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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  7,522 ratings  ·  350 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)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,522 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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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 little enou ...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:


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
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
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
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, classics
Good book as far as myths and legends go, but I wanted to kick the idiot king who kept saying, "Well, if my son is misbehaving and his actions will cause a huge war, then it must be God's will and I can't do anything about it." Then he'd spend two pages after his son's idiot actions messed things up crying about how he should have done something.
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 interpreta
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-e
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 need a good bit of contextual ...more
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
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 dept
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
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
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 editi
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 chrono
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adulthood, in-2012
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
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: epics, favourites
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 event
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.
Nov 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
had to read this book for my class for religion in India.. Its really and interesting read.... if you are interested in India's culture, and religions.
Sahil Sood
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The God mother of family politics!
Samiksha Neroorkar
It is very difficult to do justice to this epic,but C. Rajgopalachari has penned it beautifully without compromising on the content. Enthralling!
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rajagopalachari's Mahabharata is probably the best english retelling of Mahabharata available.
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Never too Late to...: 2019 October: Mahabharata 23 49 Nov 05, 2019 11:03AM  
Which abridged translation is the best? 1 9 Jun 18, 2018 03:31AM  
Mahabharata and Bhagavatam by Kamala Subramaniam 1 17 Oct 21, 2013 03:32AM  

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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
“What is the greatest wonder in the world?
That, every single day, people die,
Yet the living think they are immortal.”
“Yudhisthira replies that anger leads to evil and should not be indulged; better far is forbearance. (3.30)” 6 likes
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