Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of The Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is an ancient Hindu epic where:
A son renounces sex so that his old father can remarry
A daughter is a prize in an archery contest
A teacher demands half a kingdom as his tuition fee
A student is turned away because of his caste
A mother asks her sons to share a wife
A father curses his son-in-law to be old and impotent
A husband lets another man make his wife pregnant
A wife blinds herself to share her husband’s blindness
A forest is destroyed for a new city
A family is divided over inheritance
A king gambles away his kingdom
A queen is forced to serve as a maid
A man is stripped of his manhood for a year
A woman is publicly disrobed
A war is fought where all rules are broken
A shift in sexuality secures victory
The vanquished go to paradise
The victors lose their children
The earth is bathed in blood
God is cursed
Until wisdom prevails.

The story of Mahabharata continues to intrigue, fascinate, mesmerize and captivate us till date. This is one epic from which many have learnt the art of war, art of business, the art of living and is as relevant in today’s times as it was 3000 years back.In his book Jaya, Devdutt Pattanaik takes us into a fascinating journey and retells the story in his own brilliant way.

In this enthralling retelling of India’s greatest epic, The Mahabharata, originally titled as Jaya, Devdutt Pattanaik, seamlessly weaves the Sanskrit classic as well as its many folk and regional variants into a single narrative plot. Most of us broadly know the story of Mahabharata through BR Chopra’s magnum opus on Doordarshan and through various story books such as Amar Chitra Kathas that we read as children. But Pattanaik’s book gives a fairly detailed description of the various plots and sub plots of the grand epic. He also provides explanations linking these stories to other Hindu texts such as Puranas. Mahabharata in itself has been interpreted and written in various different versions and till date no common consensus exists about this great epic.

The book is a very engrossing read. It gives a reader amazing insights into the Mahabharata and its various twists and turns. The book is a must read for any reader interested in mythology or just for a good and spellbinding read.

About the Author:

Devdutt Pattanaik is a medical doctor by education, a leadership consultant by profession, and a mythologist by passion. He has written and lectured extensively on the nature of sacred stories, symbols and rituals and their relevance in modern times. His books include The Book of Ram, Myth=Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology and The Pregnant King. The Book of Kali is based on his talks. Devdutt’s unconventional approach and engaging style is evident in his lectures, books and articles.


  1. Looks like an interesting book!

  2. hey , nice blog , like it ,
    won't be nice if i u can clickover to my blog page too ,
    & post some suggestion

  3. P- Yes it sure is a very interesting book!
    Gypsy Girl- Good choice!
    Monisha- Thanks! Will sure do!

  4. Totally my kid of read.I read The pregnant king and fell in love with Devadutt's craftsmanship

  5. I just finished reading this, and I would say if one were to read just one book on Mahabharata, then this should be it. It beautifully encapsulates all that I have read in 10 different books. It is a must have for any Mahabharata-enthusiast!

  6. I am reading this right now and it is riveting. Every story has so many nuances, regional variations and repurcussions. In fact there is a certain way of living , some code of conducts and the book beautifully narrates the way people manipulated the rules to suit their ways. It is as relevant in present context due to the politically ambitous nature of characters and the cyclic nature of actions and reactions.

  7. The review is nice but not really detailed.