Mahabharatha Volume four

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

Table of contents

The Story so Far

009

The Story so Far

015

The Story so Far

020

 Balarama’s Advice

024

 Peace Negotiations

031

 Indra’s Arrogance

038

 Vritra

045

 Slaying of Vritra

052

 First Among Equals

059

 Charioteer

066

 Salya

072

 Drupada’s Messenger

079

 Just five villages

086

 Pin point of Land

091

 Krishna’s Visit

097

 The failed Mission

103

 Vishvaroopa

109

 Kunti and Karna

115

 Commander in Chief

120

 Neutral in War

126

 Bhishman and Karna

133

 The War Begins

139

 Bhahavad Gita

145

 Yudishtra’s Benediction

151

 Uttara’s Heroism

156

 Arjuna and Bhishma

162

 Arjuna’s Reluctance

169

 Duryodhana’s Anger

175

 Bhishmas’ Dreams

180

 Fourth day of the War

186

 Drithrashtra’s Agony

192

 Satyaki’s Valour

198

 The Sixth day

204

 Kripacharya and Chetikana

210

 The Seventh Day

216

 Irvan son of Arjuna

221

 Irvan’s Death

224

 Gadodgaja’s Valour

230

 Bhishma’s Death

236

 Bhishma and Karna

242

 The New General

248

 Duryodhana’s Strategy

253

 Gadodgaja’s Death

265

 Bhagadatta

277

 The Twelth Day

283

 Subhadras Sons

288

 Abhimanyu’s Valour

294

 Abhimanyu’s Death

300

 Arjuna’s pledge

306

 Vriddakshatra

310

 Srutayudha

313

 Varuna’s weapon

316

 Borrowed chariot and flag

319

 Drona and Satyaki

322

 Anxious Dharmaputra

329

 Bhima and Drona

333

 Karna and Bhima

339

 Vikarna’s Death

346

 Satyakis arrival

352

 Vishwamithra and Vasishta

358

 Satyaki saved

365

 The Death of Bhurisravas

371

 Daruka and Satyaki vs Karna

376

 Jayadratha’s Killing

381

 The floating chariot

386

 The broken string

392

 Yudishtra’s Decision

396

 Aswathama is dead

405

 Drona’s slaying

409

 Drishtadyumna’s Justifications

414

 Dusshasana’s slaying

418

 The struck Chariot

422

 Karna’s Death

428

 Duryodhana’s Anguish

436

 The Final Combat

441

 Balarama’s Anger

446

 Aswathama’s plans

450

 Owl amongst crow chicks

455

 Vyasa’s Ashrama

460

 Drithrashtra’s Anger

464

 Gandharis fury/Yudishtra’s Curse

469

 Vishwa Roopa

474

 Elixir of life

479

 Lord Krishnas Demise

482

The End

486

The Writing of this book

493

Cast of Important Characters

495

 

 

Read the first five Chapters

 

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Dr L.Prakash's Home page

 

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