The Mahabharata Trail
“NO MEN SHOULD SET HIMSELF TO ANY TASK DEPENDING UPON THE CONSELS OF ANOTHER, FOR THE MINDS TWO PERSONS SELDOM AGREE IN ANY PARTICULAR ACT”
Mahabharata, we usually hear this word and we go all like, it’s an old boring hindu literature for the older generations. How fast we make a judgment about something? Even without reading a book we think it is boring. Therefore it was rightly said ‘NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER AND A MAN WITH HIS FACE’. We often feel that reading Mahabharata would properly make us feel old. It is not like that if you are an atheist than don’t read it like a ‘granth’ read it like a book.
If the book is translated in so many languages by so many scholars than obviously it had something in it. Between 1919 and 1966, scholars at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, compared the various manuscripts of the epic from India and abroad and produced the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata, on 13,000 pages in 19 volumes, followed by the Harivamsha in another two volumes and six index volumes. This is the text that is usually used in current Mahabharata studies for reference. This work is sometimes called the "Pune" or "Poona" edition of the Mahabharata.
In the 18th centrury on the order of Akbar, Mahabharata was translated in Persian titled Razmnameh by Faizi and `Abd al-Qadir Bada'uni, the Victorian prose version by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, was considered the first complete transaction which was published between 1883 and 1896. Many of the critics consider the translation by ganguli to be faithful to the original text.
Many condensed versions, abridgements and novelistic prose retellings of the complete epic have been published in English, including works by Ramesh Menon, William Buck, R. K. Narayan, C. Rajagopalachari, K. M. Munshi, Krishna Dharma, Romesh C. Dutt, Bharadvaja Sarma, John D. Smith and Sharon Maas.
Now this is what authors have said about the great literature but we don’t usually see any youth writing on the epic, because reading about our culture probably makes us uncool, probably? The Mahabharata is an epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes. It also contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas (12.161). It is said that once a person has read the Mahabharata he knows the ups and downs of life and he is able to understand them and fight with them with inner strength. I don’t know how true it is, but they say it teaches us the basic value of life. Books play a very important part in our life. We read books and we learn a lot of new things and try to implement in our life.
They have made a very clear deal and Vyasa has narrated the story with 20,000 verses that depict as many as 100 of characters with different shades of colors and who are definitely not guest appearances. The book has given detailed description for each of them, the enormous detail of their birth, their childhood, their marriage, their asceticism, their sadhana, their conquests, their joys, their miseries, their death, and for most of them, even their previous lives as well as their next lives. The Mahabharat is about 10 times longer than the Odyssey and the Iliad put together.
We can’t just sit here in the 21st century and make judgments on people who lived 5000 years ago, isn’t it unfair? And I feel that if they come alive now and they would look at our culture of living they would have 100 of judgments of make for us. It is not about good or bad, right or wrong. This is about exploring human nature like it has never been explored anywhere else. It is simply an exploration – do not draw conclusions. The great sage Vaysa who took the challenge to write the story wanted us to live that story. Since then many people have had their own little version of the great epic with mild adaptations. Every storyteller, looking at the crowd that is sitting in front of him, has made his own adaptations. But the story is not contaminated by adaptations. It has only been enriched by them, because in these 5000 years, no one has ever contaminated the story by trying to judge it. You should not do that either. Do not think in terms of “Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy?” That is not how it is. These are just people. The moral of Mahabharata was not just for the character of the epic, it was for all the people who have read the great epic and who tend to follow the epic with the morals and value. The epic had talked about the karma and believe in the fact that everyone should do their task and follow their karma irrespective of the result.
The long story short we all should once in our life read the great epic to enhance our knowledge and wisdom. So, that we can look at life in a broader view.
Be the change to see the change.