“Pattanaik points out the issues of dharma throughout with his own easy to assimilate illustrations and short text to ensure that comprehension is easy.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Very few people know that the Mahabharata war lasted just 18 days. If you read the epic. The unending slaughter and debate puts it on the same plane as the Trojan war which lasted years. Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Boys Who Fought is the Mahabharata reduced to nuts and bolts for children without any of the classical comic book treatment that has hitherto been dished out.

Pattanaik puts the epic in perspective as a story of two sets of cousins who fell out because the Kauravas, all 100 0f them, refused to share with their five Pandava cousins. It began with not sharing toys when the Pandavas came to live with their uncle the blind Dhritarashtra who could not rule because of his blindess. However when his younger brother Pandu died, the kingdom and Pandu’s sons automatically came into his care. As the Pandavas grew into mighty warriors, the issue of sharing in the family, writes Pattanaik, became more complex. The Kauravas refused to give their cousins as much land as would cover the point of a needle.

Guided by Krishna, whom they met at Draupadi’s wedding, the matter became one of dharma versus adharma, the mighty refusing to accept the meek. Pattanaik points out the issues of dharma throughout with his own easy to assimilate illustrations and short text to ensure that comprehension is easy. He also retains the main narrative elements, Bhisma’s oath, Ashwatthama’s supposed death, Draupadi’s disrobing and the rest. While remembering all the names may be difficult because the Mahabharata has a cast of thousands, the point of the story comes through, along with a condensation of Krishna’s 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Geeta and note on its translations.

The book is a companion in looks and format to The Girl Who Chose, a retelling of the Ramayana.

 

Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 30th October 2017

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Anjana Basu