The lessons go on after Bhishma finally dies and passes on to a hero’s heaven; Krishna encourages Yudishthira, who still grieves over the loss of all those killed in the war, to put aside his grief and take up the duties of a king, and provides tutelage in the teachings of Brahma through a series of parables. “The seers then asked him to resolve their doubts as to which is the highest dharma; Brahma answered that it is non-violence” (pp. 707-08).

There is a final, triumphant vision of all those killed in the war meeting in harmony and peace with the living loved ones that they have left behind: “Now all those best heirs of Bharata met together, free from their anger and jealousy and sin; observing the fair and exalted rules laid down by Brahmin seers, they were all now as cheerful-hearted as the gods in heaven. Son met with father and mother, wife with husband, brother with brother and friend with friend….[A]nd through the seer’s grace other Kshatriyas, their anger gone for ever, gave up their enmities and made friends” (p. 747). On that hopeful note of reconciliation, The Mahabharata moved toward its conclusion.

I read The Mahabharata while traveling in India. Throughout our time in India, I was impressed to see how deeply The Mahabharata is woven into the national fabric of Indian life. Our hotel in New Delhi was located on Indraprastha Avenue, and our driver took pride in telling us that Delhi is Indraprastha, the ancient capital of Pandava glory. A traveler to modern Kurukshetra will be greeted by a great statue of Krishna guiding Arjuna’s chariot. And when The Mahabharata was adapted for television miniseries format, the modern nation of India is said to have virtually shut down from 1988 to 1990, anytime the mini-series was airing. Anyone who wants to begin developing a greater understanding of India, in all its brilliant complexity, should make a point of reading The Mahabharata.
Profile Image for Justin Evans.
1,525 reviews756 followers
January 23, 2016
If you ever start to feel like there's something special or unique about the Western literary tradition, here's a nice reminder that "our" background is kind of like the poor, illiterate, brutish cousin of a sophisticated, knowledgeable, emotionally wealthy woman. I'd read retellings of the M, but they conveyed nothing of the sheer joy of the whole; this, John D. Smith's translation/abridgement/retelling, manages to make clear just how amazing the whole thing must be, without actually giving you the experience of reading the whole thing. Instead, he translates sizable chunks, then summarises the rest--everything. The summaries are quite exhaustive and, particularly in the great battle scenes, exhaustingly dull. But hey, it's ancient literature. They cared about who killed whom and how.

Other thoughts that I had while reading this:

* why are there eighteen hundred translations of 1001 Nights, but only two complete English renderings of this poem, which is far more interesting from a narrative/structural level (storytellers telling stories that they heard from this guy who was told it in this fashion at this event--digression into that event, and the genealogies of participants in it usw), as well as having far more interesting individual tales embedded in it?

* why are there a similarly large number of translations of the Bhagavad Gita, but so few of Bhishma's far more interesting deathbed sermon? (summarized, rather than translated, here: it might get pretty boring if it were 1000 pages long, I guess).

* why do so many men in this poem spontaneously ejaculate when they witness a beautiful woman? Why is there always a goddess, or woman, or animal, or river on hand to collect up the spilled seed and turn it into children?

* This is the coolest thing I've ever read.

The problem I was left with was: I want to read lots of M, not necessarily the battle bits, but all the philosophy and tales and genealogies and so on. And there's no complete translation that seems readable and reliable. That said, I'm very keen to read all of book 3, and books 11-13. The former is available in the U of Chicago Press edition; the latter in the Clay Sanskrit Library.

Another problem, and a warning--I can't imagine this would be useful as a first approach to the M. But it was perfect for me. For the record, before starting it I'd read one of the short retellings (which cut out all the digressions, genealogies, philosophy and tales, i.e., the good stuff), the Bhagavad Gita, and the Oxford World's Classics translation of book 10. They're all short, and all approachable.
Profile Image for Nicholas Whyte.
4,565 reviews175 followers
March 19, 2011
The Mahābhārata is much more accessible than, say, The Koran or Ta Hsüeh and Chung Yung, though also much much longer - the Penguin edition is 800 pages, and that is with two thirds of the text brutally summarized. Of course, it helps that there is a plot as well as profound philosophical, theological and moral discourse; perhaps the fairer comparison is with Homer (where I think the Mahābhārata still wins).

I did sometimes find it difficult to keep the names straight on my head; John D. Smith's translation and adaptation makes few concessions. I'm not used to Indian nomenclature and wasn't quite prepared for Kṛṣṇa rather than Krishna. It was rather late in the book before I distinguished Bhīṣma and Bhīma; and I was puzzled by the brother and sister demons Hiḍimbā and Hiḍimba until I looked a bit closer. But this is how one learns.

The epic itself is a grand mythological tale of a battle between two families, the hundred demonic sons of Dhṛtarāṣtra and the five Pāṇḍava brothers (who between them have four fathers and two mothers). The first five books (of 18) are the setup: the genealogy of the two sides, including various miraculous feats of reproduction - pregnancies varying in length from a day to a year, children born from the landscape after passing heroic men ejaculate upon it; I note also that women in the Mahābhārata actually menstruate which is rare in any fiction I have read. There is even a transsexual charioteer, Śikhaṇḍī.

The actual battle, which occupies the next five books, is about as tedious as most fictional epic battles. I was interested though that the world of the Mahābhārata is actually rather high-tech; Indra's chariot which takes people to another world is distinctly spaceshippy, and the mystical Weapons of This and That which are wielded on the battlefield are definitely technologies of mass destruction, a thought which famously occurred to Robert Oppenheimer. Also of course one has built up a certain sympathy for the characters in the earlier chapters, particularly the Pāṇḍava brothers and their long-suffering joint wife, Draupadī.

The philosophy comes in two large chunks. The more famous passage is actually the shorter of the two: the Bhagavad Gītā is preached by Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna, the most attractive character among the Pāṇḍava brothers, on the eve of the battle, and is an exposition on the theme of dharma, which encompasses duty, legal obligation, and destiny. But I actually found more interesting the longer passage, two entire books (books 12 and 13) of the dying reflections of Bhīṣma (fatally wounded at the start of the battle, seven books earlier). It is a fascinating blend of very profound meditations on the meaning of life and how one should behave to one's fellow human beings and the natural world, combined with a fairly strong element of supernatural justification for the continued social supremacy of the Brahman class.

Anyway, this is a colossally intense read, and probably it's worth trying to absorb through some other medium rather than a paperback adaptation (eg the Indian TV series, which in this day and age cannot be too difficult to obtain). But I found it rather rewarding.
Profile Image for Markus.
469 reviews1,510 followers
March 17, 2019
One of the greatest epics of human civilisation, and a masterpiece of myth and legend.

As a result of its almost absurd scope and sheer length, I must admit to have merely skimmed this work (twice), but I aim to fully read it one day.

In the meantime, I am fascinated by these absolutely wonderful artistic interpretations:




(More to be found here: https://www.scoopwhoop.com/inothernew... )
Profile Image for Ashok Rao.
66 reviews33 followers
March 25, 2021
Mahabharata needs no introduction. It is indeed greatest spiritual epic of all time and is a manual for living an idle life. It was first composed in Sanskrit about five thousand years ago by Vyasdeva, a mystic residing in Himalaya.
Some of my favorite quotes:
1. Scriptures clearly states that an individual can be abandoned for the sake of a family. Indeed a family can be abandoned for the sake of a village, a village for the sake of a city and the world itself can be abandoned for the sake of the soul.
2. Over-attachment for one's close relatives is simply born of ignorance. Every creature in the world is born alone and dies alone.
3. Ignorance always leads to sorrow.
4. One who keeps senses under control can never be overcome by an enemy.
5. The learned Vidura then said that he who is self-controlled wins the sovereignty of the earth.
6. A brahmin's spiritual power was always greater than a Kshatriyas martial power. The king Vishvamitra, even though well-versed with in every divine weapon, could not overpower Vasishta
Rishi, and the brahmin Parasurama single-handedly defeated all the kings of the earth.
7. There was no doubt that wherever there was Krishna there would be victory.
8. A king who takes his taxes but fails to protect the people is considered the most sinful of men.
9. Truth is my weapon and virtue my strength.
10. There will never be an end to arguments, for words may always be answered with words.
11. Gambling is the root of all misery.
12. There are four vices to which kings are prone: hunting, drinking, womanizing and gambling.
13. Great men never care for the harsh words uttered by inferior men.
14. The desire for wealth and opulence, which could never be alleviated, is man's worst enemy.
15. One becomes learned by studying Vedas.
Profile Image for Weni.
113 reviews37 followers
February 9, 2009
Kisah Mahabharata diawali dg pertemuan antara Raja Sentanu dan Dewi Gangga yg cantik jelita. Sentanu ingin menikahi Dewi Gangga, namun Dewi Gangga mengajukan syarat, a.l. tdk akan menghalangi apapun yg Dewi Gangga lakukan. Sentanu menyanggupi. Dari pernikahan mereka, Dewi Gangga melahirkan banyak anak, namun setiap anak yg lahir ditenggelamkannya di sungai Gangga. Sentanu tak kuasa berbuat apa2 krn sumpahnya. Namun ketika Dewi Gangga akan menenggelamkan anaknya yg ke-8, Sentanu tak bisa lagi menahan amarah. Krn Sentanu melanggar janji, Dewi Gangga pun pergi membawa sang anak. Kelak anak tersebut dikembalikan kepada Sentanu. Anak itu bernama Dewabrata.

Bertahun2 kemudian, Raja Sentanu bertemu dg seorang wanita. Terpesona oleh kecantikan dan keharumannya (molto kali), Sentanu meminang wanita bernama Setyawati tsb. Sang ayah mengajukan syarat: jika Setyawati melahirkan anak laki2, maka anak itu harus menjadi putra mahkota. Sentanu tdk bisa menerima syarat itu krn dia begitu menyayangi Dewabrata. Singkat cerita, Dewabrata berhasil mengetahui penyebab kesedihan sang ayah. Dewabrata pun mendatangi ayah Setyawati. Dewabrata bersumpah, jika Setyawati melahirkan anak laki2 maka anak itu akan dinobatkan jadi raja. Namun ayah Setyawati masih khawatir kelak keturunan Dewabrata akan menggulingkan tahta cucunya. Akhirnya Dewabrata bersumpah tdk akan menikah seumur hidupnya. Ketika Dewabrata mengucapkan sumpah itu, para dewa menaburkan bunga dan terdengar suara mengelu2kan: "Bhisma... Bhisma...". Sejak itu, Dewabrata dikenal dg nama Bhisma.

Dari pernikahannya dg Setyawati, Sentanu memiliki 2 orang putra: Chitrangada dan Wicitrawirya. Ketika Chitrangada tewas dlm peperangan, adiknya dinobatkan menjadi pengganti krn Chitrangada tdk memiliki anak. Ketika Raja Kasi mengadakan sayembara utk mencari suami bagi putri2nya, Bhisma datang utk mencarikan istri bagi Wicitrawirya yg telah dewasa. Bhisma berhasil mengalahkan lawan2nya dan memboyong Amba, Ambali dan Ambalika. Amba sebenarnya kekasih Raja Salwa, namun krn Salwa kalah dari Bhisma, maka Amba harus mengikuti Bhisma. Wicitrawirya akhirnya menikahi Ambali dan Ambalika. Dari Ambali, Wicitrawirya memiliki anak bernama Destarata, sedangkan dari Ambalika, Pandu. Amba tdk menikah dan mendendam pada Bhisma. Setelah melakukan tapa brata, Amba menceburkan diri ke dlm api dan terlahir kembali menjadi Srikandi, yg kelak membunuh Bhisma.

Destarata menikah dg Dewi Gandari dan menurunkan para Kurawa, sementara Pandu menikah dg Dewi Kunti dan Dewi Madri, menurunkan para Pandawa. Buku ini menceritakan Kunti dlm bab tersendiri. Sura, kakek Krishna, memiliki seorang putri bernama Pritha. Krn sepupu Sura, Kuntibhoja, tdk memiliki anak, maka Pritha diangkat anak. Sejak itu Pritha dikenal sbg Dewi Kunti. Suatu ketika datang seorang Resi bernama Resi Durwasa dan tinggal cukup lama di kediaman Kuntibhoja. Krn kebaikan Kunti, sang Resi memberikan mantra utk memanggil dewa dan memiliki keturunan dg Dewa tsb. Kunti yg masih gadis mencoba mantra itu dan Batara Surya pun muncul dihadapannya. Lalu Kunti hamil. Ketika lahir, sang bayi dihanyutkan di sungai dan ditemukan oleh sais kereta. Anak tsb adalah Karna.

Pandu yg menikah dg Dewi Kunti dan Dewi Madri, suatu ketika berburu ke hutan dan memanah seekor rusa jantan. Si rusa ternyata jelmaan seorang Resi yg sedang bercengkrama dg istrinya. Dlm keadaan sekarat sang Resi mengutuk: Pandu akan menemui ajalnya saat olah asmara (begitu kt buku :D). Pandu lalu mengasingkan diri di hutan bersama kedua istrinya. Kunti menceritakan ttg mantra pemberian Resi Durwasa. Pandu pun meminta kedua istrinya utk menggunakan mantra itu agar memiliki keturunan. Maka lahirlah Yudhistira, Bima dan Arjuna dari Dewi Kunti, Nakula dan Sadewa dari Dewi Madri. Hingga pada suatu ketika Pandu menemui ajalnya krn bermesraan dg Dewi Madri. Krn merasa berdosa, Dewi Madri terjun ke dlm api yg membakar suaminya. Para pertapa lalu membawa Kunti dan Pandawa kembali ke Hastinapura.

Pandawa dan Kurawa tumbuh bersama di Hastinapura. Melihat keperkasaan Bima, ketangkasan Arjuna dan seruan penduduk yg mengatakan Yudhistira layak menjadi raja, api kedengkian membakar Duryudana. Bersama Karna dan Sengkuni, ia merencanakan utk membunuh Pandawa. Duryudana berhasil membujuk ayahnya utk mengirim Pandawa ke Waranawata. Disana Pandawa dan Dewi Kunti di istana yg telah dibangun atas perintah Duryudana dari bhn2 yg mudah terbakar. Namun penasihat istana, Widura, mengetahui rencana jahat Duryudana dan memperingatkan Yudhistira. Widura pun telah memerintahkan seseorang utk menggali terowongan. Maka ketika istana tersebut terbakar habis, Pandawa lari ke hutan melalui terowongan. Rakyat Waranawata mengabarkan pada Hastinapura bhw tempat peristirahatan Pandawa terbakar habis.

Ketika dlm penyamaran, Pandawa mendengar ttg sayembara utk memperebutkan Drupadi, putri Raja Panchala. Ketika semua orang gagal, trmsk Karna, muncullah brahmana muda yg tanpa keraguan melepaskan 5 anak panah secara berurutan dan tepat pada sasaran. Brahmana itu adalah Arjuna. Para Pandawa pun menikahi Drupadi.

Atas nasihat Bhisma dan Widura, Destarata membagi kerajaan menjadi 2 ketika para Pandawa kembali ke Hastinapura. Sejak itu para Pandawa memerintah Indraprasta. Melihat Pandawa yg semakin berkuasa dan makmur, Duryudana semakin iri hati. Sengkuni mengusulkan utk mengundang Yudhistira bermain dadu shg Duryudana dapat merebut semua yg dimiliki Pandawa tanpa harus berperang.

Yudhistira menerima undangan bermain dadu. Duryudana meminta taruhan seluruh kekayaan dan kerajaan Yudhistira. Sengkunilah yg bermain utk Duryudana. Yudhistira kalah. Lalu ia mempertaruhkan saudara2nya, dirinya sendiri, lalu Drupadi. Kalah. Para Kurawa bersorak. Duryudana memerintahkan Dursasana menemui Drupadi. Dursasana menyeret Drupadi ke arena. Karna menyuruh Dursasana utk melucuti pakaian Pandawa dan Drupadi (mnrt Karna, semua telah menjadi milik Sengkuni, trmsk pakaian mereka). Drupadi jatuh pingsan. Dursasana segera melucuti pakaian Drupadi. Tapi setiap kali Dursasana melepas pakaian itu, muncul pakaian baru menutupi tubuh Drupadi. Begitu seterusnya hingga Dursasana berhenti. Dg menahan amarah, Bima mengucap sumpah: "Aku tdk akan diterima di surga sblm kuremukkan dada Dursasana dan kuminum darahnya yg telah membuat malu wangsa Bharata". Destarata sadar peristiwa ini akan menyebabkan kehancuran keturunannya. Maka ia menyuruh Yudhistira mengambil kembali kerajaan dan semua kekayaannya. Duryudana mengirim wakilnya sekali lagi utk mengundang Yudhistira bermain dadu. Yudhistira kalah. Kali ini para Pandawa harus mengasingkan diri di hutan selama 12 th dan hidup menyamar selama 1 th.

Setelah 13 tahun berlalu, Pandawa mengundang para sahabat dan kerabat. Disepakati Drupada mengirimkan pendeta istana Panchala utk berunding di Hastinapura. Sementara sang pendeta pergi ke Hastinapura, Arjuna pergi ke Dwaraka utk menemui Krishna. Trnyt Duryudana juga datang ke Dwaraka. Keduanya ingin mendapatkan bantuan dari Krishna. Krishna meminta Arjuna memilih, dirinya pribadi tanpa senjata atau seluruh pasukan Narayana yg perkasa. Arjuna memilih Krishna meski tanpa senjata. Maka Duryudana mendapatkan seluruh bala tentara. Meski perundingan perdamaian telah dilakukan beberapa kali, namun Duryudana tetap menolak memberikan sejengkal tanah pun pada Pandawa. Perang tak dapat dielakkan lagi. Pandawa mengangkat Dristadyumna sbg Senapati Agung, sementara Kurawa mengangkat Bhisma.

Korban berjatuhan dari kedua belah pihak. Pada hari ke-10, Arjuna menyerang Bhisma dg menempatkan Srikandi di depan. Arjuna menguatkan hati utk terus menyerang kakeknya. Panah demi panah menghujani tubuh Bhisma. Hampir sekujur tubuhnya tertembus panah Arjuna. Bhisma pun roboh. Lalu tersebar bau harum dan hujan turun membasahi Kurusetra.

Bhisma digantikan oleh Durna. Taktiknya adalah menjauhkan Arjuna dari sang kakak agar Yudhistira dpt diculik. Arjuna ditantang bertarung oleh Raja Susarma dan pasukannya. Pasukan Kurawa lainnya berusaha mendekati Yudhistira. Abimanyu menerobos formasi lawan dg pasukan Pandawa dibelakangnya. Namun Jayadrata menghadang para Pandawa. Abimanyu terjebak dan bertarung sendirian. Dg kehebatannya, pasukan Kurawa terpukul mundur. Para ksatria besar Kurawa segera mengepung Abimanyu. Abimanyu terus melawan hingga tewas dikeroyok. Mengetahui kematian putranya, Arjuna bersumpah akan membunuh Jayadrata sebelum matahari terbenam. Dg bantuan Krishna, Arjuna berhasil memenggal kepala Jayadrata dg panah yg berasal dari Gandewa, busur Arjuna yg termasyur.

Pertempuran semakin sengit. Bahkan ketika matahari sudah terbenam pun perang masih berlanjut. Di malam hari, Gatotkaca dan pasukan raksasanya semakin kuat. Mereka menyerang Kurawa dg hebat. Karna akhirnya melepaskan tombak pemberian Batara Indra yg sebenarnya ingin dia gunakan utk melawan Arjuna. Gatotkaca pun tewas. Perang terus berlanjut. Durna masih menyerang kubu Pandawa bertubi2. Krishna berkata, jika mendengar Aswatama tewas, Durna akan kehilangan semangat hidup. Harus ada yg mengatakan bahwa Aswatama tewas. Bima pun membunuh gajah bernama Aswatama dan meneriakkan kematian Aswatama. Durna membuang senjata dan bersemedi di atas keretanya. Dristadyumna menunaikan takdirnya sbg pencabut nyawa Durna.

Setelah Durna gugur, Karna menjadi mahasenapati. Perang dimulai lagi. Bima berhasil memenuhi sumpahnya dg meremukkan dada Dursasana dan meminum darahnya. Karna bertarung dg Arjuna dan tewas terkena panah Arjuna. Pada akhirnya Bima bertarung melawan Duryudana dan berhasil mengalahkannya.

Perang berakhir. Yudhistira yg pada awalnya akan mengasingkan diri di hutan krn kesedihannya akan perang, akhirnya dinobatkan sbg raja Hastinapura. Kisah Mahabharata ditutup dg perjalanan para Pandawa dan Drupadi ke pegunungan Himalaya setelah menobatkan Parikesit sbg raja. Satu per satu dari mereka kelelahan dan akhirnya mati, kecuali Yudhistira yg ditemani seekor anjing.
Profile Image for Biblio Curious.
233 reviews8,284 followers
September 5, 2018
The Mahabharata is a philosophical epic that begins with the creation of the cosmos and brings us on a journey through the passage of all time. Time is the essential element or was it actually about Dharma? It's certainly not about the epic battle that was every bit as grinding to read about as the effect of war itself. Naturally, an epic that was crafted by an entire culture and passed down through a lineage of oral storytellers is going to develop many stories upon stories, occasionally go onto tangents every bit as interesting as the actual narrative of Dharma's journey through time. And yes, the final conclusions after the war ends will bring us into a new time with a renewal of lessons from the earlier peaceful days. Sure, you can read a couple of the more well known sections from this Great Epic: the love story; The Ramayana or the philosophical discussion; The Bhagavad Gita. Or just go for The Mahabharata, reading it's both a blessing and a cause of great bad luck. Perhaps it's because once you understand, the responsibility becomes greater?

So, of course this is going to be 5 stars, it took 1000s of years to craft this epic. It took John D. Smith 10 years to craft a translation & to seriously condense summaries of what he didn't provide in long form. So while this Penguin is a hefty abridgement, it still gives many summaries so you know what you're missing. The alternative would be to just give the abridged version without any clues of what's been removed. I think its a wise choice because not many people have years of devotion to read 10 encyclopedic volumes for one single epic.

Blog Review:
Profile Image for Nguyên Trang.
511 reviews489 followers
May 4, 2020
Đỉnh cao! Mà đây mới chỉ là bản diễn xuôi theo gốc là thơ dài 200.000 câu! Bản này đã vậy, bản gốc còn tới đâu? Đã biết sao phim Ấn dài lê thê chưa ;))
Cuốn này, đúng như cái tên, có thể chia thành hai phần lớn: Mahabharata và Chí tôn ca.

Chí tôn ca là lời ca của đấng chí tôn, có thể coi là kim chỉ nam của đạo Hindu, triết lý vô cùng cao siêu. Anw, với ai đã quen thuộc với đạo Phật thì sẽ không thấy quá xa lạ với khoảng 80% trùng khớp. Cũng không lạ vì Phật giáo ra đời trước đó ít lâu và cùng nằm trong cái nôi của Ấn Độ. Điểm khác biệt, và rất nổi bật, là ở việc Chí tôn ca chia con người ra thành các đẳng cấp và buộc mọi người phải hành động đúng với đẳng cấp của mình. Ở Ấn Độ bây giờ vẫn sống theo những đẳng cấp đấy. Thật kinh khủng! Sẽ có những người cả đời chỉ đi hốt cứt, không được làm gì khác. Có thể lúc nào tôi sẽ đọc lại Chí tôn ca bản của THĐP vì bản đó ngôn ngữ đương đại diễn hiểu hơn.

Phần Mahabharata mới là phần tôi yêu thích. Câu chuyện quá epic, quá cảm động, quá triết lý! Đọc khóc mấy lần vì lối sống cao đẹp của họ. Epic mà đọc hấp dẫn dã man, không gây chán như kiểu đọc thần thoại Hy Lạp. Cuốn này cũng hay hơn Rama. Tóm lại là rất nên đọc. Chời ơi không biết được đọc bản gốc thì còn tới đâu nhỉ huhu
Profile Image for Sonya Dutta Choudhury.
Author 1 book60 followers
November 5, 2016

My first readings of this volume stretched into forbidden times, as a 12 year old , late into the night and in the unlikeliest of places- stretched out in the dry bathtub !! The book was a riveting read . Packed with intrigue , and the twists and turns of human nature, it is one saga that is unbeatable . What characters - from the sanctimonious Yuddhisthra to the unctuous Sakuni and the fiery Draupadi . Highly recommended .

Soon after I read K M Munshi's 'Krishnavatara' in 7 volumes - my early introduction to stories from different perspectives . I also read the C Rajagopalachari version which was rather too staid and brief , and the Amar Chitra Katha's that were just too piecemeal.

Many year later I read Shashi Tharoor's The Great Indian Novel - a fascinating modern retelling of the epic in terms of contemporary Indian politics. Also Yagyaseni by Pratibha Ray, a radical very provocative retelling -this one from Draupadi's point of view . Made me look at the entire epic differently. The glitzier version of this point if view novel is Chitra Divakaruni's 'Palace of Illusions'

Since then I have often wanted to go back to the book itself , read another version in great detail , but haven't got around to it . Also I'm not very sure which version to read .Ashok Banker is good in very small dose but too gimmicky and too sensual. So is Ramesh Menon . Devdutt Patnaik's Jaya isn't purist enough for me - or even detailed enough . So there's where I am .

Profile Image for Saif.
234 reviews121 followers
July 27, 2021
في البداية أحيي المترجم على هذا العمل الرائع جدا

هذه الملحمة أعادت لي لذة القراءة بعد انقطاع بسبب المشاغل الدنيوية ولها مكانة خاصة في قلبي

أبعدتني لمدة يومين عن عالمنا وحلقت بي عالم آخر ، عالم مليء بالغرابة والدم والحكمة أيضا

الشخصيات نالت اعجابي وكذلك الأسماء لها وقع جميل عند النطق

كم هي جميلة فلسفة التسامح التي تنادي بها وكذلك الإبحار في دين الآخرين ومعتقداتهم بدون الخوف على معتقداتنا
Profile Image for Ali Alghanim.
403 reviews92 followers
March 15, 2020
ملحمة تنتمي إلى الفكر الفلسفي و الأخلاقي ، كُتِبَت قبل ثلاثة آلاف عام . تروي قصة الهند ( بهاراتا ) فإذا بها تتسع و تصبح المهابهاراتا : بهرات العظمى : أم هل نقول " الكون " ؟
Profile Image for Iyad Barghouti.
133 reviews4 followers
October 18, 2015
في ظرف سنتين قرأتها ثلاث مراتٍ متوالية! عدا عن عودتي المستمرة إليها من حين لآخر، هذا العمل الملحمي يتفوق على إليذة و أوديسة هوميروس و معهما إنياذة فرجيل مجتمعين! كتاب لا بد من قراءته لكل دارس للفلسفات و الأديان الشرقية
Profile Image for Apratim Tripathi.
20 reviews6 followers
July 24, 2020
This is a brilliant concise book for beginners for a basic understanding of Mahabharat. It stayed true to the theme of the story & explored various emotions of Mahabharat in crisp words. It serves to be a good package for people who can't find much time for an elaborate treatise on the same.

Wonderful work by C. Rajagopalachari !
Profile Image for Nguyễn Minh Hiếu.
262 reviews40 followers
October 22, 2021
Lâu lắm rồi mới bỏ thời gian ra đọc một bộ sách hơn 500 trang thế này, thật sự rất rất phê!
Nếu phương Tây có Sử thi Iliad và Odyssey của Homer (dựa trên Thần thoại Hy Lạp - một nền tảng của văn hóa phương Tây), Trung Quốc thì có Phong Thần Diễn Nghĩa và Tây Du Ký, thì Ấn Độ, quê hương của đạo Phật có hai bộ sử thi kỳ vĩ là Mahabharata và Ramayana. Hôm nay tôi vừa đóng lại trang cuối của bộ Sử thi Mahabharata và Chí tôn ca (Cao Huy Đỉnh). Có thể nói, phần Mahabharata là một thiên sử thi nhiều chương hùng vĩ và tráng lệ, có bi thương nhưng đẹp đẽ, thì phần Chí Tôn Ca lại cuộc nói chuyện mang tính chất siêu hình tư biện giữa một con người và một vị thần (cũng là câu chuyện giữa cái vô ngã và hữu ngã).
Chí Tôn Ca nằm giữa sử thi Mahabharata như một hạt ngọc nằm giữa phần thịt của con trai. Tôi ngờ rằng tinh túy của bộ sử thi chính là Chí Tôn Ca và bộ sử thi được xây dựng xung quanh khúc ca này như một sự phát triển, suy diễn từ một nền tảng tư tưởng minh triết của Hindu Giáo.
Đọc Mahabharata và Chí Tôn Ca, tôi khuyên mọi người nên chuẩn bị tinh thần "Ngũ Thể Đầu Địa", để vứt bỏ cái tôi và những kiến thức tôn giáo đến mức chấp niệm của mình. Khi đó, ta mới có thể mở rộng trái tim và khối óc, đặng tiếp cận với những tinh hoa nhân loại trong bộ sách này.
Trong danh sách 100 quyển sách phải đọc của tôi cho con trai, bộ sách này xứng đáng vào top 10 rồi đó!
Profile Image for Saumya.
61 reviews22 followers
January 14, 2021
4 Stars | Part of Around India in Books

It is impossible to want to read about Indian culture, and not read at least any one of the epics. I once read that the purāṇic way of story-telling is very different; building stories within stories, sub-plots and character building through karma of previous births is unique to India.

Mahabharata is a beautifully human story of politics and power; it is a story of obsolete laws and the dawn of a new age; it is a story of envy and jealousy; it is a story of family feuds and the desire for control of kingdom; it is a story of exploitation and lawlessness; it is a story which was relevant thousands of years ago and is still, without a doubt, a document to study and learn from.

There are thousands of versions of this epic, with each author bringing in their interpretations and take on the events. It is a story which has been dramatized and performed over the years and still captures the hearts of the audience. I myself have watched and re-watched the TV series without blinking an eye while hanging on to the dialogues and monologues. I have felt the warmth when Krishna says पार्थ (Partha).

In this edition, C. Rajagopalachari made an honest effort to keep the story as close to original as possible (I am yet to read the original one however), and blew away a lot of myths regarding many characters that I have personally harbored over the years. I have begun to appreciate the layers and depth of each one of the characters, slowly letting go of prejudices against supposedly "evil" people and understanding that evil is what we do and not what we are.

Mahabharata is a beautiful exploration of both the human mind and spirit and the influence power and politics can have on even honest and uncomplicated people. It is a story that has grown on me, and will continue to provide both guidance and lessons in life to come.
Profile Image for saïd.
5,743 reviews483 followers
March 9, 2022
This review is of the translation by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.

This is an abridged translation (under 500 pages) of the complete Mahabharata epic, translated by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. This translation is decently readable, but not great; Rajaji was a politician, not a poet, and it really shows. I wouldn't recommend this version.

There are a lot of versions of the Mahabharata, unabridged or abridged or even more abridged, translated into various languages, in prose or in countless types of verse. (There's a lot of versions in Sanskrit as well.) Here are some of the English translations I've read: a two-volume novelisation by Ramesh Menon, The Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering, as well as a ten-volume version in prose, The Complete Mahabharata; an abridged (~900 pages) Penguin Classics version in prose, translated by John D. Smith, The Mahabharata; a very abridged (~200 pages) version by R.K. Narayan, The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic; an abridged version of the tenth book, translated by William J. Johnson, The Sauptikaparvan of the Mahabharata: The Massacre at Night; an abridged (~900 pages) but comprehensive retelling by Carole Satyamurti, Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling.

Personally I'd recommend Menon's prose version, which I've found is quite accurate to the story, if not the poetic aspect. For a complete translation of the actual Mahabharata into English, there's really only one choice: a translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, published between 1883 and 1896 (available in various sources online). (There's also a very good version translated by Bibek Debroy, The Mahabharata, 1-10.)
Profile Image for Welwyn Wilton Katz.
Author 12 books49 followers
September 3, 2010
This is an easy to read translation (if any are truly easy) of the great epic tale from India about the terrible feud and resulting battle between the Pandavas and Kurus (really two branches of one family). In some ways it is not always absorbing because there are so many details a modern author might skip without realizing their future importance in another book such as the Ramayana, which Buck also translated and which I own, though I have not read it yet. However, in sum, Buck has made of the Mahabharata one massive, continuous tale, exciting(in a boo-hiss-yay! kind of way) to those who love complex tales of deceit and treachery, of battle and bloodshed, of lovely women tossed on the gambling table to the same of the one Pandava who should have known better. Buck's rendition moves events around and drops unnecessary texts, and even dares to remove the most sacred text of ancient India, the Bhagavad Gita from where it usually occurs in the Mahabharata, just at the beginning of the epic battle. If he were alive today he would argue rightly that someone probably just dropped it into the Mahabharata in the first place to make sure it would never get lost; that really it existed perfectly on its own once and now again. Buck simply sums up the 18 chapters in one sentence, and I do miss the Gita’s summary of Yogic monistic belief only God exists and all Gods are one God, and all that seems alive are just shadows of God on the stage that God is creating for a play that his shadows to act or “play in” at every moment. However, leaving it out allows the story to carry the reader beautifully to the lovely ending on Mount Kailas, "By Narayana's widespreading tree whose leaves are songs, on the grass plateau high on the sacred and eternal breast of Kailasa, the Players met under the coloured shadows and asked, "What shall we play next?”
Profile Image for Harish Challapalli.
215 reviews101 followers
October 29, 2011
This is considered as one of the TRIO-Epics of Indian culture.

Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, the Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas.

This is considered as the grandhas which guides people to live a sociable life.

The division was into 18 parvas

Personally, I feel i have no words to describe these Trio-epics!!
Profile Image for Nayaz Riyazulla.
296 reviews50 followers
September 8, 2021
ಗಿರೀಶ್ ಕಾರ್ನಾಡ್ ರವರು ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಅನೇಕ ಭಾರಿ ಅಭಿಮಾನದ ಮಾತನ್ನು ಆಡಿದ್ದರು. ಆ ಮಾತುಗಳು ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಓದಲು ಪ್ರೆರೇಪಿಸಿತ್ತು. ಪುಸ್ತಕದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಇದ್ದ ನಿರೀಕ್ಷೆ ಹುಸಿಗೊಳ್ಳಲಿಲ್ಲ.

ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕದಲ್ಲಿ ನನಗೆ ಬಹಳ ಇಷ್ಟವಾಗಿದ್ದು ಲೇಖಕರು ವಿವರಿಸಿರುವ ಉಪಕಥೆಗಳು. ನಾವು ಯಾವುದೇ ಮಹಾಭಾರತ ಆಧಾರಿತ ಕೃತಿ ಓದಿದರೂ, ಅರಣ್ಯಪರ್ವ ಮತ್ತು ಆದಿಪರ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಉಪಕಥೆಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಬೆಳಕು ಚೆಲ್ಲುವುದೇ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಲೇಖಕರು ಆ ತಪ್ಪನ್ನು ಮಾಡದೆ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಉಪಕಥೆಗಳನ್ನು ಸವಿವರವಾಗಿ ವಿವರಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಉದಾ : ಕಚ ಮತ್ತು ದೇವಯಾನಿ ಕಥೆ, ಯಾವಕ್ರಿತನ ಕಥೆ, ಲೋಪಮುದ್ರ ಮತ್ತು ಅಗಸ್ತ್ಯ ಮುನಿಯರ ಕಥೆ, ನಹುಶ ಇಂದ್ರನಾದ ಕಥೆ, ಇಲ್ವಲ ಮತ್ತು ವಾತಾಪಿ ಕಥೆ, ಉತಂಗ ಕೃಷ್ಣರ ಕಥೆ, ಯಯಾತಿಯ ಕಥೆ,ಬೃಹಸ್ಪತಿ- ಸಂವರ್ಥನ ಕಥೆ ಮುಂತಾದವು. ಇವೆಲ್ಲ ಓದಿದರೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಪೂರ್ವಜರ ಕಥಾ ಪ್ರಪಂಚ ಎಷ್ಟು ವಿಶಾಲವಾಗಿತ್ತು ಮತ್ತು ಕಥೆ ಕಟ್ಟುವ ಕಲೆ ಎಷ್ಟು ಶ್ರೀಮಂತವಾಗಿತ್ತು ಎಂಬುದು ತಿಳಿಯುತ್ತದೆ.

ಕುರುಕ್ಷೇತ್ರ ಯುದ್ಧದ 14ನೇ ದಿನ ಕರ್ಣನಿಗೂ ಭೀಮನಿಗೂ ಯುದ್ಧ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತೆ, ಆ ಯುದ್ಧವನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ವಿವರಿಸಿರುವ ಪರಿ.. ಆಹಾ! ಅದೊಂದು ಅಮೋಘ ಅನುಭವ, ಓದೇ ಸವಿಯಬೇಕು.

ಈಗಿನ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಜಂತುಗಳಿಗೆ ಪುರಾಣದ ಮತ್ತು ಭಾರತ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿಯ ಕನಿಷ್ಠ ಜ್ಞಾನವೂ ಇರುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಆಗಿನ ಮು��್ಸದ್ದಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಕೀಳು ರಾಜಕೀಯದ ಪೀಡೆ ಕಾಣದೆ, ಸಮಾಜಕ್ಕೆ ಒಂದು ಅಪೂರ್ವ ಸಂದೇಶ ಸಾರುವ ಹಿರಿದಾದ ಮನಸ್ಸಿತ್ತು. ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ನಿದರ್ಶನ ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕ, ಲೇಖಕರು ಪ್ರಮುಖ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಮುತ್ಸದ್ದಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬರಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಯಾವ ಲೇಖಕರಿಗೂ ಕಡಿಮೆ ಅನಿಸದೆ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ತಿಳಿಯುವ ಹಾಗೆ ಮಹಾಭಾರತವನ್ನು ಹೇಳಿದ್ದಾರೆ... ಓದಿಲ್ಲವೆಂದರೆ ಓದಿ, ಓದಿಸಿ. ಮಹನೀಯರು ರಾಮಾಯಣವನ್ನೂ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಅಂತ ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದೇನೆ, ಅದನ್ನು ಓದುವ ಆಸೆ ಈಗ ದ್ವಿಗುಣಗೊಂಡಿದೆ
Profile Image for Neelam Gehlot.
4 reviews2 followers
January 1, 2021
This is a concise edition of Mahabharata, recommended to first-time readers of this great epic.

What I liked about this edition, there are dedicated chapters about some characters explaining their backstories before introducing them in the overall story that made it easy to keep track of the timeline.

What I didn't like about this edition, there were spoilers in the book where the author tells the ending of the storyline in advance before introducing the story.

At some places in the book, it felt like the author treats Mahabharata not as an epic but as a historical piece.

Overall I would recommend this to first-time readers of Mahabharata, but for others, this version https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... by Ramesh Menon seems to be more complete.
Profile Image for Sarah.
146 reviews47 followers
April 2, 2013
Oh sweet goodness - I finished it. All 909 pages of it. I feel a strangely satisfying sense of accomplishment.

After reading that this epic adventure was as important to Indian civilization as the Iliad & Odyssey were to western audiences, I felt I owed it to myself to read it. The library only had Krishna Dharma's prose adaptation, and I have to say that I wasn't disappointed.

This particular book has retained the feel of an ancient epic while being very readable. The same repetitious phrasing that you see in Homer ("wine-dark sea", "grey-eyed Athene", etc) are present in the Mahabharata. Krishna is almost always described as "lotus-eyed." Bhima has "limbs like trees" or "like five-headed cobras." Early in the volume, this serves as a good tone-setter, but as the book went on (for all 909 pages, not including appendices), I started to wonder how much shorter the book would have been if all those charming phrases had been removed after the first mention.

As far as the story itself, I can't say I was let down, but the very ancient epic-ness of it overwhelms the story from the very start. Just like in Gilgamesh, where the hero is superhuman, so are the five Pandava brothers. Each one is super-amazing in some superhero way. They each represent some sort of virtue from time to time: spiritualism, strength, virtue, intelligence, loyalty, and so on. When the story contains characters who are repeatedly described as "invincible" it sort of removes all tension.

However, I don't think dramatic tension is really what the Mahabharata is about. Throughout almost every chapter, there is a small discussion about cultural or spiritual well-being. When chased from their homes, there is a wise rishi to tell the brothers how they should cope with their situation. They follow his advice, and succeed. When a difficult choice needs to be made, the brothers consult the advice of a wise brahmin (or yet another rishi), follow his advice and are blessed again.

The mythology of India permeates the story, and the idea of predestination vs free choice is a puzzling one. Were the Pandavas destined to rule and conquer the Kauravas, or was it just a series of bad choices. Destiny seems to be the winning side, but over and over the characters are told that their choices make their destiny. It's very muddled.

All in all, I found this a very interesting story to read, though I suppose I enjoy having read it more than actually reading it.
Profile Image for Paul Reeder.
6 reviews3 followers
November 14, 2007
The back story to the Bhagavad Gita - the history of family feuding, political intrique, principles of virtue and much spiritual edification can be found in this epic text!
Profile Image for Hitessh.
412 reviews25 followers
June 7, 2020
Imp: This is Review about this particular retelling of Mahabharata and not of the great epic itself.
The Mahabharata in it's totality is Best epic that has ever happened.

This was a concise edition of Mahabharata.

There were many lapses by author in the story. Anyone reading this for the first time will be confused.

What I didn't like was that, many incidents like killing of Shishupal and Killing of Jaydrath were downplayed. There was just a passing mention of Gita, which forms an important part of this great Epic.

The Author I felt had difficulty in accepting Krsna as Incarnation.

The copy I have has typos and mentions Karna as Kama in many places.

Mahabharat is an Epic of countless small stories that are linked and interwoven to each other. The Author of this book fails to maintain those links as written by Vyas, leaving the reader in confusion.

Not a very good recitation to refer, if you have no idea of this great book in advance and if you are reading this for first time.

I feel this recitation was done for the sake of just doing it at times.

The Author covers the war itself exhaustively, but he spoils all,by giving his expert commentary well in advance, which irritated more and took away the pleasure of reading this great epic.

This retelling did leave me with a want to read the Ramesh Menon's retelling of this great book, which claims to be complete and spread over Twelve Huge Volumes.

PS: Have a question for the creator of this e-book. Who uses Roman Numerals nowadays ? 106 six Chapter numbers in Roman Numerals !! It's just WOW !!!
Profile Image for Mia Rose.
217 reviews87 followers
December 24, 2022
This was definitely something. Unforgettable. And, I see those fanclubs 👀

I guess it taught me that there aren't any bad people, just better people. Because I pity Kauravas too much to hate them. With their pasts, and how their hatred and jealousy for Pandavas came to be.. at some point, they become relatable and I felt sympathetic. Pandavas, however were better but hardly 'idols' with their major flaws which unfortunately aren't talk about enough. And people forget how 'human' Mahabharata is.

And btw, that TRANS REPRESENTATION, HELLO?! That was uncalled for and so ahead it's time. I think people just missed it. But I see you Shikhandin! Any Indians write retellings, write about this man! His past is so fuckin' cool!

Reading Mahabharata was so fun. The whole epic-y feeling. Every character having a huge past and their so human flaws and the tension between doing the 'right' thing, following the 'dharama'. Very debatable and discussion-able.

But the unreliable narrators DO become a pain in ass. I have never read something so biased. And okay, you tell me these are good people, show me through their 'good' and 'better' contrasting actions from the 'bad guys'. The narrators just kept on saying that Pandavas are better ever since they were born, without telling why, which just makes me think that they're on their side because the kids were blessed by Gods. That's so annoying.

Later in the story, the Pandavas warm you up with their 'karma', that's better.

Overall, a Big Fat WOW.

3.5 stars. 💙 Heart.
Profile Image for Neha Oberoi.
859 reviews56 followers
September 12, 2011
The Mahabharata is one of those epics that needs to be constantly re-read. Its been an all time favourite with me since I was a little brat and now that I understand more of the spirituality of the book. From rage, blood lust, fraticide, passion, betrayal this epic has it all.

What I enjoy most about the epic is that even through all the angst, hatred and betrayal each character is shrouded in humanity. Maybe a smaller measure than some but each character has been depicted to the depths with and without evil,kindness in some form. The good guys capable of treachery and vice versa. I still cant get out of my head the way the Pandavas are enraged by blood lust and trap Abhimanyu or Duryodhans magnanimity towards Karna albeit with a purpose strewn in. All in all its a beautiful, complete story.

Love it!!
Profile Image for Raakhee Venugopal.
6 reviews3 followers
October 27, 2011
I first read this book when I was aged 8.And have read it close to 23 times from cover to cover since then.I have been absolutely in love with this...so much so that I even know the pages and words used by heart!The best part of this book, which is one of the best books about India, is that you get way more than what you bargained for.The number of sub stories within this book is just mind-blowing!It touches almost every cultural aspect of India and also touches on certain major scientific processes that came into existence in our modern world centuries after this was written.I could cite examples but this page will not be enough to do them justice.

This deserves to be among the best 1000 books ever-written :)
Profile Image for Swathi Kiranmayee Manchili.
74 reviews7 followers
June 14, 2017
MAHABHARATA is the greatest story ever told!

This book is undoubtedly my first choice for someone who is a beginner. Simple language and undiluted translation of the epic saga what makes this book a master piece. It starts with Adiparva and ends with Swargarohanparva. The best thing about this book is it is left to the readers to analyse and evaluate the events happening. Other versions of Mahabharata which I have come across, it more of reading the author's perspective into the events happening.

This is undoubtedly the BEST version of Mahabharata and a perfect handbook for someone who just started reading the great epic.

Profile Image for Sneha.
10 reviews
November 7, 2018
2-star rating is for the way the book has been proof-read. Having read Mahabharata since childhood, I felt this was a very weak book, even if for beginners.
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