NEW DELHI: Mahabharata, the ancient Sanskrit epic is now being introduced in a new storybook format for children by two young laywers.
Titled "Warriors of Kurukshetra", the epic divided into a set of four books has been re-written by Mumbai-based lawyer-duo Mamta Bhatt and Tripti Sheth.
Much like any other storybook, the imprint of Divinedoor publications is a motley of colorful illustrations along with the story, while giving nicknames to the protagonists like Yudhi (Yudhishtir), Duryo (Duryodhan) amongst others for ease of familiarity.
"Numerous hours were spent with our illustrating artist, giving him narrations... We felt we were visualisers explaining the scenes to an artist to paint. You will notice that out of 100 illustrations in our book, 75 per cent of them would not have been seen before," says Mamta Bhatt. Even though the format of the epic has been changed to suit a certain readership, the authors have retained the full story with a few flowchart unlike other options available in the market.
"Warriors of Kurukshetra is not exactly an abridged version of the Mahabharat. We were clear that we wanted to present the full story and maintain the soul of the epic. You will see many stories in our book that have not been covered before," says Tripti Seth.
The authors who decided to give a new name to the ancient epic in order to lend freshness, believe that such books are an effective way for children to get to know their roots and culture.
"It is important to know ones roots and history, to learn from them ...Why re-invent the wheel when we already have a rich heritage of wisdom to guide us," says Seth. The authors say it took them two years to rewrite the huge epic. According to them, the challenge they faced was to keep true to the story and communicate it in a manner that could resonate with children. The book is pegged at children in the age group of 11 years and above.
"The attention span of this age group is very short and they always gravitate towards things that can give them instant gratification and answers," says Bhatt.
Unlike before when elders in the family would educate children on cultural issues, there are mostly nuclear families in metro cities without the aid of much parental support, which the authors feel creates a market for such books.
"A young working couple falls back on books or electronic media to educate their children on such subjects," the authors say.
Bhatt, who holds over 18 years of corporate experience says she had grown up spending all her vacations in her hometown Uttarakhand. After the birth of her son, she became an avid reader and read most of the children's books available.
"As a mother, I wanted my son to have exposure to great Indian epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Nothing that was available could satisfy my requirement... My concern was soon transformed to a passion to write," says Bhatt.
Seth who has spent nine years working in Mumbai, Bangalore and Dallas and a young mother, says she understands the value of a good book.
"When I started reading to my daughter shortly after she was born, I became concerned about the way books were losing the battle to television, iPads and other moving media. I realised that getting my child interested in ancient epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as she grew up, would be quite a challenge."