Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Great Indian Epics - A Bibliophilic Journey - Part 1

The most priced possessions of our country's ancient culture have been passed on to us in the form of our two great epics - the Ramayana and the Mahabaratha. The stories grip readers to this day. The moral dilemmas faced by the various characters resonate with our hearts and the path that each one of them took, hold a lot of relevant lessons for humanity even today, after hundreds of years.

That apart, the characters themselves are so colourful and multifaceted. Some of them are bold and strong, some meek and quiet, a few others enigmatic. Having so many sub plots and branches, they are also full of scope for interpretations and re-inventions.



We now have quite a handful of modern authors trying their hands at re-painting these ever fresh stories with colours of their own perspectives, interpretation, imagination and of course, extensive research. While the original story itself seems to deal with majorly black and white situations and characters, the modern authors tend to paint more of a grey picture that finds greater acceptance in today's world.

Sita is not just a demure, husband abiding chaste wife but has a strong voice of her own which she makes sure is heard, when needed. Her following Rama to the forest is not just an act of wifely chastity but a stubborn refusal to part with her husband.Kunti is not wholly a goodness personified mother who follows dharma relentlessly, but also a woman who plots quite a bit to keep her sons united and victorious. The Pandava brothers do have their differences but simply choose to stay united.


Also, a lot of characters who are just mere mentions in the popular re-tellings of the epics, become protagonists in the modern versions. Their role, strength of character and lofty sacrifices occupy an entire book. Another common trait among all these books is the awe inspiring lessons to be drawn that serve as a good reminder and inspiration for our everyday lives. 

All these apart, we also come to realise how advanced we were in the fields of science, astronomy, medicine, architecture and weapon science, to name a few. As against the popular notion of India being a 'developing' country, these epics prove that we were the most developed nation then. And that too at a time when the 'developed' nations of today were still hunter gatherers.


We have sadly lost the connect with our past and have grown to believe that everything western is superior. Even more appalling is the fact that we question our own history and call them 'myths'. We need to change this public opinion and modern authors are doing a great deal towards this cause by kindling the interest of India's young readers with their books.

Being a great fan of these mighty epics and having enjoyed reading quite a few versions of the original epic and modern extrapolations, I would like to reminisce the reading experience by extending it to the written word too! What follows is a series of reviews on all the books that I have read related to the Ramayana and the Mahabaratha. I hope you enjoy reading them and in the course, pick up some of the books to read them yourself. Come, let us embark on a wonderful journey through our rich past!

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The Great Indian Epics - A Bibliophilic Journey - Part 3

Continuing with books based on the Mahabaratha, this post takes a peek into the epic from the eyes of Bhima and Urvi(Karna's wife). I w...