Girja Kumar took upon himself it the task of re–discovering the great classic to view it as his personal odyssey in search of dharma as seen in the life and times of eighteen characters, largely being responsible to give the classic a unique character. He has undertaken the task for it to be completed in the quartet of books consisting of approximately fifteen hundred pages.
Bibek Debroy has focussed the essence of dharma in a proper perspective in his foreword to the book in the following words “In the last resort, books like this aren’t about characters in research of their own dharma. They are about authors who are in research of the svadharma too. Girja Kumar has found his and a reader who reads this will seek to find his/her dharma too. Agreement isn’t so important. What’s important is the interest author generates in the reader”.
While Book I is about the exciting journey of forefathers like Vedavyasa, Vidura and Krishna in laying out the contours of the subject matter, Book II is the Mahabharta with a difference. It is all about the life and times of six unique and remarkable women who had come to occupy the central space in the world of men.
The great classic is on the comeback trail. It is thus possible to miror the future in its own past. It is indeed the collective conscience of Indians. Peter Brook believes that “everything in the human and cosmic life is to be found in the Mahabharta”, including the art and practice of governance.
Here is the character study of women at its most sublime. The former Shudra–Nishadaha fisher women, namely Satyavati, turned out to be the foremast dowager empress of the Bharteas. She is indeed a very remarkable woman who had ruled and reigned wisely. She being the mother of Vedvyasa and also the grandmother of the Pandavas and the Kurus, to be celebrated as the role model for the contemporary Bharatiya nari.
Satyavati’s granddaughter–in –law Gandhari was equal of her in every respect. The sustained suffering was to bring out the best in her. Consequently were born in her love, compassion and humanity. She had lost all that was dear to her, but she considered the entire humanity as her enlarged family.
Droupadi was also in a class by herself. Here was the woman Pandita Droupadi adeptly cultivated. She was also a rare intellect extraordinary to have lived through the times of turmoil, tragedy and turbulence. The intellect also proved to be her nemesis.
In class with her is to be found the young and beautiful Sulabha, mirroring accurately the great ancient transition of Vaad (debate), Vivaad (disputing) and Samvaad (resolution), Here was also an extraordinary charming mendicant of impeccable aristocratic bearing to confront the mighty king Janaka. She not only cornered him but also won hands down the battle of ideas with him. These, interested in horses should not miss the separate chapter on ‘ashva, the war horse’. There is much more in the book, but you have find it for yourself.