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July 16th, 2001 - Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal

July 16th, 2001

July 16th, 2001
04:56 pm



The weekend was fine. I spent most of the time in home, as I had eye infection. On saturday morning I went out to take the demand drafts to be sent to IIT. Then I saw lots of movies in the television. Since many movies were going on parallely, I had to "multiplex"!!!. I saw "Hitler" , "Doctor Pashupathi" , "Punaradhivasam" , "CID Unnikrishnan BA BEd", "January Oru Ormma" , "The Magnificent Seven" , to mention a few. Also happened to watch an episode of a serial called "Olangal" in which Aiswarya (Actress Lakshmi's daughter) comes up in a horrifying make-up and looks like a Mummy from Egypt.

About The Mahabharata

I got The Mahabharata , Epic of Epics , translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli from the original Samskrita verses. It is a marvelous book running into 12 volumes and nearly 5000 closely printed pages. It was first published in 1880 or something, and was out of print for long time. A great book to own. I just browsed through some pages randomly and saw the style of writing suits the classic nature of the book. It seems this is the only version available which is covers most of the original. There are so many stories that I have never heard of. The Shanthi Parva and Anushasana Parva runs to three large volumes and contains vivid philosophical discussions. I just read two stories randomly: Ashtavakra's journey to the north pole and Yayati's fall from the heaven. Both of these I have never seen elsewhere.

Every time I read a version of Mahabharata, I simply couldn't resist admiring it. There are yet to be adjectives to describe each and every nature of this Epic. By size, it is said to be 7 times that of Iliad and Odyssey combined. By depth, breadth and clarity of wisdom, I don't think we can mention the name of any of the ancient works anywhere near Mahabharata. And to think of that it was written more than 3000 years ago, considering the many verses in Mahabharata praising about river Saraswati which, according to archeologists disappeared in the desert not later than 1000BC.

I have read many versions of the Mahabharata, but the one I liked most is the children's comic edition brought out by India Book House. This one I might have read twenty or thirty times when I was a child. The beauty of this edition is the drawings by Dilip Kadam. The pictures of all characters - Bheeshma, Drona, Karna, Ashwatama, DhrithaRashtra, Duryodana, Krishna and the Pandavas, Shalya, Jarasandha, Sishupala,Jayadratha, Shakuni - all are excellent. Whenever I read about characters in Mahabharata, it is the drawings of Dilip Kadam that I visualize in my mind.

There have been many books based on the characters of Mahabharata. Perhaps the best novels I read are the translation of great Marathi works, "Yayati" by Khandekkar (which won the Jnanpeet award) and "Mrithyunjay" by Shivaji Savanth. Yayati is a novel derived from a small portion of Mahabharata, about the tale of king Yayati whereas Mrithyunjay covers almost entire Mahabharata from Karna's perspective. Both are stupendous works. May be these might have inspired Malayalam writer MT Vasudevan Nair to write "Randamoozham" with Bheema as the central character. But this seems to be engineered from a "I will also write one" attitude rather than from true inspiration and so lacks the depth and beauty of the former works.

Much before "Randamoozham" , in Malayalam had come two good novels - "Ente Karnan" by VT NandaKumar and "Ini Njan Urangatte" by PK Balakrishnan, but they didnt get the popularity of Randamoozham. I have read only few episodes of "Kurukshethra Bhoomiyil" by Indrajit which came in Mangalam weekly, so I couldnt comment on it. But I guess it was a very vast work running into hundreds of chapters. There were some trash works like "Amme Gandhari" (by ???) and so on. Recently there came a novel "Vyadha Bharatham" with Ekalavya as the main character, written by James, and it was a good reading. Another one I read was the translation of Oriya novel "Draupadi" by Prathibha Ray, which didn't impress me much.

Is there any other work in literature that has inspired and continues to inspire millions of people , hundreds of generations in a vast country for thousands of years and remains fresh as it was first written? Anybody checking any part of it is surely to discover something new. The Mahabharata has become such a inseparable part of Indian life that anybody will be using some phrase or words of it knowingly or unknowingly in everyday life. (For e.g., Chakravyooha, Kurukshetra, Shakuni, Bhageeratha Prayathna, Bheeshma Prathijna, Bheema, Yudhishtira, Urvashi, Keechaka, Shara Shayya and so on.. all are words or names that people use in everyday life to denote something or somebody , may be without really knowing the complete story of the Mahabharata ! ) That is the grandeur of this Epic.

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