Words are our (humans) most powerful and greatest tool. They have the power to inspire people, crush souls, create magical worlds and build empires. The art of storytelling has been hardwired into our lives and deeply rooted inside our brains. We, human beings crave for stories and it is clear as a crystal that we are obsessed with stories. The monomania for stories is palpable ranging from mythological tales from the past to the ultra-short micro-fiction to the latest epigrammatic stories composed within a single tweet and these disparate tales coexist side-by-side without any qualms.
It would be impossible for the people of our country to not being acquainted with the most popular epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata as we would have grown up hearing and reading it, relishing it with the appetite to read more of it. It never ceases to amaze that the zeal to know more about these epics never recedes as time passes but only surges with increasing time and changing periods.
Devdutt Pattanaik‘s latest book “Ramayana Versus Mahabharata: My Playful Comparison” delights us with its lucid cover and the tag ‘playful comparison‘ in the title piques the interest of the readers with an eagerness to discover to what “India’s Favourite Mythologist Writer” offers in this short book of 194 pages. He asserts that measuring is human delusion and comparing, divine play in the inception of the book.
The blurb of the book reads “In temples ritual, Vishnu is offered 8 different meals daily, different on all seven days of the week—56 dishes in all.” which is quite a surprise as the book is neatly divided into eight parts and 56 chapters, and both Lord Ram and Krishna are avatars of Vishnu. Each chapter begins with the word “Both” and tries to convey the correlation between the epics giving the reader a glimpse into what the chapters offer within its words. The book, by and large attempts to compare the two epics, the idealistic Ramayana and the realistic Mahabharata for similarities and dissimilarities along with neat illustrations.
The book is simple to follow and makes you wonder about some identical themes which have missed our eyes so far. It establishes the theme that each story share enabling us to view the identical building blocks, family structure, forest exile, and war. Devdutt also lays emphasis on the many retellings of both the epics spread all over the world and cleverly compares it with Greek, Buddhist, Jainist and Abrahamic mythologies. The book tries to introspect into the idea of complex casualty which is a key theme across epics. It dwells on karma and dharma as the basis of all happenings in the two epics.
Though the reader gets weary along the initial pages, the book with its beautiful comparison gets the reader on an exhilarating ride which would fill him with an immense knowledge of the epics. The book is a treasure trove of information on various retellings providing new insights into the epics which we would have unheard of. The arduous research that the author had undergone is evident from the unambiguous words and coherent concepts which he explains it with ease. The anecdotes from regional languages/versions of the ithihasas/epics will be a new experience for the readers. Although one couldn’t avoid a debate in the mind about the analysis of the epics by Devdutt Pattanaik, this makes it an interesting book to delve into, making it a staggering ride to remember with its brevity.
About the Book:
Title : Ramayana Versus Mahabharata: My Playful Comparison
Author : Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher : Rupa Publications
Genre : Non-Fiction / Philosophy
Copy : Flipkart Review Program
ISBN : 9789353332303