Book Review - Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik

posted by Preethi Chandrasekhar, May 21, 2015

A para from the book -


I had been meaning to read Devdutt Pattanaik for some time now but "life" kept happening. Then I read Devdutt Pattanaik's interview and book review here at Toka Parent (Formerly IMC) which prompted me to read Jaya and how I have enjoyed it!

The book retells the Mahabharata in a fresh and candid manner. I had grown up like many from my generation listening to grandparents talk about the Mahabharata and its various characters and then, of course, saw B.R Chopra's Mahabharat on television.

The story is not new, neither the plot nor the characters but I wanted to keep turning the pages. There are little boxes at the end of every chapter providing commentaries. Pattanaik recounts incidents while providing us its origins across various countries, Indian States and cultures. I thought I knew what I had to about the great epic but 'Jaya' told me so much more, especially the little details. I did not know about Draupadi cursing a dog for stealing Yudishtra's slippers causing dogs to copulate in public and many more.

I have kept thinking about the easy flowing "curse" used by the various characters. When someone is displeased and angry, they curse and the curse does come into effect like Gandhari who lost her 100 sons because of an ant's curse. As an innocent child, Gandhari unknowingly throws hot water on a family of ants. The mother ant who loses her 100 'ant sons' curses Gandhari. Gandhari lost the Kauravas.

Another point I am going to read further about is why at some points Krishna does not follow the principles of the war completely. One of the principles is 'not to harm the opponent when he is unharmed'. Krishna tells Arjuna to kill Karna when Karna is pulling his chariot wheel out of the mud. Karna had no weapon for self-defense.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it for those who want to know every minute detail of the great epic. The illustrations by the author are honest and wonderful. A well-researched book that will give a thorough insight into the great epic.

Highly recommended

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