Back to Mahabharata Resources Page

Views on Mahabharata

Rabindranath Tagore:
Quoted in The Central Philosophy Of The Mahabharata by Sitansu S. Chakravarti, PhD, available at

An European poet would have ended the Mahabharata with the victory of the Pandavas in the war. Our Vyasa, however said: 'The end does not come with assuming monarchy, but with renouncing it'. Our goal was where everything ended.
Chithipatra (Letters)

The war of Kurukshetra evaporated in the final chapter. The Mahabharata did not stop where it should for the story lover; it moved on having demolished the great story in a moment's pace, like a playhouse made of sand. Those, who have a detatchment o the world as well as the story, got their truth through this, and did not grumble.
Prachin Sahitya (Ancient Literature)

The fixed gaze of a great detatchment is steadily imbedded in the midst of all the upheavel of action present in the Mahabharata. Action here does not end with itself. In all the chivalric grandeur, affection and hatred, violence and counter-violence, attempt and achievement in the epic, the detatched tune of the great exit at the crematorium can be heard.
Prachin Sahitya (Ancient Literature)

Although about the whole story of Mahabharata is occupied by description of fights, fight is not the end of it. There is no description here of the violent rejoicings of the Pandavas after they rescued the lost wealth from the ocean filled with blood. The story shows instead the victorious Pandavas abandon the conquered riches beside the ashes of the funeral pyres in Kurukshetra, and take tha path of detatchment towards the land of peace. Such is the final dictate of the Epic, which is addressed to the Humanity of all times.

Ezra Pound :
From Ezra Pound, "Rabindranath. His second book into English"
Ezra Pound's review of the Gardener in the New Freewomen, November 1, 1913

I do not think that an appreciation of Mr. Tagore's work need in any way interfere with an appreciation of Pratapa Chandra Roy's heroic translation of the Mahabharata. The slow recognition of this latter work is a disgrace to the English world of letters, but Mr. Tagore cannot be held responsible.

The fact that this great classic is practically unavailable is a disgrace to English publishers. They have printed a rhymed synopsis, which is about what one might expect.

To say that Mr. Tagore did not compose the Mahabharata, is to say that Meleagar did not write the Odyssey. I cannot see that it pertains. Mr. Tagore is lyrical poet, it is with lyrists that one should compare him. and among them he will find his position.

J.A.B. van Buitenen:
(Introdution to the translation of Sabha Parva, Mahabharata Vol. 2 (University of Chicago Press)

The epic is a series of precisely stated problems imprecisely and therefore inconclusively resolved, every inconclusive solution raising a new problem; until the very end, when the question remains: whose is heaven and whose is hell?

David Shulman :
(D. Shulman in "Towards a historical Poetics of the Sanskrit Epics', International Folklore Review, 8, (1991), p.11)

It presents itself not as a work of art but as reality itself. No boundary marks off this text from the world. Even in recitation, it functions not as a purveyor of dramatic illusion, nor as an imaginative venture in narrative, but as a vehicle of what might properly be termed realistic insight. And it is no accident that this insight, or series of insights, present itself to us in the context of intractable dilemmas and hopelessly frustrating ambiguities.