Mahabharata: The Epic and the Nation
Author: G. N. Devy
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
One of the most revered epics in India is the Mahabharata. Even though it was set in the Dwapar Yuga, people still idolize the characters and never miss a chance to draw a parallel between their choices and their actions. G. N. Devy’s Mahabharata is an attempt to establish the relevance of this epic and bring out why this scripture is so important and impactful.
Divided into just two chapters- The Epic Quest and The Wheel- the text explores the central theme/ purpose that makes Mahabharata one of the National epics of India. Mahabharata is an oral epic because of the uncertainty associated with its author. Hence, an oral epic can be interpreted by different scholars in very different ways. The same was done by Valmiki and Vyasa. Mr Devy delves deeper into the characterization and intention of a ridiculously long plot and deciphers how people, at large, interpret and apply the circumstances in their own lives.
What’s a total turnoff in this book is the presentation of information. With no paragraphs or breaks that can give the readers some time to reflect, the verbosity of the text is unbearable. There is so much information about the epic but it’s so difficult to assimilate it all. However, it would be wrong to say that the information is not useful. One of the parts which piqued my interest immensely was where the author questions the execution of myths in the Mahabharata. ‘The willing suspension of disbelief’ is something that keeps the plot on the move, just how myths and disbeliefs help people remain hopeful and content to some extent. Other than this, honestly, I took a lot of time to go back and forth and associate and understand. Probably, the book is not for the likes of me!
If one is interested in discovering every detail about the epic in question, this book should be their go-to guide as it is well-researched and well-articulated. Then, the presentation might not be discomforting.
Best wishes to the author!
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