Book Review – मृत्युंजय by Shivaji Sawant


by Shivaji Sawant


Mritunjaya is a masterpiece of Marathi literature retelling the life-story of Karna, an unparalleled character from Indian epic of Mahabharat. This book is an outstanding achievement from Shivaji Sawant and provides a glimpse of an age long bygone when Dharma stood in force throughout Bharatvarsha and produced heroes of such prowess and strength that they are remembered till this date. The book tries to unravel the meaning of life through the impeccable life travails of Karna, the first Pandava who was abandoned at birth by her mother, Kunti and lived as a commner son of charioteer, a Sutputra. He was conceived with sun’s energy and was born with a un-penetrable armour and glowing earrings. He learned the warcraft not under the tutelage of any guru but by sheer will power and became one of the Maharathi’s of his time. His is a story of betrayal at birth, unbreakable friendship with Driyodhna the Kaurava prince, and above everything of immense generosity. Karna was the most generous of all human beings ever born and none will ever emulate him in future as well. He never let anyone go empty-handed from his door, he knowing fully well that God Indra in disguise is after his body armour didn’t blink an eye and teared up the armour from his body and gave that to him. This act of generousity left him exposed against the might of Pandavas and ultimately led to his downfall by the hands of Arjuna but for him life was just a passage in time to be led in an impeccable way.

Mrityunjaya is the autobiography of Karna, and yet it is not just that. With deceptive case, Sawant brings into play an exceptional stylistic innovation by combining six “dramatic soliloquies” to form the nine books of this novel of epic dimensions. Four books are spoken by Karna. These are interspersed with a book each from the lips of his unwed mother Kunti, Duryodhana (who considers Karna his mainstay), Shon (Shatruntapa, his foster-brother, who here-worships him), his wife Vrishali to whom he is like a god and, last of all, Krishna. Sawant depicts an uncanny similarity between Krishna and Karna and hints at a mystic link between them, investing his protagonist with a more-than-human aura to offset the un-heroic and even unmanly acts which mar this tremendously complex and utterly fascinating creating of Vyasa.

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