Sunday, January 27, 2013

Most Popular Posts of 2012

As per statistics provided by Google Analytics, for the year 2012, these were the most popular posts on my blog. Eight of the top twenty one posts were related to the Mahabharata. The most popular one was actually a photo post on the Mahabharata Panorama at the Gita Museum in Kurukshetra. How apt. Of the Mahabharata related posts, two more were photo posts from the city of Kurukshetra, one on the Gita chariot at the Brahma Sarovar, and other one on Bheeshma Kund. The rest of the Mahabharata related posts were my reviews of Bibek Debroy's ongoing translation of the epic - four of the five volumes that I wrote reviews on in 2012 feature in the list.
There were two other book review posts that made it to the top 21: both excellent books, India's Culture and India's Future, by Michel Danino, and Unnatural Selection, Mara Hvistendahl - both have such a great relevance and timeliness for India that I cannot recommend them enough. Mara Hvistendahl, the author of Unnatural Selection, was kind enough to respond appreciately to my tweet of the review, which is the biggest reason it got as many page views as it did.

Here is the list, ordered by number of page views, in descending order.

  1. Mahabharata Panorama at Kurukshetra
  2. About
  3. Notable Books
  4. All Books Reviewed
  5. Mahabharata, Vol.5, by Bibek Debroy
  6. Notable Photos
  7. Mahabharata, Vol.1, by Bibek Debroy
  8. India's Culture and India's Future, by Michel Danino
  9. Unnatural Selection, Mara Hvistendahl
  10. Mahabharata, Vol.2, by Bibek Debroy
  11. UB City Mall, Bangalore
  12. Gita Chariot at Kurukshetra
  13. Page on Mahabharata
  14. On the Road to Dalhousie
  15. Mahabharata, Vol.3, by Bibek Debroy
  16. Bheeshma Kund, Kurukshetra
  17. Terminal 3 at the Delhi Airport
  18. Books from Flipkart
  19. Bandipur and Mudumalai National Parks
  20. Travel Map
  21. Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur

© 2013, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mahabharata, Vol. 6 - The Battle at Night

The Battle at Night

Mahabharata, Vol. 6. Translated by Bibek Debroy
(Part 1 of the review, also see A Note on the Footnotes)

I used to think that the 18-day war of Kurukshetra was a very sanitized affair, an impression only made stronger after watching B.R. Chopra's television epic on the epic. And I must admit here that I am a big, big fan of BR Chopra's TV series. However, I watched silk-clothed warriors aim arrows that killed soldiers from afar and who returned to their camps with nary a drop of blood or gore or signs of grievous injury on them. Several retellings of the epic also did little to dispel the myth that the 18-day war was an antiseptic carnage.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mahabharata Vol.6 - A Note on the Footnotes

A Note on the Footnotes

To say that I like **this** particular series among the translations of the Mahabharata would not be wholly accurate, since this is only the first complete translation of the Mahabharata that I am reading, though I have read excerpts from Kisari Mohan Ganguly and am also reading Ashok Banker's Forest of Stories, part one in a dramatized retelling of the Mahabharata. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Bibek Debroy's series are the footnotes that appear on almost every page. In some cases they serve to identify characters in the narration that may not be apparent because of the use of pronouns in the shlokas. For instance, where the translation states, "He was severely wounded...", the footnote clarifies this to be "Dhrishtadyumna". To refer to the person by name may not be accurate, since the Critical Edition's text may itself be using the pronoun, and therefore to substitute it for the proper name would not be, err, proper.

In other cases, when a word in the translation appears as "rakshasas", a footnote clarifies that the "The text uses the word kshanadachara, which means a walker of the night."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mahabharata, Vol. 6 - Translated by Bibek Debroy

The Incredible Savagery of War, to Restore & Uphold Dharma

Mahabharata, Vol. 6. Translated by Bibek Debroy
(Amazon USKindle US Flipkart, Flipkart e-bookKindle UKAmazon UK, my review on Amazon)

The sixth installment of Bibek Debroy's translation of the unabridged Mahabharata, based on the Critical Edition by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, (my review of Vols 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) features perhaps the fiercest fighting in the 18-day war, as well as a descent into an all-out, no-holds barred bloodfest with no rules left unbroken. Many warriors ganging up against one. Beheading an unarmed warrior who had given up his arms, twice. Fighting at night. The wanton killing of warriors retreating. The killing of warriors who had laid down their arms. Abuses. Much more, and much worse takes place in these three days of the 18-day war that this book covers. Specifically, this book covers days thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen of the war, and contains six sub-Parvas (Upa Parvas): Abhimanyu-Vadha Parva (67), Pratijnya Parva (68), Jayadratha-Vadha Parva (69, and at 210 pages, also the longest in this book), Ghatotakacha-Vadha Parva (70, and 120 pages long), Drona-Vadha Parva (71), and Narayana-Astra Moksha Parva (72).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Enterprise Analytics - Review

"Lectures, Meanders, Pontificates, But Does Not Educate"

"Enterprise Analytics: Optimize Performance, Process, and Decisions Through Big Data (FT Press Operations Management)", Thomas H. Davenport, et al.
2 stars
(AmazonMy Amazon review, Kindle US, Amazon UK, Kindle UK, Flipkart)

Or, how a book on Big Data, Enterprise Analytics, and technology can neatly skirt any meaningful discussion of Big Data, Enterprise Analytics, and technology.

While a few chapters stand out for their reasoning and clarity, what is jarringly absent from this book is any meaningful, technical discussion about Big Data itself. Without such a discussion, most of the book's content can be recycled with minimum effort ten years from now and applied to the next big thing in technology. Even assuming that this book is targeted at decision makers and so-called C-level executives, an absence of the nuances and complexities of Big Data mean that executives will be as clueless on that dimension of Big Data knowledge after reading the book as before. If you are responsible for selling sausages, you had jolly well get a look at the sausage factory, if not work there a day.