I still cannot recollect accurately what incidents had aroused my curiosity as I typed the words S.L.Bhyrappa in the google search months ago. It has been the most rewarding google search I have made since ages. A week after I landed in Bangalore I was lost in the pages of this magnanimous epic 'Parva' by S.L.Bhyappa.
Many of us have read the Mahabharata time and again. For some of us it's a holy book, for others it's a political guide and yet others its a divine revelation. But S.L.Bhyrappa has given a new insight and meaning to this great work of Maharishi Vyasa. My respect for the book and its author has risen far beyond words after going through the pages.
The book starts off unlike the original, from the events revolving around the war between the pandavas and kauravas. Throughout the book, the characters (not the heroes/demigods/demons) are depicted as ordinary humans but with extraordinary traits. The earlier chapters are monologues of Kunti, Draupadi, Bhima, Arjuna... and in the background of their monologues and conversations the tale unfolds itself like the petals of a flower. ದೇವಲೋಕ is a village in himalayas and not some elusive world in another corner of the universe. The inhabitants of this ದೇವಲೋಕ have a custom wherein a family of brothers wed a single woman. S.L.Bhyrappa says that they practice this custom even to this day. Draupadi's marriage to the five pandavas is derived from this custom. The practice of ನಿಯೋಗ has been touched delicately but on more than one occasion.
As a reader I too had pondered upon the questions which the author has forced into the minds of the characters... Various human emotions like hatred, jealousy, greed, pride, lust have been beautifully crafted in this master piece. Many interesting parts have lingered in my mind after completing the book. The conversation between ಕರ್ಣ ಕುಂತಿ is worth mentioning. How ಕರ್ಣ is shaken by the news that he is ಕುಂತಿs son! His mind plays with a train of thoughts following this news... that he is actually the eldest of the 'pandavas' and is of royal blood. The bitter memories come back to him of his childhood and education where many a times he was mocked at and was denied by great teachers like ದ್ರೋಣ who taught only ಕ್ಷತ್ರಿಯಸ್.
Another character which made an immense impression in my mind was that of draupadi, beautifully painted with grace and dignity. She is the key to the unity of pandavas. The integrity between the brothers is maintained by Draupadi who has been instructed by Kunti that she should treat all of them equally. The various hardships she faces throughout leaves the reader emotional. Her patience and faith carries her across the hardous journey. By the end, she has more than a few bruises of the war. Losing her children shatters her heart. And the description of the farewell to her children is heart touching wherein only she sits by the dead bodies of her beloved children mourning their deaths. The fathers stand nearby only staring unemotionally.
The climax of Parva brought memories of Gabriel Garcia Marcquez's One hundred years in solitude. The rains pouring and drenching the victorious Pandavas, Arjuna losing his powerful bow in the rain. Krishna waiting and watching the rising floods... Kunti and Draupadi mourning the death of the Abhimanyu's still born baby. The end of a kingdom.... The success of Kurukshetra war lost and all that remains is Kunti's hope that Draupadi would somehow restore a successor to the throne.