Novelization of the Mahabharata

I found used a novelization of the Mahabharata a couple of weeks ago, which I am now reading.  I’ve read other versions put into English prose, all of which have some stamp of the presenter (author?).  The version I am reading brings to the fore that those who are deserving of the love of people and who are blessed by the divine are physically beautiful, wealthy, and possess great military prowess.  Righteousness includes unquestionably obeying the orders of rulers and parents and accepting your station in life as the determination of God.

The book jacket proclaims the Mahabharata “the greatest spiritual epic of all time.”  I agree that it is a great epic and a rather amazing one.  Some of the precepts, like all presented in great writings that have lasted over the centuries are worthy of contemplation for one’s own life (I am all for recognizing guests as divine visitors and treating them with due regard, for example), as well as for understanding the society in which the work was created.  But any work that mostly reflects the societal mores of the time in which it was written and is designed to perpetuate the powers that be is perhaps best read as fiction.  Saying this does not mean I do not recognize the good of some of the teachings interwoven into the fairy tales, but rather that I think it must also be understood in the confines of its context, lest we perpetuate societal evils that no longer serve.  (This, of course, has Western parallels.)



  1. Dan

    Which novelization do you recommend?

  2. Elizabeth (Post author)

    The one I am reading now is an excellent read. It is “retold” by Kenneth Anderson (a/k/a Krishna Dharma) (Torchlight Publishing, Inc., California, 2nd printing 2007). It is a fuller retelling than the William Buck version.

  3. Jane Jackson

    Most writing, even (especially?) writing considered to be spiritual or even scripture, reflects in some way the social milieu in which it was written, though not all was intended in its own time to perpetuate the existing political power structure. I think that it takes creative contemplation and interpretation to find full support for a modern western woman’s spirituality in any ancient texts.

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