Four tough years of writing and My debut novel “Kurukshetra Yuddha” is now out in the market. It was launched around 8 months ago in Bangalore comic con.
About Kurukshetra Yuddha:Mahabharat, the great Indian epic, has inspired a lot of people all over the world; I mean a lot of creative people have been inspired to create something which, if not their best work, sometimes is close to their best works. I have seen Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings, have read Shivaji Sawant’s novel “Mrityunjay”, seen B.R. Chopra’s TV series “Mahabharat” and can see how much this type of work has inspired not only them and people of their generation but also it continues to inspire people of our generation till date and is bound to inspire the coming generations as well as long as we will have knowledge hungry and intellectual youngsters.
My inspiration:While I was in my initial days of my first job in 2008, I started reading K.M. Ganguly’s english translation of the great epic, which is now available for free over http://www.sacred-texts.com/
I downloaded the 18 parvas of Mahabharat and started reading them. The story is intriguing and engaging that everybody knows. What caught my special attention was a detailed description of the bloody war of Kurukshetra. I have seen many interpretations and writings and paintings related to different major incidences that happened in the great 18 days war of Mahabharat. In fact, I found that the whole story in a way revolves around this war. Some stories that are mentioned in parva 1 or 2 of the epic have their repercussions in the war. Even the story after the war shows the aftermath. It was surprising to know that out of 18 books in Mahabharat story, 5 books/ parvas are dedicated to war alone. Still, the several interpretations and paintings and writings have never given such a detailed description of the war. It is said that thousands and lakhs (And sometimes mentioned as millions and billions) fought in a war and that in only 18 days they all perished with only 11 (or 12) major survivors.
After reading the KM Ganguly’s translation, I felt compelled to create something for the 18 days of the war, a story which will tell what happened on each day in detail.
That required a lot of research, not only just reading the 18 books of Mahabharat in detail, but also reading different other sources, sometimes Bhagavat or sometimes other puranas. I have read many scholarly articles and researches already done on Mahabharat. Surprisingly I found very less number of books or less amount of research available for different kings and kingdoms which participated in the war. In Mahabharat the entire map of the country is described at different stages and much of the research has been done on that part. In the Kurukshetra war, different kings came to fight either for Kauravas or for the Pandavas. They belonged to different kingdoms (samrajya) or provinces (rajya). Most of them have certain stories present either in Mahabhart or in some other related puran/ epic. Almost all of them have been individually mentioned in Mahabharat as brave, powerful, skilled warriors and have been eulogized by phrases like ‘tiger among men’, ‘that bull of xyz race’, ‘ornament of assemblies’, ‘scorcher of foes’ etc. I felt that if we don’t cover the deeds of such great heroes of the epic in any version, it would be unfair. So, I decided to tell the story of the war and the participation of these unsung heroes.
Another aspect was stories of the youngsters. We all know Abhimanyu, the son of Arjun, to be one of the heroes from the younger generation in the war. But there were others as well. Son of Duryodhan; Laxman, another son of Arjun; Iravan, son of Dushasan, son of Yudhishthir; Prativindhya; they all played major roles in the war. What would have been their mindset ? They were definitely not villains, despite of being sons of those who are generally portrayed as villains. What would they be thinking of what their parents were doing ? Were they ashamed or proud or disturbed of what happened in the past with their elders. For example, what would sons of Draupadi would think of their mother’s disgrace at the hands of Kurus. What would sons of Karna think of Duryodhan or Arjun ? what would sons of Draupadi’s brothers would think of the Pandavas and Kauravas ? what would son of Shikhandi (yes, he too had a son) would think of his father ? and what would they think of each other ? like, what would Abhimanyu would think about Prativindhya and his brothers and what would he think of Iravan and vice-versa? All these questions gave birth to a concept in my mind as what would these youngsters would do after a day’s war was over and the warriors were resting and waiting for the morning ?
So I created the scenario when all these youngsters would go to their elders to know from them the stories of the past, the meanings of life’s vital questions, the reasons for particular incidence in the day of war etc.
Another aspect was the scientific and strategic view of the war. We know that Dronacharya formed the Chakravyuha in the war which was difficult to break and only few knew the method to break it. But was it the only important vyuha (military formation) made in the war ? No. Each day, a different vyuha was made. Each vyuha having its own merits and demerits. And for each vyuha, there was a counter vyuha. No version of Mahabharat has shown the pictorial presentation of these formations and the strategic position of the warriors. I did that. Also, I have also tried to answer what was so special and why was it so difficult to break the Chakravyuha. I have mentioned a possible strategy that Abhimanyu had adopted (again diagrammatically).
And a major aspect was redefining the characters of the great epic. I have tried to tell the story of the epic from different angles from perspectives of different important characters like Bheeshm, Dronacharaya, Ashwatthama, Bheem, Arjun, Duryodhan, Karna, Yudhishthir, and finally Krishna. I have tried to touch upon some stories and relationships which have been mildly discussed in the epic and I have tried to expand it with my own imagination, like, Duryodhan’s and Karna’s relation with their wives, Dronacharya’s obsession of friendship with Drupad, Shalya’s devotion and its challenges, Bheeshm’s view on his own deeds,etc.
Also since, I can’t tell a story without drawing, I have included many paintings I did for different stories, for before and during the war. The paintings are sometimes subtle and soothing when it tells a past story and is bloody and violent when it describes the events of the war.
In addition to the freedom that this story gave me for writing and drawing, it also provided me so many avenues to explore my creativity. I have tried to explore the human emotions during the war, the ever-present struggle between what is right and what is easy, incorporation of the eighteen chapters of Bhagvat Geeta into eighteen days of war, the teachings of elders like Bheeshm, Dronacharya, Kripacharya, Shalya, Bhagadatt, Vyas, Vahlik, Sanjay, Rishi Dhaumya, Parashuram and also by Yudhishthir, Krishna, Karna and also by Duryodhan. A specific example is it is mentioned in the epic that after the 7th day of the war was over, there was a program of music and dance on the battlefield in the night. I have included a song sung by one of the younger warriors remembering his beloved.
The story of relations, knowledge, emotions being developed during the conversations during the night followed by subsequent bloodshed, killings, brutality on the day marked by the bravery, valor, power and awesomeness of the greatest warrior ever walked on the earth.
The story is mammoth sized 25 chapters book with four chapters dedicated to the story just before the war describing the preparations, alliances, failing of the last peace mission of Krishna and three chapters dedicated to the aftermath and eighteen full chapters for each day. I have divided the story in three parts:first part with four chapters for per-war story and story of first ten days. Second part with the story of next five days of the war and the last part with the story of last three days and subsequent aftermath.
I got the first part published under my own publishing title ‘Lotus of Saraswati’. The first part telling the story of first ten days of the war, with my 40 paintings, titled “Kurukshetra Yuddh- bhaag 1- Yuganta” was released in Comic con Bangalore in September, 2012. The book received a good opening. This book is now available to buy online through Flipkart, Infibeam, Homeshop18, Pothi, etc.
Here are some of the paintings from the book:
The book is available at: