Karthik KB Rao/ Fiction Fantasy
[★-lost me ★★-average ★★★-worth a read ★★★★-excellent ★★★★★-amazing]
The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here.
As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa’s scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?
I thought this book would be hard for me to follow, since I have exactly 0.24735% knowledge of the actual Mahabharata. But thanks to the author’s easy retelling, I wasn’t having too much of a problem. The book is told from many fronts at once, from the point of view of Krishna, Vyasa, Arjuna, Kunti but is primarily narrated by Narayan Rao, simultaneously in two time frames, on planet Earth and on a distant mystery planet. There’s also a third Narayan, who supposedly lives in a Utopian land, where the Hindu majority and Muslim community lives in harmony in India, India is undivided from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Karachi to Dhaka, Gandhi replaces Jesus and a revolver replaces the cross.
Narayan Rao is a scientist working at NASA, who, brought up on a diet of Ramayana and Mahabharata by his grandmother, believes them to be a part of India’s history rather than a myth or epic. So when NASA receives strange signals of various Hindu symbols like Om, Shree, and Swastika and also a cryptic message ‘Athithi Devo Bhava'[Guest is like God] from a distant planet in the Milky way galaxy, he is one of those who plan to go to that planet to search for signs of habitation and drill oil wells. But first, he goes back to India and marries Srishti, his cousin from his mother’s side and takes her along on the journey. On reaching that planet, they encounter an old man who explains to them that their help is needed to stage the Mahabharata to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons there. Narayan and Srishti’s son, Krishna is soon groomed as Vishnu’s avatar. Page by page, paragraph by paragraph, all the events from Mahabharata start happening, from Arjuna winning the hand of Draupadi, to the Pandavas and Kauravas growing up hating each other, which eventually culminates into the great war, where Arjuna develops cold feet at the thought of fighting his family members.
The old man, Vyasa, also tells them how the Ramayana too was staged here, with Ravana making nine clones of himself and being called Ravana with ten heads. All the events which happen in this staging of the Mahabharata are given a scientific explanation, with biometric scanning, cloning, and test tube babies scoring high on their scale. In the end, instead of Krishna giving a discourse to Arjuna, Narayan gets a one to one with Krishna, who explains humanity and the concept of God to him in a software programmer’s word, giving the feel of an anti-climax.
The Mahabharata Code is rightly a parable for our times, it teaches us that everything is predestined, and yet we have free will, and that Karma is a bitch. It also tells us of having belief and conviction in what we like the most. The book employs the use of funny and hilarious language, with interesting analogies. The author has merged his extensive knowledge of both Indian mythology and information technology in an outstanding debut.
A/N: I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for a review.
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