The Reimaginings of Indian Mythology | Booknerds Newsletter
September 2, 2023 at 6:30:00 AM
Hi fellow Booknerds,
It’s the end of August and you know what that means…drumroll please…. a newsletter!!
So, while I was searching for what the theme should be this time, I encountered a book called ‘Song of the Trinity’ which borders on the theme of mythology and fantasy.
It is a known fact that fantasy is quite the genre, taking us to places we’ve never known before and expanding our imagination beyond its limits.
But what about Indian mythology as a genre?
We have a myriad of books that help us to see the tales from a unique perspective.
I decided it would be fun to curate a list of seven books based on Ramayana.
1) The Liberation of Sita by Volga
Take the words in their literal sense because this book unravels what Sita’s thought process might have been throughout Ramayana especially after her husband abandons her. This story is a collection of voices, not just Sita but also of the minor characters such as Surpanakha, Renuka, Urmila, and Ahalya, women
who may have played small parts in the epic but give quite a diverse perspective on the story as a whole.
2) Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
Holding the hardback cover in the palm of your hands, the red emblazoned against gold, the story of a
woman who shaped one of the most unforgettable epics in Indian mythology- Queen Kaikeyi. Although her position as a villain or a hero(I meant to say heroine) is quite debatable, we can’t deny that she is the reason why Ramayana unfolded the way it did. What if there was an irrefutable motive behind her actions? What if she was not the villain we painted her to be?
3) Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta(Ram Chandra #3) by Amish Tripathi
The last book in the trilogy, the final POV that helped us to see Ramayana with another set of eyes(as long as it's not ten heads), it’s none other than Ramayana from the point of view of Raavan himself. From his birth all the way to his death, Amish Tripathi attempts to justify Raavan’s actions, to humanize him in a way without ever trying to hide the villainous side to him. The world cannot be seen for only its black and white parts but also for the grey in between- this story is a perfect example of that. Raavan may not wholly be a hero or a villain- maybe a little bit of both?
4) Mandodari: The Sati Series IV by Koral Dasgupta
Books exist to give life to the voices who have faded into oblivion. When talking about Ramayana, the prominent figures that come to mind would be Rama, Sita, and Raavan and the story that binds them together. But what about the wife of Raavan-Queen Mandodari? What must have she gone through when she realized that her husband stole the wife of Rama, when he decided to wage a war against him to protect her? This book puts a spotlight on someone who helped shape the kingdom of Lanka, someone who deserves her story to be told as well.
5) The Forests of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A book written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, this time we have Sita’s version of Ramayana. A sister to
‘The Liberation of Sita’- this book also lends voices of women eclipsed by their husbands, living in a time where men were the centre of the stories, the stories of Kaikeyi, Surpanakha, and Mandodari.
6) Valmiki’s Women by Anand Neelakantan
They say that there are no small parts, only small actors who play big roles. Every single character in Ramayana made a significant contribution to mould the story to the form it is now all the way down to the squirrel who helped Raama build the bridge to Lanka. Valmiki’s Women is a deeper discussion of such characters.
This list is more than just a casual read but a deeper understanding of our roots, of our insanely vast Indian mythology.
I think I may have just convinced you to add a whole list of books to your unfinished TBR, didn’t I? You're welcome.