The Mahabharata

A showcase for the oldest and longest epic in the world. A resource for the better understanding of all aspects ofSanatana Dharma, Vedanta and Yoga.A place for West to meet and embrace East beyond cliché, presumption and prejudice.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ramesh Menon: not just for Mahabharataholics.

I was in London last week and took the opportunity to visit Watkin's Spiritual Bookshop in Cecil Place, just off Charing Cross Road. I was looking for a copy of Kamala Subramaniam's Mahabharata. I felt I need to own this book; after all, it was my own inspiration, so many years ago, and to it I owe the planting of the Mahabharata seed in my mind, a seed that has sprouted and grown throughout the years. Back then, I had borrowed the book from an ashram library in India. I borrowed it again and again throughout that year, read it over and over till I knew it almost by heart.

So, I ought to buy it. Own it.

There's a second reason I needed to have that book. Though I know that I wrote Sons of Gods from my own memory, without a reference book open to help me, I was afraid that, just maybe, some of the words from my source might have buried themselves into my unconscious and emerged just as they were. To the onlooker, that might be interpreted as plagiarism. After all, I'm writing the same story, and there are only so many ways to write "We must win this war!"
So I was determined to go through the book sentence by sentence and compare it with my manuscript.

Thus my visit to Watkin's.

As it happened, Watkin's didn't have Subramaniam's book. It DID have a beautiful, two volume edition of Ramesh Menon's version. The two hardbacks were in a box, just ready and waiting to fall into my hungry hands. Beyond my budget, true enough, but I couldn't resist. I bought them! You'll see their covers on the right.

I've long wanted to read this version; the only thing holding me back was the price. Ramesh Menon's version is the only modern rendering I have not yet read, and having looked at the sample pages on Amazon this one seemed to me that it could very well meet my very exacting criteria to make it as a standard English work. The writing, judging from the sample, is pretty good, and he does not dispense with storylines I view as essential, such as Linkthe story of Bhishma and Amba. And he, too, sites Kamala Subramaniam as his main source for the story -- so we have something in common.
I'm now a quarter of the way through the first volume, and I can only recommend it. If you're looking for a solid, comprehensive, modern long version of the Mahabharata, this is the one to get.

My only quibble is that I felt some of the scenes were too drawn out -- I like tight writing. And, like many Indian writers, he unfortunately has no qualms about delivering spoilers -- the dread of the Western reader. The Ganguli Mahabharata actually summarises the whole story in the first chapters! So, too, does Rajagopalachari. Others tell the reader what is going to happen before it does, which kind of destroys the element of surprise.

Nevertheless, this is by far the best I've read, and if you're a Mahabharataholic, go for it!

To get back to Kamala Subramaniam and the subject of plagiarism. I finally bought her book through Amazon, and it arrived in Germany yesterday. No fear of similarity in the writing. Even at a glance it's easy to tell that her writing style and sentence structure is so very different to mine that I would never have confused her words for mine. I can stop worrying.

I'm also glad to say that it seems I've actually finished revising; the manuscript it almost ready to
go to formatting for Kindle and Smashwords; once that is done, it will be published.

In a matter of weeks!

Before, or just after, Christmas!
Get your ereaders out!

In the meantime, Sample Pages are available right here.


Ceasar said...

I am not sure who you are but I read a small piece of this book. I was so drawn to it. It is wrongly titled as the modern rendition when in fact, it is a culmination of modern writing and classical story telling.. There is nothing too modern about the book which is exactly why anyone and everyone should read it.

Aruna Sharan said...

Thanks for commenting, Caesar. Mahesh's book is indeed extremely well written.