Kochi: 12-year-old Vibha Ashwin has launched her first book ‘Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling of a Timeless Epic’ in English.
There are many authors who have told and retold the Mahabharata over the centuries, and it is these stories that have been passed down to us, either through oral tradition or by words on paper.
But as young readers get more curious, they look for a narrative style that is modern and a treatment that casts all characters and their actions in situational contexts, thereby giving each character a voice and each action a reason.
Vibha’s Mahabharata is an attempt to endear the epic to first-timer through a lucid narrative style and character arcs that are not influenced by the personal views of the authors who retold the epic previously.
Vibha hopes that the book kindles among the readers a deep love for Indian mythology. She plans to write a series of such books that would delight inquisitive young minds who are not satisfied with just the stories but also the motives behind the actions of characters across their lifetimes.
Commenting on the book, Vibha said, “My parents felt that writing such an epic was a huge job, one which needed a lot of patience and commitment, and a deep ability to comprehend and to connect the dots. They didn’t know what to make of a ten-year-old undertaking the task – then again, neither did I. But they encouraged me throughout, especially in the publishing stage.
She added, “When the lockdown began in 2020 and schools went online, I found myself with a lot of free time. I used to watch Mahabharata every day, in the afternoon and at night, on Doordarshan. The scale at which it was made, the amazing script, and the irreplaceable cast – these were what rekindled my interest in the Mahabharata and inspired me to revisit the story.”
She also added, “Once I’d read some books about it, like those of C. Rajagopalachari and Kamala Subramaniam, I began to feel the epic had more to offer. The Mahabharata, in a way similar to other great stories like Ponniyin Selvan or Lord of the Rings, has a very complicated, fiddly plotline. Every sentence you read in the Mahabharata will unravel a mystery or bring a momentous shift in some part of the story later. I decided to undertake the task to bring out this aspect of the Mahabharata, in a thoroughly unbiased way.”
“Writing is not anything new for Vibha; I had this little habit of writing stories in my diary with whatever limited writing skills I had at the age of seven or eight.”
“The Mahabharata started off as one of these stories. However, while most of those stories landed up in the bin, this one did not. I developed a liking for the story, and I continued. It wasn’t until I realised that I had actually completed over twenty chapters that I considered the idea of making it a book.”
Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling of a Timeless Epic is priced at Rs. 649 and is available on Amazon, Flipkart, and all major online platforms in India and the US.