Arts & Culture

Return of the Mahabharata

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After having masterfully tackled the challenge of penning down one of the greatest epics of human history- the Ramayana- author Ashok Banker takes on the daunting task of retelling what is unarguably THE greatest epic ever written- Mahabharata, in his latest novel, The Forest of Stories.

Unequalled in size, the Mahabharata is considered a giant in the world of books and stories. And rightfully so, consisting of 10000 shloks in its original Sanskrit version, written by Ved Vyasa. Over the centuries that followed, it has been told and retold innumerable times, changing with the narrator and with time itself. Today there exist over hundreds of versions of this epic and Banker’s version is just one in this vast ocean.

The first book in what he refers to as his MBA series, The Forest of Stories provides a brief outline of the events that led up to, and in ways unfathomable, shaped the foundations of what is considered to be the greatest war ever waged in human history. Whether you consider it to be a part of Indian history or as mythology is a different question altogether.

The distinct feature about Banker’s Ramayana was that he seemed to have effortlessly humanised Lord Ram. However, if you expected him to have achieved the same with this epic, it would be asking for a little too much, for the story itself is so mind-boggling. The real test of his excellence would lie in his narration of the epic, while keeping true to the essence of the story. And he seems to have come out with flying colours in that department.

Word of caution: venture into this narrative only if you have a knack for epics and the other worldly; the names of the numerous characters may prove to be overwhelming; you might lose all respect for the Gods you believed in after going through stories of their sexual exploits.


Surya Raju
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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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