From the epic sagas like Mahabharata and Ramayana, there have been many re-telling. And nearly all novels eulogize the main protagonists, which are mainly gods or demigods. Those novels play around lord Rama, Vishnu, Pandavas and Kauravas and other auxiliary characters. However, this time, Janya Bharata by Manu Nellutla sheds light on commoners. As in what the normal folks and soldiers felt for the war, how they were staged, and what ramifications they had to deal with during and after the war.
Janya means public, so the title is apt. Unlike the gods of that era, this novel features normal characters like Mitrajit, Kumudini, Aparajit, Chitraangad, Purna, Dhruti. They live in a village called Devasthana. As the story commences up, we see Mitrajit and many physically fit men are sent to the training camps. The rumour is that big kingdoms and their allies have to go to war if peace didn’t strike between Pandavas and Kauravas.
The novel is not about conversation of kings, war preparation by warriors, rather it focuses on the commotion that normal people go through before a war starts.
Another insider from the novel is clashes between tribes. What will happen to these tribes if a bigger war is around the corner? Mitrajit and his villagers belong to Ustrakarnikas tribe, they are peaceful people. On the other hand, Ekapaadas is their enemy…always looking for opportunities to attack them. But when the Kurukshetra war commences, both sides have to bear the loss of the battle.
Does anyone win in a war? The novel asks this question and tries to answer it. The storyline focuses on the lives of people with regard to their culture, custom, trade, and fears. When some men return home from the war, they see villagers are frightened and looking for other places to move. Mitrajit and Chitraangad try to be their leader and win their hearts by stopping them. In the times of war, a lot of internal clashes take place psychologically. Reading this novel will make you aware that the wars that look glorious in history and mythology are scary from within, they caused harm to millions of people…those who take pride in counting the victories should also consider the innocent lives lost just for a family feud.
Manu Nellutla’s novel emanates from Mahabharata but it takes us to the battlefield through some other lesser-known routes. Not many can strive to write a mythological retelling in such a bold manner. The novel moves at a measured pace, with brilliant storytelling aspects. The author must have done a tremendous research and the chapter names suggest as he is quite well-versed with Sanskrit language. Take your time and read this novel with a calm mind. Highly recommended!
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