19 December 2022 | By: Writing Buddha

Maxims from Mahabharata by Sridhar Potaraju (Book Review: 3.75*/5) !!!

 2037th BLOG POST

31st Book of 2022


Since last decade, the way Sanatan Dharma is being spoken and spread to its own people who didn’t even know that the Dharma they follow is called Sanatan and not Hinduism – the word we keep referring in religious context. I must have read more than 100 books which speaks about our ancient history which few people refer as mythology in either fiction or non-fiction formats which is great as people are getting to learn about our own religion in easier language. I recently completed one similar book sent to me by Indica Books called “Maxims from Mahabharata” written by Sridhar Potaraju.


This is a short-book not even of 100-pages with 12 different chapters. You must be wondering what is the meaning of the word “Maxim”. So, it basically means “few words that express a rule for good or sensible behavior”. Here, author has read Mahabharata and he feels that it’s an ocean of knowledge which talks not only about religion but a lot about human beings and their philosophy and psychology. He tried to pick few which he had noted down or highlighted while reading the same. The 12 Maxims that is discussed in this book chapter-wise are Dharma, Truth, Principles Governing Punishment, Karma, Hygiene as Good Conduct, Nature, Faith, Anger, Reputation, Eternal Values, Mental Health and Power of Words.


Each of these chapter consists of shlokas picked up from Mahabharata which are written in the Sanskrit text itself along with English text for English readers to help them pronounce it. It further has its one-liner translation and the exact chapter or parva in Mahabharata from where it’s picked up. Author also provides context before providing the shlokas so that the reader is able to understand who spoke it to whom and under what situation. This helps in avoiding misinterpretation of the shlokas and referring to it in wrong context – something that atheist or people not believing in our ancient history regularly do to disrespect it.


The book helps you understand how advanced our ancient texts are where they not only cover the then contemporary issues but also speaks in context that it sounds relevant in our modern time too. In the chapter of truth, there’s a mention that if a person is truthful, it’s a bigger good karma than reading all religious books. I evaluated and found it to be so true. If a human being restricts himself in being truthful always – the kind of image he’ll have in society plus the kind of people who’ll want him to be on their side or have him in their team will give him great fortune. Not only this, it also mentioned 13 forms of truth which are Impartiality, Self-control, forgiveness, modesty, endurance, goodness, renunciation, contemplation, dignity, fortitude, compassion and abstention from injury.


Similarly, I liked the way forgiveness has been explained where it is asked to forgive someone who has made mistake so that he/she can get a chance to improve in future. Punishment always is not the right solution. It also talks about punishing someone definitely if the mistake is repeatedly being committed knowingly. I felt this to be so relevant in our professional and corporate life these days. Some managers don’t have these basic skills of understanding when to punish and forgive due to which the career is affected of many employees.


In the Karma maxim, you will just get into the self-evaluation mode when you will read that it has been said – everyone knows their deed – if what they are doing is right or wrong. Still if one chose to go with it, the karma will definitely return back. I was wowed by this. We, as human beings, definitely know about the quality of our action if it’s good or bad still we do it thinking that we will never suffer by it. There are chapters which tells about the significance of protecting nature, maintaining good hygiene, concentrating on our reputation and managing our anger. All this talks about the variety of topics on which Mahabharata is able to guide us upon.


The chapter on mental health again open our eyes as we think this is a modern concept whereas our texts have given its challenges and remedy thousands of years ago. The book also teaches about humility – speaks on son and daughter equality – the consequences of having ego and how it takes everything away from you. Overall, the book is a good beginning for people trying to understand a little bit about the kind of lessons our epics deliver.


Now talking about the drawbacks- firstly, the same context is repeated multiple times which makes it boring and monotonous. Author could have someone arranged the chapters in a manner where for a single context, listing down all kind of lessons we can learn for different maxims. Secondly, the English text for Sanskrit is not appropriate. If you’ll read it, you’ll pronounce it completely different than what it is. Thirdly, I feel that the book could have consisted more shlokas with detailed explanation like a full-fledged book rather than a short read.


Overall, this is a fine attempt which must have taken lot of efforts to compile and put together. I would give the book 3.75* out of 5.






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