- Series: Clay Sanskrit Library (Book 6)
- Hardcover: 450 pages
- Publisher: Clay Sanskrit (August 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814716962
- ISBN-13: 978-0814716960
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,737,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mahabharata Book Six (Volume 1): Bhishma (Clay Sanskrit Library) 0th Edition
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Published in the geek-chic format. -BookForum
No effort has been spared to make these little volumes as attractive as possible to readers: the paper is of high quality, the typesetting immaculate. The founders of the series are John and Jennifer Clay, and Sanskritists can only thank them for an initiative intended to make the classics of an ancient Indian language accessible to a modern international audience.-The Times Higher Education Supplement
The books line up on my shelf like bright Bodhisattvas ready to take tough questions or keep quiet company. They stake out a vast territory, with works from two millennia in multiple genres: aphorism, lyric, epic, theater, and romance.-Willis G. Regier,The Chronicle Review
Very few collections of Sanskrit deep enough for research are housed anywhere in North America. Now, twenty-five hundred years after the death of Shakyamuni Buddha, the ambitious Clay Sanskrit Library may remedy this state of affairs. -Tricycle
The Clay Sanskrit Library represents one of the most admirable publishing projects now afoot. . . . Anyone who loves the look and feel and heft of books will delight in these elegant little volumes.-New Criterion
Now an ambitious new publishing project, the Clay Sanskrit Library brings together leading Sanskrit translators and scholars of Indology from around the world to celebrate in translating the beauty and range of classical Sanskrit literature. . . . Published as smart green hardbacks that are small enough to fit into a jeans pocket, the volumes are meant to satisfy both the scholar and the lay reader. Each volume has a transliteration of the original Sanskrit text on the left-hand page and an English translation on the right, as also a helpful introduction and notes. Alongside definitive translations of the great Indian epics 30 or so volumes will be devoted to the Maha·bhárat itself Clay Sanskrit Library makes available to the English-speaking reader many other delights: The earthy verse of Bhartri·hari, the pungent satire of Jayánta Bhatta and the roving narratives of Dandin, among others. All these writers belong properly not just to Indian literature, but to world literature.-LiveMint
The Clay Sanskrit Library has recently set out to change the scene by making available well-translated dual-language (English and Sanskrit) editions of popular Sanskritic texts for the public.-Namarupa
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This particular volume, the first part of Book Six holds special significance. This volume represents the narrative segueing into the Bhagavad Gita. For those readers who have not experienced the Mahabharata narrative as it leads into the Gita and flows back to the first day of battle, all I have to say is that it is a thrilling read. Cherniak’s translation fully conveys the roller coaster of emotion contained in this portion of the Mahabharata, from the ominous signs of the terrible battle which would soon be fought, from Arjuna’s despair, Krishna’s divine guidance, and back to earth for the commencement of the battle.
Following the Gita, the opening days of the Mahabharata War commence. The translation of these days are as moving and thrilling as any portion of the Iliad. Arguably, at its basis, the Mahabharata is an anti-war piece of literature.
The volume is firmly bound in hardcover, on what appears to be premium paper stock. Unfortunately, the Clay Sanskrit library did not get around in presenting a full translation of the Mahabharata. This sad fact should not detract from this fine translation.
Book Six of the Mahabharata, the Book of Bhishma, is split into two manageable volumes by the Clay Sankskrit Library; this review covers both volumes. In this book, Bhishma, the grandfatherly great general of the Kurus, the uncle of their king (to whom the story is narrated) and the mentor of and advisor to the spoiled brats on whose behalf the great war will be fought, leads a massive and talented army in a war where he has been told, and firmly believes, that his troops are doomed from the beginning; the fundamental story of Bhishma is the story of the King and the assembled armies coming to understand the doom Bhishma already knows. Clay, the sponsor of the publishing project, hoped to encourage the study of Sanskrit through this project, and the Clay Sanskrit series offers, at a reasonable price, hardcover versions with enough commentary in the introduction and enough annotation along the way to thoroughly whet the appetite, but not so much to weigh the whole thing down and turn it into an academic exercise. Phonetic Sanskrit (akin to Chinese pinyin) faces the English translation. The language is modern, clear, and even breezy in places; it is thoroughly engaging.
The book begins by setting up the context of the two assembled armies and rapidly moves through the chapters often read separately as the Bhagavad Gita. The greatest warrior of the Pandavas, Arjuna, surveys two oceanic armies laid before him and searches his soul. His cousins, the Kurus, lined up to one side with their allies and retainers and each of their armies, have wrongly disinherited the Pandavas. The Pandavas, his brothers, have endured great trials already, repeatedly "turning the other cheek" in stories that have played out in the earlier books. The wrongs visited on the Pandavas now must inevitably must lead to war; other options have been exhausted. Family is on all sides, and Arjuna knows that many will not leave the battle field alive, and many will need to be slayed by his own hand. As Arjuna thinks about whether the greater wrong is to set this battle and the death of beloveds on both sides in motion or to concede to the Kurus the kingdom and permit the wrong done to the Pandavas to remain, he enters into a dialogue with his charioteer, a humble incarnation of the great and singular god Krishna.
There is no real need to read the prior books first; this can be picked up fresh. But reading the Gita in the context of the full book is more fun, more rewarding, and more provocative than when read alone. Indeed, it is not the last of the soul-searching conversations between Arjuna and Krishna, and the drama will unfold, slowly and overwhelmingly, as the book continues. In the heart of the book, after the Gita ends, the armies and battles rage on, killing becomes monotonous, horrors become commonplace, and the central characters, Bhishma, Arjuna, Bhima-sena, Dritarashtra, and their families, face extraordinary personal choices on which all others depend for their lives. Demons, elephants, gods, heros, chariots and weapons of all kinds fill the pages; day after day, the war progresses, with the advantage to first one side, then the other, with the only certainty for the troops that each day the realm of Yama (the god of death) will expand. Ultimately, in the second volume, Bhishma's own terrible choice will frame the conclusion of this phase of the war, and we will see the progression of the generalship of the Kurus to Drona, for whom the next book is named.
This is a sneaky book: emerging from the Gita into the war, you are rapidly sucked into the fast paced story, the endless battle scenes worthy and even in excess of a Vin Diesel film. Then, when you least expect it, Arjuna and Krishna emerge again, and the true depths of the work come up on you. Just when you think you're ready for the grand finale, where all the fast and the furious gather together in an overblown orgy of wild, romping action, and just when you've got the popcorn at the ready and your drink refreshed, you're suddenly transported from the fast and furious world of Vin Diesel to an intense and contemplative Pier Pasolini film - and you like it! This wild and wooly war is by turns tragedy and farce, but always a fascinating paradox, a simultaneous evil and a good, sublime ugliness and horrifying beauty; it both celebrates and questions the religion that spawned it, and puts all that action into a broader ethical context.
The Clay Sanskrit Library has done well and these books perfectly meet their goals. I read this to my 10 year old son, who was as fascinated as I through every page, and whose curiousity has been kindled as few books can.
And, to answer my question, yes, a better story has been told, but it is the same story, told another time. Let's read it again!