Mahasamar Part 1 Bandhan by Narendra Kohli

I've just started reading Mahasamar by Narendra Kohli which is a seven part rewrite of the Mahabharat. I'm merely 40 pages into the first part but I immediately had things to say so I thought I might say it in a small blog post.

Novelistic Style
Unlike other Hindi literature that I've been reading, Mahasamar follows the pattern of the western novel to the T. This is very different from the works of Acharya Chatursen. Chatursen's mode of writing is 'historical'. He concentrates on who did what, when. Kohli on the other hand, concentrates on character motivation right from the beginning. Specially since it is a retelling that he's doing, he's more concerned about why did a particular character take a particular action than in the details of the action.

Modern Thinking Pattern
One thing that bugs me most about Hindi literature is its right wing leanings. A lot of Hindi literature that I've come across reeks of the RSS brand of thinking. However, in Kohli's novel one immediately begins to see trends of the modern questioning attitude. For example, in the first chapter itself, Kohli is narrating the tale of Shantanu, who made is elder son forgo his right to the throne so that he could marry a girl half his age. Kohli takes up an Indian father-son relationship (the chief characteristic of which is that the son is a 'property' of the father) and dissects is piece by piece. A very interesting read.


  1. daddu!
    read it and you will enjoy the storytelling, character building overall.
    after that read "the great indian novel - by shashi tharoor" you will get, what you want ; a lot of questioning over mahabharat.
    by the way, aap hain kahan aaj kal

  2. I've read Tharoor's novel, or rather tried to read it. I found it insipid and frankly speaking, very irritating. Tharoor is trying too hard to be clever and is rather pretentious. And besides, it is not questioning about the Mahabharat that I'm looking at. It is questioning in general that interests me.

    I'm at home these days. Life is in a bit of a turmoil just now. Will tell you where it leads when things settle down.

  3. Once you've read Mahasamar (and I realize it might take a while to get through all 7) you should also look into some of Narendra Kohli's earlier works.

    1. Abhyudaya - ram katha based novel. You will find similar questioning and rational thinking that you're enjoying in Mahasamar.

    2. Abhigyan - a much smaller book (one of my favorites actually) - takes Krishna/Sudama's tale and discusses the Karma theory. Again, not a discourse, but a novel.

    3. Vasudev - this is actually the newest of his novels and has very quickly become my new favorite.

    I believe all of these are available on various online book stores including

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  5. I am big fan of mr. Kohali since I was in school,he is a brilliant writer
    I read all of his Ramayan and Mahasamar series of books and found them very intresting ,Mr Narendra is a wizard he takes u in his world,

    To Narendra Kohali: sir aap kaise hain apka bahut bada fan hoon sir apki latest kitab kahan se mil sakti hai”


  7. may i salute shree narendra kohaliji,sir. what a wonderful script on mahabharat he wrote is uncopairable, unik and attract all of them who loves the history of vertuosa. again i ........

  8. I have read only his Ramayan, and since than i am a die hard fan of his writing skills. Looking forward to read all his other works.

  9. @anonymous - I haven't read his ramayan. I look forward to reading it sometime.

  10. pranam kohli ji,aap ki mahasamer katha padh ker asa pratit hua ki,mahabharat kaal aur vartmaan kaal me koi adhik antar nahi hai,aap ki khatha ko me aoushadhi ke roop le raha jisay ki mera waktitav or samerdh bene

  11. would like to translate the works of Sh Narendra Kohli. As mentioned in the earlier blogs, his interpretation is so modern, rather post modern.

    Would it be possible to call on him and seek his guidance, and also his advise on how to go about the translation project, not just into English, but also other Indian languages ...
    Also read his article in Prabudha Bharat..
    Sanjeev Chopra, New Delhi

  12. What's RSS brand of thinking? Do you even know what you are talking about or you are the new gen trainee of ndtv, congress and ibnlive! Have you ever worked with RSS, know anything about RSS or just trying to look smarter than you are.

  13. Mohammed TasleemAugust 23, 2013 6:33 PM

    I am reading Mahasamar for past 4-5 years.
    2-3 paragraphs (episode) of it publish in a newspaper "Rajastah Patrika" daily. You can find it online. This is very good and informative novel but I have few doubts regarding the truth shown here in comparison to what we seen on TV Mahabharata by BR Chopda.
    Can anyone confirm which one is the authetic?
    E.g. if I remember correctly Mahasamar says that Maharshi Vedvyasa was the son of Satywati?

  14. Even Mahasamar says same.

    Only difference is in Mahasamar, no where it says "divine powers did this or that". It is all logical story which you can believe, get into skin of it and relish.

    e.g In TV, it shows : Lord Krishna appeared out of nowhere and extended Dropadi's saree. While same thing in Mahasamar is interpreted as following: As Dropadi called Krishna's name, Dushashan became scared and fainted down.

  15. कोहली साहब और रामकुमार भ्रमर साहब वे लेखक हैं जिनके कारण बिना विचारे विज्ञान की अधूरी (सामाजिक प्रभाव- मनोविज्ञान के संदर्भ में ) समझ के भरोसे इतिहास वर्णन की पौराणिक शैली को न समझ पाने के कारण इन महापुरुषों को ही कल्पित बताने वाली युवा पीढी सोचने पर मजबूर हुई है|


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