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Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata (The Great Indian Epics Retold)

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  10,605 Ratings  ·  840 Reviews
Product Condition: No Defects.
Paperback, 372 pages
Published August 16th 2010 by Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd (first published August 14th 2010)
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MaryNichols Mahabharatha will help to understand human psyche. It covers every aspect of human life.
Siddharth Kumar The book describes various events of Mahabharat in sections and with each section the author asks you several questions, which may lead you to wonder…moreThe book describes various events of Mahabharat in sections and with each section the author asks you several questions, which may lead you to wonder whether the characters from Mahabharat were as great as told by our grannies/school-books or just the mare mortals plotting against each-other politicizing relations and what-not. To give you a little hint, read the back cover of he book....

A daughter is a prize of a contest,
A student is turned away because of his caste,
A family is divided over inheritance,
A woman is publicly disrobed....(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Riku Sayuj
EDIT: I am stripping a star and retracting the positive aspects of this review (well, at least in statement) in light of later readings. Pattanaik's myths are not to be read to 'know' the myths but only for fun. Think of them as a modern variant of the Amar Chitra Kathas for the modern professional who has no time for unabridged epics!

Original Review:

The book started well as it provided a fresh and clear take on Mahabharata without rationalizations and without apology. Devdutt adopts a very trad
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian, mythology
Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik, meet your latest die-hard fan: ME!

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

Indeed, I had tried several times before this to read the Mahabharat in its entirety, but could never finish it. Not that I was not familiar with the stories: every Indian child is fed on them with their u
When I give three stars to a book, it's often grudgingly as I think I may be over-emphasising its merits, or guiltily as I think I may be downplaying the book's merits. These three stars are given guiltily.

Pattnaik's retelling of the Mahabharata is narrated in a simple manner, through the lens of present day wisdom but with an awareness of its absence in the past. One of the immediate impacts of listening to the audio is that I eagerly want to read the Bhagavad Gita. Pattanaik's take on the wisd
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
I don't always judge a book by its cover but in this case, the cover just lured me in.

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

Where to begin? With the beginning.
So the author chooses to call his book 'Jaya - An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata' rather than simply 'Mahabharata retold' or some such... It is not just to stand apart from the other versions, no maam; he just
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
I consider myself more well-versed with the Mahabharata than the average person, because of my interest in Hindu mythology and the amount of reading I've done on the subject. But I'm really glad I read this, not just because of the small details I learned about (I counted 6 things I hadn't known about - Sahadeva's precognition gained by eating Pandu's flesh, Draupadi cursing dogs to copulate in public for stealing Yudhishtira's slippers, Vibhishana being present at Draupadi's swayamwar, a couple ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where do I even begin to review this book? I was on my way back to Boston from Hyderabad, India and had a lot of time to kill at the airport after the security check. As I was wandering in the airport bookstore, I came across this book, read the back cover and was hooked. It goes thus,

A son renounces sex so that his old father can remarry
A daughter is a prize in an archery contest
A teacher demands half a kingdom as his tuition fee
A student is turned away because of his caste
A mother asks her so
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my teens in India, I used to be fascinated by the retelling of the Mahabharata by Rajaji in Tamil. I read it repeatedly over the years and was well conversant with the myths, the war and its aftermath. One thing that always stood out as an anamoly was the repeated conduct of 'adharmic' actions by the Pandavas during the war and Krishna's collusion in most of them. However, Rajaji, being a devotee of Krishna himself, always glossed over these acts of adharma and presented mostly a sanitised pi ...more
Kartik Singhal
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kartik by: Shubhi Agarwal
Wanted to read Mahabharata before I moved on to reading some other books which compare their content with Mahabharata and its characters.

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

Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Indian mythology fans
Am IMPRESSED. Confession - am not a die hard mythology fan. I sometimes get bored by the various stories and sub stories. But this was a refreshing read. Was more like a precise guide to Mahabharatha. It made me think, made me understand many incongruities in the story and now that I see the characters as ordinary people I like them more, even the Kauravas. This was a mine house of less known facts. At least 1-2 illustrations per page, which made reading pleasanter. Many thoughts which prodded a ...more
Henna Achhpal
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! A complete page turner. I don't think there's any other book that puts the Mahabharata so simply for the lay person. Initially it might get overwhelming to keep track of all the numerous characters. But as you go further into the book, it's a pleasant read. Devdutt uses extremely simple language. The 108 chapters feel like 108 short stories. His interpretation and explanations at the end of every chapter make it even better. A must read, for sure.
Awesome were past few days spent with this book. I was literally transferred to that era and those places where Mahabharata took place. Thanks to Author Devdutt Pattanaik who made it so real with his simple language, deep research, unknown facts and beautiful illustration!! Needless to say this book became more and more interesting and unputdownable every time I picked up, so I did not even think of any other book till I finished this one. Mahabharata is a story which always leaves me wanting mo ...more
Samidha Kalia
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an interesting read! I am glad I picked this up.
It's full of history, fables , myths and parables and I really learnt a lot of new things.
I wish had this in paperback though!
Recommended to everyone :)
Puja Narula
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read... Re-read... Re-read...

Each new reading brings out a new perspective, a new viewpoint! Devdutt Pattanaik, thank you for introducing me to the best of India and Indian culture.
Sheetal Maurya (Halo of Books)
Check out the full review on my blog here

This book is not simply the retelling but a treasure of lessons. The author has accumulated various stories which are scattered across the country and given a meaningful essence to the readers. The illustrations are eye-catching making this book more amazing. Another thing is unlike another retelling here he has not given any conclusion or portrayed anyone hero & villain. Read this book, you will get to know th
Sumirti Singaravel
If you are really looking for an authentic story of Mahabharata, I would strongly recommend Rajaji's 'Mahabharata'. He never misses the story outline nor twists it to meet his own ends. Also, I strongly wish the story be told in its own essence rather than we draw conclusions and assumptions to suit our present day needs, which is what the author does again and again.

Mahabharata, if we look objectively and read its nuanced versions, is quite gory and violent, just like the world happens to be.
I think I will never get tired to read about the Mahabharata. It is such a deep epic full of wisdom and teachings to improve our life, the spiritual one but also everyday life.
"Jaya" could be considered a good introduction that contains also basic explanations of the Mahabharata. I have already read the Mahabharata and I'm following lessons with a Swamini about the Bhagavad Gita, so I know there is a lot more and deeper meanings but "Jaya" is really a very good book. I have found a lot of things
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I picked the book I was totally intrigued by the description given in the cover saying towards the last "God is cursed"
Now how is possible that God gets cursed!? aren't we the ones who receive the boons and curses from God? Then who dares curse the Almighty. I knew only bits and pieces of the tale. But such a large epic I wasn't sure if I wanted to boggle my head with so many names of Kings and queens and plots. But once I started "Jaya" I just couldn't put it down. Jaya is not the same as
Rudrangshu Das
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Reading mahabharata was a sudden and unexpected choice on my part. I have never been much interested in mythology but I remembered some of Mahabharata from B.R Chopra's epic TV adaptation and I thought to give it a try. I didn't realize reading this would be such an epiphany. Whether Mahabharata is a myth or history maybe a matter of perspective, but the one thing it is for sure is an epic, in all sense of the word. The numerous characters, their inner conflicts, their complex relations, their d ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not a big mythology fan but this book got my attention as soon as I read the back cover of book which mentioned that Mahabharata is an ancient Hindu epic where:
a daughter is a prize in a archery contest
a student is turned away because of his caste
a mother ask her sons to share a wife
a man is stripped of his manhood for a year
a war is fought where all rules are broken
God is cursed
until wisdom prevails

It made me really curious about such epic which I saw in childhood just for fun but never th
Aug 31, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The year was 1988. Indian households awaited the stars, planets and celestial bodies to fill their television screens while the background voice of 'Samay' (Time) echoed 'Main Samay hoon' (I am Time).

One of our first associations with the Mahabharata probably dates back to B.R. Chopra's televised series on Doordarshan, a programme part of our daily routine that let us enter the gates of a kingdom full of stories on romance, love, revenge, murder, death and war. How we rejoiced reading about the
Sai Karann K
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mahabharata is rightly called the Fifth Veda. It's greatness, be it story wise or intent wise, is immeasurable. There is no hero or villain, there is only dharma and adharma, vijaya and jaya. It makes us understand the importance of dharma to be followed, compassion and empathy to be shown towards our fellow beings. It's like a spider web, where each string may seem to be far away from its only center but has an effect on it, eventually. Devdutt Pattanaik's illustration is how a narration should ...more
Vinay Leo R.
Review @ A Bookworm's Musing:

IMHO, this book is one of the best, if not the best retelling of the great epic Mahabharata. It blends the magic that I’ve known the Mahabharata to have, while bringing in some aspects of the epic I didn’t know and also including some of the author’s thoughts on the epic as well, to make it thought provoking. Without a doubt, this is a book that I shall re-read and savor again. It will remain a favorite for a long long time to come.
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on an classic Indian epic, Devdutt Pattanaik created a masterpiece book. He captures not only the story/plot but conveys the nuances and philosophies within this Indian epic.This text is extremely focused for reading compared to the plethora of books on this topic. Nonetheless, it captivates the reader. Devdutt Pattanaik is a great storyteller.Excel
Sarthak Pranit
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must for religion aficionados. This is Mahabharata for the IT age. Brilliantly put, Pattnaik manages to grasp the messages of every fable of Mahabharata. This is a book for every Indian who confuses the Pandavas' victory over Kauravas as the essence of Mahabharata. Its a lot more.
Arjit Anant
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Took me some time to finish this one but in the end it was quite a read. Gave me an insight about religion, dharma & karma.
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Through Karna, Vyasa reiterates that our knowledge of the world is imperfect based on perceptions and false information. We are surrounded by Kuntis, who hide the truth in fear. We are surrounded by Karnas, villians who are actually brothers.'
This, I think, forms the essence of the entire Mahabharatha. That nothing is what it appears to be and we in no manner yeild control over our future or destiny. Sab moh maya hai.
Vikalp Trivedi
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-five-2015
"There was no hero or villain in the epic , just people struggling with life , responding to crises , making mistakes , in innocence or ignorence , while trying to make their lives meaningful and worthwhile . "

This is the the best summary of The Mahabharat I have ever read . This book by Devdutt Pattanaik is full of such summeries of the facinating tales from the epic . The book contains almost every and many unknown stories from the epic in simple yet engulfing narration . The book is a classic
Balaji Mahesh babu
Author had conveyed the great Ithihasa Mahabaratha through Astika the half Naga and half Manav. Trying to cover the great epic in 340 pages would have been a huge challenging task for Devdutt. He had somewhat managed to bring all the Deities , Barbarians , Rakshahas , Asuras , Kshatriyas , Brahmans , and commoners mentioned in the original epic, derived folk tales and local belief.

This book can be recommend to the starters who don't know or already heard the Mahabaratha then and there and not aw
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Avid by: Arati
When this book was released last year, it immediately caught my attention. Many readers in my circle were reading this book and the attractive book cover and the subject itself was so interesting, I ordered a copy for myself without much thought. Now that I have finished reading this book, I can safely say it was a wise decision.

Jaya, in simple words, is Mahabharata retold. It narrates all the stories connected to the war between Pandavas and Kauravas - the incidents that led to the war and whic
Madhav Deshpande
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very succinctly covered Mahabharata. I found the author's footnotes in every chapter superbly incisive. I am newly surprised at how prejudiced and one-sided were the stories told to us as we grew up. Pandavas = good, Kauravas = evil, etc. When in fact the Mahabharata is all about the gray areas - which is how all people are - a mix of good and evil. It was very refreshing to read a more neutral perspective, especially when coupled with the author's notes expounding on his interpretations
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Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik (born December 11, 1970) is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist and author whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology, and also management. He has written a number of books related to Hindu mythology, including Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology, a novel, The Pregnant King, and Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharat ...more
More about Devdutt Pattanaik...

Other Books in the Series

The Great Indian Epics Retold (2 books)
  • Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana

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“Refusal to accept the flow of the world is the root of all misery.” 32 likes
“Through Karna, Vyasa reiterates that our knowledge of the world is imperfect based on perceptions and false information. We are surrounded by Kuntis who hide the truth in fear. We are surrounded by Karnas, villains who are actually brothers.” 16 likes
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