Books For Blasphemers: The Mahabharata (Part 1)

on Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This Hindu canonical text is the epic to end all epics; a trilogy that makes Lord of The Rings look like the work of a clumsy amateur. In narrative terms the best of the bunch so far, it is a ripping tale of family, war and losing at dice. If you can't be stuffed trawling through the 800 or so pages, here's my digested limerick review.

Books 1-5 (Before The War)

Meet Krsna, that's best pronounced Krishna
And his trusty fun buddy called Bhisma
Great lords and aescetics
For most of this epic
They'll guide you so sit back and lishna (sic)*

Five books of unbridled kin shagging**
And a gambling match used for some padding
Til storm clouds do grumble
“You ready to rumble?”
I'm hooked and for what's next I'm gagging***

(* Yeah, I went there. Thanks to Adrian for helping me find the rhyme)
(** It is interesting to note the parallels between the Mahabharata and other religious naratives. This particular part reminded me of the “begat begat begat” section of the Torah, although obviously far more expansive)
(*** Whoever wrote this book was a master storyteller. I can't get across how great it is to read.)

Books 6 – 10 (The Great War)

After spending nigh three hundred pages
Introducing gods, demons and sages
Along comes a war
That kills almost them all
What the fuck, learning names took me ages!

But before all the killing and burning
Great Krsna delivers his sermon
The Bhagavadgita*
To the gathered Ksatriyas**
Cos slaughter's best done after learning

There's an air of Tolstoy*** mixed with Tolkien
And a sure hint of Dungeons and Dragons
Those magical powerups****
Felt like playing X-Box
It's more fun than I had imagined!

(* Many consider this single speech the crux of Hindu belief, probably because it was Ghandi's favourite. It is more like the Sermon on The Mount – crucial, but short. Some refer to it as a book within a book but it is really only five or so pages)
(** This is the caste below the Brahmin. Ksatriyas are warriors, responsible for most of the fighting during the Kurukshetra war.)
(*** There's even a large chapter called War and Peace, though there's no riffing on potato farming)
(**** A few of my favourites: the weapon of Brahma's head, the weapon of disappearance, the weapon of light, the weapon of bewilderment, the weapon of human understanding and, the shiniest of them all, the weapon of lust)


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