The Mahabharata, India's greatest epic, is a huge, sweeping work and is the longest Sanskrit epic. It tells the story of the Kuru family, and the events that lead to the fratricidal Mahabharata War. It describes the events during the 18-day war and its aftermath. In the Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata, Devdutt Pattanaik has condensed the epic into a small capsule. For those who do not know the story of the Mahabharata, this can be a good choice for a first book based on Mahabharata. What makes this book special is that it collects tales from various regional and folk versions in addition to the original Sanskrit composition. This book is divided into 108 chapters and is illustrated with around 250 simple line drawings done by the author himself. The author draws the reader into an interesting retelling of the Mahabharata. The book contains many intriguing tales from other versions of the epic, not just the major regional versions, but also those used in enacting the epic in folk arts like Chattisgarh's Pandavani, Tamil Nadu's Terukuttu and Karnataka's Yakshagana. The book contains stories of Aravan, Barbareek, Jaimini, Astika and Madhavi. It also highlights some intriguing traditions like the Draupadi temples in Tamilnadu where she is worshipped as a Goddess. It devotes pages to the Mahabharata versions of Sanskrit Classics like Shakuntalam and Ramayana. The author also devotes a section to dating the Mahabharata War based on the detailed astronomical information provided in the book, like the position of certain constellations etc. By bringing together many prevalent versions of the Mahabharata, he gives a pan-Indian view of the epic that has shaped the history and culture of the country over millennia. General Reception , The book has become a popular choice for those who want to read the story of the epic for the first time as well as those who want to know even more about the Mahabharata and its sweeping influence on the country's culture and traditions. This highlight of the book is its simple style and the author's own interpretations of various incidents in the epic.
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