The Mahabharata

Wendy Doniger writes:

Many people in India believe that, because the Mahabharata – the ancient epic poem, in Sanskrit, about a disastrous fratricidal war – is such a tragic, violent book, it is dangerous to keep the whole text in your house; most people who have it stow one part of it somewhere else, just to be on the safe side. The Mahabharata, in any case, takes up quite a lot of shelf space: it contains about 75,000 verses – sometimes rounded off to 100,000 – or three million words, some 15 times the combined length of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, or seven times the Iliad and the Odyssey combined; and a hundred times more interesting.

(LRB 8 October 2009)