The Mahabharata Reimagined: Shashi Tharoor's The Great Indian Novel and Its Significance
The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor: A Modern Retelling of the Mahabharata
If you are looking for a book that combines history, mythology, satire, and humor, you might want to check out The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor. This book is a clever and creative adaptation of the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata, set in the context of twentieth-century India. In this article, we will explore what this book is about, how it reimagines the classic story, and how you can download it in EPUB format.
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Introduction: What is the book about and why is it relevant today?
The Great Indian Novel was published in 1989 by Shashi Tharoor, an Indian author, politician, and diplomat. The title is a pun on both the Mahabharata, which is often considered as one of the greatest literary works of India, and the phrase "the great Indian novel", which refers to the elusive quest for a definitive representation of India's diverse and complex reality.
The book is a fictionalized account of India's struggle for independence from British colonial rule and its subsequent political and social challenges. It follows the lives and fortunes of a large cast of characters, who are based on figures from both the Mahabharata and modern Indian history. For example, the narrator of the book is Ved Vyas, a veteran politician and writer who shares his name with the traditional author of the Mahabharata. He tells his story to Ganapathi, his scribe and confidant, who is modeled after Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of wisdom and success. Other examples include Pandu, who is based on Mahatma Gandhi, Duryodhana, who is based on Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Draupadi, who is based on Indira Gandhi, and Karna, who is based on Subhas Chandra Bose.
The book is relevant today because it offers a unique perspective on India's past and present, as well as its cultural and political identity. It also raises important questions about power, morality, justice, loyalty, and democracy. It shows how history can be interpreted in different ways, depending on one's point of view and agenda. It also demonstrates how mythology can be used as a source of inspiration and critique for contemporary issues.
Summary: A brief overview of the plot and the main characters
The plot of The Great Indian Novel follows the same structure as the Mahabharata, which consists of 18 books or parvas. Each parva corresponds to a different phase or aspect of Indian history, from the pre-independence era to the late 1980s. The book also incorporates elements from other Indian texts and traditions, such as the Ramayana, the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Panchatantra.
The main characters of the book are divided into two rival clans: the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Pandavas are the descendants of Pandu, a revered leader of the Indian National Congress who led the non-violent resistance against British rule. He had five sons, each with a different mother and a different talent. They are Yudhishtir, the eldest and the most virtuous, who becomes the first prime minister of independent India; Bhim, the strongest and the most aggressive, who leads the armed wing of the Congress; Arjun, the most skilled and the most charismatic, who is a war hero and a popular leader; Nakul, the most handsome and the most vain, who is a film star and a socialite; and Sahadev, the youngest and the most intelligent, who is a journalist and a critic.
The Kauravas are the descendants of Dhritarashtra, Pandu's half-brother and rival, who is the leader of the Muslim League and later becomes the governor-general of Pakistan. He had 100 sons, but only a few are prominent in the book. They are Duryodhana, the eldest and the most ambitious, who is obsessed with defeating the Pandavas and ruling over India; Dushasana, his loyal and cruel brother, who is his right-hand man; Karna, his best friend and ally, who is actually the illegitimate son of Pandu and a low-caste woman, but is unaware of his true identity; Shakuni, his uncle and adviser, who is a master of manipulation and deception; and Ashwatthama, his nephew and general, who is a ruthless and vengeful warrior.
The book narrates the various conflicts and alliances between these two clans, as well as their interactions with other characters from Indian history and mythology. Some of these characters are Draupadi, Pandu's daughter-in-law and wife of all five Pandavas, who is a powerful and controversial figure in Indian politics; Krishna, Pandu's cousin and friend, who is a spiritual leader and a mentor to Arjun; Rama, Pandu's ancestor and incarnation of Vishnu, who is an ideal king and husband; Sita, Rama's wife and incarnation of Lakshmi, who is an epitome of virtue and devotion; Ravana, Rama's enemy and king of Lanka, who is a tyrant and a kidnapper; Hanuman, Rama's ally and son of the wind god, who is a loyal and brave monkey warrior; Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration, who grants boons and curses to various characters; Parvati, Shiva's wife and goddess of love and fertility, who is a compassionate and playful deity; Ganga, the goddess of the river Ganges 71b2f0854b