I have been watching the televised version of Mahabharat that is being shown on Starplus on week nights , having missed it the first time when it was being shown two decades ago. The more the story unfolds the more I am getting immersed in it. It may confuse those who have not read the epic which according to me is a must read for every Indian since it is a journey into our past civilization. Relevant even today
It is only when you look at the statistics of Mahbharat that it really hits you as to how great an epic it is. With about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabharata is almost ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Ramayana , which is another great epic .
As an important document that records the march of civilization it is no less than other great epics of the worlds like the Bible, the works of Shakespeare, the works of Homer or the Quran. I personally would go one step further and say that Mahabharata has much more wisdom than all these works put together because of many reasons. The wisdom that lies within those pages is relevant even today .Some of my favorite chapters
With 18 parvas or chapters , each covering a few hundred pages it is not easy to remember each and every detail of this epic. But some parts remain in your mind because of the impact it made while reading.
1, The interactions between Draupadi and her father Drupada who is an egoist and an arrogant king is very interesting and this also shows the person Draupadi is - an obedient daughter yet strong and committed !
2, Bheeshma is like the main foundation stone on which the entire epic rests. Bheeshma's life is one of personal sacrifice and one can only feel extremely sorry for him because he is manipulated by everyone in his family.
Whenever he is very troubled he goes to the banks of Ganges where he pours out his fears and troubled feelings to his mother Ganga. She guides him on many things but when he asks about something which is a direct consequence of his past actions, she chides him by saying ' why have you come to me for advise now, when you never asked me in the past when you made the decision. You have to take responsibility for your action and any advise I give now would mislead you since I do not know all the facts having been kept in the dark until now.
When Bheeshma tells her that she is supposed to know everything since she is a goddess, she counters by asking , whether he had come to her as a son or as a devotee ?
3, Vidhura is another character which I am sure everyone loves. He is intelligent and wise but knows that he is unable to influence Dritarashtra who is blind in every way, his love for his wicked son Duryodana was so overpowering that he preferd to shut out any voice of reasoning and wisdom that comes from either Vidhura , Bheeshma or Krishna. But when everything is lost Vidhura is able to hit back at Dhrtarashtra and tell him that history would hold him responsible for the entire tragedy !
4, Karna is truly the most lovable tragic anti hero of Mahabharat. Abandoned at birth due to circumstances and brought up by a chariot driver , everything in life goes wrong for Karna because of the stigma attached to his birth.
Duryodana gives him status and friendship and Karna was determined to do anything for him even after he comes to know that he is the son of Kunti and the eldest Pandava prince . His is a story that tugs at your heart. I am sure that many film makers these days shape their anti hero characters based on that of Mahabharat's Karna.
5, One can never forget Shakuni the villain who manipulates, spews venom at the right time and divides and rules the entire Kaurava clan using them as dice in his game of revenge. We may have many such stories now but we must remember that Mahabharat was written some few thousand years ago and is the pioneer of all.
6, Draupadi needs a special mention for her strength of character and the major role she plays in shaping the story of Mahabharat. She is a woman scorned and is determined to go to any lengths to get her revenge. Managing the five Pandavas and their wicked cousins the Kauravas was no easy task for her and right from the time of her birth ( Coming out of the Yagna fire) she is exposed to problems and difficulties. Her only solace was Krishna who was always there to protect and take care of her.
7, Krishna is the sutradar who controls and manipulates the characters according to what is destined and he is also the strong factor advising the Pandavas , so that they always do what is right and relevant and his discourse , Bhagavad Geeta is of course incomparable in its content and wisdom. It is filled with pearls of wisdom that would remain relevant as long as human race exists.
Dharmaraya, Arjun ,bheema are all important and there would be no Mahabharat without them. Each character has a role to play in the epic like a piece in a large puzzle.But at the end of it all ,it is life and time ( kaal) that wins.
Every single human emotion has been thoroughly explored in this epic and one can identify human characters and personalities from today's life with those of Mahabharat which was written thousands of years ago. I would again say that this is a must read epic.