By Sanskriti Singh
“Within infinite myths lies the eternal
who sees it all.
Varuna has but a thousand eyes,
Indra has hundred,
You and I only two.”
These lines truly define the mysterious Mahabharata. The Mahabharata has been retold a hundred times in the Garbagrihas (the inner part of a temple) through plays, books and even tele serials.
Painters have painted the stories and writers have been retelling it for long. The story of the Mahabharata is not only vast but even entangled. Its divine knowledge brings forth truth and beauty. Each strand placed in order to compile it into a vast stretched muslin called the Mahabharata, which defines the rules of sanskriti (culture). The Mahabharata is only a story of Pandavas and Kauravas, it is a tradition that shapes India into a compiled union called Bharat Varsha.
The book, Jaya: an illustrated retelling of Mahabharata, by Devdutt Pattnaik has all the concepts of the epic but is presented in a new Avatar. Jaya- meaning victory is more like a satire where no one is the winner, neither the Pandavas nor the Kauravas, still it is called Jaya by the writer Ved-Vyas. We listen to the stories but many may not understand. Or if we understand it do we learn from it? No! Because if we had then why would we be miserable? Jaya, Vijaya or Mahabharata- whatever be it called, it is the true divine knowledge of life. The book has five major parts. First an author’s note- What Lord Ganesh wrote.
From a long time we have known that Vyas dictated the epic and Lord Ganesh brought it down to life. So this section explains the structure of the Mahabharata as Lord Ganesh wrote it along with the true name of this epic. Here passing of the epic from one generation to the other is explained.
The second important section is the ‘Structure of Vyasa’s epic’. Here the author tells the structure of Vyasa’s epic called Jaya.
The third comes the prologue. The start of snake sacrifice, which is extended into 18 chapters which give us the main essence of the Mahabharata. The ritual of snake sacrifice that was being conducted by “Janamejaya” to teach the Nagas the lesson for killing his father Parikshit. Then came a voice “Stop”. “Janamejaya” turned to find Artika, nephew of Basuki. He told the king of the sin he was performing. Then asked a disturbed Janamejaya to tell him the story of his forefathers — the Pandavas. Hence starts the story of the Kuru Vansa. The story of Kauravas and Pandavas, Kurukshetra and the birth of the Gita. As the prologue is divided further into 18 books, it talks about the descendants of Kurus and the life of Pandavas.
The different parts of the book deal with different subjects, telling stories of Kauravas and Pandavas, and Draupadi.
For instance Book Six talks about the marriage and a mother’s order to her sons to share a wife. Was she an object that could be divided? Alas, she was divided. Draupadi, a Devi was turned into a wife to be divided into five parts. Her morals were later questioned in the epic by the Kaurvas. This part of the epic shows us that our karma or action determines the happiness in our lives.
There are chapters on exile, hiding and the war. The chapter on the aftermath of the war, where Pandavas are the winner, explains how Draupadi as well as Gandhari lost all their children. Not only this but the group of chapters brings forward the rage that the elders of the Kuru family possessed after the blood bath.
In the epilogue, “The end of the snake sacrifice”, the author has beautifully explained that Jaya (Spiritual Victory) and Vijaya (Material victory) have different meaning. And when a person overcomes this mystery, he understands the importance of the Mahabharata.
The main motive of the Mahabharata is to show people the mirror of truth and divinity of life. And no doubt the author has retold the epic so beautifully that the mysteries are easy to understand and get the true lesson of life.
“Brilliant in pages” ! that’s what I can say for “Jaya”. It brings forward the tradition, culture and roots of history. Yes! the Mahabharata is not a mythology but history, which gives a person a true moral of life. This book proves that India is the only country that can have such an important moral put into numerous stories to teach the world the meaning of forgiveness and the core civilisation.
I recommend this book to all the readers as it is not only mesmerising but even captivating that will keep you spell-bound till the end.
(The author is a student of Class X of
BK Bajoria School)
Book: JAYA, An illustrated retelling of Mahabharata
Author: Dr Devdutta Patnayak
Publisher: Penguin Book India
Price: 499, Pages: 372