Showing posts from October, 2013

Book Review: The Bhagavad Gita

Publisher: Central Chinmaya Mission Trust

ISBN: 9788175970748

Author: Swami Chinmayananda

Pages: 1273

The Bhagavad Gita is the core text of Hinduism. In its entire flow, the Bhagavad Gita is fairly simple and straightforward. It opens with the Pandava prince Arjuna preparing to lead his troops into battle and develops cold feet upon seeing mnay of his family members in the opposition ranks. He feels it is a sin to kill so many great men such as his teacher, his grandfather who are part of the opposition. 

Despite Arjuna preparing for the war, haunted by the guilt of killing his relatives, he drops his bow and succumbs to the situation by proposing escapist tendencies. Krishna, the charioteer of the Pandava prince understands his plight and for motivating him, begins the long discourse called "The Bhagavad Gita" and tells him about the reality of Yoga, soul, meditation, life, death and reincarnation. While we would be tempted to perceive the narrator of the Gita as the blue-eyed b…

Book Review: Mrityunjaya

Book: Mrityunjaya

Author: Shivaji Sawant

Pages: 628

ISBN: 7421-0105

It is often said that the books of our childhood offer a vivid door to our own pasts, and not necessarily for the stories we read there, but for the memories of where we were and who we were when we were reading them; to remember a book is to remember the child who read that book. The timelessness of the epic is witnessed as we continue to name our children after various characters in the Mahabharata. The brave feats of the epic’s warriors still continue to shape our dreams and inspire our films.

The Marathi novel "Mrityunjaya" is a classic novel written by Shivaji Sawant on the life of Karna, the greatest tragic hero in Indian history. Despite being dedicated to the life and times of the benign hero, it highlights significant characters from the Mahabharata and also a socio-political frame of the time. To begin with, Karna is the eldest son of the Pandava queen Kunti and Surya, the sun God. Due to Kunti's fe…

Book Review: Mahabharata

Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Author: Kamala Subramaniam

Pages: 870

ISBN: 9788172764050 

The story of the Mahabharata is an invaluable legacy for both the old and young. Keeping in mind the same, the version by Kamala Subramaniam that begins with the meeting of Ganga and Shantanu. The book moves ahead as it describes their marriage and Ganga drowning seven children until Shantanu asks her the reason for doing so. From there, the story progresses through the lives of Satyavati, Dhritarashtra, Pandu and the Pandava and Kaurava princes. It eventually concludes with the entry of the Pandavas into heaven. 

This version by Kamala Subramaniam published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan does a marvellous job of translating and abridging the Mahabharata. At 870 pages, the book is an excellent page-turner despite its numerous stories going on tangents. As a writer, she tends to write in short, jerky sentences, using adjectives and adverbs in abundance. She spills the melodrama left, right and centre…

Their Words, Our Minds

In media studies, Paul Lazarsfeld gives us the concept of ‘two-step flow theory’ in which he believes: “in a society there co-exist two types of people: opinion leaders and opinion followers.” He explains that to convince the masses, one must convince the leaders. If one compares Lazarsfeld’s theory to columnists and their followers, we see that columnists act as opinion leaders who have the power to shape public opinion through their words. The aspect and dimensions that a columnist persuades his or her readers to see determine which way popular opinion moves. They can reinforce or re-form popular attitudes. Modern psychology states that the human mind responds positively to stimuli that are favourable to him/her and the adverse is usually ignored or rejected. The smart and powerful know this pattern of behaviour of society too well and use mass communication to serve themselves or their causes. Typically, most people consume information that reinforces their viewpoints. It is less fr…