Mahabharata : An Epic In Illustrations
I have grown up in a small town, in a house that was rented, in stories that have been imbibed by me, aurally and not written. I grew immensely fond of reading books, in the later years of my childhood. My mother was my favourite story-teller. I today take turns to tell her stories about the world I am seeing, a world that depicts so much of one of India’s strongest Epic’s- Mahabharata.
“If you want to see the brave, look at those who can forgive. If you want to see the heroic, look at those who can love in return for hatred.”
The Mahabharata is a Smriti text. It was written as remembered. The Gita, a part of The Mahabharata, which is also the religious text for Hindus, is a Shruti text. It was heard as spoken by Lord Krishna.
Characters of Mahabharata play an immense role in teaching us values, in life, both work and personal. The characters move through a series of events, inter-related, and their survival and penance lead us to see the basic values of Hinduism. This text is more than a novel, an epic, it is a road-map to the circle of life and value of virtues.
“कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन,
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।”
“Sri Krishna said: You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”
The above-mentioned text is one of my most revered sayings from Bhagwad Gita, from Mahabharata. This is from the teachings of Krishna to Arjuna, before the Kurukshetra war.
न जायते, म्रियते, वा कदाचित् न अयम्, भूत्वा, भविता वा न, भूयः
अजः नित्यः शाश्वतः अयम्, पुराणः न, हन्यते, हन्यमाने, शरीरे।।
“Sri Krishna said: The soul is never born nor dies at any time. Soul has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. Soul is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. Soul is not slain when the body is slain.”
This text talks about the circle of life, and the belief of Hinduism, that the body is just a cloth for the soul. The death and decay of the body do not end the circle for the soul, and it only changes bodies. It makes us look into the mortality of the body and materialistic belongings, which the soul is sought to seek knowledge and love from the world because it goes on through generations.
My mother used to tell me these instances while I was growing up, and this book took me back to revisit all her tellings. This book has narratives and instances, through depiction and pictures of the places of the events, of the remnants that are there today, and how today it is re-created through various art forms. It creates an insight and acts as an anchor of reference for better understanding of the text.
For anybody, who loves Epics, and wants to understand how the world of today, has become today, from the perception of Hinduism and Gita, this book is a treasure of culture and illustrations that will keep you hooked to it for hours.