This was my second reading of this massive – massive book, which as before took me a long time to complete. But this is not a drawback but an extended journey into the fathomless depth of the ocean of Indian mind & Indian philosophy as well as its ancient culture, society, history & whatnot. The Mahabharata is massive not only in respect to just size but in all aspects. There is hardly any aspect of human life that it not touches. It talks about Morality, Religion, Ethics, Duty, Perseverance, Sacrifice, Love, Devotion, Behavior, Conduct, Knowledge, God & even Geography & much more. It is an active, dynamic world, full of human, superhuman & godly characters leading their existences besieged by mundane human emotions of bonds & attachments, struggling to find the meaning & ultimate goal of life according to their own nature, inherited Karmas, knowledge & destiny.
The essential message of the Mahabharata is spiritual, interspersed throughout the text through discourses and teachings by sages, wise men & of course Krishna, Who is identified as the Supreme God, incarnated to restore religion & order & reciprocate His love for the His devotees. The story is woven around the fratricidal dispute among the cousins of a great Kingdom, fighting over inheritance & rightful claim. It culminates into a great war that involved all the Kings of the world & that ended in the victory of the virtuous & just Pandavas, who then ruled the Earth with righteousness for the next 36 years. This story is all too well known.
But what indeed struck me was the tremendous creativity & ingenuity of the human mind, that was so fecund even thousands of years before. What must then have been the influence of such a story on the minds of people of those times when it has left me completely enthralled & mesmerized in this age of endless allures, real & virtual. All this left me exceedingly proud of my own heritage & inheritance towards which I feel a great reverence and responsibility.
The debate about the factual validity of the Mahabharatha is an endless one. As has always been the tradition in India, people are free to express their views & opinions & choose whatever version of Truth that suits them. In fact, the epic itself espouses a strong sense of Democratic principles, which in turn come naturally to Indians. But the Mahabharatha and indeed this country of India is like a mother, who always has something good to give to her children, even if they regard her or not.