Investment banker Keerthik Sasidharan narrates the final days of the Kurukshetra war in his debut book “The Dharma Forest”. Publishers Penguin Random House India said “The Dharma Forest” is filled with complex characters, conflicted loyalties and erotic jealousies from India’s most beloved epic that draws out an amoral canvas that is beyond good and evil.
On the last day of his illustrious life, Krishna asks the gods what does it truly mean to be human? To answer this question, an all-too-human narrator tells Krishna about nine lives from the days of the great Mahabharata war, where each life embodies a rasa — love, courage, wonder, disgust, fear, ridicule, sorrow, anger, and tranquillity — colours from man’s emotional palette.
This first volume of the “Dharma” trilogy tells about Bhishma’s wondrous immortal life, Draupadi’s loves amid erotic jealousies, and Arjuna’s war-weary courage.
“Looking up into the plum-dark midnight sky that spanned from one end of Kurukshetra to another, like some thousand-headed serpent resting in the heavens, Bhishma saw the portent of his own death fly above him in the form of a bird whose wings were on fire. They were common enough sights these days, with fires raging everywhere on the battlefields, but it was rare to see them so late into the night…,” the book begins.
“Howls of pain that rose and fell, like cicadas at night, had gotten worse with each passing day of the war. A war that was sold across the kingdoms of Aryavarta as the war to end all wars. But nine days into the fighting, broken legs, torn limbs, and intestines that poured out from perforated abdomens belied that original dream of easy, sweet smelling victories,” the author writes.
He says the “ethic of the waking hour in Kurukshetra was to kill, and if you were not dead, to kill some more. The prayers at night were to ask the Gods that the body be spared of fevers and pain, so that they may kill yet again the next day”.
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