Now that I have read the Ramayana, it was obvious that my mom was naturally inclined to get me the next epic, which was the Mahabharatha for Children. And after a considerable amount of time and savings, we could lay our hand at the Mahabharatha for Rs 30. And this was in the year 1999 and it was a huge amount for us.

And to be honest, back then, Mahabharatha was a lot more complex to understand for my age with too many characters with complex names kept cropping up across multiple generations.

The second book I attempted to read: Mahabharatha

And I don’t remember completing the book then. And my newly developing habit of reading was in serious jeopardy as I couldn’t connect with the essence of Mahabharatha and I couldn’t see any coherency in its narration. The trouble with me as I could understand back then was, Shri Ram was the hero of Ramayana and the entire tale revolved around him. But who was the hero in Mahabharatha?

ecause, by then, even the movies that I have watched always had a hero and the movie revolves around him destroying a villain. Therefore, in that sense, I couldn’t connect with Mahabharatha because, maybe, it was a multi-starrer of a kind and had too many subplots.

So, I only remember, my mom narrating bedtime stories about various tales and episodes from the epic and to be honest, even my mom wasn’t sure about the names of all the characters and the exact sequence in which the various events happened and where they occurred. Just that, we knew they happened near present-day Delhi, where we lived a year ago. However, she was successful in giving me a gist of it and my broad understanding of Mahabharatha back then was that it was a battle between Pandavas and Kauravas because the Kauravas insulted the wife of Pandavas and the Pandavas finally won the battle with the help of advice given by Lord Krishna, who was an avatar of Lord Rama only (the avatar part was a bit confusing for me back then).

The Mahabharata that my Mom read

Representation of the Mahabharata Poster

And this was further reinforced in me because, back then, we used to have a family friend whom we used to visit, wherein their drawing room was adorned with a huge poster depicting the battle scene from the Mahabharata with Lord Krishna giving advice to Arjun with the chariot and all.

And not to forget, probably the first Sanskrit shloka that I learnt:

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत |

अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ||

So, now that my mom and I realized that Mahabharatha was a not-so-satisfactory reading experience for me as it was quite complex for me, so we decided to switch to her original idea of getting me short stories: Panchatantra or Tenali Rama.

But there was a problem and what could be more problematic for a lower-middle-class family in the late 90s than the budget?

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