Mahabharatha, the second most famous epic of Hindu mythology has entertained, enlightened, and been a source of much thought and discussion for as long as the text has existed. It has been adapted into uncountable films, books, and TV shows. I remember how back in late ’80s the streets of the entire country would remain deserted on Sunday mornings because everyone was glued to their TV screens, watching B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharatha. The title song still remains one of my all-time favourites.
Lately, mythological fiction has also been a source of not just entertainment but also a change in society. Narratives like Palace of Illusions and now, Yudhishthira – The Unfallen Pandava, shed light on alternate points of view and attempt to answer a pertinent question – What went on in the minds of these characters who transformed the course of History?
So when I got the opportunity to host an excerpt from Readomania‘s latest release I jumped at it.
Written by Mallar Chatterjee and edited by my favourite Indrani Ganguly, Yudhisthira – The Unfallen Pandava is an ambitious imaginary narrative from Yudhisthira’s perspective. And judging from the below excerpt, it promises to be one hell of a read.
But Draupadi, you are a different proposition.
I shall never even try to forgive you. You know why, don’t you?
I expected you to become my glory. You feigned to be so, fooling the entire world. But only I knew how you turned out to be a festering wound in my pride instead. I admit that I caused you many troubles but I was a victim of circumstances. You should have realised that. You ruthlessly stonewalled my genuine, sincere emotional advances towards you. You always slighted my increasing fame as an incarnation of Lord Dharma. Did not you once say that my brothers should tie me to a post and rule the kingdom on my behalf? Whenever there was any mention of my legendary truthfulness, you scoffed. You almost made me ashamed of my goodness. In more than three decades since the great battle of Kurukshetra, I conquered many frontiers but you steadfastly remained unconquered.
Before the marriage, you had perfectly detected my inappropriate weakness for you but after the marriage, it was my turn to rip apart your façade to discover an unjust contempt for me, that you tried your best to conceal but failed.
The raw deal I got from you helped me get over my feeling of guilt. Perhaps you were justified from your standpoint; but I deserved from you something better and more. In terms of wronging me, Mother could have come nowhere close to you.
And yes! I feel no need today to ask you that question any more. It has missed my interest permanently.
Sorry, Draupadi! It is a small matter that I shall never forgive you. I swear by my love that I would not let you off so easily.
Ages ago, I once garlanded you with an enormous wreath of flowers when we were getting married. Now I garland you with a secret curse in order to settle my last score on this earth:
Draupadi, my love, you will be the first to fall during our expedition for salvation and all your five husbands will continue to move ahead, with a cruel rejection of all worldly ties, to meet their respective destinies leaving you desperately alone for the remaining moments of your life.
Before darkness descends in your lotus eyes once and for all, before your senses leave you finally, you will get to know how ruthlessly your eldest husband—an epitome of kindness to the world—justifies your fall with a menacing contempt sheathed in apparent detachment and spreads his own private hatred among your other husbands.
And they, completely convinced by him, will follow suit without caring to look back even for a split moment.
You hated me, no? See I have survived that.
But you won’t survive the revenge of Yudhisthira, trust me.
Though the Kuru family survived on Vyasadeva’s seeds, he never belonged to the house. Moreover, being an ascetic, he was even exempted from obligations of the complicated dynamics of human relationships. This armed him with a ruthless dispassion and he could go on telling his stories with stoical detachment, free from any bias and uncontaminated by quintessential human dilemmas.
But had any of his characters given his own account of the story, would not that have lent a different dimension to the events seducing ordinary mortals like us to identify, if not compare, our private crises with those of our much celebrated heroes?
The Unfallen Pandava is an imaginary autobiography of Yudhisthira, attempting to follow the well-known story of the Mahabharata through his eyes. In the process of narrating the story, he examines his extremely complicated marriage and relationship with brothers turned co-husbands, tries to understand the mysterious personality of his mother in a slightly mother-fixated way, conducts manic and depressive evaluation of his own self and reveals his secret darkness and philosophical confusions with an innate urge to submit to a supreme soul. His own story lacks the material of an epic, rather it becomes like confession of a partisan who, prevailing over other more swashbuckling characters, finally discovers his latent greatness and establishes himself as the symbolic protagonist.
About the Author
Born in a suburban town in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, in a family of academicians, Mallar Chatterjee’s childhood flame was mythology, especially the Mahabharat. The Unfallen Pandava is his debut novel. Mallar is a central government employee, presently posted in Delhi.
Yudhisthira – The Unfallen Pandava is available online at Amazon.
What do you think of Mahabharata? Do you think Yudhisthira was wronged or was he a victim of his circumstances?
I can’t wait to read the full novel, so I’m off to grab my copy of the book.
Do grab yours so we can discuss Mahabharatha and Yudhisthira at length.