SAMKSHIPTA MAHABHARATAM: Mallela Ramaiah; Pub. by Mallela Grandhamala, 2, Jayanthi Street, Seetapathi Nagar, Velachery, Chennai-600042. Rs. 100.THIS BOOK is an abridged version of the first five Parvas of the Mahabharata in 417 tersely woven verses. Earlier scholar-poets such as Nannaya, Tikkana and Yerrapragada have interpreted the epic in Telugu. Their intention was to translate the Sanskrit original of Sage Vyasa but what they have created is a great monumental work without parallel both in beauty of style and integrity of theme. In this volume the author follows this pattern. Nannaya's Aadiparva starts with tracing the ancestry of Kuru dynasty at length. But this work does away with those details and the story begins with King Shanthanu. Ramaiah's purpose is to simply tell the story without indulging in scholarly extravaganza.The metrical form chosen is Ataveladi, a short four-line stanza of pure Telugu origin. It is melodic, which makes this work immensely readable.This volume ends with the two warring sides getting ready to enter the battlefield, Kurukshetra. The next six Parvas describe the battle and the last seven are Shanthi Saptakam. It would be of benefit to readers if the author renders the remaining chapters also into simple verse. His pace of narration sustains interest and this work can be read aloud to groups of people, young and old as an introduction to the great epic. But one really misses the Yaksha's questions and the right responses of Yudhishthira. This book is a good addition to the already existing scores of works on this subject.