Book Review – “Arjun: Without a Doubt” by Dr. Sweety Shinde

Book: Arjun: Without a Doubt

Author: Dr. Sweety Shinde

Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Publication year: 2015

Number of pages: 306

Price: Rs. 156 (Flipkart) / Rs. 195 (Amazon) / Rs. 171.95 (Kindle)

My rating: 4/5

“Arjun: Without A Doubt” picks up the Mahabharat tale with Draupadi wondering who exactly this Arjun is. Of course, she has heard of Pandu’s illustrious son, the man who defeated her father, Drupad, in battle as gurudakshina for his guru, Dronacharya. But she has never set her sights on him. And her father tells her Arjun is the most deserving husband for her. Even Krishn is all praise for him. She wonders if Arjun, and his family, have survived the burning palace and whether he will be able to win her hand at the swayamvar her father is organising.

Thus, once more, begins this grand old tale. The reason I love reading the Mahabharat is because, like a true literary classic, it seems to change every time I read it. My perception of most characters in this epic have undergone a sea change from how I perceived them initially. Almost every intelligent author brings a new perspective to this epic and challenges me to think of questions about various events that take place in the Mahabharat.

“Arjun: Without A Doubt” is one such book. Simply put, I loved it. On more than one occasion, I found myself pausing to think “Hey, this is a fresh way of looking at these events.”

The book is written from the points of view of Arjun and Draupadi, each of them taking up the narration in alternate chapters. Arjun is pretty much what we expect him to be: a champion warrior. His dedication to his craft is commendable. We get a glimpse of the hardships he had to undertake to achieve what he did. We realise that it wasn’t always a walk in the park for him.

And yet, he is more than just a soldier who is very good at lifting up a bow and shooting arrows. He dearly loves Draupadi and is heartbroken every time he has to leave her behind. He also has his moments of doubts about the nature of his duty towards his family, especially towards his eldest brother Yudhisthir. As war approaches, we can see these doubts surfacing, which eventually leads Krishna to answer his queries about why the war must be fought. Arjun’s shockingly rude and direct dialogue with Kunti when she mourns Karna’s death shows how much he has changed from when we met him at the beginning: indeed, Arjun is without any doubts now.

But it is for Draupadi’s voice for which you should read this book. From the moment when Kunti says that Draupadi must be shared by the five Pandava brothers is when we start seeing injustice served to her. And what makes this even more insulting is that Draupadi comes across right away as a strong, independent woman. What stopped her, I asked myself, from walking away from the Pandavas right then and there?

Then we have the famous dice game where Yudhisthir “loses” everything, including his brothers and his wife. Were they his to “lose” in the first place? And why didn’t any of the brothers step up and fight for Draupadi when Dushasana was attempting to forcibly undress her, Kshatriya rules be damned?! It is a testimonial to the author that she makes us feel this ashamed and enraged.

And yet, there are a couple of glitches. The construction of paragraphs is at times confusing: I lost track at a couple of places and had to retrace my steps in order to clarify whose speech it is that I was reading.

Yet, this is a minor flaw in a book which is effective in it’s larger purpose of drawing our attention to various aspects of the Mahabharat. I would love to write further and point out more such instances, but then, this review would be filled with spoilers and longer than what it already is. 🙂

In conclusion, if you’re a Mahabharat fan, I would highly recommend you read this book.

(Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of “Arjun: Without A Doubt” to review.)

Image courtesy: www.goodreads.com

Read more about ‘Arjun: Without A Doubt’ on Goodreads. Buy it on Flipkart, Amazon.in or for your Kindle.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Book Review – “Arjun: Without a Doubt” by Dr. Sweety Shinde

  1. Thank you, Shekhar! I’m delighted that you enjoyed the book thoroughly. I’m glad I could do justice to the complex and misunderstood personas of Arjun & Draupadi – and hope it gave you better insights into their true selves.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been told its bad manners to respond to a reviewer- but then rules are made to be broken.
    Just thought I’ll explain – Editor and I decided on using 3 asterisks for Draupadi’s narration and none for Arjun. Also Draupadi calls ‘Krishn’ while Arjun calls him ‘Govind’ throughout the book.
    I thought that would be adequate to clarify who is speaking.

    The other options were using different fonts for Arjun & Draupadi (a nightmare for design team) or their names at beginning of each paragraph (inelegant, and would break the smooth flow of narration). So we stuck to above trick.
    On retrospect, maybe we should have put a line explaining this idea just before chapter 1.

    I’ll request other book reviewers to insert that point in their review, for the sake of more readers. Thank you for pointing it out to me.
    Sorry if I made the task difficult for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh not at all. In fact, isn’t this the constructive type of comment that enriches the book and the reader? 🙂

      I do get your point about it being inelegant (apart from a nightmare) to use different fonts. And it would downright break the narrative if you were to mention the character each time.

      But yes, those set of clarifications would help greatly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: TSBC Top 10 of 2015 | Adventures Of a Traveller

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s