Indian mythology is a very vivid facet of our unique culture. Preserving the legends of Indian folklore and keeping them alive among the current generation is essential. Through generations, storytelling, scriptures and mainstream story books have been passing on the tales of Indian mythology.
It is an actuality that only a handful of the current generation is drawn towards reading the Vedic literature and epics. This is because, a tinge of modernity has become a requisite among the contemporary youth. This gap is being bridged by the thriving Indian authors like Amish Tripathi and Anand Neelakantan who have given a different perspective to the tales of Indian mythology.
Amish Tripathi rose to fame with his debut trilogy – The Shiva Trilogy consisting of the books The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret Of The Nagas, and The Oath Of The Vayuputras. The Shiva trilogy is known to be the fastest selling book series in the Indian publishing history. The trilogy narrates the life and adventures of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. What makes the trilogy first one of its kind is that it depicts Shiva as one of us (very much a man). He’s pragmatic and has a mind crammed with questions that every one of us might have. Shiva comes to us as a boisterous man who smokes marijuana, with humanly emotional turmoils and flaws, someone who falls head over heels in love with a woman not for her beauty but for her fortitude and valour. Though the narrative is set in ancient India, Amish has averted the stereotypical misogyny and has portrayed women as warriors with equal physical strength and agility as men. Amish manipulates Shiva’s story to address profound questions and not to preach a religion. Similarly, his books ‘Scion of Ikshvaku’ and ‘Sita :The Warrior Of Mythila’ of the Ram Chandra series narrate the story of Lord Ram and Sita. Thus, the luscious characterizations, rational perspectives and at the same time bringing out the essence of the Indian mythology is why his books are cherished by many.
While usually the epics delineate the story of the virtuous who ultimately become the victors, the story of the vanquished always remained untold. Anand Neelakantan’s first book, ‘Asura: Tale of the Vanquished’ delivers the tale of the Asura king, Raavana and Badra, a common asura. The story line makes us listen to each of their stories that gives us a pricking feeling of guilt for being biased towards the “Good”. The author’s way of writing attempts to make us empathize with the Asuras and thus gives us a different perspective to the saga. His other works include ‘Ajaya: Roll of the Dice’ and ‘Ajaya: Rise of Kali’ that are based on the universally loved epic, The Mahabharata. The first book of his Baahubali sequel, ‘The Rise of Sivagami’ is a powerful story of revenge, slavery and power that narrates the story of the powerful queen, Sivagami. Another remarkable book is ‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni that helps us re-imagine the Mahabharata as Draupati, the most dynamic woman character, narrates her story.
To conclude, few authors have taken a step towards re-imagining and in a way, reviving the Indian Mythology by imparting modernity and giving the readers a different perspective to the legendary Indian epics. Hoping for many more such endeavors from our favorite authors!