Sunday, 29 July 2018

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 wrap up the Mahabaratha series with another gem that retells from Draupathi's perspective.

The Second Turn - By M.T Vasudvan Nair

An excerpt from this work was included in my college syllabus and then I had to lay my hands on the full version :) A translated work from Malayalam, the story is Mahabaratha retold from the perspective of Bhima.

Bhima is portrayed as the strongest among the Pandavas and the true lover of Draupathi. His marriage to Hidimba and their relationship is dealt with a fair level of detail. Being a well translated work that gives a fresh perspective to the epic, I found this to be an enjoyable read that deepened my understanding of the Mahabaratha. It makes one realise that there will be as many versions of the epic as the characters themselves!

Karna's Wife - By Kavita Kane

Karna is the most enigmatic character in the Mahabaratha and is quite an anti hero. The story of Karna is all about inner conflict and mental turmoil. In spite of being a person of royal descent, an archer whose skills exceed that of Arjuna and a highly fair and just human, his doom seems to be pre-written. Fate controls his life all through to make him face pitfalls in every sphere of life.

The author has done complete justice in bringing out what this great hero goes through in his lifetime and makes the reader completely empathise with him. We get know about the everyday life at Karna's palace, the deep love his foster parents and brother have for him and his relationship with his two wives, Vrushali and Urvi.

The story itself is narrated through the eyes of Urvi and we get to know a great deal about this not so well known character who plays an important part in Karna's life.

The frantic attempts made by many of the main characters of the epic to avert the war, the horrors of the war and its aftermath are dealt with in great detail. Urvi shines as a becon of hope during the war, with her natural flair for healing of the wounded.

The author ends the story saying that Karna's son became the last human on earth who held the knowledge of all the highly powerful and destructive weapons of that era. He takes it to his grave as a secret ensuring that their horrors are never unleashed on earth again.

This book is one that makes the reader think and reflect a lot about the power of fate, inner conflicts between right and wrong and the horrors of war.

Palace of Illusions - By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

In this book, Chitra Banerjee retells the Mahabaratha from Draupathi's perspective. There is a good amount of detail as far as the epic story goes and the author draws the reader into Draupathi's mind as the events unfold. She too, like Karna, seems to have her all her wishes bend before the all powerful destiny. Her mind dwells on the apparent injustice of it all at every turn, grapples with it and finally accepts it all. 

Like all the other books based on the Mahabaratha, the winning point in this one too is how the futility of war is highlighted.At the end, the winners lead a life of regret after such a huge scale of killing and bloodshed. Victory tastes stale and they simply pass days, as if waiting for that very same death to take them away too.

I remember this book for its interesting narration and beautiful language. A highly recommended read for anyone who loves the epic.

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