Mahabharatha Volume one

Dr L.Prakash

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Review of Dr L.Prakash’s Mahabharatha

Reviewed by Dr Santosh Vishwanathan M.S., MCh.
Retired Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Book title        Mahabharatha in four volumes
Author            Dr L.Prakash
ISBN       978-81-906981-3-9, 978-81-906981-4-6, 978-81-906981-5-3, 978-81-906981-6-0
Publisher        Banana Books Madras India
Price               Rs 600 for four volumes ( approx 15$ US; 10 € )
Rating             ***** (five stars) [outstanding]

My first exposure to this wonderful epic was when I was seven or eight years old. We could not wait for our summer vacations, which we would spend in our ancestral village, and the chief attraction was the magnificent and awesome rendering of this timeless classic by my octogenarian grandmother. Each evening after dinner, we children; and some adults too, would gather around her, and she would narrate stories from Ramayana and Mahabharatha. I have never waited more anxiously for my summer holidays than in those times. Even today, I have to just close my eyes, and despite the passage of many decades, the intense face of my granny, with her hollow cheeks and thousand wrinkles, describing the emotional scene where Karna peels off his golden armor and rips off the sun-crested earrings from his body, unmindful of the dripping blood, and hands over the same to Indra, whose face bears features of victory admixtured with guilt; flashes before my eyes.
My next exposure to Mahabharatha was during my college days, when I had an opportunity of reading C. Rajagopalachari’s rendition in simple English. I was transported to Hastinapura, Indraprastha and Kurukshetra. Much later, I had an opportunity of reading the magnum opus by Kishori Mohan Ganguly, and a Tamil version by Cho Ramaswamy. Each time I marveled and wondered on the writing genius of Veda Vyasa who had penned such a magnificent story so long ago. What I had read and heard was reinforced by Peer Brook’s movie and the serialization of the epic by our own Doordarshan.
Around two months ago, I received an email from a friend waxing eloquently about a new version of Mahabharatha by Dr L.Prakash. He also sent me the URL ( www.bananabooks.in) of the web page, which I visited. Nevertheless I was shocked to find that the author was a convicted pornographer, currently spending time in prison. What would such a person know about Mahabharatha? This was the question in my mind, as I clicked the close window button and switched off the computer.
At that time I was reading a self help book, and by coincidence the chapter I read that night was about not being judgmental, and not trusting things unless I had access to both sides of the story. I felt a little guilty, and it was probably to assuage my own guilt that I decided to buy Mahabharatha by Dr L.Prakash. I could not find the book in the local Landmark bookstore, but a smaller bookshop in Anna Nagar had stocks. I shelled out six hundred rupees, and was not too disappointed, because the four volumes in a neat box, represented quite a lot of reading material. This set appeared to be almost four times in bulk as the Rajagopalachari Mahabharatha that I remembered reading.
Once I started reading, I had to revise my opinion both about the epic and its author.
Being a retired, non practicing surgeon gives me ample time and I started reading straightaway. The first two volumes took four days each to complete, the third, three days, and the last volume I devoured over a weekend. Having completed reading, I am beginning from the first volume once again, and this time I plan to read it slowly. In a single word, it is an awesome story, and I could not suppress my admiration at both Veda Vyasa the original author, and Dr L.Prakash who has done this wonderful rendition in modern simple English and contemporary idiom.
This is not exactly a translation of the Sanskrit original. The author has introduced many additional characters, twists, and sub plots. Though the original Vyasa skeleton remains intact, Dr Prakash has added his own muscle, sinew, and skin to tell a wonderful tale wonderfully. The language is simple; and we all know that it is difficult to write simple English! The narration is brisk and the author has rearranged the sequence of events in such a unique and gripping manner, that once you begin, it is almost impossible to put the book down. Shorn of religion, Hinduism, and preaching, Dr Prakash has presented the epic as an adventure, reminiscent of the narrative style of Alistair McLain or Desmond Bagley.
There are a couple of spelling and typographical errors, and I only wish that the editors had been a little more careful. The small errors jar the reader, and break his otherwise excellent narrative. Not a big problem and I am certain that the same can be corrected in the subsequent editions. However the story is narrated with such passion, that I completely forgave all these small errors.
It is indeed a pity that the current generation of children and youth, rather than enrich enlighten and enjoy themselves with such a wonderful epic, are seen intensely discussing the magic in Harry Potter books or the adventure in Twilight Series and vampire books! I pity their ignorance and lack of interest in the wonderful magic of our ancient stories, more thrilling than even the Hollywood movie Avtar! Buy the book, read it and make sure that all your children read it as well. I am certain that these volumes will find a pride of place in your home library and you will be reading these volumes again and again.

Rating: Five Stars

 

 

Contents of first volume

1.

Shiva And Parvathi

009

2.

The Eighth Miracle

018

3.

Vyasa The Writer

024

4.

Ganga And Shantanu

032

5.

The Vasu Brothers

043

6.

Satyavati With A Divine Smell

051

7.

Shantanu And Satyavati

060

8.

Satyavati’s Father

068

9.

Bhishma

076

10.

The Family Tree

083

11.

Chitragandha

090

12.

Devas And Asuras

094

13.

Kacha And Devyani

105

14.

One Sided Love

115

15.

The Slaying Of Kacha

122

16.

Sanjeevini

128

17.

Indra’s Plan

136

18.

Soma Rasa

141

19.

Kacha Gets Sanjeevini

146

20.

Asura Princes Sharmishtha

153

21.

Yayati

159

22.

Devyani’s Wedding

167

23.

Yayati’s Curse

173

24.

Chitragandha’s Death

183

25.

Vichitraviryas Secret

189

26.

The Swayamvara

194

27.

Princess Amba

202

28.

The Mysterious Brother

208

29.

Pandu’s Curse

215

30.

Vidhura

221

31.

Kunti Devi

227

32.

The Wives Of Pandu

235

33.

Kauravas And Pandavas

241

34.

Drona

249

35.

Ekalavya

259

36.

Bhima

270

37.

Karna

279

38.

Indra’s Diabolical Plan

288

39.

The Graduation Ceremony

296

40.

Arjuna And Karna

305

41.

The King Of Anga

316

42.

Drupada The King Of Panchala

324

43.

Duryodhana’s Envy

339

44.

Gandeeva

345

45.

Drupada’s Penance

350

46.

Shakuni’s Planning

353

47.

Karna’s Plans

362

48.

The Wax Palace

373

49.

Departure To Vanavrata

385

50.

The Escape Of Pandavas

393

51.

Grief in Vanavrata

401

52.

Adventures In The Jungle

408

53.

Vyasa’s Advice

414

54.

Hidimba And His Sister

421

55.

Mohini Sarpa

429

56.

Slaying Of Hidimba

438

57.

Gandharva – ‘Vivaha’

445

58.

Gadodgaja

452

59.

Vaishampaya

458

 

The Writing Of This Book

461

 

Cast Of Important Characters

463

Read the first five Chapters

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Dr L.Prakash's Home page

 

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