Jaya- An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata


Salutations to the author of this book, Shri.Devdutt Pattanaik.

I have been an admirer of Mr.Pattanaik for his take on the epics and the Gita. This book has intrigued me for a very long time now and I got to own this, thanks to my friend.

This book is a retelling of our age-old classic, the Mahabharata. The epic has always given me the creeps. I dread reading stories that has too many sub-plots and too many charcters waltzing in and out in a hapless fashion. Mahabharata and Ramayana are known for that. I remember reading Shri. Rajaji’s version of both epics way back in High school and emerging in a slightly demented state after that. Like I said, complicated reading tires me out. Then, what is life without risks,right? So I take a chance reading this version of the Great Epic of India.

The book is narrated in a Story-telling fashion by Vaishampayan to Janamejaya. It takes us through all important incidents and events. Even the side stories are short and crisp(which appeals to me big time). Like in any other book, the author gives his comments and facts and other teeny-tiny nitbits as a boxed content after every story.

I loved the part of the Bhagwat Gita immensely. The style of conveying the jist is brilliant and has left me wanting more of it. Any recommendations for a proper and clear version of the Gita, anyone?? 😉

Apart from the usual story, what made me adore the book is the quotes and the lines that are sprinkled generously through out. Some of it made me admire, some of it made me re-think and introspect and some stunned me totally.

After a thorough reading of the book, one does get a glimpse of what the purpose of life is. We tend to start contemplating on concepts like dharma, attachment, sins, truth, loyalty etc. Is it going to be like this forever, that I don’t know. But yes, it has been worth it. Totally and unapologetically worth it.

Some values that I derived reading this book has been remarkable.

“In life,there are situations that you cannot win, no matter what”

“Greatness need not be achieved by being better than others; it can also be achieved by pulling down others who are better”

“Without genuine love, laws and rules are worthless”

I also loved this part in particular, where the relationship between Radha and Krishna is depicted as a small comment.

Clandestine, erotic and spiritually sublime

It is always a joy to complete reading a book and evenmore so when it is something as significant as the Mahabharata. I think I rediscovered myself in the process, albeit a little. A good start, I would say!

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies” 

Quotable Quotes:

Chitrangadha’s words to Arjuna depicts the angst of the present day woman :

I am not beautifully perfect as the flowers with which I worship. I have many flaws and blemishes. I am a traveller in the great world-path, my garments are dirty and my feet are bleeding with thorns…. The gift that I proudly bring you is the heart of a woman. Here have all pains gathered,the hopes and fears and shames of a daughter of the dust; here love springs up struggling towards immortal life. Herein lies an imperfection which yet is noble and grand.

Vidura’s words to Yudhishtira, on the point of life :

Everybody dies-some suddenly, some slowly, some painfully, some peacefully. No one can escape death. The point is to make the most of life- enjoy it, celebrate it, learn from it, make sense of it, share it with fellow human beings- so that when death finally cmes, it will not be such a terrible thing.

Bhishma’s words on his bed of arrows, to Yudhishtira :

Life is like a river. You can struggle to change its course but ultimately it will go its own way. Bathe in it, drink it, be refreshed by it, share it with everyone, but never fight it, never be swept away by its flow, and never get attached to it. Observe it. Learn from it.

How very phenomenal and enlightening, isn’t it?


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