I was spellbind while reading Mrityunjaya by Shivaji Savant a very well known Marathi writer. Till now I’m finding it difficult to comprehend my thoughts about this excellent work.
I’ve read many novels on Mahabharata but after Randamoozham by MT Vasudevan Nair, Mrityunjaya is the best book I’ve read on Mahabharata. In fact words falls short for describing such a magnificent work.
Mrityunjaya is originally written in Marathi by Shivaji Savant but for non Marathi readers this excellent book is also translated in other languages like English, Hindi, Kannada and Gujarati. However presently, I think only English, Gujarati and Hindi translation are available along with Marathi of course.
The author Shivaji Savant has written Mrityunjaya in an autobiography style about the most unsung and most complicated character of Mahabharata, Karna, the abandoned son of Kunti and God Sun.
The style in which Shivaji Savant has presented this autobiography of Karna is remarkable. It is not only Karna who is telling his life story but other characters like Kunti , Shon his foster brother, Vrishali his first wife, Duryodhan, and Krishna also adds to the narration from time to time thus drawing a whole new canvas of Mahabharata.
The book starts with Karna which is carry forwarded by him and other characters and receives a fabulous end by Krishna. I don’t want to go into details as it will take away the charm of the book in case if you are having a firing desire to read it.
Feelings of all the characters towards Karna has been emoted remarkably well by Shivaji that it touches the bottom of the heart. Guilt of Kunti, Secret love of Draupadi, trust of Dhritrashtra, respect of Krishna, devotion of Vrishali towards Karna all came out very well.
Different emotions of Karna were also well traced. His dilemmas and crossroad at which he find himself at various points in life, his repentance for insulting Draupadi during gambling, and jealousy for Arjuna.
But the most outstanding feature in the novel is its revolutionary thinking of Shivaji finds way in the book through Karna. In our society, caste and status is given more importance then the nature of the person. Karna was the hapless victim of this bias thinking of the society which Shivaji questions.
Verdict: It is a must read for all the lovers of Indian mythology genre readers. Your collection of books on Indian Mythology and specially Mahabharata is incomplete without this book. It is an evergreen classic.