(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The interesting story of the five Pandava brothers and their common wife, Draupadi, provides a view of the sophisticated civilization of the heroic period of Indian history. In its stories, legends, myths, and instructional passages, The Mahabharata treats all the aspects of ancient Indian culture—religion, moral values, politics, economics, art, science, and mathematics.

The struggle of the Pandavas to overcome the external obstacles posed by their jealous cousins, the Kuravas, is part of the living culture of India. Every Hindu, whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate, is influenced by the story. Storytellers narrate its episodes in villages, priests recount them in temples, and. mothers and grandmothers tell them in the homes. These stories have provided an ethical base in India for over three thousand years. The wisdom of The Mahabharata is also shared by the countries that fall within India's cultural sphere. The noble deeds of the characters are embodied in many of the stories, dances, drama, and art of Java, Sumatra, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Besides being an introduction to Indian culture, The Five Sons of King Pandu offers a wealth of philosophic wisdom and ethical values that have universal application, especially for those who seek the transcendental dimension of humanity. Ancient Sanskrit literature studied humanity above and beyond its political and social roles to discover the divine self of...

(The entire section is 265 words.)