Books That Provide An Insight Into Indian Mythology
Indian Mythology: Myths that teach us lessons of life
If you are born and brought up in India, you are compulsorily familiarised with the vast Indian Mythology. Epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana have been the core of Indian Mythology. Reminiscence of them is still seen deeply rooted in our culture. Famous characters like Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Hanuman, Warrior Arjuna, Warrior Bheem, Lady Seeta, and Queen Draupadi are our childhood friends. We are also familiar with tyrants like Ravana, Kansa, Duryodhana, Shakuni, Shurpanakha, Mantara and many others.
Definitely, these epics with its Gods, Demons, Demi-Gods, Mythological creatures, Astras and illusions are a myth to many in the tech-driven 21st century. For instance, it seems almost impossible that a certain son of Wind God; born to Vanara King, named as Hanuman; educated by the Sun God would change his size from that of a fly to a giant to achieve feats like flying across the sea or lift an entire mountain.
Yet, these epics are still a regular part in our daily lives. Why? The answer is due to their metaphorical nature. Apart from the surreal tales of valour, these stories contain something very realistic and tangible in them. These stories have the entire human characteristics bifurcated in them. From bravery to fear, from selflessness to greed, from love to lust; every single feeling that humans can feel are showcased in them with its consequent results. For example, it was Karna's impromptu friendship with Duryodhana that left him to fight against his brothers.
In these epics, each character, each scenario is unique and insightful. For a true learner, these stories contain the essence of life. Indeed, these stories are art with human as its prominent subject. Besides, they are really interesting to read; even if you don't believe in them. So, if you are someone, who wants to broaden the knowledge of Indian Mythology, here are few choicest books that can help.
Book based on Mahabharata and Ramayana:
Mahabharata and Ramanyana by Devdutta Pattanaik:
Devdutta Pattanaik is one of the most celebrated scholars of Indian Mythology. His books are well researched and sophisticated in nature. Seeta: An illustrated retelling of Ramayana and Jaya: An illustrated retelling of Mahabharata is designed and written to suit modern readers. The books are divided into chapters. At the end of each chapter, there is a special box which contains inference of the chapter or references from scriptures or converse stories. Importantly, these books are written with a scientific approach.
Mrutyunjaya by Shivaji Sawant:
Originally written in the Marathi language, an effective English translation of this book is available. The word Mrityunjaya literally means 'Conqueror of Death'. This book is a novel composition on the life of warrior Karna. Importantly, this book showcases the negative side of the Mahabharata war. The author has brilliantly used his own imagination to fill the gaps in the retelling to make it an impactful novel.
Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This book is a novel written in Queen Draupadi's point of view. Importantly, this novel depicts the life of a queen living in a patriarchal world. This book is insightful in understanding how Indian society was shaped. Wedded to five husbands, Draupadi's life story is a tale of love, sacrifice and endurance.
Asura: The tale of Vanquished by Anand Neelkantan.
Anand Neelkantan is famous for the creation of Bahubali- The masterpieces of Indian Cinematography. The book is noteworthy for its depiction from the side of Ravana and a commoner Asura named Bhadra. Collectively hated by the general crowd, Ravana is an infamous villain. However, he was also an efficient king and a Sanskrit scholar. This book is really a must-read on the subject as it shows the secondary nature of Ravana.
The Fisher Queen's Dynasty by Kavita Kane
This book is based on the life of Satyavati. She was the Queen of Hastinapur and great grandmother of Pandavas and Kauravas. Absolutely, an important part of the Mahabharata war. The book depicts how a commoner fisherwoman makes her way to the throne using ruthless politics and manipulation; to change the future of the kingdom forever.
Seeta's Sister by Kavita Kane.
Written from Urmila's perspective, Seeta's Sister and Lakshman's wife; the book is about most underrated characters of Ramayana. It depicts the life of people left in the palace to wait for their king to return. Urmila was one of the. Left in the palace to wait for her husband to come back for fourteen long years, this book is about the pain of separation and wait for an unsure future.
Ramayana and Mahabharata by R. K. Narayan.
These books are special because it is a short poetry anthology of Tamil Kamba Ramayanam and Mahabharata respectively. The beauty of these epics is essentially increased by the prose nature of the books. These are a short, sweet and soulful retelling of the epics.
The Song of Rama: Visions of Ramayana by Devi Vanamali.
This book is directly based on the original Ramayana by Valmiki. Devi Vanamali has made the complex Sanskrit language simple in her creation. Absolutely, without any additions, the book is not a retelling but a bulk form of ancient oral traditions.
This is book is satirical in nature. It is way far from the original Mahabharata. It takes the story of the Mahabharata- an epic war to recast it with another equally famous war- The War of Indian Independence. Entirely written with a modern approach the book is a mixture of criticism and glorification of the epic.
Chronicles of Kuru Woman Krishna Sister Vol 1 by Priyanka Bhuyan
This is a recently released novel. Currently only first part is out. The book is based on Subhadra, Krishna's sister and wife of Arjuna. She is one of the underrated characters of Mahabharata. However, she grows to become the Rajamata (Royal Mother) of the Bharatvarsha after the war. The book is a novel retelling and quite famous amongst the young crowd.
These are few books to understand Indian Mythology. If you have read any of them do tell your views in the comment section. Also, feel free to mention if there are any other books that you liked on the subject. Happy Reading!
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