Yuganta- Book Review

This is a literary take on the Mahabharat by Irawati Karve.

A lot of thought has gone into this, and the basis for many of the author's assertions seem sound. For instance, the emphasis on oral traditions of story-telling and therefore, various versions of the stories being told from time to time. Also, the subsequent additions by the Bhrigus, a brahminical clan, who seem to have embellished the original story of the cousins fighting for what they believe to be rightfully theirs (the kingdom of Hastinapura). Mostly, the story is narrated as found in a critical edition of the Mahabharat.

An age of chivalry, but also bad habits (hunting, playing dice), wealth and generosity, Kshatriya values in men but women being treated as possessions for most part (to be married off- a term I fail to understand even today-as if they cannot marry themselves if the men in the family decide not to do so), valour and unfair means in war (Ashwaththama's name used to kill Drona), and finally, the futility of it all, on both sides, are all described well. It is a realistic story, and subsequent epic attempts (like Kalidasa's work) were too romanticised according to Karve.

It is said to be the end of an era in India's history, but some lessons are eternal. I particularly liked the chapters on Krishna and Kunti. The friendship among Arjuna and Krishna was one among equals-they ate and drank together, and shared stories of their life. The parallels between Indian myths and Greek ones is also something I can identify with, having read a bit of Greek mythology and having been to Greece.

A good read, and not too long-winded. I also enjoyed Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's feminist take on the epic that I read earlier.


Diamond Head said…
Yuganta sounds like some new car model built for India; Kunti kaun thee?
Rajendra said…
in other words, it's all Greek?

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