Chaturvedi Badrinath

Sahitya Akademi Award...was given the
2009 Sahitya Akademi
Award for his book on the
Mahabharata, his life's work


  • The Women of the Mahabharata


  • The Mahabharata An Enquiry in the Human Condition


  • Swami Vivekananda The Living Vedanta


  • Dharma, India and the World Order


  • Finding Jesus in Dharma Christianity in India


THE WOMEN OF MAHABHARATA : The Question of Truth

Published in 2008 by Orient Longman

In the stories where the Mahabharata speaks of life, women occupy a central place. In living what life brings to them, the women of the Mahabharata show, that the truth in which one must live, is however, not a simple thing; nor can there be any one absolute statement about it. Each one of them, in her own way, is a teacher to mankind as to what truth and goodness in their many dimensions are.

The twelve women of the Mahabharata whose life stories make up this book, range from Shakuntala, Savitri and Damayanti who are known only in sketches; from Sulabha, Suvarchala, Uttara Disha, Madhavi and Kapoti who are hardly known, and finally to Draupadi, known widely but frozen in popular culture and writing in two or three standard clichéd images.

The women of the Mahabharata are incarnate in the women of today. To read the stories of their relationships is to read the stories of our relationships. They demand from the men of today the same reflection on their perceptions, attitudes, and pretensions too, as they did from the men in their lives, and equally often from other men full of pretensions, even if they were kings and sages.

THE MAHABHARATA : An Inquiry in the Human Condition

Published in the summer of 2006 by Orient Longman

Sahitya Akademi Award Chaturvedi Badrinath shows that the Mahabharata is the most systematic inquiry into the human condition. Its principal concern is the relationship of the self with the self and with the other. This book not only proves the universality of the themes explored in the Mahabharata, but also how this great epic provides us with a method to understand the human condition itself. Badrinath shows that the concerns of the Mahabharata are the concerns of everyday life-of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It is through this everydayness, with its complexities as much as with its simplicity, that the Mahabharata still rings true. This book dispels several false claims about what is today known as 'Hinduism' to show us how individual liberty and knowledge, freedom, equality, and the celebration of love, friendship and relationships are integral to the philosophy of the Mahabharata, because they are integral to human life. Using over 500 shlokas of the original text that he supports with his own lucid translations, Chaturvedi Badrinath's The Mahabharata is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this epic, not in the least, for his elegant scholarship and humanistic approach.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA : The Living Vedanta

Published in the Summer of 2006 by Penguin Books

'You don't simply read a man like Vivekananda. In reading him, you meet him. And if you don't meet him and feel him contemporaneously, you can understand little of the meaning of what he is saying.' In the course of a short life of thirty-nine years, Swami Vivekananda came to be regarded as the patriot-saint of modern India. Despite all that has been written about his life and his epoch-making address at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, 1893, Swami Vivekananda remains a paradox: much is known about him, but very little is understood about the man and his relevance to our own troubled times. In Swami Vivekananda: The Living Vedanta, Chaturvedi Badrinath looks behind the iconic façade, seeking to liberate Vivekananda from the confines of the worship room. He examines the various facets of a man who was as much at ease with philosophical discourse as he was with cooking; whose childlike love for ice cream went hand in hand with his stature as a prophet. The author also throws light on the various relationships that shaped Swamiji's philosophy of Vedanta and formed the core of his teaching-with his spiritual guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, his mother Bhubaneswari Devi, and his many followers in the West, mostly women, who became central to his life and work. Well researched and brimming with a wealth of detail, Swami Vivekananda: The Living Vedanta offers an unforgettable insight into the life and times of this renaissance - figure one who was the very embodiment of the Vedanta that he preached.

FINDING JESUS IN DHARMA : Christianity in India

Published in 2000 by Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (ISPCK), Delhi

Christianity had flourished as an honoured faith in India, in Kerala, for four centuries before the nations of Europe began being Christianized. The Indian Christians have been an integral part of Indian society for as long as Christianity itself. They did not ever believe that there was any conflict between the spiritual environment in which they had their roots and their faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. Christian missionaries from Europe and England many centuries later would insist that there was a radical breach between the two. This book is about the history of the issues which western Christianity produced in its encounter with Dharmic civilisation. Missionaries were obliged to re-think Christianity in its relation to non-Christian religions, especially Hinduism. That story is narrated here mostly in the words of missionaries themselves. There is here also an account of Indian Christian thought: its concerns and direction. But above all, beyond history, beyond theology, there is Jesus, as the perfect embodiment of Dharma. Faith, trust, caring, love and truth-these are the meaning of Jesus, as they are of Dharma. In our troubled times, hearts would heal, and bring together what is falsely separated, making a journey towards both.


Published in 1993 by Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, and Pahl-Rugenstein, Bonn.

The key concept which will enable us to grasp the truth about India is the concept of Dharma. Dharma is that which sustains life and order in all their forms, cosmic, human, animal and divine. It is a secular concept in the sense that it arises from no alleged divine revelation but from a study of the human person in all the dimensions of human existence (which are certainly not merely material). The concept of Dharma is not religious or anti-religious; it is secular. But, and here confusion begins to multiply even within India, the word Dharma has been used to embody the western concept of "religion". And therefore secularity has been understood to be anti-Dharmic. But the confusion originates in the West, where the concept of "religion" (from a Christian point of view, a very suspect concept) was used to explain what the invaders found in India.

Read the Reviews:

  • THE WOMEN OF THE MAHABHARATA : First City, June 2008

    There's one equivocating with death, and there's another one travelling through jungles to meet emperors and claim their rights, there's one wedded to five men... Women we know (and some we don't) as Suvarchala, Damayanthi, Suvarchala, Urvashi. Plus, a pair of love birds. Literally...

  • RATIONAL WOMEN OF THE EPIC AGE : Pamela Philipose, The Little Magazine, Volume VII Issue 5 & 6

    The noted Indologist Iravati Karve once termed the Mahabharata as an inexhaustible mine: "There are various ways of making it yield its riches. No one person can encompass it entirely," she wrote in her preface to Yuganta, her seminal interpretation of Sage Vyasa's epic...

  • ROLE MODELS FOR ALL TIME : Prema Nandakumar, The Hindu, August 26, 2008

    They have never been far away from us, Savitri, Draupadi, Damayanti and others of their kind. Of course, a veil had fallen between them and the English-educated Indian for a while. Fortunately, before any lasting damage was done, the Indian intellectual went back to the sources and helped the coming generations draw close to the classical heroines...

  • TALES OF FORTITUDE : Humra Quraishi, The Tribune, New Delhi, November 9, 2008

    Those of you who have read Chaturvedi Badrinath's earlier books - The Mahabharata : An Inquiry In the Human Condition, Finding Jesus in Dharma : Christianity in India - would be well aware of the great flow and that story rendering style of his prose...

Books are available at: Orient Blackswan Publishers Orient Blackswan Publishers


Read the Reviews:

  • HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HUMAN LIFE : A Humanistic Exploration of The Themes in The Epic Showing their Universality and Everyday Concerns, Aloka Parasher-sen, The Hindu, January 2, 2007

    At first glance this book, mainly because of its size, leaves the erroneous impression that it is yet again, another abridged and edited translation of one of our most favourite and popular epics, the Mahabharata...

  • EPIC SCAPES : First City January 2007

    18 chapters about life and living, studied and analysed from several perspectives (all possible perspectives - Food, Death, Pleasure and Pain, Sexual Energy, Social Arrangements, Moksha are just a few chapter Titles), approaching problems and questions through the classic questioning and storytelling method of inquiry...

  • THE MAHABHARATA BY CHATURVEDI BADRINATH : Wagish Shukla, Seminar 575, July 2007

    Chaturvedi Badrinath has written a monumental study on the Mahabharata, a re-examination for the contemporary concerns. His intentions are good, and the labour he as put in is admirable; it is no mean task, by any standards, to write 592 pages of text supported by 91 pages of notes, index and concordance...

  • RE-READING A TEXT: Arshia Sattar, The Book Review, April 2007

    Chaturvedi Badrinath's The Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the Human Condition does what it promises in that it enquires into who we are and elicits ways in which the Mahabharata suggests that we might be better or, understand ourselves and our place in this world better...

  • ELUSIVE TRUTH - An Informed Inquiry But Incomplete : Pratap Bhanu Mehta, The New Sunday Express, December 24, 2006

    Can the truth of the Mahabharata, be possessed without a deep understanding of the narrative structure through which it emerges? Is a sense of self awareness, a flash of insight into truth...

Books are available at: Orient Blackswan Publishers Orient Blackswan Publishers


Read the Reviews:

  • SWAMI VIVEKANANDA - The Living Vedanta : Saroj Butani, Samvid

    In the history of modern India, there is perhaps no other great personality, with the exception undoubtedly of Mahatma Gandhi...

  • SWAMI VIVEKANANDA - The Living Vedanta : The Telegraph, April 27, 2007

    SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: THE LIVING LEGEND (Penguin, Rs 375) by Chaturvedi Badrinath startles the reader in the very first line of the Acknowledgments by stating that "Woman had a central place in the life and work of Swami Vivekananda". The line sets the tone of the work which, to its credit, is the very opposite of a hagiography. It is an exploration of the man behind the iconic image, the man who could serve delectable dishes and deliver lectures on the most abstruse philosophical topics with equal ease. One of Vivekananda's letters to Mrs Hale, his 'Mother Church', quoted here, ends with "This nonsense of the world. Shiva, Shiva, Shiva". It seems uncannily close to the "Shantih, shantih, shantih", coming after "Hieronymo's mad againe" in T.S Eliot's The Waste Land.

Books are available at: Penguin Penguin


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  • FINDING JESUS IN DHARMA : R M Singh, The Statesman

    The book on Jesus is not an attempt to advocate Christianity, but help better understand the religion, says R M Singh.

A Reader's Response:

Books are available at: ISPCK ISPCK


Read the Reviews:

  • HISTORY OF IDEAS : N S Jagannathan, Indian Review of Books, Oct - Dec 1994

    This is a richly textured book, drawing upon an astonishing range of scholarship of Eastern and Western ideas to establish its central argument. It is worth reading, irrespective of one's view of this central thesis for the stimulation provided by...

  • UNDERSTANDING INDIA : Ramaswamy Iyer, The Book Review, October 1994

    This is a work of great importance and needs to be widely read and discussed. While this is a collection of essays (18 newspaper articles and there more formal papers) and not a structured book, there is a powerful unity of thought and argument which welds into a whole. The occasional references to a larger unpublished work give us tantalising glimpses into what promises to be a monumental book of formidable scholarship and rare intellectual distinction...

Books are available at: ISPCK ISPCK