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Hindu epic Mahabharata retold -- tweet by tweet

Hindu epic Mahabharata retold -- tweet by tweet

Author: Tony Tharakan
Publication: Reuter
Date: August 5, 2009
URL: http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE57421G20090805?sp=true

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."

Since its launch on July 29, epicretold has gone through 33 tweets, each less than 140 characters -- a journey that has already seen the young Pandava brothers leave their jungle abode for the royal palace.

Sreedharan has no idea how many tweets he will eventually take to make good triumph over evil. But he says he has no illusions about the literary merit of the Mahabharata's Twitter avatar.

"It is simply twiction, nothing more."

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