The narrative of Mahabharata continues to hold relevance in India’s political scenario according to Congress politician and author Shashi Tharoor, who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his book – “The Great Indian Novel”, political satire based on the epic poem.
“I remember when I was in college in Delhi there was a big strike by junior doctors and Karan Singh was health minister and for a couple of weeks he simply did not meet protesters and did not respond to their grievances. Posters sprang up all over the campus with ‘Be Karan don’t be Kumbhakaran’. Now that’s straight out the Mahabharat in 1974,” says Tharoor.
The former minister was participating in celebrations here late last evening to mark the anniversary of his book, which was also relaunched in hard cover by publishers Penguin.
The widely acclaimed book retells modern Indian history and renowned political personalities begin to resemble characters from the Mahabharata.
“I think unlike say the ‘Ramayana’ where you had this god like characters behaving in frankly impossible ways. The Mahabharta is actually anchored in real human beings. These are people with creed, lust, betray, treachery and love and politics and all with Bhagwat Gita in it which is a secular epic,” says Tharoor.
The former Minister of State for External affairs and Human Resource Development who also served as the Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Tharoor penned the novel between 1987-88 and published it in 1989.
“What sparked it off is that the forces of India which had shaped India and I was interrogating myself and serving an international career with United Nations. It all came together when I was reading a very lively translation of Mahabharata by Prof P Lal It struck me when reading it how much contemporary resonance there is to that ancient epic,” says Tharoor.