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Jaya : An Illustrated Retelling Of The Mahabharata | Book Review

What is it about the Mahabharata that draws every Indian to it? Millenias have passed and yet the epic’s magical power remains intact on the dwellers of the Indian subcontinent resulting in its being reproduced and retold by many. One more such attempt by Shri Devdutt Pattnaik has been published in form of a book called “Jaya” by Penguin Books India.

Book Title : Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling Of The Mahabharata
Author : Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher : Penguin Books India (08/14/2010)

The enthralling journey of the princes of Kuru dynasty is told here in 108 chapters adorned with more than 250 beautiful line drawings by the author himself. In addition to the original classic Sanskrit Mahabharata, the author has also tried to include characters and stories from many regional variants of the epic and the folklores.

The author narrates the story simply weaving the tales with one another, building up the vivid spectra of characters and their behaviour leading to the great battle in the kurukshetra ending it with the Pandava’s journey to the Himalayas and Yudhisthira’s Jaya over himself. The author emphasises the fact that “History keeps repeating itself until humans learn not to make the same mistakes again and again” by illuminating the striking resemblance between the stories of the ancestors of the kuru dynasty and their descendants.

All the Ved Vyasa‘s characters are pictured with their vices and virtues as humane as they are in the epic. The notes at the end of every chapter are very interesting and gives the reader a peep into the author’s thinking process. The “Geeta” and Bhishma’s teaching to Yudhishthira are represented very succinctly in condensed versions here covering all the important points and keeping the meaning intact.

Indians have always been more concerned about the inner world and spiritual journey of any man travelling the earth. And the biggest achievement for every Indian was considered to acquire “Jaya“, a victory over himself. In spite of the mega war and the massacre of Kurukshetra, Pandavas could achieve “Vijaya” over kauravas, but the journey doesn’t end there.

It ends only when Yudhishthira is able to purge his heart from the loathing and hatred for his enemies and learns to treat all the humans on earth equally, when he achieves “Jaya”. That’s why the epic was originally named “Jaya” and later became Mahabharata with addition of many side stories and tales that made it truly represent the rich, colourful and intricately woven sphere of the life of every Indian, mirroring his happiness and dreams, his troubles and turmoil.

“Jaya” is a story of choosing the way of life.

Being a human, you can choose to live with Matsya Nyay – Big fish eating small fish or Jangal Nyaya- Might is right. But being a human, you are also blessed with intelligence and ability to learn “Dharma” and follow it. And whenever humans have tried living without Dharma, they have destructed their mighty civilisations with their own hands. And the author has joined Ved Vyasa here to remind that to all of us again.

Final Verdict

A good read for all those who love to look at the past and try to entangle the myths and mysteries wound in the stories to learn the truth about them or at least an aspect of the absolute truth….

The book is available on various online stores like Flipkart to purchase from.

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