It has been highly appreciated by scholars for the effort. In fact Bibek has no version at all. He is just translator and like any other translator he too errs or uses different english words which might alter the feeling of a word , so one much read sankrit shlok for better understanding. At other points Bibek has translated thing but then has given reason in footnotes.
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A few months ago, I bought the entire box set. Ever since, Ive been purporting to start my Mahabharata journey. Ive often taken out a book from the set, turned it in my hands, and been teased by the back cover blurb that calls what is inside The Greatest Story Ever Told. In his introduction to the first book, Debroy attempts to place the events in the Mahabharata in history.
No conclusive timeline — none shorter than a range of a thousand years — appears. There is speculation that the events in the Mahabharata might be from an era before the events in the Ramayana — this is contrary to the commonly held belief that Ram precedes Krishna by an era Treta Yug comes before Dwapar Yug. Debroy also notes that if his conjectures about the historicity of the events in Mahabharata were true, it likely followed that the central conflict in the epic was actually all about cattle.
That the cousins fought over land might be a plot alteration mandated not by historical truth but by the importance of land in the era that the epic was effectively composed in. That Mahabharata was composed entirely by Vedvyasa in a single lifetime is also marked as an impossibility. The epic was composed and refined, no doubt, over hundreds of years. A long oral tradition perpetuated it. Authorship is largely irrelevant.
Vedvyasa, in fact, is a title. The real name is Krishna Dvaipayana. Thus, the fathers of Kouravas and Pandavas are in fact children of Krishna Dvaipayana Vedvyasa, the one granted credit for the shlokas of the epic. Perhaps it would not be outlandish to credit Vedvyasa as the creator, rather than just the biological father, of Dhritrashtra and Pandu. Nested Narrators Going by the eighteen parva classification of the Mahabharata, the tale begins with the Adi Parva.
However, the parva classification perhaps better suits the length of the epic, and going by that that the Adi Parva itself holds nineteen parvas in it, beginning with the Anukramanika Parva.
The Anukramanika Parva, instead of beginning the story itself, provides a summary of the events in the epic. Clearly, those composing the Mahabharata felt it prudent to provide a gist to remind people of the story they have always known in summary.
The end of the section details the benefits of a Mahabharata reading, thereby giving added incentive for carrying on. Another interesting point to note is that the Anukramanika Parva splits the summarizing in two parts. The second summary is in the voice of Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra tells Sanjaya of all the junctures in history when he had sensed that there was no hope of victory for Duryodhana.
Through this structure, whose direct relevance is difficult to see, one should probably understand that such nested narrators will abound in the epic too. One also notices a difference in the two narrative voices. The Anukramanika Parva is followed by the Parvasamgraha Parva, in which Ugrashrava provides the two classifications—into hundred and eighteen parvas. It is interesting to note that the classifications of the text are provided inside the text. How is that possible? How could he tell a tale in first person and provide his telling as already-included in a historical classification?
This is a delightful warp, a post-modernish touch. The audit, so to say, might have more practical purposes, but one of its doubtless outcomes is to nourish that ugly strain in human nature which feeds on a certain fascination with carnage and often stoops to compare catastrophes. In fact, it is perversely wise for a poet to over-report war damages, since the intent is to establish their war as superior among all the wars, and, by relation, their work on that war as superior among all similar works.
The Mahabharata, arguably the supreme war epic, also felt the need to assert the fact that it was concerned with a war bigger than any other. To merely allow the reader to believe the magnitude of the carnage would not be enough; it had to be provided in numbers. The war numbers are provided inside in the Parvasamgraha Parva.
There, the sages ask Ugrashrava about an akshouhini army , urging him to provide the exact details of the size of one. Ugrashrava answers by moving from the smallest unit composing an akshouhini to the largest, eventually reaching staggering numbers.
An akshouhini was apparently composed of 21, chariots, 21, elephants, , foot soldiers, and 65, horses. And the numbers are mind-numbing for a conflict that concluded inside eighteen days.
Assuming that each animal or chariot was manned by at least one person, the annihilation of eighteen akshouhinis leads us to an average death count of 2,18, men per day, forgetting the animals.
This is beyond credulity, especially if we imagine the war as taking place at a single site. The mere disposal of corpses to clear the ground for battle the next day would require a couple of akshouhinis of its own. The conclusion: either the war took place everywhere in ancient India, or we have to accept these numbers as exaggerated. The third parva is called the Poushya Parva. There, we are in the time of Janamejaya, Arjuna great-grandson, who is now the ruler of Hastinapur.
The section is haphazardly told, and often appears aimless. We follow a multitude of characters, all attempting to placate their gurus or preceptors. One puts his own body on the line to plug a dam breach.
Another almost starves to death and also loses his eyesight, which he later recovers while trying to ensure that all comestibles are offered first to the preceptor. The passage is one of innumerable junctures where the Mahabharata shall present itself as a text of thoroughly patriarchal times, where women had little agency, especially with regards to sexual matters. On his return journey, the earrings are stolen by the naga king Takshaka. The man is Indra, the horse Agni; pitted against the gods, Takshaka is forced into submission.
The snakes we talk of here are shape-shifters, capable of taking human forms. Snakes had kingdoms and kings then, according to the text. Perhaps it is an act of genocide, fueled by rage. The task of stopping Janamejaya was done by a brahmana named Astika, who for his contribution got a complete parva of the Mahabharata named after him the fifth parva.
In the Pouloma parva, a series of stories about the Bhrigu lineage ends with the sage named Ruru attempting to kill a non-poisonous snake, who turns out to be an accursed sage itself. It is probable that this contrivance exists only to point out how violence is the domain of kshatriyas, and that brahmans ought to avoid it. Caste distinctions are, of course, rigidly impressed multiple times in the text.
This could be read as an attempt to exonerate Janamajeya, to show the sacrifice as ordained by powers greater than his own. One could say that this heightens tension, and removes all doubts regarding the importance of the event itself. Destiny truly is in play here, for the curse comes into force long before the sacrifice itself has been instigated.
During this period, Vasuki, the lord of the snakes, learns of a way through which the impact of the curse might be lessened. He is told how a sage named Jaratkaru will sire a son named Astika, who in turn will advise Janamajeya against annihilating the nagas.
In fact, he was cursed to be killed by Takshaka, as punishment for putting a dead snake around the neck of a meditating sage. Despite the ever-imaginative ways in which one incident follows another in the Astika parva, the iffy inevitability of the larger events becomes too much to take.
One wonders how an epic with a reputation for posing delightful ambiguities could begin with such rigid causality and predestination. Earlier, I have surmised that the nagas could have been in fact a rival ethnic group. It can, however, be argued that this is an even defter touch, for it leaves us at a juncture where neither Janamajeya nor Takshaka have any agency. Only the brahmins, those followers of austerities, have agency, for it is they who hurl curses upon others and thus move the narrative forward.
The truth could be the opposite. It is plausible that it is, in fact, the curses that were invented, post facto, to make things easier for the egos of those who mattered. The story begins as Yayati gets himself entangled in the long-running rivalry between two powerful women - Devayani and Sharmishtha.
All this, in case it needs clarification, happens an eon before the great war. Devayani is the daughter of sage Shukra, the preceptor of the asuras and also of their king Vrishaparva. The two are friends to begin with. The rift in their friendship is instigated by none other than the king of gods, Indra. One day, when Devayani and Sharmishtha are frolicking naked in a forest.
Indra takes the form of wind and mixes up their garments. She is thus enraged upon seeing Sharmishtha attempt to wear her clothes.
She insults Sharmishtha who, daughter of a demon-king as she is, is so chafed by her words that she throws Devayani in a nearby well and walks away. King Yayati comes to the same well to provide water to his thirsty horse. Seeing Devayani inside, he provides her a hand and pulls her out. Devayani then goes to her father and complains. Sharmishtha, as a woman who bears the burden of deciding the fate of her entire race, has no choice but to agree.
King Yayati again meets Devayani and Sharmishta in the same forest. This time, Devayani reminds him how he had once touched her, and how that entails that he has to accept her as his wife. The marriage between Yayati and Devayani is approved by Shukra. After a few years, the slave Sharmishtha is able to seduce Yayati and gives birth to three sons. On their discovery, Devayani again takes the matter before her father.
Shukra curses Yayati with immediate old age. Yet allows him the power to transfer this old age to a willing son of his.
A few months ago, I bought the entire box set. Ever since, Ive been purporting to start my Mahabharata journey. Ive often taken out a book from the set, turned it in my hands, and been teased by the back cover blurb that calls what is inside The Greatest Story Ever Told. In his introduction to the first book, Debroy attempts to place the events in the Mahabharata in history. No conclusive timeline — none shorter than a range of a thousand years — appears. There is speculation that the events in the Mahabharata might be from an era before the events in the Ramayana — this is contrary to the commonly held belief that Ram precedes Krishna by an era Treta Yug comes before Dwapar Yug. Debroy also notes that if his conjectures about the historicity of the events in Mahabharata were true, it likely followed that the central conflict in the epic was actually all about cattle.
His grandparents had migrated from Sylhet, now in Bangladesh; his paternal grandfather and his father migrating as late as His father went on to join the Indian Audit and Accounts Service. Debroy started his education at St. He studied there till the 6th standard. In , he won a National Merit Scholarship that funded all boarding, lodging, and tuition; standing second in what was then an undivided Assam. His efforts took him to Ramakrishna Mission School, Narendrapur, in 7th standard. He graduated with Honours in Economics in , standing first in the University and winning a gold medal.
Shalya-vadha parva Chapters: 2. Shalya parva Chapters: 3. Hrada-praveca parva Chapters: 4. Gadayuddha parva Chapters: After three commander-in-chiefs of Kauravas army slain, Shalya is appointed the leader. He too is killed, as is Shakuni.
Das Mahabharata des Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
Though the basic plot is widely known there is much more to the epic than the dispute between the Kouravas and Pandavas that led to the battle in Kurushetra. It has innumerable sub plots that accommodate fascinating meanderings and digressions and it has rarely been translated in full given its formidable length of 80, shlokas or couples. This magnificent 10 volume unabridged translation of the epic is based on the Critical Edition compiled at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. He has worked in universities research institutes industry and for the government. He has published books papers and popular articles in economics. But he has also published in Indology and translated into English the Vedas, the Puranas, the Upanishads and the gita Penguin India his book Sarama and her children. The dog in Indian myth penguin India splices his interest in Hinduism with his love for dogs.