Composed over three thousand years ago, the Mahabharata is one of the world's greatest epics. It tells the story of the warrior princes, the Kauravas and Pandavas, who belonged to two branches of the royal Kuru clan.
Intensely human in their passionate loves and hates, happiness and grief, the characters in the Mahabharata have recognisable counterparts in all ages and civilisations. The grandeur, beauty and colour of their story, and the depth of its message make it a book for all times and ages.
In this version, the author, in retelling the main narrative, retains the intense flavour of the epic. Badri Narayan's illustrations, especially commissioned for this edition, brings the story to life. The colour plates and black-and-white drawings add a new spectacular dimension to the classic.
Shanta Rameshwar Rao (1924–2015) wrote and told stories for most of her life. For her, story-telling was as natural as breathing; she believed that stories emerged from deep within and that in the telling and writing, they changed both teller and listener. She wrote for children and adults, and indeed her works have been enjoyed by people of all ages. She is best known for her retelling of Indian myths and legends. Her wide repertoire includes books like Tales of Ancient India (translated into several languages), The Bulbul’s Ruby Nose-ring, Seethu, Bekanna and the Musical Mice, Chathu—The Elephant Boy (co-authored with Karoor Nilakanta Pillai), In Worship of Shiva, and her retelling of the Mahabharata (now used as essential course material in story-telling courses in universities in the UK). Her novel, Children of God, was published to critical acclaim. She was invited by the Sahitya Akademi to write on the life and teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti.
A dedicated and inspired educationist, Shanta Rameshwar Rao founded the Vidyaranya School in Hyderabad in 1961, a space where, as she believed, children could learn with joy, creativity and in a spirit of questioning.