Meet Krishna, the man

Nikhil Bhave
Sunday, 11 February 2018

Srikrishna - the Lord of the Universe
Author: Shivaji Sawant
Translated by: Kadambini Dharap
Publisher: Mehta Publishing House
Pages: 1076
Price: Rs 995

Srikrishna - the Lord of the Universe
Author: Shivaji Sawant
Translated by: Kadambini Dharap
Publisher: Mehta Publishing House
Pages: 1076
Price: Rs 995

Shivaji Sawant’s Yugandhar remains a milestone in Marathi literature. In many ways, a magnum opus, it traces the life of Lord Krishna through his birth and to his death due to a hunter’s arrow. However, Sawant moves away from the miracles-performing avatar of Vishnu — god Krishna to Krishna, the man. Clocking in at 1000+ pages, the book is a hefty tome in more ways than one, yet remains eminently readable.

The multiple awards-winning novel has been translated in various languages. Now, Sawant’s daughter Kadambini Dharap, aided by Madhura Phadke, has brought the epic to English readers as Srikrishna — the Lord of the Universe.

Krishna’s life is a very thrilling ride. Born to a mother imprisoned by her brother, he was smuggled out and brought up in a place called Gokul. Years later, he would return to his birthplace and free his mother, killing the uncle who was hellbent on killing him. Then he, along with his brother Balram, established a prosperous kingdom named Dwarka.

Next, he played the mediator between the warring Hastinapura factions and not only did he take part in the Kurukshetra war, but also gave the world Bhagvad Gita, a scripture that has surpassed all boundaries and found fans like Carl Jung, Ralph Emerson and Robert Oppenheimer. The scientist even quoted a verse, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,’ upon witnessing the successful detonation of the world’s first nuclear device.

In his foreword to the original novel, Sawant talked about the scale of the task he had at hand when he first set out to write the book. It took him 30 years to finish the book. Initially confused about the choice of narrator, he was guided by another noted litterateur Vi Wa Shirwadkar. The entire foreword needed to be replicated here. This book will now reach a much more wider audience, and that foreword offers a very detailed look at the entire writing process that spawned the novel.

Regarding the novel, one must keep in mind that this is not a thrilling page-turner. It is a virtual retelling of the life of a person considered a god in Hinduism, peeling away the tales of miracles and other stuff attributed to him by successive generations.

The book’s size may intimidate many. But reading through it will surley be a pleasurable experience. And one read is not enough. You will keep discovering something new every time you come back to it. Try it!

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