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Home» Book Review» Book Review» The legend who deserved more

The legend who deserved more

Sudhirendar Sharma | January 21, 2014, 03:56 PM IST
the legend who deserved more

New Delhi : History has been unkind to the man who had the power of several thousand elephants. For him, strength was both a curse and a burden. Cursed as a ‘blockhead’, he nevertheless carried the burden of winning the war for his brothers. He won the war and yet achieved nothing.

Without Bhima, the story of the Mahabharata would never have been complete. Yet, he remained in the shadows of his brothers Yudhisthira and Arjuna. Considered somewhat like a comic character, mainstream rendering depicts him as a thoughtless figure that excelled in the use of mace only. But not for M T Vasudevan Nair, who pulls the legend out of mythological oblivion in his literary masterpiece and narrates the Mahabharata from a warrior’s perspective. Treated with a mixture of contempts and affection, Bhima goes about his life with passion and commitment without expecting much in return. He displayed greatest courage in war, killing all the Kauravas in direct combat. Without the supreme sacrifice of his son Ghatotkacha, Karna would have remained invincible.

Being a warrior, Bhima followed his instincts. And because of this, he alone made a vow in the gambling hall and fullfilled it too. For him, ‘a kshatriya who does not fulfil his vow acts against dharma and will be condemned to Hell’. Bhima stood by dharma all his life, not even deterred by the untimely celebration of victory by his brothers at the demise of his son in the battlefield. Bhima may have had a large body, but he had a great mind too. Yet, he was a human being who had his share of weaknesses and strengths.

Without adding any new characters to the pic, the author fills the empty spaces with meanings that have only been hinted between the lines. With the Mahabharata being a balladeer's tale, sung at temples and pilgrim places where people gathered, such liberty was only for the taking. And in doing so, the author enriches the story with the hitherto unknown perspective of one of the leading characters in the epic.

Not only Bhima’s moments of triumph remain unrecognised and unrewarded, the warrior in him remained a loner too. The author makes the reader feel for the man who could not let lose his emotions, as there was none with whom he could share such moments. Even when told by Kunti that she didn’t know the forest-dweller who was his father, Bhima had nobody to shoulder his innermost emotions. Only the wind had burst into laughter, then!

Translated from the Malalayam original, Randamoozham, it reads much like an original text that is both revealing and engrossing. It is only through such rendition that the interest in getting back to the epic gets re-ignited.
 




Bhima- Lone Warrior

by M T Vasudevan Nair

Translated by Gita Krishnankutty

Harper Perennial, New Delhi

Extent: 373, Price: Rs. 350



SS / YS

Sudhirendar Sharma

Sudhirendar Sharma

Trained as an environmental scientist, Sudhirendar Sharma efficiently performs multiple roles of writer-commentator, academic, activist and development strategist. Having varied interests and rich experience gained from travelling all over the world, he enjoys playing with words and sharing ideas. 

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