She wields the pen like a scimitar and her mind like a microscope.
As she dissects various personas of Mahabharata, she is brutal, incisive and decisive. Passionate (in her arguments) yet dispassionate (towards individuals).
Her take on Mahabharata is not linear narrative; but deals with individual personas, as she scoffs at the halo around them and simultaneously humanizes and demystifies them.
Many scholars usually steer clear of Krishna, for fear of a religious/fanatic backlash. But not Irawati. She finds him ‘Ambitious’, even a little cold-blooded.’ His ambition was to be Vasudev. But she sums him up aptly in the end as, ‘He did not merely speak the Gita; he lived it.’
She researches and chronicles the multi-level interpolations within the epic’s narration. She adds a commentary on existing social customs, e’g Suta was not an abusive racist slur, but a mere occupation-classifier. Infact, Sauti (who narrated Mahabharata), Sanjaya (who related Kurukshetra to Dhritarashtra) and Vidur (highly consulted counsellor to Dhritarashrta) were all Sutas.
Her perspectives on Bhishma, Gandhari, Kunti (click on the link for my original take on Parthenogenesis – reproduction without sperms in Mahabharata) and Karna are equally original and path-breaking. She even provides pointers towards Vidura being Yudhishtir’s father.
My only grudge is with her judgment on Draupadi. She finds Draupadi’s verbal battle at the dice game improper, thoughtless and smug. Completely disagree on that count. Draupadi won a lopsided battle of violence by resorting to cool logic, a woman who articulated philosophically relevant questions that nobody could answer; back then or even now. Genuflections forever to the Lady.
Beyond that aberration of judgment, Irawati is as precise, unerring and consistent as Arjuna’s arrows.
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