Once again, Mahabharata is on the TV. When it was telecast the first time on TV, I remember it used to be on Sundays at 9 A M. You couldn’t see many people on the roads at that time because everybody, old and young, was glued to the TV set to watch the mega epic. Ladies of the house adjusted their work schedule so as to be there, promptly at 9 A M. Nobody wanted to miss a single episode. It was really really very popular. Even now I believe it’s being watched with a lot of interest and garnering good TRPs but not like the first time. None the less it’s coming out well with good star cast, good performances, lavish sets and better technology and thus,holding peoples’ attention.
The charm of Mahabharata is such that it worked then and it’ll work now. It’s the story of every joint household-sibling rivalry, the hunger for more ( may be power, may be wealth), presence of a Shakuni, the misdeeds of youngsters and lack of respect towards elders and women in general etc. It’s also the story of war and peace, love and hate, sacrifice, selflessness and selfishness, infidelity and loyalty. It’s like a bollywood masala movie where a little bit everything is thrown in. What quality one admires and wants to get inspired by, is entirely one’s decision.
I love reading and when I was in college I read a book called Parva by, Sri S L Bhyrappa a very renowned writer in kannada. He was and is, my most favourite writer in Kannada, after whom come Tarasu, kuvempu, M K Indira, and Triveni. He is very popular, in spite of the fact that he doesn’t write ‘run of the mill’ romance stories. His novels are distinctly different and interesting. Most of his novels are translated into other languages. He’s the winner of Karnataka Sahitya Academy award (twice) and Sahitya Academy Award also. I love all his books but my favourites are Parva, Vamsha Vruksha, Griha Bhanga, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane. They are just outstanding.
So, my most favourite book by S L Bhyrappa is Parva which tells the story of Mahabharata. Parva means festival in Sanskrit and it’s also a synonym for chapter.I think I read it around thirty two years back and was mesmreized by it. I really don’t know how many times I’ve read and re-read it, but everytime I read it I feel like it’s my first time. Reading it was like an eye opener and helped me to look at our great epic in a different perspective. It looks at each and every aspect of Mahabharata in a logical and rational way, devoid of ‘godly’ elements which makes it more realistic and easy to believe and relate to. Just for example, Sanjaya’s ‘divya drishti’ – how he could see things happening in the far away battle field, using his divine power while sitting with Dhritarashtra- in today’s time it doesn’t sound convincing. But in Bhyrappa’s Parva when you read about Sanjaya galloping on his horse from the war field to the palace at sunset to tell the king about the day’s happenings, only to return again, in the wee hours of morning to watch the war proceedings–with his bottoms wounded and paining because of this everyday ritual, you feel ‘yes, this’s possible and very much believable’. Sanjaya here, is just a war messenger who does an everyday ‘to and fro’ from the battle field to the palace and nothing else.
Sanjaya’s is just one example. There are so many others like the possible fact(truth) about Dhritarashtra’s 100 sons or Kunti’s Pandavas, Draupadi’s state of mind, her thoughts about her husbands, Bakasura vadha etc. where every thing sounds absolutely true. S l Bhyrappa, I believe, did years of research and visited a number of places associated with the Mahabharata like Hastinavati, Kurukshetra, Dwaraka and many more along with the Himalayan region to study and know the facts.
I think, it’s a must read for all kannadigas because it’s fantastic book and we are fortunate that it’s in our language. I was looking for its English translation because I wanted my daughter, who is also a book lover, to read it. Though the English translation had come out long ago, I got hold of it just some time back and finished reading it recently. It’s translated by Sri K Raghavendra Rao and retains the same title. It’s as good as the original, I must say. It’s a must read for all book lovers. If you read one book of Bhyrappa you wouldn’t rest till you finish reading all his books. Reading is a wonderful feeling and reading Bhyrappa’s books, amazing.