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The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic Paperback – October 15, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226568229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226568225
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Narayan is a trustworthy guide to the heart and mind of India.”
(Sunday Times)

From the Inside Flap

The Mahabharata, together with the other great Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana, embodies much of the cultural and religious heritage of India. Based on the narrative of the great war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, it tells of warriors, kings, saints, and goddesses caught up in the romance and drama of family intrigue. With its diversity of plots and themes-including the philosophical teachings of the Bhagavada Gita-the Mahabharata has entertained and influenced Indian audiences for nearly two thousand years. R. K. Narayan's abbreviated prose version provides a superb and elegant rendition of this great epic.

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Customer Reviews

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Recommend for beginners.
serenadang
The story itself has nearly everything anyone could want in a good book: edge of your seat action and edge of your mind inspiration.
Zerzura
I love the cover design and the readable prose inside.
Christine Mcdonald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Walter O. Koenig on January 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is only useful for those who want a very basic introduction to the Mahabharata, and only want to invest a minimum of time doing so. This book will give the reader the basic outline of the Plot, but does not dwelve into the many important Philosophical portions of the Epic, and the "outside stories". The book is well written. I like the style of R.K. Narayan. As an introduction this book is much better than that of Buck, not only because Narayan is a better writer, but because he had a better knowledge of the Epic, Hinduism and Sanskrit Literature.
If you must get an introduction, I recommend the one by C.V. Narasimhan, which based on selected verses, and brings the reader much closer to the Mahabharata.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Zerzura on November 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This shortened prose version of the Mahabarata by R. K. Narayan presents the engaging adventure of the five Pandava brothers' efforts to reclaim their empire. The story itself has nearly everything anyone could want in a good book: edge of your seat action and edge of your mind inspiration. In addition to celebrating the Pandavas' super-human strength and feats of daring, the book also catalogs many types of human relationships: mother-child, sybling-sybling, husband(s)-wife, king-courtier, mentor-apprentice, even writer-reader..... Long after you finish reading this book, you'll be realizing why Hindus recognize it as one of their two most sacred books---it's got everything! And yet it rarely stoops to the level of being preachy. (Narayan also has a shortened prose version of the other sacred Hindu book---The Ramayana.)
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By rahul@cradle.com on December 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a good book for those who do not know Mahabharat story. The reason it is good for the beginners is that it is concise and flows through the subject quickly. So it would be a good book for new readers who can quickly get a sort of overview of Mahabharat.
If you already know Mahabharat plot and story, try and get a little advanced book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Stevens VINE VOICE on December 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having just been mesmerized by my exposure to Indian literature through Ramesh Menon's outstanding version of the Ramayana, I looked to continue my journey through this corner of the literary world by reading the Mahabharata. Unlike the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita (which I intend to read next), no version of this tale jumped out at me on my perusal through Amazon reviews. I decided to give Narayan's version a shot due to name recognition and popularity. Having just finished the tale, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I found the story itself to be interesting and Narayan's prose to be quite readable; on the other, I felt like I just scratched the surface of this great tale. I typically avoid abridgments, and should've known better than to think that an epic could be reduced to a mere 190-some pages, but I was truly disappointed by the abbreviated nature of this version. After relishing the richness of Menon's Ramayana, I felt like this version captured neither the rich grandeur needed to appreciate the scale of the epic nor gave the attention necessary to allow the reader to dwell on the deeper philosophical points. Because unlike the Ramayana, which was truly an archetypal "good versus evil" struggle, the Mahabharata is full of interesting moral wrinkles because it keeps the battle in the family. Brother fights brother and protege fights mentor, as several generations of this family are involved. Although the Kauravas (and Duryodhana in particular) are cast as the instigator and oppressor, I cannot fully disagree when Duryodhana gives his side of the story or when Yudhistira has his misgivings both before and after the war. Most emotionally and philosophically poignant are the doubts of the stoic and brave Arjuna as the families are at the brink of war.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Pokkyarath on April 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
R K Narayan has a way of telling stories that is very earthy and simple. Malgudi days and Swamy were a favorite of mine as a kid; so when I saw "The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic - R K Narayan" in my fav store, I had to get it.

This book is a highly condensed and compressed form of Mahabharata; so compressed that the soul of the epic has perhaps gotten lost in the process. However, that is the only way the author could have explained it in 180 or so pages (with 18 parvas and 100K+ verses the Mahabharata is by no means a quick read). Moreover it is not just a literary masterpiece but contains the 'song of the lord', the Bhagavad Gita. The philosophical part is intentionally left out here and rightly so because a shortened version can never quite convey the right meaning. R K Narayan's focus here is purely on the story and he says, "Although this epic is a treasure house of varied interests, my own preference is the story". He has given an outline of the story admirably well.

If you looking to understand the gist of the epic and a peek into the vedic philosophy you would be better of finding another version. But if your objective is to quickly get an overview of the story, the characters and the main events, then this book, I think, would suit you fairly well. An overview of the story is indeed the intention of this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jason G. Harrison on September 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
The story itself in timeless. Not enough good can be said about it.

As for this traslation, Narayan is a literay god. This presentation of the famous indian epic is very well accomplished and is a credit to the story. I have read many english versions of the Mahabharata, (the few that exist) and most are nearly unreadable.

This edition is accesable to the masses and still nuanced enough for the critically minded. Highly recomended.
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