Hindu epic Mahabharata retold -- tweet by tweet

Wed Aug 5, 2009 5:21am EDT
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By Tony Tharakan

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - An ancient Indian epic about princes, demigods and a cataclysmic war is getting a makeover on Twitter -- 140 characters at a time.

Chindu Sreedharan, a U.K.-based lecturer, is retelling the Mahabharata using the micro-blogging service, hoping to lure readers with creative snippets posted in chronological order.

"This is not quite about capturing the philosophical richness of the original Mahabharata -- but presenting a version that will, hopefully, suit the medium," Sreedharan, 36, told Reuters in an e-mail interview.

The Sanskrit epic, one of Hinduism's crucial texts, deals with a dynastic struggle for power that ends in victory for the righteous. It is regarded as an allegorical lesson in righteous living integral to much of India's cultural consciousness.

While the original Mahabharata has a main narrator, Sreedharan's version (twitter.com/epicretold) is told from the point of view of Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers who triumph over their hundred Kaurava cousins in battle.

Such was the appeal of the Mahabharata that when it was first adapted for television in the 1980s, it managed to empty city streets, forced changes in train timings and got actors elected as members of parliament.

Which is also why Sreedharan turned to the epic for an experiment in social media.

"My hunch was, to keep the follower hooked, you needed a tale that provided for plenty of dramatic tension. Mahabharata does that."   Continued...

<p>Opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Seiji Ohsaka uses Twitter at his office in Tokyo June 29, 2009. REUTERS/Michael Caronna</p>