Wednesday, September 7, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: THE MAHABHARATA CODE BY KARTHIK K.B. RAO

Name of the Book: The Mahabharata Code
Name of the Author: Karthik K B Rao
Star Rating: 4 Stars
Goodreas Link: http://bit.ly/2cVZtui

AS WE DIG UP OUR PAST. . .

Rick Riordan has really opened a Pandora's box. From Shiva to Zeus, from Arjun to Hercules and from Sita to Diana - has been told, and retold. Hashed and reincarnated. The question is why? Why are we so much into analyzing and retelling the events which have already become a way of life for an entire nation? Is there a dearth of imagination or is it the analytical minds of the writers that need to understand why Sita went under the ground or why Draupadi's clothes were ripped off her body and yet her silent spectators are given god-like respect? I think this is an era of giving answers to the questions our younger generation has been asking. No more are the words enough. Words that are parroted without understanding and cloaked with scientific explanation lose their true essence.

The Mahabharata Code by Karthik K B Rao is yet another contribution to this phenomenon called retelling of mythologies.  He has gone a step ahead by adding Sci-fi to this genre. Very innovative.

This novel is not for a rainy day. Many questions have been raised and some answered scientifically. Why did Jarasandh have such immense strength and what was the reason behind Krishna for slaying him? How did Ravana have 10 heads and what was the reason behind the monkey men fighting for Rama? I am sure many of us have asked these questions at one time or the other. Mr. Rao has almost given some believable justifications. - 

The narrative will catch your interest in the beginning when questions regarding Krishna and the whole cosmos planner are raised. A mixture of past and present, reality and surreal are blended. When past merges into the present and vice versa, forms a page turner till a certain point.

The story takes a turn when the protag is sent to another planet where the restaging of Mahabharata will take place. All the characters are already decided upon by the great maestro Vyasa and the protag along with his team are mere witnesses. 

The Mahabharata Code...

'When the earthlings get a message in the form of Hindu symbols which reads, 'athithi devo bhava' it starts a journey to the unknown. Who are the players and who play the role of spectators will be understood much later in the story. Curiosity factors are maintained till here. Even after they reach the planet the occurrences of the Mahabharata are orchestrated by whom and why also forms quite an interesting read. 

But the problems start with the winding down of the story. The ending where reality is merged with ambiguity might be a bit off-putting for some. For a more analytical mind, it might open a plethora of questions raised in this book. The author has given women a much higher place than was given during those times. There is even a Nirbhaya shot for Arjuna. 

And this is where my greatest peeve with this novel is. 

The flow of the story is full of diversions. From mythological characters to reality. From expectations of a father to being a defenseless father... I wish the author did not have to give justification for all his characters. If one character is bad then he is bad. A villain needs no justification. And this dual image of Krishna is something I accepted but still had my doubts. Krishna is one of the biggest examples of shades of gray - even if he is a god. But why he is like that and what is the difference between a villain and a man fighting for his rights, is what makes Mahabharata code an interesting read.

The Resolution ...

The resolution of the story could have been a bit earlier. If I say more on this it will have spoilers so let me just surmise that even with an ambiguous ending let there be only one school of thought. Too many resolutions gave to the same occurrence or to reach the same destination can be detrimental to the readers.

WILL I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?
Yes. For those who like questioning the roles of the mythological characters in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, you will love it. You will love to read it and debate about it for hours for this book does raise a lot of questions.

THE LINE THAT STAYED WITH ME

I even attended one self-help group therapy program where people from all walks of life would share their life experiences and then the instructor tries to resolve their problems using some techniques. It started off well and I had even begun to like that program when suddenly the instructor remarked that we are all just biological machines and our life is empty and meaningless.

Hahhaa. Now that is one heck of a self-help group.

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