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Review: The Mahabharata: Volume 3

books Updated: May 30, 2011 07:23 IST

Gautam Chikermane, Hindustan Times
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The Mahabharata: Volume 3

Translated by Bibek Debroy

Penguin

Rs 550

PP 605

The journey of the Pandavas in the forests continues. The second-longest chapter in the Mahabharata, Vana Parva is possibly also the most important. Politically, this is the chapter where the Pandavas come close to the people of Aryavarta.

Interspaced between the stories of pilgrimages and travels are tales of valour and violence, love and labour. The story of how Lopamudra marries sage Agastya but desires a comfortable bed for intercourse is among other things, an amazing tale of women’s equality.

The brilliance of Ved Vysya comes through, ably translated by Bibek Debroy, going into the very soul of Yudhishthira through conversations with rishis, notably, Markandeya. The fight of the Kauravas with the Gandharvas is both a forecast of the great war ahead as well as a sweet irony to this underlying metamorphosis.

The outer world of the Pandavas, though largely peaceful, is not without turmoil. We live through their inner struggles, and weep with the catharsis of relief when Arjuna returns from the heavens with divine weapons that he is compelled not to show to his brothers. Don’t miss the deeply insightful conversation of Yudhishthira with his father Dharma wearing a Yaksha's garb.

Just one quibble, Bibek. Can you please use Kaurava and Draupadi instead of Kourava and Droupadi?