Book Review: Arjun - Without A Doubt - Dr. Shinde Sweety


The story of Mahabharata has suddenly taken the fancy of many of the Indian writers. I have already reviewed about three different books in the epic. Today I have yet another writer’s take on the same story. Written in first person (Arjun and Draupadi), this story is more about the hero who isn’t always given his rightful place in history. It is about the heroine who inspires the heroes, who fights the very system that exists and who counters blind faith in principles with cold logic. Dr. Shinde Sweety gives a fresh take on the mindset of Arjun, always the dutiful son, always the virtuous hero.
The book starts with the swayamvar of Draupadi. The book constantly switches between Arjun’s and Draupadi’s narration. Arjun gives the side of the dutiful son, the man bound by his principles and a lifetime of conditioning. Draupadi gives the untamed and logical point of view. She doesn’t understand the system that has been in place for centuries. She doesn’t understand the rules that seem biased based on the situation they are applied to. She is a force of nature, she is a warrior who fights the war, all her life. I like how the writer managed to convey the basic difference between the point of view of a man and a woman. It is refreshing to see someone place the story of Draupadi, who is always depicted as the woman who made a family go to war, shown as a warrior who is in reality, fighting her own battle.

Starting from the time of her divine birth, she wishes for a childhood never granted, feels the joy and apprehension of marrying a man she has met for the first time, feels the shock when her life is forever bound to five husbands, experiences the happiness of setting up her house and then the brutal reality of having it stripped away from her. The way the writer presents her mindset, it somehow makes the story more relevant to modern times. If you take away the backdrop of the Mahabharata, you can almost see it as a different version of what many women go through in their life.

Arjun on the other hand, gives the picture of almost an anti-hero. Wandering from exile to exile, loving a woman he is forced to share with his brothers, worshipping a man who is forever, guide and best friend, facing the fears of fighting his own family and friends, being brave enough to ask the questions that trouble his soul and finally, triumphing over the most arduous trials and tribulations without the glory, all for his wife. The writer, at the end of the book, draws multiple parallels between Arjun and other heroes such as Alexander and Achilles. I cannot help but feel that history, while it may have twisted and changed a few facts, Arjun still remains one of the most human heroes in Indian literature.  

Finally, I cannot end this without a comment about Govind. Indeed, the story of Arjun and Draupadi is incomplete without the cowherd who seemingly masterminds the entire epic. Govind, the man loved by both Arjun and Draupadi, is the best friend, a guide, mediator; he is whatever they both need. I like how the writer tells the same tale as almost a love story, albeit with far reaching effects. One thing before you read this book though, if you are unfamiliar with the general storyline of the Mahabharata, you might find it a bit difficult to grasp the fast-paced events unfolding in the book. However, if you are interested in finding more about the love story in the epic, I suggest you read this book for a fresh modern take on it. 

Name: Arjun - Without A Doubt
Author: Dr. Shinde Sweety
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

My Rating: 3/5

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