Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mahabharata” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.29  ·  Rating details ·  8,365 ratings  ·  429 reviews
Originally published in the year 1951, the huge popularity of the book has resulted in the book being re-printed several times. Centuries ago, it was proclaimed of the Mahabharata: "What is not in it, is nowhere." But even now, we can use the same words about it. He who knows it not, knows not the heights and depths of the soul; he misses the trials and tragedy and the bea ...more
Paperback, 483 pages
Published 1951 by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (first published 1950)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,365 ratings  ·  429 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mahabharata
Nov 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
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 ...more
Justin Evans
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 ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, mythology
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: )
Nicholas Whyte
Mar 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Haspel
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
“Maha” means “high” or “great” in Sanskrit; a “maharajah” 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 know that from the beginning, as a non-Indian reader may nee ...more
Manuel Antão
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2004
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Indian Oral Epics: "Mahabharata" by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

(Original Review, 2004-06-18)

Since Homer specialised in the "in media res" scenario, which modern screenplay writers, with their enormous initial back-stories - yes Superman and Spider-Man writers I am accusing you, my friends - still seem to have no concept of) we need to recognise that Homer took for granted his audience's familiarity with the Greek myth-kitty, so they might
Biblio Curious
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 ont ...more
Jijo Varghese
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read it as a child, and it made me to believe that in all epics there will be a hidden hero, and in this too..there is Karna. Most interpretations on Mahabharata characters are for Karna.I couldn't help myself in falling love with him, as a human,I would say he is the prominent character in this, his humanitarian concepts, his relationships as a friend, as a son and as a devotee of his father( the ultimate energy source sun).
After reading this, first thing I done was to search interpretations
Apratim Tripathi
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 !
Harish Challapalli
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!!
Welwyn Wilton Katz
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 ...more
Hitessh Panchal
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
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
Neha Oberoi
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Raakhee Venugopal
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 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 proce ...more
Swathi Kiranmayee Manchili
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, epics
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.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is absolutely an epic story that has a doubt of being a myth or reality. There is no need to review this epic work as it is really a wonderful tale. I have read this story in many different form and books since my childhood and it has always fascinated me. The characters and culture or Aryan period is a great source to study ancient India.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
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.
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very vivid description, rich literature interesting tales from our Hindu itihasa(history). Very well written and truthful to the original.
Robert Sheppard

"Man is a slave to power..." says the Mahabharata,"...but power is a slave to no one." The puzzle of power in its acquisition, intrinsic contradictions, disillusionments and disappointments, transience, arbitrariness, loss and questionable legitimacy is one of the principal themes of this monumental epic
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Indian hero-epics, The Ramayana being the other one. Mahabharata is usually attributed to the poet Vyasa. Mahabharata is nearly 3.000 years old and in size, it is more than ten times larger than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.

Find the public domain PDF e-book here:
Nishant Sharma
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Right from my childhood, I had been listening to my grandmother telling us tales of Shri Krishna, or sometimes of Pandavas and Kauravas. And I had always been thrilled when I heard of 100 sons of Gandhari and crooked Duryodhana. But not much beyond that. Reading this book was like going back to childhood and listening to my grandmother again orating us the stories that she has always had in abundance. This book apart from being a great epic, is immensely morally enriching too. Many Hindus believ
I've done it. I have finished the Mahabharata. I feel like I've climbed up the Himalaya and back.

So where do I begin? You've heard about massive works in the history of literature, but this one dwarves them all. Its scope is impossibly big. With 200,000 verses it is the longest poem ever written; even in the abridged prose version that I have read, the superb translation by John D. Smith, it is one-thousand pages long. I genuinely believe that a man could spend a lifetime lost inside the Bharata
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
Anyone wondering why I moved so many books to my "on hold" shelf, this is why!

I'm reading this in preparation to read Shashi Tharoor's "The Great Indian Novel," which is supposedly based on this in some way. Tharoor's book is about the Indian fight for independence from I'm thinking he uses the metaphor of the warring cousins as the stage-setter.

The Maha is a B-I-G book for sure. But as always, Penguin delivers. They are my go-to publishers for translations. This edition is abridg
Ridhika Khanna
Jun 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Before starting this review, I want to say that I absolutely love this epic story of Mahabharata. I have followed the TV Shows and short stories quite passionately.

It's an epic saga and having a fair amount of knowledge about the tidings of this story, I wanted to read it too. I asked a couple of my friends and researched online to find the best book in English and I stumbled upon this one.
Mr. Rajagopalachari has written this book just for the sake of it. It is as if he has done a great favor
Anubhuti Sharma
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For beginners and enthusiasts of the Mahabharata, this book would undoubtedly prove to be a well justified and a rational choice. This book is truly a masterpiece by the grand old scholar C. Rajagopalachari and a testimony to his genius is the continued circulation of this book for more than half a century since its was first published.

Through simple language and undiluted translation Rajaji builds the epic saga in a manner that is enjoyable and easy to recollect. Its uninterrupted chronologica
Raghav Bansal
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mahabharata. The greatest story ever told. Discount that this is a rendition by C. Rajagopalachari, you can bank upon his virtuous intellect and assiduous efforts to bring to you the greatest epic in the world veritably unabridged and undefiled.

I am no one to review the Mahabharata and any efforts by me to rate or judge this grandiose epic would do nothing to attenuate the indelible glory of this literary creation.

If there is a book that projects all imaginable and thinkable facets of human exp
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-2012, adulthood
The Mahabharata is an Ancient Sanskrit epic, believed to have been begun in the 8th or 9th century BC, and 'completed' in the 4th century BC.

The whole thing is about ten times the size of the Iliad or the Odyssey, but I read an abridged version— the parts that contain the actual story of the epic, and less of the moralizing sections that explained to ancient Hindus how they should behave.

The epic follows the five Pandu/Pandav brothers (most concerned with Yadhisthir, the eldest, and Arjun, the m
Ricky Bosso
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Then the Universe is water; water
without end or beginning; without
Earth or sky; without space or light;
without sound or movement. Then
the dark waters lie still and silent
and waiting, touching nothing.

What shape shall I take to rescue
the Earth from this flood?”

-William Buck’s Mahabharata
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: college students
Shelves: classics
A beautiful, beautiful story that resonates across not only cultures but thousands of years. Even though this is the only translation I've read, I understand that C. Rajagopalachari version is the best.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Never too Late to...: 2019 October thru December: Mahabharata 26 67 Nov 18, 2019 04:44AM  
Which abridged translation is the best? 1 16 Jun 18, 2018 03:31AM  
Mahabharata and Bhagavatam by Kamala Subramaniam 1 18 Oct 21, 2013 03:32AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ramayana
  • The Upanishads
  • The Bhagavad Gita
  • The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic
  • Ramayana: India's Immortal Tale of Adventure, Love and Wisdom
  • The Yoga Sutras
  • The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic
  • Bhagavad-Gita As It Is
  • Essence of the Upanishads: A Key to Indian Spirituality
  • Panchatantra
  • Swami and Friends
  • Autobiography of a Yogi
  • The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic
  • Wings of Fire: An Autobiography
  • Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana
  • Ashwatthama's Redemption: The Rise of Dandak
  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata
See similar books…
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, informally called Rajaji or C.R., was an Indian lawyer, independence activist, politician, writer and statesman. Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of India. He also served as leader of the Indian National Congress, Premier of the Madras Presidency, Governor of West Bengal, Minister for Home Affairs of the Indian Union and Chief Minister of Madras state and ...more

News & Interviews

Did you set an extremely ambitious Reading Challenge goal back in January? And has this, uh, unprecedented year gotten completely in the way of...
32 likes · 13 comments
“What is the greatest wonder in the world?
That, every single day, people die,
Yet the living think they are immortal.”
“Pleasure from the senses seems like nectar at first, but it is bitter as poison in the end.” 8 likes
More quotes…