Saturday, June 4, 2011


Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata 

Since I first wrote this and other reviews of Devdutt Pattanaik's books, I have gained a better understanding of Hindu texts and scriptures. I believe Devdutt Pattanaik's writings are influenced heavily by western frameworks and agendas on the one hand, and introduce subtle and sometimes outright distortions in the interpretation of these texts. A small sample of the kinds of outright errors and distortions that would shame any scholar of Hinduism can be found in this blog post.
I therefore do not recommend any of Devdutt Pattanaik's books that I have reviewed on my blog. - Abhinav, Nov 3, 2017.

While the story of the Mahabharata has been told and retold thousands of times over thousands of years, the story never gets old, nor does its relevance lose relevance. Each honest retelling adds something to our knowledge of this great epic, and each time a reader reads a new retelling, he learns something new about this great epic, and about life itself.

Finally, I believe this book is best read if you are already somewhat familiar with the epic. If not, it may be worthwhile to get your hands on a shortened version of the epic and then jump into this book. There is no shortage of books on the Mahabharata. The most common and popular ones are the ones by C Rajagopalachari (Mahabharata), for decades the de-facto starter edition for millions of Indians. This, along with the one by RK Narayan (The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic), are the simplest, but also very sanitized, versions of the epic.

Finally, finally, note that there are some sections in the book that are slightly graphic in nature, and not suitable for reading by young readers. The author notes as much in the introduction.

For those wanting to dive into a multi-year study of the epic, there is the critical edition. One by KM Ganguly (The Mahabharata - a trifle 4900 pages), and a more recent one by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, also known as the Poona edition (The Mahabharata, for the First Time Critically Edited (POONA EDITION: CRITICAL EDITION SET OF 30 LARGE VOLUMES, WITH THE PRATIKA-INDEX)).

© 2010, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.