Mythology & more mythology

Long ago, when I was about eleven, I went on  a trek through a nearby forest with my brother, uncle and his friend from college. All we carried with us was a back pack with a water bottle and a box of bajjis my grandmother had made especially for the trek. Once we reached a clearing, my uncle and his friend plonked themselves on a rock to do some catching up on their lives. My uncle strictly instructed us to explore the forest on our own but only within his field of vision. He visually marked the boundaries and told us to stay within.

Eagerly my brother started looking for exotic insects and wild animals. (Considering the sparse forest, I don’t think it housed any!) But me, I was on another mission. High on all the Enid Blyton stories I’d been reading, I was in search of pixies. Once I met them, I wanted to ask one of them kindly to accompany me back home.

I started speaking softly to the bushes and plants, sure that pixies were hiding inside them. I tempted them with various treats if only they’ll come out and show themselves.

My brother slowly stopped what he was doing and began to notice me. Once he came closer and realised what I was doing, he started begging me to stop. He had a panicky edge to his voice. He was sure that I had totally lost it. “There are no such things as pixies, ” he pleaded. ” Its only a story… Will you please stop this nonsense at once?”

“Go away!” I snapped at him. “You’re scaring my pixies.”

Giving up he wandered back to my uncle casting nervous glances towards me.

After a while I gave up too and plonked myself on another rock and began to devour the bajjis.

**************

Last week I finished two books based on Indian mythology back to back.

One was Ashok Banker’s Prince of Ayodhya (I know, I know, it came out ages ago, but just got my hands on it!) and the other was The Pregnant King by Devdutt Patnaik.

The former was Valmiki’s Ramayana retold and the latter was a fiction based on one of the branch stories from the Mahabharatha.

And both were just brilliant.

How could Banker make the Ramayana, which we all have heard a hundred times from our grandmothers to Amar Chthra Kathas to the good old Ramanand Sagar Productions so gripping?

He has got into the pyschies of each individual character and not just stereo-typed them. He’s just taken them from the 2 dimensional level we’ve been used to and re-presented them in 3 dimension. I never knew what went on Rama’s or Laksmana’s mind when they followed Vishwamitra to the forest. Nor about the relationships between Dhasaratha’s three queens. This book is full of the emotional struggle they went through when faced with various situations. We all know Rama and Lashmana were inseparable. But what Banker does is also explore the comaraderie  between Bharatha & Shatrukuna. We read about Bharatha’s emotions when he’s torn between his loyalties towards his mother on one side and his father and brothers on the other.

To all this add Banker’s brilliant picturesque descriptions of Ayodya and Mithila, the dark forces, Asuras and thier dark powers, the Brahmans and their powers and all the magical stuff that Indian mythology is made of.

You get the unfolding of this mind-blowing drama of jealous queens, brave sons, all-powerful sages and a Dark Master.

The Pregnant King, though a fiction, is made up of almost the same things. But this is more about a king yearning for an offspring. And his inner turmoils of not being man enough for his mother to hand over the reigns of his kingdom (because he has no heir apparent) in the beginning.

He drinks the magic potion from a yagna conducted to give him an heir by mistake becomes pregnant with his son. He is later torn between his maternal instincts towards his son and his outward, stern and dutiful appearanace of a kingly father.

Brilliantly written, this book too has no slack in the story and travels fast from one incident to another through the minds of the king, his mother, his queens and others.

******************

Now having  had a heavy dose of occult, ancestors watching us from the other side, various yakshas floating around humans without their knowledge, I’m seriously thinking even if an iota of all this is true, I may have some yaksha or demigod smack next to me and I may not even realise it!

So people, don’t be surprised if I start talking to my comp, my shelf or just the wall…

I think I’ve come a full circle!

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5 Comments

  1. Praveen said,

    April 12, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I’ve read The Pregnant King and loved it, yet to read Prince of Ayodhya.

    Ramayana was Ramanand Sagar productions no? 🙂

    Oh yes! Thanx for pointing it out! Shall change it! 🙂

  2. Stephen Isabirye said,

    April 13, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I am exhilarated to learn that you were very high on Enid Blyton books. Yes, they could be as intoxicating as drugs or alcohol. This explains why I decided to write and publish a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com).
    Stephen Isabirye

    Enid Blyton was such a major part of my childhood! You actually wrote a book on her! Shall get my hand on it!

  3. Shanti said,

    April 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Good one.. Interesting way to write a book review.. 🙂

    Thank you!:)

  4. buddy said,

    April 15, 2010 at 11:18 am

    the prince of ayodhya is a good read. Ive read 2 books in the series and want to read more.

    Waiting to lay my hands on the pregnant king.

    🙂 There are 6 books in the ramayana series.. I can’t wait to get to the other 5! Don’t miss Pregnant King!

  5. maami said,

    April 20, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Psst, I am the pixie hiding behind the bush ( a large one, if I might add)

    hehhehe 😀


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