Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mahabharata Volume 4 - Review

Mahabharata, Vol. 4, translated by Bibek Debroy

"Negotiating and Preparing - The Inexorable March to Destruction"
(AmazonPenguin BooksIndia PlazaFlipkart, Flipkart e-book)
(My review on Amazon - highly censored version, because four times Amazon rejected my submission.)

(Revised and edited September 13, 2012; for clarity and to correct errors)
With the twelfth year of exile coming to a close, the Pandavas need to - "... spend the thirteenth year in disguise, but in inhabited places", as per the conditions of the bet (Ch 292, Anudyuta Parva). They settle upon the Matsya kingdom, and decide how each of the six is going to disguise themselves and enter the kingdom. The thirteenth year safely negotiated, but not without Bheema almost giving the game away, twice, and a concerted effort by Duryodhana to force the Pandavas to come out of hiding, the negotiations begin. The Pandavas ask for their kingdom, and the Kauravas refuse. After several rounds of discussions, war is inevitable. The preparations for the war begin, and the last sub-Parva in this volume ends with Bhishma, the commander of the Kuru army, enumerating the warriors on both sides - Ratha-Atiratha Samkhya.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mahabharata Volume 3 - review

Mahabharata, Vol. 3, translated by Bibek Debroy"A Time for Learning and Preparing"

(Amazon, KindlePenguin BooksInfibeamIndia PlazaFlipkart, Flipkart e-book)
(My review on Amazon )

(Revised and edited Sep 08, 2012)
Review in brief:
This volume contains most of and completes the Aranyaka Parva. The Pandavas' time in the forest is spent mostly in listening to the words of the wise, and in going on  pilgrimages. To some extent, much of the content in this parva seems like later insertions, simply because there is little here that advances the story, and little that happens in this parva has a direct bearing on the story, with three exceptions. Having said that, the stories that are recounted in this parva are themselves well-known and probably owe their survival in no small way to their inclusion in the Mahabharata.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mahabharata Volume 2 - Review

Mahabharata Volume 2 (The complete, unabridged Mahabharata) - Translated by Bibek Debroy

"Coronation, The Game of Dice, The Exile - The Empire Strikes Back"
(, KindleFlipkart, Flipkart e-bookInfibeam)
(My blog post of the first volume, my review on Amazon)
This is the second volume of the author's unabridged translation of the Mahabharata, published in April 2011. It starts off from where the first volume had ended, naturally so, and completes the "Adi Parva", contains the entire "Sabha Parva", and contains about a quarter of the third parva, "Aranyaka". As per the 100-parva classification of the Mahabharata, this contains Parvas 16-32 ("Arjuna-vanavasa" to "Indralokabhigamana" parvas). Interestingly enough, the book starts off with Arjuna having to leave Indraprastha and ends with Arjuna again leaving the Pandavas for the heavens in search of divine weapons from his divine father, Indra.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mahabharata Volume 1 - review

The Mahabharata, Vol. 1, Translated by Bibek Debroy - my review
(Amazon, KindleFlipkart, Flipkart e-book)
A strong start to a marathon...
An unabridged translation of the Mahabharata is a tall order. This book starts strongly; and this is going to be a marathon, with a total of 10 volumes planned.

Bibek Debroy, the translator, is an economist with a difference. How so? Well, consider this. In the early 1980s, while at the Presidency College in Kolkata, the author wrote a paper where he did a "statistical test on the frequency with which the five Pandavas used various weapons in the Kurukshetra war." Yes. Different. While his interest in the Mahabharata "remained, I got sidetracked into translating. Through the 1990s, there were abdridged translations of the Maha Puranas, the Vedas and the eleven major Upanishads."