Weeks 5-6 Mahabharata

Now it's time for the Mahabharata, and, just like with the Ramayana, you will start off with a two-week version: either Narayan (the same Narayan whose version of the Ramayana you may have read back in Weeks 2-3) or a PDE Public Domain edition. Then in Week 7 (like with the Ramayana in Week 4), you will have a chance to approach the Mahabharata from another angle.

OPTION ONE. Narayan's Mahabharata. R. K. Narayan (1906-2001) was one of the most renowned English-language authors of India, and his fast-paced version of the Mahabharata was first published in 1978. The book has a detailed Reading Guide for each of the four reading portions (Week 5A, Week 5B, Week 6A, and Week 6B).
     Narayan's book is not available for free online, but you can read the book for free in Bizzell Library: it should be available on 3-hour Reserve both as a printed book and as a Kindle book (yes, the Library has pre-loaded Kindles for checkout!). There are print copies of the book available for sale at the OU Bookstore ($4 rent-used), or you can buy an Amazon Kindle edition for $10 which you can read on a Kindle, in your browser, or on pretty much any mobile device.

OPTION TWO. Public Domain Edition: Mahabharata. This is an "anthology" version of the Mahabharata, available for free online, which draws on many different public domain versions of the book (mostly books published before 1923, now out of copyright). There is less reading here than in the Narayan version, and it is a different kind of reading experience since you will see different authors and styles for each episode. Take a look at the online presentation, and you can see what you think: PDE Mahabharata.
      This Mahabharata will also have an audio version recorded by, yes, me! I will be using Soundcloud to record myself just reading the episodes out loud; I won't be doing any editing, so you'll hear some hesitations and pauses here and there, but even in this simple way I hope the audio can be a useful addition to the text; you'll see the audio embedded on each page so that you can read along while you listen, just like for the Ramayana.

So, take a few minutes before you begin the Week 5 Reading A assignment to figure out which option you prefer! In the table below, I've tried to list the key factors to keep in mind, and please contact me if you have any questions and are not sure which way to go:

R. K. Narayan's MahabharataPDE Mahabharata online
  • free to read in Bizzell
  • buy in OU Bookstore
  • single, modern style
  • Kindle option
  • print option
  • no audio
  • no illustrations
  • online Reading Guide 
  • free to read online
  • various styles, authors
  • old-fashioned language
  • free audio version
  • no Kindle option
  • no print option
  • lots of illustrations
  • lots of background links

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