Tag Archives: mythology

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison by Devdutt Pattanaik – a book review

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • Genre: History of Religion, Hinduism, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
  • ISBN: 9789353332303, 9353332303
  • Edition: 2018

This is a laborious exercise ideally because the context is different. The other side of the comparing these two works is tough because they are totally having different approaches to target segment. It also is important to understand the length and breadth of the story are widely different. The fact that the characters continue to Mahabharata from Ramayana is also a pointer to the similarities and how they are a continuous set of instances that make this grand story come alive.

I read with interest the snippet like comparisons by Devdutt Pattanaik where he has put it as My playful comparison, (still wonder why it’s playful) there are enough and more comparisons you could take away right from the childless fathers in Dasaratha to Shantanu to sorrowing parents in Dasaratha to even Pandavas after the war.

We also get to see quite a few instances in terms of geography and history or the narration by rishis, etc.

But given that author has taken liberty for the time of the authorship of both the epics, I would have loved to differ. For example, the Big Temple in Tamilnadu is over 2000 years old and the devotional movement in their time was as big as anything that is covered elsewhere.

One more I noticed was the Greek and Buddhist comparisons, that are totally different and the context in which those thrived also makes for comparisons.

I was also not able to see the Ram vs Krishna connect or comparison here. That would have made it all the more interesting since the author has given very few instances of the comparison in a perspective of things. Those are the celebrated characters in the whole scheme of things. That Mahabharata has a Bhagavad Geetha in it has not be taken into consideration.

I think a body of work of such grandeur and vastness in both cases inspite of being in Sruthi mode thats hear say to being written so well after long, will constitute similarities with human beings and Gods in an intersection of game of life.

That women in both the epics have cast a shadow is irrefutable, that of Sita and Panchali, but then when you see these as just stories it would get you to this connect only. These are imageries for spiritual existance and at some places the author puts them concretely.

That there are multiple versions that have made these epics into a reckoning literature in their own right, this will also have its way of reflecting the time that the authors lived in.

Infact this is also happening now as we see multitude versions of Mahabharat and Ramayana from different authors and different perspectives from different characters than being rendered by Valmiki or Vyasa.

This is quite a study of contrast and yes you could open any page and read this in case you want to because like I mentioned earlier these are snippets and there are almost 56 instances that the author takes us through and they are small but important to note.

I am only cautious about some issues like Vedic period and Brahminism that the author takes undue liberty with. It’s like saying there was no gravity or something till Newton discovered it. One instance he says this is because of the Panini’s work of grammar came in at one certain point in time. I am unable to understand if that were the case would everyone be using the language without any sense till then. I think that is wrong way to reference the language part. Sangam literature in Tamil is far older in that case going by inscriptions.

Anyway an attempt in bringing the similarities which will continue to exist even today. You write a plot and then you can be sure that was there in Mahabharata or Ramayana.

One thing I have noticed is from giving the stories its due to now getting to liberal interpretations Devdutt Pattanaik has come a long way. Well you cant find fault with this its the way the epics have allowed itself to be retold.

Thank you Flipkart for sending in the copy and you can buy this here.

Senthilkumar

Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kane a book review

lanka-s-princess-original

 

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • ISBN: 9788129144515, 8129144514
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 280

Lanka’s Princess is a tale of Meenakshi, the Surpanakha as we know her. The name sticking to her because of her nails or claws that she had on her fingers. The story is an exhaustive one which tells you about the troubled childhood. I could easily see the Kaliyuga version being played in teleserials and I am sure these guys can’t match to the cunningness and thinking that Meenakshi had.

This is a fantastic effort by the author, I am reading her for the first time. Mindblown by the intricacies and exhaustiveness of the narration, she dwells so deep into the psyche of the character called Meenakshi aka Surpanakha.

The scenes with her mother and her doting the father are real emotive ones that sets it in a contemporary age and it might look like the story of our neighbourhood. I am sure the Saas Bhau serials cant even come anywhere near in terms of cunningness that sets the tale across ending with Ravan.

What an intricate family relationship that Ravan and his family had across the spectrum including Vishnu as much as his Adhi Sesha being a part of Ravan’s clan. Its also a story that feeds on ambition and self praise and towering on the self and ego of one person Ravan and abetted by his sister Meenakshi who feels neglected since childhood.

Revenge is a kind word here to be used since we see how the flare up from small incidents take shape of a ill feeling that can destroy the person and all those around her. Its about the poison tree that people water forgetting things and eating its fruits later.

The characterisation of all the people in this tale is such an astonishing feature, be it Ram, Ravan, Lakshman or the heroine of this saga, Meenakshi. The story is a rivetting one and the language is very addictive in a sense that its easy to read and turn pages.

I loved the research behind this book and a new Ramayana played out in front of me, much to the discomfort that Sita wasn’t the primary reason for Ravan to wage a war. Quite often we do take the face value of the stories thats been given to us. The magic of the mythology that we have inherited is beyond compare especially because the characters of Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagvatham have some common time travelling and relationships beyond their ages when they happened.

We see some of the best of Ravan, and the worst of Ravan and many many worsts of Surpanakha.

Some nice narrative on Kumbha who we hardly give the space he deserves. All we know was his six month sleeping / eating.

Absolutely a nice work in total, threw open some new perspective and changed the way you look at what happens when a woman thinks of revenge!

Thanks Rupa Publications for your copy and thanks to the Kavita Kane for this wonderful work and hope to read many more stories that needs to be told.

PS: The author Kavita Kane specialises in telling the stories of some of the important women in the epics thorough their first person account or through their eyes.

The second TED Talk by Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is awesome!

The TED effect isnt gonna die out fast, even Indiatimes have made it up to realease one great video after another. Pranav Mistry was a revelation and now comes Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, who is a self made mythologis and has made a mind grasping study on the management principles in the Ramayanas and Mahabharatha.

The video was absolutely gripping and he was in full flow and it shows how much he adores it…Fantastic presentation by Dr. Devdutt.

Watch it here…

R Senthilkumar