If it wasn’t enough that the renowned novelist wrote the critically acclaimed Ramayan series, among other novels, his latest sees a re-telling of the legendary epic, the Mahabharata. Titled The Forest of Stories, it is the first in his much anticipated 18-volume ‘MBA’ series.
Why have you chosen MBA for the series?
Vyasa (the author of the Mahabharata) took just three years to compose the world’s greatest epic, comprising the sum of all human knowledge at the time. That great epic survives even today and is a Mount Everest of wisdom, inspiration and creativity. Today, people spend three years just to earn an MBA degree, which confers them with the authority to lead others and make decisions that impact the world - decisions that as we can see today, are responsible for most of the world’s ills. So I chose to use the short form, MBA, for my Mahabharata to make an ironic comment on India’s journey from creating knowledge to simply creating (and destroying) wealth.
The Mahabharata is arguably the world’s greatest epic - how hard was it to re-tell the story?
It was like breathing fresh, clean, cool air. It felt like I had been telling this story all my life - as if I was simply putting on an old comfortable shirt, walking down a favourite street, as if the words were given given to me and I was reading them from an open book in my mind.
Have you stuck to the original, or have you given some parts your own twist?
In the end, I had to read the original Sanskrit, keeping all available translations before me, recheck, refer back for every phrase and line, then apply my own judgement as to names, usage, details. t took a decade of preparation, and another decade to write. Hopefully, my version will provide a complete people’s edition, untainted by the literary feuds and agendas of the scholars!