Mythologist | Author | Speaker | Illustrator

First published August 7, 2010

Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharta

Published by Penguin India.

High above the sky stands Swarga, paradise, abode of the gods. Still above is Vaikuntha, heaven, abode of God. The doorkeepers of Vaikuntha are the twins, Jaya and Vijaya, both whose names mean ‘victory’. One keeps you in Swarga; the other raises you into Vaikuntha. In Vaikuntha there is bliss forever, in Swarga there is pleasure for only as long as you deserve. What is the difference between Jaya and Vijaya? Solve this puzzle and you will solve the mystery of the Mahabharata.

7 reasons to buy Jaya: Illustrated Retelling of Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik.

1. The whole Mahabharata is presented systematically in 18 sections and108 9chapters, restructured to facilitate easy reading and comprehension of his grand and complex meditation of the human condition.

2. The stories are embellished with 250 line illustrations; the style is unique, a break from standard visual formats (Amar Chitra Katha or DC comics).

3. It includes tales not just from the classical Sanskrit but also from regional and folk variants from across India and even South East Asia. There are women’s stories (Satyavati, Gandhari, Kunti, Draupadi) as well as queer narratives (Aravan, Budh, Ila, Shikhandi).

4. The story of Krishna is part of the great epic, from his birth to his death;even his song, the Bhagavad Gita, is retold in simple prose.

5. Every chapter has comments that draws attention to variations of the story, the intention of the story, the rituals and customs that may have emerged from the story and practiced even today. There are Duryodhan temples in Uttarakhand and Draupadi temples in Tamil Nadu, for example.

6. It explains why the epic is part of the grand Vedic cosmos and how it cannot be understood without appreciating Ramayana, Vishnu Purana, Shiva Purana and Devi Purana.

7. This book has an ending that has never ever been told in any retelling of the Mahabharata. This ending is the reason the book was originally called Jaya by Vyasa.

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