Review: The Complete Mahabharata – Bhishma Parva, Volume V by Anjuli Kaul

January 7, 2014

Author: Anjuli Kaul
Publisher: Rupa
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9788129129291
Rating: ★★★★☆
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They who desire victory do not conquer by might and force so much as by truth, compassion, righteousness and vitality.

About two decades ago, on a Sunday morning the streets would become deserted and shops remain closed owing to the craze of watching Mahabharata on Doordarshan. Thus, the epic Mahabharata needs no introduction. Even the most naïve Indian is cognizant about it and the importance of its legacy.

Anjuli Kaul, endeavors to replicate the same in her twelve volume series of ‘The Complete Mahabharata’. I picked up the fifth volume to permeate through the historicity of the fratricidal embrace which led to this quagmire. Another reason for picking up the this volume is the inclusion of the immortal Bhagavadgita and the cataclysmic clash at the Kuruksheta. I personally believe that it is difficult to keep the reader engaged while delineating a war, but the author has done a formidable job in keeping it simple without sacrificing the pertinent episodes. If you are short of time and you wish to know what happened prior and post the Bhagvadgita, you must definitely pick up this book. There are two other English translations by Ramesh Menon and Kisari Mohan Ganguli which are equally good, perchance a lot more biblical in language.

Mahabharata is filled copiously with wisdom, rectitude, political dynamics, acerbic skirmishes, human relations and psychology to decrypt the cruel instances of life. The need for the book mushrooms due to the need for explaining the intricate details of this prodigious war which a television series cannot portray, as it would become too boring.

The author demonstrates a beautiful writing prowess. I’ve formerly read Bhagavad Gita by S Radhakrishnan, which was a doctrine, while this book is enamored with accentuated colloquialism to mollify and motivate even the most innocuous readers during times of crisis and deliriousness. The language is at times esoteric and tautological, but it remains persuasive otherwise. The characters are well painted and the translation is crisp. The editor must also be extolled as he has been meticulous in highlighting the pivotal part and relegating the paltry aspects of the book.

The book delves into the nuances of human behavior and the gateway to become closer to God. I was under the assumption that this would require a rigorous study; contrary to my premise, this book can be astonishingly read quickly. The narration is apt to keep the reader glued.

I would like to specially mention about the beautiful book cover. I often find that book covers are just striking, and not beautiful. However, the publishers have paid due attention in making sure that the book cover is not too loud but elegant enough to do justice to the subject. Mind you, this is an expensive book.

It might be unfair to judge or rate theosophical books as no matter how cogent the author remains in retaining the originality of the book, one can never reiterate the true meaning which was inked in pristine Sanskrit. It is not the author’s folly, but the language barriers which neutralize the charismatic clash of the Titans.

The reading audience of this book is limited. It is not meant for masses, but classes. One would seldom witness educated Indians reading the translation of Ramayana or Mahabharata. The advent of this book perhaps might break the dystopia and bring people out of the seductive yet destructive world.

Other books like this:

An epic retold : The Palace of Illusions

The Immortals of Meluha

Farrukh Kidwai

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Love to read Non-Fiction, Auto biographies, A software programmer but not a very good one, an adventurist


  • ConDumb Singh January 8, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    May interest you : Scattered Fates – a novel on the second partition of India

    • IndiaBookStore January 9, 2014 at 3:43 AM


  • hobbes January 13, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    farukka kidwai, no offence, but were u working with tehelka earlier? your vocab is more convulated than tarun tejpal and shoma chaudhary’s vocab put together. you’re writing for PEOPLE. keep it simple. cheers. nice review by the way 🙂

    • Farrukh February 5, 2014 at 7:43 AM

      You feedback has been registered. I shall make sure to keep it simpler next time around.

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