Read Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling by Carole Satyamurti Wendy Doniger Vinay Dharwadker Online


Originally composed approximately two thousand years ago, the Mahabharata tells the story of a royal dynasty, descended from gods, whose feud over their kingdom results in a devastating war. But it contains much more than conflict. An epic masterpiece of huge sweep and magisterial power, “a hundred times more interesting” than the Iliad and the Odyssey, writes Wendy DonigeOriginally composed approximately two thousand years ago, the Mahabharata tells the story of a royal dynasty, descended from gods, whose feud over their kingdom results in a devastating war. But it contains much more than conflict. An epic masterpiece of huge sweep and magisterial power, “a hundred times more interesting” than the Iliad and the Odyssey, writes Wendy Doniger in the introduction, the Mahabharata is a timeless work that evokes a world of myth, passion, and warfare while exploring eternal questions of duty, love, and spiritual freedom. A seminal Hindu text, which includes the Bhagavad Gita, it is also one of the most important and influential works in the history of world civilization.Innovatively composed in blank verse rather than prose, Carole Satyamurti’s English retelling covers all eighteen books of the Mahabharata. This new version masterfully captures the beauty, excitement, and profundity of the original Sanskrit poem as well as its magnificent architecture and extraordinary scope....

Title : Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780393352498
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 928 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling Reviews

  • the gift
    2019-03-08 02:47

    'whatever is found here may be found somewhere else, but what is not found here is found nowhere else' everything about this cultural, religious, philosophical epic is essence of India, is authored by and concerns, in plot and thought, so much, so many, and is an epic which has no equal. as a translation i cannot comment, as i do not read Sanskrit, as a poem, this is the most engaging epic poem ever read, though last read any sort in u, then a prose adaptation of the Odyssey later. by sheer numbers the compiled text is amazingly epic, from about two thousand years past reflecting on yet older tales, in this retelling satyamurti uses twenty-seven thousand blank verse lines. original text is 21 volumes, five hundred named characters, twenty-four main characters (just d: devavrata, drishtadtumna, dhritarashta (d1), drona, drupada, duryodhana(d2)), twenty four frames in three main narrative frames, eighteen books, meant to be recited- taking seventy-one days at eight hour days reciting...i have wanted to read this for some time. as i am trying to read much 'Indian' philosophy, have read some Indian novels, i have decided to fill in my sense of history and culture of the subcontinent, and fortunately came across this work. Indian readers are perhaps already familiar with much of the plot, at least through three recent Hindi tv production miniseries, but for those of us westerners, europeans, north and south americans, who do not know: it starts with a game of dice. by this time you know many characters. by this time you know the enmity between the pandavas and kauravas, cousins, of the 'bharata' family- and i cannot think of another dice game as riveting and tense and tragic... one side loses, to skill and cheating, the gambling stakes getting higher and higher... and in keeping their honour the losing pandavas accept their banishment to the forests for thirteen years...but this is the beginning, for after passing exile the kauravas- or rather one leader in particular, d2- refuses to let the pandavas reclaim their half kingdoms, does not listen to his father d1, and sets off a massive war which involves all the cousins, their allies, their gods, celestial weapons, a lot of battles- have they been abridged? no idea, but these battles take up several hundred pages. there is here integrated the 'song of the lord', otherwise known as 'the bhagavad gita', where Arjuna argues with his charioteer krishna against the idea of going forth to fight his kin, and this pauses the action for a bit, but the final argument seems to be: do your duty! so he does...d1 is the blind king listener to these accounts with us the readers, and the simple heroes become more and more complex: cousin against cousin, nephew against uncle, there is no limit to who fights who and how the fights go. innumerable unnamed soldiers die. named heroes clash. blood, wounds, death, mud, scavengers, and so on, for thousands of lines. d1 tries to get d2 to see sense and end carnage and repeatedly fails. fantastic heroes battle other fantastic heroes. this war goes on for many, many lines, and includes strategy, tricks, lies, espionage and ambush, as much as face-to-face battles- this is compelling in her rendering, and makes me think of those epic battles in modern fantasy movies between the light and the dark with all their ancient or medieval weaponry... and in the end, one side wins, at terrible cost...but it is still not over. after winning the war comes winning the peace. at this point the work starts to become more philosophical, more integrating other texts, more about how to be a victor and mourn the war dead, how it is now duty to rule and not remove in grief or take up goals to reach the One, how this is the right way to rule, how this is the wrong way to rule, how to be man or how to be a woman- by this point it seems the work has become a sort of 'open-source' frame for countless stories, parables, assertions, of more philosophical content, the general way to be worthy (seems to be primarily, feed, listen to, honour, the Brahmins), and as a flexible text gives justification of everything from caste to eating meat to ends justify the the work does not seem to end as much as sort of disperse. admittedly, for me, much of the postwar philosophizing is contrary to my egalitarian, democratic, political beliefs, and the characterization of duties, of dualities, of the individual, is not coherent with my thoughts. but i can certainly see how this is such an essential Indian epic- i would have to learn Sanskrit, read originals, to critique it any more...

  • Ben-omi Siol-Torquil
    2019-03-12 00:38

    I've wanted to read the Mahabharata for years. This is the first adaptation that makes the story friendly to the modern reader without losing its most important aspects, through a few techniques which Carole Satuamurti does extremely well; better than any other I've tried to read so far."Unfortunately my Sanskrit is really poor and the only full edition translated into English is K.M. Ganguli's at this point. On the one hand it's great because it's so old (Late 19th century) that it's now public domain but on the other hand it's a direct translation of 13000 pages of Sanskrit written in the popular śloka meter. It's around 5000 pages long after translation divided into 18 volumes with lots of reoccurring story lines as well as other classics embedded such as a short form of the Ramayana. On the other hand, the English used is getting a bit dated, not a terrible thing if it wasn't so long and convoluted. But I think the worst thing is the śloka meter obviously can't translate into English since the words are naturally different lengths and the grammar different enough to lose the chanting-like vibe ślokas normally have. I've managed to read two of the 19 volumes but it's a difficult process.I have looked into other English adaptations and while I found one or two that were condensed the tone still remained inaccessible in one case and in another I wasn't happy with the process of cutting the story down. Carole Satyamurti on the other hand has done a beautiful job of adapting Ganguli's faithful translation into a piece that captures all the important aspects of the Mahabharata in full based on my understanding of the epic in less than 1000 pages. The intensity of the Kaurava-Pandava rivalry is fully intact, she does a beautiful job in particular of painting the tragic character of Karna and most of the plot points that really matter to the socio-religious lessons the Mahabharata teaches are intact. From what I can tell beyond removing duplicate storylines and modernizing the voice of the narrative she has just condensed sections which in the overall scheme of the book are pretty superfluous. That's not to say I won't continue to work my way through the Ganguli translation, but it will be nice to have her adaptation in mind as I do so.The only thing I can think of that I wasn't all that happy with was her rendering of the Bhagavad Gita (which is a portion or the Mahabharata, but since there are so many excellent translations of that part by others I wasn't troubled. Basically if you're someone who's also always wanted to read the worlds longest epic poem (makes the Iliad look tiny) but didn't have the time to get through Ganguli's translation and didn't like the other English abridged versions like myself I can tell you there's now a nice option in Carole Satyamurti's adaptation.

  • Khashayar Mohammadi
    2019-03-08 00:55

    This is the perfect edition for someone who wants to read the Mahabharata as a work of literature and admire the colorful characters and magical stories, but if you're picking this up as a spiritual guide, you're much better off reading the traditional translations.The smooth and simplified narrative is much easier on the eyes and helps one enjoy the story, but when it comes to certain important parts, most importantly the Bhagavad Gita and Yudishthira's conversations with Bhishma and Yaksha, the simplified translation is borderline blasphemy.

  • Shelley Schanfield
    2019-03-05 23:41

    Of the English versions of this epic that I've read, this is by far my favorite. Carole Satyamurti is a poet, not a Sanskrit scholar. Her retelling uses blank verse and modern language to wonderful effect. I couldn't put it down. The wars of succession between the Pandavas and the Kauravas is enough of a tale to grasp without all the subplots, instructive stories, and dharma lectures that make up the Mahabharata. Satyamurti whittles the 100,000 lines of the whole thing into 841 fast-moving pages that include the best of the epic's many digressions. Satyamurti's rendering captures the spiritual dimension of events and characters (it is not only a great adventure but a religious text) without the pious language that sometimes makes other versions seem two dimensional.I raced through this version, turned the last page, and started over again.

  • Laura
    2019-02-28 04:55

    I am not sure that I loved the writing - but of course when one is dealing with an ancient text written originially in ain a language that is no longer a mother tongue of anyone living and a language of religion and achedemics which is translated by an author who is a native English speaker it is hard to tell what is being lost in translation - either linguistically or culturally.Overall I felt that I enjoyed reading this classic - it should have been required reading for high school for me in Pakitstan. It would have given so much cultural insight and explaination.Epic stories of gods and kings, battles and exiles, births and deaths and also a good deal of spiritual and social instruction. I was also pleasantly surprised by views on gender and sexuality that I might have assumed were not hsitoryally cultural which were addressed.

  • Dean Simons
    2019-02-25 06:33

    Very fun and readable version of the ancient Indian epic. The glossary at the back is extremely useful in keeping the many many characters straight.There is one point when the author of this version doesn't quite hit the mark and that is in depicting the action of the Kurukshetra war itself. It got repetitive at times. (Fortunately the war itself isn't the entirety of the book of the Bharatas)This is my first reading of any form of the Mahabharata so I can't comment on whether it is "the best version" but it is pretty accessible compared to some unabridged attempts which go into laborious detail and lose the reader in the process.

  • Gabriel Clarke
    2019-03-02 00:42

    Quite the most marvellous book or poem I've read all year. Like the Fire Sermon, Game of Thrones, the Iliad, the Biblical prophetic books and many other wonders all rolled into one. I though I'd find 800+ pages of blank verse a trudge but it has been a kinetic, energising, revelatory, inspirational delight. I really feel like turning to the first page and starting again!

  • Ren (A Bookish Balance)
    2019-03-23 06:41

    Review to come!

  • Yawtm
    2019-03-19 03:35

    Brillant! I could almost see the action in my mind

  • Prasanna Saraswathi krishnan
    2019-02-26 23:53

    A very good introduction of the great egpic to the western world. For someone who grew up hearing stories from Mahabharatham, many things in the book will be familiar. What's another thing good about the book is, it explains what the Pandavas did during their exile. Having said that, a couple of things that are missing (or incorrect?) From the book is - 1. missing of Sanskrit terms. e.g. spinning wheel formation - Chakravyuham (this s the most important thing of battle, but that term s omitted)2. The most important aspect of Hanuman (divide monkey) on the flag of Arjuna s chariot. He is the one who bears all the damage to the chariot. That is incorrect.3. First avatar of Vishnu is Macham - fish. The book describes as varaha which is actually the third Avatar. This s completely wrong in the book.

  • Akhilesh
    2019-03-02 23:29

    This is the version of the Mahabharata that I would recommend to those not previously familiar with it, or for those who want a nice, poetic version of the epic. The Mahabharata itself is, in translation, thousands of pages long, and contains within it several entire treatises and other works including the Bhagavad Gita, elaborations on governance, and an abridged Ramayana. It is therefore necessary for an single volume version of the Mahabharata to be an abridgment, adaptation, or some sort of retelling. I am particularly fond of Devdutt Pattanaik's Jaya, but that book is more conducive to those who are already familiar with the epic, because it recounts several regional and folk versions of the story and works on the assumption that the reader is familiar with basic Hindu concepts.Carole Satyamurti's version of the Mahabharata is especially notable because it preserves the structure of the original epic. It is closer to an abridgment than an adaptation, and for the most part keeps the most important parts of the original content without extrapolations or changes. The content itself is poetically worded in an aesthetically pleasing manner that seeks to capture the original intent without cleaving too close to an exact word for word equivalence of the original Sanskrit; Satyamurti is a poet and not a translator. She is a great poet, and this is a beautiful and lively poem.I especially appreciate the effort she took to retain the structure of the original, keeping large parts of treatises on philosophical and political questions wedged between the main plot. The Mahabharata itself is so long because of this material. Most people familiar with the Mahabharata, Indian or non-Indian, are mostly familiar with the main story, the struggle between the Pandavas and Kauravas, and the workings of Krishna. This edition, however, includes all that along with dialogues about topics relevant to the human condition that could relevant to people in the present. A final note: yes, this is a secularized version of the epic, intended to be read mostly for its literary and philosophical merits rather than its religious content, in the same way most people today read the Iliad without faith in the deities therein. This could be problematic for some, but there are literally hundreds of versions of the Mahabharata that take a more pious note, and since this version is aimed mostly at Western audiences, this really isn't an issue. In many ways, by taking a more objective, philosophical, and less reverent stance (that need not be exclusive with belief), this version of the epic does it great justice by allowing it to be seen in a new, more universal and contemplative light, as a meditation on the themes of human existence.

  • Sanjay Vyas
    2019-03-13 05:54

    I have read other versions of this book. This edition has a unique attribute; it has a very detailed translation of the last chapters with the elder Bhishna sharing worldly wisdom with Yudhishtra. I really enjoyed that.For a more condensed version, I like the play format, edited by Jean-Claude Carrière.

  • Tandava Brahmachari
    2019-03-20 01:32

    I was looking forward to reading a verse rendition of the Mahabharata, since I'd only read it in prose before, but I didn't end up being terribly thrilled by the poetry. It was mostly extremely loose iambic pentameter—too loose to really feel much of a rhythm, in my opinion, so it might just as well have been prose. And perhaps it was the "modern retelling" subtitle at work, but the language didn't seem quite heroic enough, and was occasionally even distractingly anachronistic. So that was too bad. Also, the 200 pages of the battle of Kurukshetra could really have been condensed—every warrior was so superlative that it actually got kind of monotonous. (I realize, of course, that we're working with a pretty huge original epic here, but if she is in fact trying to retell this for a modern audience, that could have used some work.) All that said, though, it's a fantastic story, and the spiritual power still shines through.

  • Grady McCallie
    2019-03-07 03:49

    Ten times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, the Mahabharata is a foundational epic of Indian culture, and includes the Bhagavad Gita, a key Hindu scripture. The epic tells the story (and backstory, and backstory) of a massive war between the five Pandava brothers and their 100 Kaurava cousins - but, as a sage within the epic says, 'what is here may be found elsewhere, but what is not here, is nowhere else.' Satyamurti is a trained poet, and her verse retelling (not a direct translation) is a real delight to read, while retaining the large cast of characters and the moral complexity of the original. This retelling is more compelling, accessible, and nuanced than any retelling or translation I've previously tried to read.

  • Debu Majumdar
    2019-03-11 01:42

    The is the best Mahabharata translation I have read. At first, I was a little intimidated to read this as it is done in poetic form and it is 800 pages long, but it has been so easy to read, the language so wonderful, it has been a pleasure to read it. Also, the Foreword by Wendy Doniger gives a superb perspective of the Mahabharata in the context of India and the world, especially the section on the Stories of Women. I omitted part of two sections, XII and XIII, where Bhisma's advice was elaborated. These are long; I suggest a beginner can avoid them and he or she will still enjoy the epic very much. I recommend the book whole-heartedly.

  • PremBlindMan
    2019-03-05 07:52

    I have no plan when I'll finish this book. However, among many English versions of the mahabharata that I'm reading. This is the first one that I think off whenever I have free time and would like to go deeply into the world of this Indian epic. Comparing to other English versions, this is the shorter one, but its beautiful and easy-to-understand language attracting me. This is my first review, and sorry for my English, it's not my native language.

  • Merythapy
    2019-03-25 23:43

    Fantastically friendly for a modern Western reader. The blank verse pulls you along in its easy sweep and is never intrusive. This is the only version I've read, but I still feel like the author did a fantastic job choosing which episodes to expand and which to condense.In sum: compulsively readable, moving, and enthralling.

  • Derek
    2019-02-26 00:29

    By far the greatest and most life-changing book I have ever read -- it sings to my soul. I hope to read the other English translation (the "full" Ganguli Mahabharata) in the future. This was extremely fulfilling, at times daunting, and even a little boring, but worth the time and the effort.

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-18 05:49

    amazing f'ing read! author did a wonderful job on this.

  • Pete Hill
    2019-03-05 02:47

    Very accessible read of a classic tale. Why I read books.

  • Mills College Library
    2019-03-17 06:30

    821.914 S254 2015