Wednesday, March 19, 2014

eBook Review - 'THE LAST PANDAVA'

‘THE LAST PANDAVA’ - ‘HE WHO DEFIED DEATH TWICE’ : : / : Pages 49 : Price Rs 50/-

This is an eBook written and published by Sai R Vaidyanathan. He wears many hats. He is an author, journalist and graphic designer. He writes extensively on mythological subjects, Hindu religion and culture and on the Vedic civilization. He is also an avid blogger. His writings are factual, interesting and impressive. He has seamlessly interwoven ten tales from the Mahabhaaratha and made it into a fascinating eBook on Arjuna’s grandson Parikshit and how he defied death twice over.

At the end of the great 18 day Kurukshetra war, only 12 warriors survive the massive bloodbath. The Pandavas have completely vanquished their cousins and bitter enemies the Kauravas. Duryodhana not one to easily give up asks Ashwatthama to kill the Pandava brothers before he gives up his mortal body. Ashwatthama had his own revenge to take for the death of his father Drona by Arjuna. So he goes to the camp at dead of night where the Pandavas are resting and supposedly kills all of them and announces the news to Duryodhana. Duryodhana is satisfied and dies.

The Pandava brothers are not really killed. In fact all the brothers survive. All of Draupadi’s five children are killed by Ashwatthama in the mistaken notion that they are the Pandava brothers as they look like their fathers. Bhima goes to kill Ashvatthama in retaliation and he is followed by Arjuna on the advice of Lord Krishna to protect him. Ashwatthama retaliates with his Brahamaastra. Arjuna saves Bhima by firing his Brahmaastra. Ashvatthama redirect’s the Brahmaastra towards Uttara’s womb which is carrying the unborn child of Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son. Parikshit is the only hope now for the continuation of the Pandava legacy. Uttara prays to Lord Krishna who saves Parikshit from the attack. That is Parikshit’s first brush with death.

Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas ascends the throne of Hastinapura. Over time, Parikshit succeeds Yuddishtira as the king of Hastinapura and the first king of Kali Yuga. He rules benevolently but due to an unfortunate incident gets cursed that he would die within seven days bitten by the king of serpents  Takshaka . Petrified of his impending death and knowing its inevitability, he approaches his preceptor for solace. He is advised to listen to the glories of Lord Krishna by Shukdeva, a person of great wisdom, over the seven days. The narration by Shukdeva is the Bhaagavat Mahapurana. The suspense for the reader during this tantalizing period is skillfully built up by the author. Parikshit gets killed by the Takshaka on the seventh day as cursed and in retaliation his son Janamejaya conducts a huge sacrifice (mahayagnya) to kill all the world’s serpents. A clever Brahmana boy Astika pleads to Janamejaya to stop the mass killing of snakes which would have resulted in the death of the serpent king Takshaka. On the advice of Vyaasa, the sacrifice is abruptly stopped by Janamejaya.

Mahabharatha is a complex epic with hundreds of characters and running into one lakh verses. No less a genius than Vyaasa could have composed such a massive work. To read it in full is no easy task. But stories culled out artistically and skillfully and presented to the lay reader make them instructive and absorbing. That is what Sai Vaidyanathan has done. He has fired the curiosity of the reader by the title of the book. He has then brought in the very important characters of the Mahabharatha like Lord Krishna, Arjuna. Bhima, Ashvatthama and Parikshit and has smoothly crafted the incidents into a very readable eBook. The eBook has 18 chapters with interesting titles. The 49 pages of the eBook  can be easily read in one sitting. At the end of it, the reader gets a fairly good perspective of the Mahabhaaratha war, the meaning of life, the cycle of birth and death, how destiny cannot be escaped and how in this Kali Yuga chanting the name of the Lord (naama japa) can help us to attain salvation. Sai Vaidyanathan has done a commendable job by writing this eBook in a short and gripping form and it will definitely appeal to all earnest readers - young and old alike.