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Flipkart and Focus 4 - Beware the Whispering Death

The fourth part of my series on Flipkart and its apparent loss of Focus and its battle with Amazon appeared in DNA on April 20th, 2015 . ...

Mahabharata

The Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, has had innumerable translations over the centuries and millenia. Its allure is such that every region and every language where the epic is revered has seen a translation and a retelling enrichening the epic. Each retelling has been like a river, with its own identity and uniqueness, but each merging with the huge ocean called the Mahabharata.

I have over the years read a few versions of the epic. The earliest memories of the Mahabharata that I have are as a child, poring over the Amar Chitra Katha comics that we had bought or borrowed. I also remember having a chapter in our Hindi textbook in the 3rd grade, based on Kalidasa's play, titled "Sher Ke Daant" ("The Lion's Teeth"). The first retelling of the Mahabharata that I can recall reading was most probably C Rajagopalachari's Mahabharata. Some other versions I have read have been in the form of comics, from the venerable Amar Chitra Katha, while some have been abridged translations by reputed authors like C Rajagopalachari, and the most recent trek has been to read Bibek Debroy's unabridged translation based on the Critical Edition by the Bhandarkar Institute.

On this page I have listed the different versions of the epic I have encountered. I hope to add to this as time goes by.

The Mahabharata, Vols 1-10, Translated by Bibek Debroy

The runs into a full 10 volumes, contains close to 80,000 shlokas, and spans about 6,000 pages. All ten volumes have been published as of December 2014.
An eleventh volume is now planned, per the author, that will contain the translation of the Hari Vamsha - this is expected in 2016. There may also be a twelfth volume  (there is some uncertainty surrounding this), with stories from the Mahabharata not included in the Critical Edition.

The unabridged version is not everyone's cup of tea, for sure. But if you have the inclination, you will be richly rewarded. There are innumerable nuggets of wisdom, vast streams of philosophy, and hours of entertainment packed into this epic. Stories within stories within stories, mini-treatises on political administration, dharma, statecraft, and more.

My reviewsVol.1Vol.2Vol. 3Vol. 4Vol.5 (12), Vol. 6 (123), Vol. 7, Vol 8, Vol. 9 (1, 2), Vol 10 (1, 2)

Buy in India:
Vol 1: from Flipkart.comCrossword BookstoresIndiaPlaza
Vol 4: from Flipkart.comCrossword.in,  India Plaza
Vol 5: from Flipkart.com, Crossword.in,  India Plaza
Vol. 7: from Flipkart
Vol. 8: from Flipkart
Vol, 9: from FlipkartFlipkart ebook
Vol. 10: from Flipkart, Amazon

Amazon India: Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3, Vol 4, Vol 5, Vol 6, Vol 7, Vol 8Vol 9Vol 10
Amazon IN Kindle: Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3, Vol 4, Vol 5, Vol 6, Vol 7, Vol 8Vol 9

Amazon US: Vol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 6Vol 7, Vol 10
Amazon US KindleVol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 6
Amazon UKVol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 6Vol 7
Amazon UK Kindle: Vol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 6
Flipkart e-book: Vol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 6Vol. 7, Vol 9

           

Misc Books and Papers





Quotes from the Mahabharata

There are some notably famous shlokas, quotes, and phrases from the Mahabharata, not to mention certain idioms that have been in the popular lexicon for millenia - "आँखों पर पट्टी बांधना" for instance is used to refer to someone who has willingly blinded himself/herself to the truth in front, and takes it origins from Gandhari, the mother of the Kauravas who covered her eyes with a piece of cloth before marriage. There are however literally hundreds and hundreds of phrases and quotations that are profound, philosophical, and funny, that deserve more attention than they have received. As I have read Bibek Debroy's ongoing unabridged translation of the Mahabharata (based on the Critical Edition), I have attempted to collect some of the quotes that have caught my fancy.
  1. Adi Parva
  2. Sabha Parva
  3. Aranyaka Parva
  4. Virata Parva
  5. Udyoga Parva
  6. Bhishma Parva
  7. Drona Parva
  8. Karna Parva
  9. Shalya Parva
  10. Souptika Parva
  11. Stri Parva
  12. Shanti Parva
  13. Anushasan Parva
  14. Ashvamedhika Parva
  15. Ashramavasika Parva
  16. Mousala Parva
  17. Mahaprasthanika Parva
  18. Svargorahana Parva
  19. Hari Vamsha

Posts on the Mahabharata in this blog

Reading the Mahabharata

Paradoxically, I had to use youTube to post my audio recordings to. I tried all manner of choices, from using the Google Reader Flash player to HTML5 audio, from MP3 to OGG format files, and even direct download links for MP3 files. None worked well enough, or consistently enough. If it was not Google discontinuing their Flash player, then it was certain online storage sites not offering direct download links, or a Flash embedded audio file playing on the Google Chrome browser, and not on Firefox, or the audio playing on an iPhone and not an iPad, and so on. I finally figured out that using the Microsoft Windows Movie Maker allowed me to convert an MP3 audio file into an MP4 format video file in about three minutes, or less! I added an image, and then associated an audio file with that image. Add a title, and then export to an MP4 format, and you are done. Upload that video file to YouTube, and it is ready and available and accessible to the whole wide world!!

Sabha Parva: 

The second Parva in the epic, as per the 18-Parva classification.
Dyuta Parva:
This is the 27th Parva in the epic, as per the 100-Parva classification, and within the Sabha Parva, it is the eighth parva.


Anudyuta Parva:
This is the 28th Parva in the epic, and within the Sabha Parva, the ninth parva.





The Mahabharata (Penguin Classics) [Abridged], by John D. Smith


Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata, by Devdutt Pattanaik

Of all the edited and abridged translations I have read, this is perhaps the closest to the original, and perhaps the most fascinating. The author makes this retelling a rewarding read in several ways. First, it starts earlier than most other translations do, and that gives the casual reader a hitherto unknown look at the epic. Second, it contains nuggets of information on the Mahabharata from different versions from around the world, and that gives the reader a fascinating look at how the epic has evolved and adapted as it has traveled the world. Third, the author interjects, at the end of a  chapter, with his take on events in the preceding chapter. These make the reader pause for thought, and at least for me, made me think about events in a different light than I normally had.
My review: blog, on Amazon
Buy: Amazon, Flipkart.comLandmarkonthenet.comInfibeam.comCrossword.inIndiaplaza




Puffin Mahabharata, Namita Gokhale

High production quality, large kid-friendly text, lavishly illustrated, simple and accessible text make this a classic-in-the-making for children.

My review: blog, on Amazon
Buy: AmazonFlipkart.comIndiaplazaInfibeam.comLandmarkonthenet.comCrossword.in

Mahabharata, by Samhita Arni

Written and illustrated by the author when she was only eight years old, this book was published when the author was only 12 years of age! Very much a book that should be on everyone's list of must-read Mahabharata books.

Review:  not yet available.
Buy: Amazon (Vol 1, Vol 2), Infibeam.comLandmarkonthenet.comFlipkart.comCrossword.inIndiaplaza



C Rajagopalachari

The granddaddy and for more than half-a-century the defacto abridged version of the epic people would go to, and even today, the version most people read first when they venture out to read the Mahabharata. It is a short and concise retelling, though there is considerable moderation of some of the episodes. However, it is even today well-worth a read. Start out with this, and then figure out which others to read. Reading only one translation of the Mahabharata won't do. Each retelling by a knowledgeable author brings out hitherto hidden or new insights.

Review: not yet available.
Buy: Amazon, FlipkartCrossword.in



Amar Chitra Katha

There have been several comics from Amar Chitra Katha that have covered various figures and episodes in the Mahabharata - Arjuna, Abhimanyu, Bheeshma, Drona, Yudhishtra, Gandhari, Krishna, Jarasandha, Draupadi, and more. There are several stories that are part of the Mahabharata, but are not related to the actual central plot of the epic, like Savitri, Sukanya, Garuda, Vritra, Nala Damayanti, Yayati, Nahusha, Agastya, and others. Each comic is short, 32-pages long, and with good English and decent illustrations. You can pick any up and go through it in 15 minutes or so. It is also ideal for introducing the different characters of the Mahabharata to children of all ages, though younger children will enjoy this more if someone reads out these stories to them.

Then there was this epic effort, so to say, spread over almost five years, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to do a mammoth, 48-volume, translation of the epic. It was later published as a single collection, comprising three hard-bound volumes. In addition to the Puffin Mahabharata, I would recommend this volume to older children interested in getting to know the Mahabharata more closely. The pace of this mega-series is a little uneven, but parents could guide children through this collection. It is certainly appropriate for children, both in content and presentation, given the fact that there are several episodes in the original that are quite frank, to put it mildly.

You can buy these comics from the online store of Amar Chitra Katha: http://www.amarchitrakatha.com/best-sellers/Mahabharata
Alternatively, Flipkart and Amazon are also two other choices, as as are Infibeam, Landmark, Crossword, IndiaPlaza, and several others.

          



Agastya from Flipkart.com
Abhimanyu from Flipkart.com
Ganga from Flipkart.com
Karna from Flipkart.com
The Gita from Flipkart.com
Bhagawat: The Krishna Avatar from Flipkart.com
Krishna from Flipkart.com
Mahabharata (Set Of 3 Volumes) from Flipkart.com

The Mahabharata, Vol.1 - "The Book of the Beginning" - Translated by JAB van Buitenen

This is an unabridged translation of the Adi Parva. My review of the first volume. I do not plan on reading the subsequent volumes of this work, for reasons that will become clear in my review. Hubris and a possibly corrupted agenda of the translators greatly diminish the stature of this work, the obviously painstaking efforts of the translators notwithstanding.


Mahabharata, Volume 1: Book 1: The Book of the Beginning The from Flipkart.com

The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma, By Gurcharan Das

The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of DharmaThis is not so much the story of the Mahabharata, though the story is told over a few pages in the Introduction, as much as a fascinating attempt to interpret the implications of dharma in today's world, using the examples and experiences of some of the principal characters in the Mahabharata, each character, at different times, experiencing a different emotion - Yudhishtra, Draupadi, Duryodhana, Karna, Arjuna, Bheeshma, Krishna, and so on... The timelessness of the epic lies in the fact that the experiences and emotions of these and other characters is immortal - envy, status anxiety, duty, and so on...

Review: blog, Amazon
BuyFlipkart.com (paperback), Flipkart.com



The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic, By R. K. Narayan

I have not read this version, so cannot comment on it. It has been written by RK Narayan, so it should make for an enjoyable read in any case.

Review: not read yet
BuyFlipkart.com


B.R Chopra's Mahabharata

This is perhaps the version of the Mahabharata that most Indians will remember watching. A mega serial, that ran for 93 episodes, over 93 Sundays, it enjoyed unprecedented viewership ratings in every part of the country. Streets would be deserted between 9AM and 10AM, when this serial was televised. The megaserial was based on the Bhandarkar Institute's Critical Edition, but also borrowed from other versions and retellings.

BuyAmazon (Episodes 1-94)Amazon - Mahabharat [1988] [DVD]Flipkart.comVCD from Flipkart.comMahabharat Katha from Flipkart.com