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  • Dimensions:9.4 inch X 6.7 inch
  • Edition:2019
  • Author:Kamala Subramaniam
  • Publisher:Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
  • ISBN:9788172764654
  • Cover Type:Hardcover
  • Number of Pages:886
  • The Book And Its Author

    Smt. Kamala Subramaniam was born on October4, 1916 in Banglore. Her father was the eminent Kannada poet and dramatist, Shri T. P. Kailasam. She Studies under the distinguished scholar Prof. B. M. Srikantiah. She read avidly both classics and modern thrillers and her knowledge of English literature, especially of Shakespeare, was profound. She also loved philosophy and knew her Bible as well as she knew the Gita.

    In 1937, Smt. Kamala married Dr. V. S. Subramaniam, a renowned E.N.T. Surgeon of Madras. In spite of her family concerns, she pursued her literary interests and wrote a series of imaginary conversations on the model of Landor’s for Triveni under the pen-name “Ketaki”.

    Herlove of literature, nursed over the years, expressed itself in her developing a fascination for the Epics and Puranas of India.

    In the late 60s Smt. Kamala underwent and operation for cancer, which gave her a ten-year lease of life. Lesser mortals would have been un-nerved by this but for Smt. Kamala it came as a challenge and this period turned out to be the most productive literary period of her life.

    Her first labour of love was the retelling of the Mahabharata. In this masterly condensation, of India’s great epic, Smt. Kamala captures with dramatic intensity the movement of the story. As the episodes unfold in Smt. Kamala’s vivid narrative, one seems to hear Draupadi’s wail of distress, Duryodhan’s arrogant laughter, and even the twang of Arjuna’s bow, the Gandiva.

    The epics and puranas epitomise our culture. The heroes and heroines set high standars of nobility, heroism, and chivalry. They have moulded the life and outlook of generations of Indians.

    Smt. Kamala Subramaniam has left a priceless legacy for the young and the old.

    The gifted author passed away on February 21, 1938.

    Smt. Kamala was so self-effacing that she would not even permit her photograph to be printed on the jackets of her books. As a friend of hers wrote: as she wrote, she felt, as she felt, she lived in her invisible world and as she real for her and so it will grow for us when we read books.



    Smt. Kamala Subramaniam has attempted not only a summary of the great and wonderful epic, Mahabharata, but has also brought out the magic of its human interest and spiritual profundity. Besides brining the central story into relief, she has give due place to all important conversations and episodes.

    To quote, what I wrote about Mahabharata in 1951.

    “The Mahabharata is not a mere spic; it is a romance, telling the tale of heroic men and women and of some who were divine; it is a whole literature in itself, containing a code of life, a philosophy of social and ethical relations, and speculative thought on human problems that is hard to rival; but, above all, it has for its core the Gita, which is, as the world is beginning to find out, the noblest of scriptures and the grandest of sagas the climax of which is reached in the wondrous Apocalypse in the Eleventh Canto. Through such books alone, the harmonies underlying true culture, I am convinced, will one day reconcile the disorders of modern life.

    To an English reader, this volume will bring home the validity of the comment made by generations of Indian authors that “what is not there is nowhere to be found”.

    Smt. Subramaniam’s style is lucid and expressive. At places, it reads not as a summery, but the original.

    Smt. Subramaniam has rendered great service to the English-knowing public which has neither the time nor ability to read the original.

    I congratulate her on the conscientious labour that she has put in preparing this volume.



    For the last so may years the Mahabharata has held me in thrall. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two renowned epics of India. The Mahabharata is the longer of the two. There are more characters in it and the story too is more complicated than the Ramayana.

    In those days, that is twenty-five o thirty years ago, children were more familiar with these two stories then they are now. It was then the fashion to stage these stories and also there used to be Harikathas where the stories were narrated to an audience. But now the days are changed. I have noticed that, on the whole, many children and youngsters today are almost strangers to the stories. This is indeed a sad state of affairs.

    I have always wanted to share the Mahabharata with everyone, specially youngsters. There are a number of difficulties attending this. The most conspicuous of them is, of course, the length of the book. It is made up eighteen volumes, “Parvas” as they are called; and each is made up of roughly three to four hundred pages of poetry. Unless one is devotes to the epic it is not possible to read it through easily. The language is the next hurdle. Nowadays there are very few youngster who are familiar enough with Sanskrit to read through the book in the original.

    The only alternative is to read translations. I have seen several translations of the Mahabharata, and not one is satisafactory. They are all literal translations. A literal translation is like the wrong side of a tapestry: the threads are all there but the pattern is missing. It is so with this great epic. It is not possible to do full justice to it in a literal translation. The English used by the translator is not suited to the elaborate similes which are common to Sanskrit. Let me quote a couple of instances. In Sanskrit Arjuna is called “Bharatarshabha”. This is very Pleasing to the ear in Sanskrit. But, when translated into English it has to be” “O Bull of the Bharata Race!”. One can see how awkward it sounds. Again, a woman is addressed as “Mahagajagaamini” In Sanskrit. In English it has to be “O woman with the gait of an elephant in rut!” This sounds so ridiculous. Literal translations fail because of the vat difference between the Eastern and the Western ways of description. Indian ideas of beauty are far different from those of the West. Again, I have seen several condensation of the Mahabharata: books which give us just the story of the epic. Here again, there is a handicap. The story is there of course. But the characters in the story are not handled properly. They cannot be, since there is not enough space for it.

    For a long time I have wanted to write a book which will rectify these faults. I have wanted to present the book in such a manner that the story will capture the imagination of the reader. I want my book to be a narration of the stupendous drama which was enacted years ago. To me the Mahabharata is like a Greek Tragedy. I am fascinated by the many characters who appear in it. I have tried to bring out the characters of the many heroes who appear in it, as sympathetically as I could. Having studied Shakespeare, one cannot help studying the angle the epic present immense possibilities.

    Considering all these things, I have rendered the epic into English. It is not quite a translation” into in the usual sense of the word. One might call it a ‘free translation’. I have tried to narrate the story as dramatically as possible. I have narrated it in simple straightforward English. In this task, if one has to retain the spirit of the epic and the atmosphere, one has to fall back upon the quaint, old-fashioned English. This seems to suit the epic perfectly. At times, crisp clear English does not work. I find the blending of the old and the new to be the perfect medium for the narration. So I have deliberately adopted the style, which to my thinking, is absolutely perfect.

    My aim, as I said before, is to bring out the dramatic significance of the many scenes. Wherever the situation was worth some trouble, I have taken the trouble and added a few touches, a few thoughts of my own, to enhance the dramatic value of the situation. But I have been faithful to the original throughout: except, perhaps, in two places or three. Even there, I have not-departed from the facts. Only I have tried to intensify the dramatic value of the situation by my embellishments. One of them, if I remember right, is the names of the villages which Yudhisthira asks for. The names Indraprastha, Vrikaprastha, jayanta and Varanavata do not occur in the context. But they are mentioned in the play Venisamhasa and I have used them. The other, is perhaps the scene in which parikshit is given life. But the scene itself is so sublime that no exaggeration can be considered sufficient for the grandeur of the scene.

    If, after reading the book, a few at least will read the epic in the original, my desire will be fulfilled. May I say that my book is just a guide into vast ocean called the Mahabharata?


    Back of The Book

    The Mahabharata is not a mere epic; it is romance, telling the tale of heroic men and women and of some who were divine; it is whole literature in itself, containing a code of life, a philosophy of social and ethical relations, and speculative though on human problems that is hard to rival; but, above all, it has for its core with Gita, which is, as the world is beginning to find out, the noblest of scriptures and the grandest of sages the climax of which is reached in the wondrous Apocalypse in the Eleventh Canto. Through such book alone, the harmonies underlying true culture, I am convinced, will one day reconcile the disorders of modern life.

    To an English reader, this volume will bring home the validity of the comment made by generations of Indian authors that “want is not there is nowhere to be found.”




      Foreword v
      Preface vii
      Adi Parva  
    1. On the banks of the Ganga 3
    2. Sixteen Years Later 6
    3. The Fisherman’s Daughter 7
    4. The Vow of Celibacy 9
    5. The Swayamvara at Kasi 12
    6. Amba’s Thirst for Revenga 17
    7. Satyavati and Bheeshma 18
    8. The Advent to Vyaasa 21
    9. The Marriages of Pandu and Dhritarashtra 23
    10. Born of the Sun 25
    11. Pandu is Cursed 28
    12. The Birth of the Pandavas and Duryodhana 31
    13. The Death of Pandu 34
    14. Towards Hastinapura 37
    15. Jealousy: Its First Sprouts 40
    16. Enter Drona 44
    17. Drona and Drupada 45
    18. Ekalavya the Nishada 48
    19. Radheya 50
    20. Bhargava’s Curse 53
    21. The Tournament 58
    22. Gurudakshina: Drona’s Revenga 66
    23. The Plot 69
    24. The Pandavas sent to Varanavata 73
    25. In Varanavata 76
    26. The Burning of the House of Lac 79
    27. News Reaches Hastinapura 82
    28. Bheema’s Marriage with Hidimbi 83
    29. The Birth of Ghatotkacha 89
    30. Ekachakra and The Killing of Baka 90
    31. The Brahmin’s Story 96
    32. The Advent of Dhaumya 100
    33. Kampilya 102
    34. Draupadi’s Swaya,avara 105
    35. The Lord Meets the Pandavas 109
    36. “All Five of us Will Marry Your Daughter” 112
    37. Panic in The Kaurava Court 114
    38. The Assembly All 118
    39. Khandavaprastha, the Gift of the King 122
    40. Arjuna’s Teerthayatra 125
    41. Subhadra’s Gardens 127
    42. Subhadraarjuna 131
    43. Arjuna’s Return to Indraprastha 134
    44. The Hungry Brahmin 137
    45. The Burning of The Khandava Forest 140
      Sabha Parva  
    1. Maya Builds a Hall 145
    2. Narada’s Visit to Indraprastha 149
    3. Yudhishthira’s Desire 150
    4. Jarasandha 154
    5. The Rajasuya 160
    6. Krishna, the Guest of Honour 164
    7. The killing of Sisupala 169
    8. When Draupadi Laughed 172
    9. The Sabha at Jayantra 176
    10. Farewell to Indraprastha 179
    11. The Die is Cast 181
    12. Draupadi a Slave 185
    13. Draupadi Loses a Question 188
    14. Insult Heaped on Insult 191
    15. The Terrible Oaths 195
    16. The Game to be Played Again 198
    17. The Banishment of the pandavas 200
      Vana Parva  
    1. Kamyaka Forest 207
    2. The Curse of Maitreya 210
    3. Krishna’s Oath 212
    4. Dwaitavana 215
    5. Bheema, Draupadi and Yudhishthira 218
    6. Arjuna’s Journey to Indrakila 223
    7. Pasupata 225
    8. The Other Astras 229
    9. Urvasi’s Wrath 231
    10. Yudhishthra’s Teerthayatra 235
    11. Toward Himavan 239
    12. Bheema and Hanuman 243
    13. The Return of Arjuna 247
    14. Nahusha, The Fallen God 251
    15. Two Years More 256
    16. Duryodhana’s Ghoshyatra 259
    17. Praayopavesa 264
    18. Duryodhana’s Rajasuya 267
    19. Jayadratha 269
    20. The Lake of Death 273
    21. Yaksha-Prasna 277
      Virata Parva  
    1. Plans for The Thirteenth Year 287
    2. Kanka in The Court of Virata 291
    3. The Pandavas in Virata 295
    4. Saisandhri 298
    5. The Wrestling Match 300
    6. Radheya’s Dream 302
    7. The Begging-Bowl of Indra 306
    8. Keechaka-The Brother of The Queen 310
    9. Sairandhri in The Court Hall 315
    10. Bheema and Sairandhri 318
    11. The Dance Hall-The Trysting Place 321
    12. The Assembly in Hastinapura 325
    13. Virata’s Cows Stolen! 330
    14. Uttara Kumara-The Young Prince 333
    15. Arjuna and The Young Prince 336
    16. The Sami Three 341
    17. Radheya and Aswatthama 344
    18. Duryodhana’s Heart-Break 349
    19. The Routing of The Kaurava Army 351
    20. Yudhishthiras Blood 357
    21. After The Eclipse, The Full Moon 362
    22. The Wedding of Abhimanyu 365
      Udyoga Parva  
    1. The Council Hall in Virata 369
    2. Arjuna and Duryodhana in Dwaraka 376
    3. Kishna-The Charioteer of Arjuna 380
    4. Eighteen Aksauhinist 383
    5. Dhritarashtra’s Reply to Yudhishthira 386
    6. Sanjaya Sent Back to Hastinapura 394
    7. Vidura-Neeti 400
    8. Sanjaya in The Kaurava Court 410
    9. ”Give us Five Villages” 414
    10. Krishna leaves for Hastinapura 421
    11. Hastinapura Prepares Herself 428
    12. Krishna and Vidura 432
    13. Krishna-The Peacemaker 434
    14. Duryodhana’s Anger 439
    15. Viswaroopa 445
    16. “Surya is Your Father” 448
    17. Krishna Returns to Upaplavya 455
    18. Bheeshma-The Commender of The Kaurava Army 458
    19. Radheya And Kunti-I 460
    20. Radheya And Kunti-II 464
    21. Radheya And Kunti-III 466
    22. Balarama And Rukmi 470
    23. Uluka in The Pandava Camp 472
      Bheeshma Parva  
    1. The Field of Kurukshetra 479
    2. Yudhishthira’s Chivarly 482
    3. The Bhagavad Gita 485
    4. The Beginning of the End 496
    5. The Second Day 499
    6. Krishna’s Anger 503
    7. Duryodhana’s Despair 508
    8. The Fifth and Sixth Days 513
    9. Sikhandi’s Vain Attempts 518
    10. Ghatitkacha’s Valour 523
    11. The Night in Bheeshma’s Tent 528
    12. Bheeshma-The Forest Fire 531
    13. The Pandavas at The Feet of Bheeshma 536
    14. Sikhandi in The Forefront 542
    15. The Fall of Bheeshma 546
    16. Radheya and Bheeshma 551
      Drona Parva  
    1. Radheya Enters The Field 557
    2. To Capture Yudhishthira 560
    3. The Trigartas 564
    4. Supritika, Bhagadata’s Elephant 566
    5. The Fall of Bhagadatta 571
    6. Drona’s Promise 574
    7. The Chakravyuha and Abhimanyu 577
    8. Jayadratha is Formidable 580
    9. The Killing of Abhimanyu 584
    10. Arjuna’s Oath 588
    11. Jayadratha’s Panic 594
    12. Krishna’s Preparations 599
    13. The Fourteenth Day Dawns 603
    14. Arjuna Ploughs Through The Army 606
    15. The Glory That was Drona 609
    16. Arjuna’s Horses are Tired 613
    17. Yudhishthira’s Fears 618
    18. The Prowess of Satyaki 623
    19. Yudhishthira Hears The Pachajanya 627
    20. Bhema’s Dual With Drona 631
    21. Bheema and Radheya 636
    22. Bhoorisravas 639
    23. The Death of Jayadratha 644
    24. Drona Touched to The Quick 647
    25. Radheya and Kripa 652
    26. The Mignight Battle 656
    27. Ghatotkacha 660
    28. The Death of Ghatotkacha 664
    29. Drona Harassed by Duryodhana 668
    30. The One Lie 674
    31. The Fall of Drona 680
    32. Discussions in The Pandava Camp-I 682
    33. Discussions in The Pandava Camp-II 688
    34. The Narayanastra 690
      Karna Parva  
    1. Radheya in Command 697
    2. The Sixteenth Day 701
    3. The Last Night of Radheya 702
    4. Salya The Charioteer of Radheya 706
    5. Yudhishthira Hurt by Radheya 709
    6. In Yudhishthira’s Tent 714
    7. The Death of Dussasana 718
    8. Radheya and Arjuna 722
    9. The Death of Radheya 725
    10. The King-A Picture of Woe 731
    11. With His Grandfather 734
      Salya Parva  
    1. Kripa and The King 739
    2. Death of Salya 742
    3. Sakuni Dead 746
    4. Dwaipayana Lake 748
    5. Duryodhana Ready to Fight 752
    6. Samantapanchaka 756
    7. The Fall of Duryodhana 759
    8. Balarama’s Wrath 762
      After The War  
    1. Arjuna’s Chariot 771
    2. Aswatthama;s Grief 774
    3. The Mignight Massacre 777
    4. Krishna’s Curse 780
    5. The Embrace of Death 783
    6. The Curse of Gandhari 787
    7. “Radheyawas My Son” 790
    8. Yudhishthira’s Unhappiness 795
    9. The Crowning of Yudhishthira 799
    10. Bheeshma on the Bed of Arrows 800
    11. Talks on The Dharma of a King 804
    12. The Passing of Bheeshma 821
    13. Krishna Returns to Dwaraka 824
    14. Parikshit: The Aswamedha Yaga 827
    15. The Death of The Elders 831
    16. The Tragedy at Prabhaasa 834
    17. The Death of Krishna 837
    18. The Sea Enters Dwaraka 840
    19. Yudhishthira Reaches the Heavens 842
    20. The Rules of Heaven 846
      Epilogue 850
      Glossary 851


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