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Mahabharata: The Greatest Spiritual Epic of All Time [Kindle Edition]

Krishna Dharma
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mahabharata, a part of the ancient Vedas of India, is a story quite unlike anything else. There are few books which have survived as long as this five thousand year old epic. Its enduring popularity is itself testimony to the profound wisdom contained in its pages. In fact it includes the Bhagavad-gita - a masterpiece of spiritual knowledge revered by millions worldwide - and is the narration of the factual events which surrounded the speaking of that illuminating text. Mahabharata thus deals with the activities of Krishna, the Supreme Person and author of the Bhagavad-gita. This gives it a unique quality. Because of Krishna's presence, and the presence of many of his pure followers, one feels uplifted by reading the book. It soothes its readers on a deep spiritual level, bringing them closer to an understanding of the divine, and awakening a transcendental joy that surpasses all other happiness. Although from the external point of view it is a tale of conflict and intrigue among kings, demons, gods and sages, there is a deeper spiritual meaning which pervades the whole work. One can thus go on reading it again and again without it becoming stale or boring. On the contrary, one discovers different layers of meaning with each reading. Mahabharata is a book to be treasured and passed on from generation to generation. As the writer I have simply tried to make the work easily accessible. I have remained faithful to the original, often presenting the dialogue exactly as it appeared in the Sanskrit manuscripts, but I have endeavoured to bring the text to life by the techniques of dramatisation and characterisation. I studied several translations, and cross referenced other Vedic texts for verification of detail where possible. I myself am a priest trained in the Vaishnava tradition, followers of Vishnu or Krishna, and Mahabharata is a Vaishnava text. My book is perhaps the first time that Mahabharata has been presented in English from the perspective of its original author, the sage Vyasadeva. It is suitable for a wide range of readers, from those coming new to the work, to those wishing to study it for academic purposes. I hope you find it enjoyable. I am constantly endeavouring to improve my books, and am always open to any suggestions or feedback from my readers. Those unfamiliar with Sanskrit terms (i.e. most of us) may initially find some of the names a little difficult, but do perservere, you will soon master them and when you do you will be richly rewarded by reading Mahabharata. It is without doubt the greatest spiritual epic of all time, at least in my humble opinion. Krishna Dharma

Editorial Reviews


"Dharma successfully captures the mood and majesty of a rich and ancient epic and, in the process, does full justice to the critical elements of the complex story? A well-wrought saga that will be appreciated by Western readers and admirably serve to introduce a new generation to the rich spiritual, cultural, and historic legacy of India. Highly recommended." -- The Midwest Book Review, October 1999

"Rarely, if ever, has an ancient epic received such modern Blockbuster treatment? The narrative moves effortlessly, often as racily as a thriller, without compromising the elevated style and diction. The visual imagery is every bit as impressive as anything achieved in the cinematic editions." -- Mahesh Nair , IndiaToday, October 1999

"When I dove into the Mahabharata, I expected something along the lines of a dry Arabian Knights, but what I got was something else! Once I began to read, I just could not tear my mind away from the book. Even as I write this, my mind lingers on the glorious spiritual Indian mythology captured on its pages. If you are looking for a cross between Arthurian legends and cultural epic spiked with romance, and overarching spiritual guidance, Mahabharata is for you. Aside from the wonderful magical tales, the novel is an ancient authority on karma, reincarnation, and yoga." -- Rachel Styer, Magical Blend Magazine, January 2000

From the Publisher

One of the oldest and most cherished of all Indian classics, filled with deep spiritual wisdom, it is the story of five heroic brothers who were destined to rule a vast kingdom.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
115 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good summary January 15, 2001
This is pretty much the best English version of the epic. The sole reason for this is that it's pretty much the most complete version that's readily available. It's definitely enjoyable to read... The battles are described in a manner that will keep your attention. There are lots of moral dilemmas that keep you thinking. This is great especially if you're unfamiliar with the Mahabharata.
However, Dharma himself admits that this is no scholarly translation. I recommend that you also read other abridgements as well to get a full scope of the story. While the action in this version is well articulated, some of the inbetween discussions and descriptions seem to be a bit drawn-out. I say this in comparison with other versions. For instance, absolutely way too much forshadowing is given. The entire plot of the story is blatantly given away repeatedly. "This will happen." And it does. In actuality other versions also have this, as I'm sure it's part of the story. However, it seems as though it wasn't repeated as much in the other versions. For instance, reading another version you might hear Bhima make his threat that he will "drink Dushashana's blood." This might be repeated once or twice throughout the remainder of the story. But in this version, it seems like every page says something like "Arjuna will surely slay Karna, Bhima will surely kill Dhritarashtra's sons, Krishna ordains it, it will happen, yes it will happen." There's absolutely no surprise when it happens at all. In fact it makes reading the otherwise thrilling action sequences annoying because you know the inevitable outcome. Yes, Bhima will strike Duryodhana's thigh. Yes, where Krishna is there is victory...And so on. This is a lot of what makes it drawn-out.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique achievement March 11, 2002
By A Customer
It was very refreshing to find such a readable and exciting rendition of this classic. For the most part, translations of India's spiritual writings are quite heavy going, usually stilted and hard to follow. Not so this one. Written in highly accessible modern prose, it is a fluid narrative that grips the reader like a modern day bestselling novel. This is no mean feat. Having read the original text I know it is a complex tale with many interwoven strands that span vast periods of time. Every character has his or her own fascinating story that ties in with overall theme of the epic, and Dharma has managed to incorporate them all into a tight narrative that never loses the reader. He plainly knows the story inside out, and has cleverly structured his book so that it all fits together into a coherent whole. When I read the original I found myself constantly turning backwards and forwards in order to follow the story, and I was grateful to have it clearly spelled out by Dharma in his book.
This treatment of the epic is perhaps unique. Other writers have tried something similar, I know, but in my view none have been quite as successful. And from what I have seen, none of them have shown so lucidly the spiritual import of the Mahabharata. I would say that this is Dharma's greatest contribution to the epic. He brings out the spiritual meaning intended by the original author Vyasa. Being himself a spiritual disciple in the line that comes from Vyasa, he is well positioned to understand its sublime and uplifting message. I found the passages of spiritual instruction, such as the text of the Bhagavad Gita (which forms one chapter of the Mahabharata) particularly enjoyable and very moving.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Hindu priest Authors an Epic August 14, 1999
By A Customer
Sacred text of Hinduism gets blockbuster treatment
By James Meek
LONDON: Salman Rushdie was threatened with murder for it. William Tyndale was strangled and burned for it. Altering,challenging or even translating sacred texts can be dangerous. But a British Hindu priest expects only praise, high sales and converts from an epic effort of literary digestion launched next week: the 100,000-verse Mahabharata, turned by him into a 1,000-page blockbuster novel.
The novelization of one of Hinduism's holiest texts by the Manchester-based priest, Krishna Dharma - once Ken Anderson, a merchant navy officer - is already on sale in the US, where it has sold more than 5,000 copies.
"I suppose I didn't expect it to be so successful. It's unique, in the sense that there aren't any other English versions like it," said Dharma.
The Mahabharata, which contains the core text of Hinduism, the Bhagavad-gita, has been rendered in English before. But previous attempts have been immense verse-for-verse translations by Sanskrit scholars, or slim, super-abridged paperbacks.
"I want it to become the definitive English version," said Dharma. "I'm pretty confident it will. There's nothing around to compete."
Like the Holy Quran and the Bible, the Mahabharata is believed by Hindus to be largely the work of God (or gods, as some Hindus consider).
Five thousand years ago, the half-divine visionary Vyasadeva is said to have dictated the verses to the elephant-headed being Ganesh. The book's divine origins have not stopped the hard sell. Under the title, the bookjacket proclaims "The Greatest Spiritual Epic of All Time".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book written in story form as opposed to stanzas.
Published 18 days ago by Akil Gubbi
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I read the book after doing the Gita. It put things in perspective.

To the English reader the book flows well. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Shekhar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Shane Alan Deaton
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent narration
Have recently read multiple books on Mahabarata. This one is by far the best for the way the story is told. Purchased another copy for my mother in India. She loves it as well.
Published 5 months ago by S. Sukesh
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahabharata in English, abridged version
I chose this version because it is abridged and dramatized - and it is worthwhile reading. It isn't dry or a chore to plod through, I am about 10% in and it is continuing to keep... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nessa Z
3.0 out of 5 stars Starting Off
I just started reading and I'm only few chapters in to it. Seems like easy reading, which isn't always the case for old and translated stories like this. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Alan Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars Krishna Dharma writes to make it very interesting and Gripping
Just like his Ramayana, his description of Mahabharata is written in an easy to understand flow, keeps the reader gripped and furnishes authentic and sufficient details. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars an easy read
This flowing and readable abridged version of the Mahabharata has been delightful to get into. Thanks to Krishna Dharma for his careful selections and clear prose. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Davis A. Criscuolo
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong Premise for the book
It looks like an ISCON version of Mahabharata. I am saddened that it is rewritten as 'the narration of the factual events which surrounded the speaking of that illuminating text... Read more
Published 22 months ago by musicfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining and fast-paced read
Unexpectedly entertaining for a literary read like the Mahabharata. The casual tone helps a casual reader like me to understand the story, the people and the events without having... Read more
Published on November 1, 2012 by Mona Chitnis
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More About the Author

Born in 1955 in London in a Christian family, I have been undergoing training in the monotheistic Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism since 1979. Although I am sometimes referred to as a Hindu priest, there is in fact no defined hierarchical priesthood within Hinduism, or, as I prefer to call it, the Vedic tradition, based as it is upon the scriptures known as the Vedas. There is a class known as the brahmins, whose business is to provide priestly services to society, such as rites of passage and spiritual instruction, and I would put myself in this category. If not a fully qualified brahmin, I am certainly aspiring to become one, in the line of my eternally liberated teacher Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

I do not see my acceptance of the Vaishnava tradition as a departure from Christianity, but rather as a natural continuance of Christ's teachings. For me the instructions of all the great teachers, such as Prabhupada, Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and many others, contain the same essential thread of spirituality, which culminates in surrender to the Personality of Godhead, who I know as Lord Krishna, but who may also be known by many other names such as Jehovah, Allah, Jahweh and Buddha.

My goal is to bring the wisdom of the East to Western audiences in an easily understandable style that can be accessed by anyone. For me spiritual life, in whatever tradition or faith we choose, should be an enjoyable experience that enables us to transcend the trials and tribulations of present-day materialism, and eventually realise our loving relationship with God.

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