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April 12, 2015 / subramanyam

A tribute to Arjuna


If there is a hero from MahaBharatha who is robbed off his glory , whose valorous acts are forgotten or worse attributed to some one else, whose victories are snatched away and whose achievements are down played,  it is Arjuna.  (I like having an “a” in the end and prefer calling him Arjuna than Arjun, please bear with me.)  For some reason, the historians, the self declared scholars,  the novelists, the makers of the T.V. Serials and many others eulogize Karna and  Ekalavya and try to portray Arjuna in poor light.  It indeed is becoming rare to see an author or a book that gives Arjuna the credit he deserves.  One such author who stands out of the crowd and tries to be different  is Dr. Sweety Shinde.  She shows the difference in her book “Arjun — without a Doubt “.   Here is the blurb of the book from GoodReads.

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I knew there was nothing poetic about death. I knew not that the most horrific battles are fought off the battlefield. arjun-without-a-doubt-shinde-sweety

Arjun: The idealist in a non-ideal world; the warrior whose deadliest opponent was his conscience.  History forgot his voice, but misquoted his silence.

My self-esteem originates from me and ends in me.  Why does your honor depend on me? Find your own.

Draupadi: The untamed tigress, the fragrant flame, the unbridled spirit. 

Power does not justify sin. Power is not virtue.  Virtue is that which lasts in spite of power. 

Krishn : The enigma whose unique ideology churned the battlefield into a quest for Truth. The Missile …The Trajectory … The Vision. 

The trio that makes for the core of The Mahabharata. This is their saga.  Insightful, visceral and candid . 

Find ‘other’ famous Arjuns; compare Arjun vis-a-vis Achilles and Alexander; Explore Myths of Mahabharata. All this and much more in ‘Arjun: Without A Doubt’. _________________________________________________________________

Arjuna is a person one would want to emulate, he worked hard to gain all the power on the earth, in his times he was the most powerful and greatest archer of the world, a man who had the greatest astras such as Brahmasironamakaaastra, Paashupataastra and the Brahmaastra. We never see him misusing any of these celestial weapons, he rarely speaks about his strengths and was the man who displayed tremendous restraint most of the times.   The author brings out these characteristics of Arjuna in a wonderful manner.   From Draupadi Swayamvar till the war she outlines all the achievements of the Pandava Madhyama and brings out the valor and the greatness of man who had the mighty Gandiva in his hand.

The Urvasi episode, the episode at the Draupadi Swayamwar and the bond between and Arjuna and Krishna were handled really really well, as one of the narrators of the story is Arjuna himself , we get to see his emotions, his feelings and the way he would have wanted the situations to be.  (Most of this must have stemmed from the authors creativity but then it was nice to read.)

While the spotlight of the book might be on Narrator 1, we ought to realize that the second and the final narrator of the book also has her own story to tell.  The second narrator, *** the daughter of Panchal, the woman who was brought to this earth with a specific purpose of marrying Arjuna was made to tell us the story of Mahabharatha from her own view point.  The author tries to capture the thoughts, the likes and dislikes of Draupadi and presents them to us.

As you must have got it by now we see Arjuna and Draupadi talking to us in the book.  To me that is the USP of the book, we see Arjuna and Draupadi in the same situation and get to know as to how both of them felt about.  You read a page and half or so that depicts Arjuna’s view point and then you see *** and the test that follows is the Draupadi’s view point of the situation.  Very nice effort by the author, I liked it. Then the author takes on a lot of myths in & about Mahabharatha that are widely accepted by one and all, she takes on each one of them and tries to bring the truth to light.  The myths on Karna need a special mention, she takes on them one after the other and clears the air. This is another thing that I liked in the book.

Towards the end of the book, the author makes us realize the feud between the families of Drupada and Dronacharya and also lets us know how Draupadi ends it once for all. It was portrayed well.

As we all know , Mahabharatha is an epic that has 100000 verses in it.  Arjuna , Draupadi and Krishna are there for most of the book. So even when you want to pick the story that relates  only to them and publish it as a book, you must do a lot research , that is visible in the book and I commend the author for that.  The language used in the book is simple and the pace of the narration is good , hence one can read the book easily.

Now let me speak about the areas that I did not like in the book.

1. The author swayed away from the original story in a number of places and tried to give us the story that she has envisioned.  Here she should have told the reader that it was her idea of the story and not the one in the original texts.   The Draupadi Vastrapaharanam (cheer -Haran) , Kunti’s words after the Draupadi swayamvar, Khandav Dahana  ( Burning of the Khandava forest) are a few instances that would serve as the case in point.  There are a few more as well. Since I am very conservative in these areas I somehow am uncomfortable with that.

dr-shinde-sweety

The Author Dr. Sweety Shinde.

2. Then I did not like the portrayal of Yudhistira (Dharma Raja).  In a number of places I felt that he was being criticized unfairly. (I doubt if Arjuna himself would be happy with his elder brother’s portrayal in the book. ). It is true that Arjua and Bhima have great strengths are were amongst the best warriors of their times.  However, Yudhistira’s adherence to dharma is considered the most important thing in Mahabharata.  The episode of Yaksha Prashnas brings that to light.  Criticism of Yudhistira is uncalled for and should have been avoided.

3. The author gives us an impression that it was Arjuna whom Draupadi loved the most, there are some others who say that it was Bheema, and then some versions go on to say (this is the one that I believe in) that she loved all the Pandavas equally.  The author must have made this point clear (that Draupadi’s love for Arjuna was solely her way looking at things) at some point of time.  This point becomes obvious from the book when you read it but then I feel that telling that upfront would have done more good to the book.  Again, this is my opinion and might not be the best thing to do.  I just wanted to say this.

Conclusion

All in all a great attempt by the author.  This book bursts a lot of myths and helps us know about some of the great deeds of Arjuna, it indeed celebrates the triumphs of one of the greatest heroes of Mahabharatha. Then you get to see a different version of Draupadi too.  It would have been a great book had the criticism of Yudhistira been avoided.  One would learn more about Arjuna and Draupadi by reading this book. Wishing more success for Dr. Sweety Shinde in the days to come.

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One Comment

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  1. dr sweetyshinde / Apr 13 2015 6:50 pm

    Thank you very much. I appreciate your honest detailing of pros & cons, along with your personal opinions. I’m glad my book found a discerning reader in you.

    Like

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