Title: Jaya – An Illustrated Retelling of Mahabharata
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Narrator: Devdutt Pattanaik, Dramanon Theatre
Publisher: BooksTalk, Penguin India
Year of Publication: 09-01-2013
High above the sky stands Swarga, paradise, abode of the gods. Still above is Vaikuntha, heaven, abode of God. The doorkeepers of Vaikuntha are the twins, Jaya and Vijaya, both whose names mean ‘victory’. One keeps you in Swarga; the other raises you into Vaikuntha. In Vaikuntha there is bliss forever, in Swarga there is pleasure for only as long as you deserve. What is the difference between Jaya and Vijaya? Solve this puzzle and you will solve the mystery of the Mahabharata.
The whole Mahabharata is presented systematically in 18 sections and108 chapters, restructured to facilitate easy reading and comprehension of his grand and complex meditation of the human condition.
The stories are embellished with 250 line illustrations; the style is unique, a break from standard visual formats (Amar Chitra Katha or DC comics)
It includes tales not just from the classical Sanskrit but also from regional and folk variants from across India and even South East Asia. There are women’s stories (Satyavati, Gandhari, Kunti, Draupadi) as well as queer narratives (Aravan, Budh, Ila, Shikhandi).
The story of Krishna is part of the great epic, from his birth to his death;even his song, the Bhagavad Gita, is retold in simple prose.
Every chapter has comments that draws attention to variations of the story, the intention of the story, the rituals and customs that may have emerged from the story and practiced even today. There are Duryodhan temples in Uttarakhand and Draupadi temples in Tamil Nadu, for example.
It explains why the epic is part of the grand Vedic cosmos and how it cannot be understood without appreciating Ramayana, Vishnu Purana, Shiva Purana and Devi Purana.
This book has an ending that has never ever been told in any retelling of the Mahabharata. This ending is the reason the book was originally called Jaya by Vyasa.
Another Mahabharata retelling! This was on my reading list since its release but could never make time until the audio book came along for a review. Amidst all the relocation drama, Jaya kept me company and I loved every minute I spent with this audio book . It also fell right in place with my plans of gaining some momentum on my Project Mythology reading.
While most of the retellings of Mahabharata begin with the story of Shantanu and Ganga, this one starts off with the creation and division of duties amongst Devas and Asuras.
Initial chapter familiarises the reader with the various versions of Mahabharata and its numerous narrators, some credible and some not so much. It then moves on to place the story in a larger universe. A universe that is not limited by the influence of Kuru clan. An engaging story arc that provides rational explanations to many mystical and meta physical phenomenon described in Krishna Dwaipayana’s magnum opus.
Jaya, is more than just another run of mill Mahabharata retelling. It is THE Retelling. One that attempts to satisfy a curious and thoughtful reader of mythology. One that is written to answer those logical queries which arise out of the numerous readings of the epic. At places it adds to the readers existing knowledge and at places it provides a new insight in to a well known sections of the story. In every respect, this book is a great read.
My Thoughts on the Audiobook:
While the book gets all five stars, I would be in so much wrong, if I do not give the narration its due credit. Dramanon Theatre Company along with the author Devdutt Pattanaik, bring to life various episodes of Mahabharata and beyond. While it is a matter of fact retelling, the drama that is customary for an epic of this proportion is captured beautifully in the narration.
When the author is a part of an audiobook production it is an added bonus. Devdutt Pattanaik does a great job of introducing the epic and discussing various characters and events at the end of each chapter.
In short, the audiobook version of Jaya by booksTALK is a great way to understand the intricacies of Mahabharata. If you are an audiobook enthusiast, you will surely enjoy the production.
Here’s a sample of the audio of Jaya.
Review copy provided by Reado