Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Mar 22, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Forest of Stories - Part 1 of The Mahabharata

(Selected by Blog Adda to Review this book)

It’s interesting to read what the author Ashok K Banker, whose earlier Ramayana Series catapulted him to one of the top Indian Authors, says in his introduction about the book, and I quote…
“Turn the page. Start the journey.  Discover the impossible. Remember the forgotten. And I guarantee that within few pages, you will forget all about me. And you will see only the story itself. Because, bloody hell bugger, its mother of a story.”

Curtsy Flipkart
 “Human beings must have an epic, a sublime account of how the world was created and how humanity became part of it ... Religious epics satisfy another primal need. They confirm we are part of something greater than ourselves (...) The way to achieve our epic that unites human spirituality, instead of cleave it, it is to compose it from the best empirical knowledge that science and history can provide” - Edward Osborne Wilson (two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and is considered as "the father of socio-biology")

Well I agree that ‘The Mahabharata’ written by Vyasa Muni is one such story. ‘The Mahabharata’ actually is not only a story, but also the life line and the soul of Indian spiritual psychology. The original was written in Sanskrit, and in my opinion, Ashok banker has done a great service to all, by meticulously researching and as he says, ‘retold by him’ in “The Forest of Stories”. This new avatar of The Mahabharata has taken such a beautiful form, that it will sink into the spiritual self of all the readers. This book will be an equally enjoyable reading for those people who has got no idea what Indian Spirituality is all about. I look forward to reading the forth coming books in this MBA series.

THE BOOK:
Deep into the haunted jungle of Naimisha-van at the ashram of Kulapati Shaunaka, a dusty traveller arrives with sad tidings that Maharishishi Vyasya has passed on Yet the great collator of the Vedas has left behind a fabulous legacy, the epic narrative poem called ‘The Mahabharata’. At the urging of the ashramites, the traveller Suta begins to recite the great composition, starting with incredible creation myths and tales of Gods and giants, snake mothers and gargantuan eagles. And as the night wears on over many nights, Suta feels the presence of the warriors and the slain soldiers of the great epic battle of Mahabharata, listening to this tale which will liberate them from the cycle of birth and death in this life time.

This book is actually the history of the present Bharata (India) through the ages of all the Yugas and to read this book is like reliving history, culture and one’s own spirituality.

HIGHLIGHTS:
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Some of the thoughts that I think is worthwhile to repeat here.

THE TALES OF PARASHURAM
‘Lack of knowledge is a temporary ailment easily remedied; its only when its not remedied that it becomes a permanent conditions.’

Many people believe that dividing property is the best way. But once it is devided, these same deluded fools are then driven apart. The more they think about the wealth and possessions, the more they wish to ensure that they have received their fair share, and obsess over dividing their properties and possessions, while retaining a semblance of friendship. In time this leads to enmity and selfish greed and eventually, utter ruin. … partition can only cause unhappiness and ruin.

When Nagas returned from their purification rites and found that they have been deceived by Garuda, who delivered the amrit (The Elixir of Immortality) after the churning of the seas… into receptacle of Darbha grass (Commonly known as doob in north india), they started licking the darbha grass, in the hope that there might be som traces left of amrit. But Indra had used his power to carry away every last droplet and the snakes only succeded in cutting their tongues on the razor sharp darbha grass. Thus did the snake get their forked tongues and Darbha grass became sacred.

The only way to gain true maturity and pregress as an ascetic is through peace and non-voilence. Any action or word that causes, or permits to be caused, harm to other living beings, is against Dhrama. There are no exceptions to this rule.

There is no use pursuing austerities and controlling your urges for decades, if in a single moment you allow anger to overcome you…. Shringi, (Who after venting his anger at Parikshit, by cursing him to death by snake bite within a week, after he learned the humiliation he meted out to his father Shamika Rishi) then asked his father, ‘But what does one do when someone commits such a transgression, insulting or humiliating oneself or one’s loved one?” Shamika put a hand gently on his son’s shoulder and said, ’one forgives’.

Parikshit conquered the six vices that plague mortal men – Kama (Desire), Krodha (Anger), Lobha (Greed), Mada (Intoxication of any kind), Moha (Attachment) and Ishraya (Envy) and he ruled for sixty years as the king of Hastinapur (The place in Delhi – from where actually the Dharam Yudha started between Pandava’s and Kauravas)

The best Mantra against SNAKE BITE
“All those who invoke your name Astika, will be protected from our bite. In addition, those who remember the great sages Asita, Artimana and Sunitha at any time,  day or night, shall also be safe from our venom always.”

The masterpieces like Veda, The Mahabharata etc. has such a beauty that one could begin at any point and one would always be able to finds one’s way to the ending. A great story is like a river… one could return to the river at any time, but in fact each time one came back, the river was changed and your were different as well.

… as time passed, all narrators must die. Only the tale itself lives on. Eternally.
Note: Kshapanaka is what? (Pg 125) Is it (He/she) a Buddhist, Jain mendicant or what as I believe when Mahabharata happened there was actually no Jainism or Buddhism in place. Although since I have not done research per se, I may be wrong too.

Plus some spelling mistakes that I could find or my English is not so perfect -:)
Wroth - Pg 264
Here (me now) – Pg 342
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नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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