Mauri Published. I did it. Again.

Mauri, Book 2 of Abhaya collection, rather the continuation of the story of Abhaya, but from the point of view of Mauri, the daughter of commander Mura is Live on Kindle.

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I did it. Again. Passed through the whole journey. Again. The euphoric feeling of hitting upon a story idea, the feverish phase of plotting. The high phase of starting the manuscript, the drudging patches of self doubt, writing blocks, editing woes, pre launch jitters and what not, but finally hit the publish button! I went through it all. Again. IT makes me feel delirious. It makes me feel fulfilled. It makes me feel like myself. I pray and hope that I undertake this journey again and again and again.

I remember the headless chicken mode I was in after hitting the publish button for Abhaya. I remember the neo-published joy followed by that scary lean time which nudged me towards learning every little thing I could to write better, to sell better, to tell stories better, to sell stories better. I trudged on and published Avishi, almost 20 months later. The learning showed up, propelling me to smash the first glass ceiling as a writer and sprint towards the next.

That is exactly why I love doing this journey again. While you, the readers continue to show your love in terms of beautiful moments like the one I felt after seeing this:

Mauri ranking

The journey is what made me what it takes to achieve the above. What did I learn from the latest cycle? You and I will have to wait till I hit the precious publish button. Again.

Until then, Keep your reviews flowing. Be a part of my journey, my #writerslife.

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An evening at Novel London

Reading out the first chapter of your novel to an audience enthusiastic about reading and writing in a small world of books, be it a book store or a library, is an exhilarating experience. It is so much different from the the usual blitzkrieg of a book launch or a tea talk with a kind celebrity who pulls crowds for you. Because at Novel London, you are reading out to the best audience you can get, all of them authors, published or soon to be published. Your first chapter is heard by those who are stationed in the various milestones of this beautiful journey of writing.

Novel London is such an initiative by Safeena Chaudhry (author of Companions of Clay) to provide a platform for upcoming authors. Must say Safeena takes a lot of care to ensure voices are represented from all over the world. The monthly reading events, usually held on the first Friday of every month are a must attend for book lovers in London. I had come across Novel London’s events through some Meetup groups earlier this year, but had not pushed myself thinking that my genre might not be of interest to the Western audience. Destiny had other plans and I ran into Safeena herself during London Book Fair in April after which she took the efforts to slot the reading of Abhaya into an appropriate theme and proactively followed up. I totally loved the rehearsal session and Safeena being a professional with Video making, had some great tips to share about public reading/speaking.

On Aug 5 2016, I got to read the first chapter of Abhaya for “An Evening of Theosophical Fiction” along with Adam Bethlehem who read out from his second novel, The Universal Theory of Immigration (highly recommend it). Swedenborg Society, Bloomsbury made for a perfect location. It was worth noting, the amount of literature one man (Emanuel Swedenborg) could write and inspire.

Here is the video of my reading out the first chapter of Abhaya -. Was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of interest the reading generated among the audience gathered during the event. (Adam bought the Kindle edition on the spot!) It was a proof that audience irrespective of their ethnicity would really connect with your writing when they feel it coming from your heart. Do watch and leave your comments below.

Also, please don’t forget to visit Novel London ‘s Website and do attend the future events. I’ll not miss it while I am in London 🙂

Short story – Behind every successful woman is a…

The car halted for the fifteenth time barely covering a kilometre in the last forty minutes. At five in the evening, this was not unusual on the Road #1, Banjara Hills. Rukmini sighed stretching against her seat, glancing at her husband on the wheel. If there was an award for showing patience in Hyderabad traffic, Vasu would have been a permanent recipient. She smiled and lay a hand over his, perched on the hand gear. No amount of traffic would ruin her mood today. Winning the gold medal at the state level Kuchipudi solo competition had been a dream she had nurtured for years. The age limit for the participation was 25 and three months down the line, she would cross the age limit. This had been Rukmini’s last chance at the competition and to her delight and that of her family’s she had done it.

Bhaamane…. Satyabhaamane… The phone rang. Rukmini answered it reminding herself to change the ring tone. It was her mother’s favourite song and the very song to which she had performed in the finale of the competitions and won the award. But now, she did yearn for a break from the monotony as the song had totally occupied her life in the last couple of months.

“Amma!” Rukmini chirped. “Yes, we are on the way to Ravindra Bharati Auditorium for the prize distribution.”

“Wish I were there Ammulu.” Her mother’s voice sounded forlorn. “Aren’t they streaming it on any Youtube Channel?”

“One month in the US and you have developed way too high expectations.” Rukmini chuckled. “I’ll try and get a recording Amma. How is Vishva doing? Katya is due in the next month no?”

The conversation continued about her sister in law who was expecting. Meanwhile, the traffic on the road showed no mercy. Rukmini felt thankful to Vasu for insisting that they start early enough so that the delay does not make them late for the event. She was about to hang up when her mother suddenly asked. “Rukku, did you share the news with Radha?”

“I put it up on Facebook no, Amma. She liked and commented on that.”

“You should have asked her to come to the function today.”

“How will Radha come with her baby Amma?” Rukmini retorted and immediately bit her lip hoping that the conversation would not go towards her having children now.

“At least tell her to restart dancing. I still remember how nicely you both used to dance…” the voice trailed away for a moment before her mother muttered a hasty goodbye citing a domestic excuse and hung up.

“Radha was your dance buddy in Vijayawada right?” Vasu asked.

“Hmmmm” Rukmini nodded. The traffic only seemed to worsen as they made their way towards the Dwaraka Circle. Ravindra Bharati was a couple of kilometres away from there. A facebook message popped up.

“Wow, think of the…” Rukmini exclaimed. Devil wasn’t the word she preferred to use for Radha. “Look what I found…” The message said followed by a couple of attachments. “Vasu! look at this! Radha sent me now!” Rukmini thrust the phone before him. Vasu’s smile became more pronounced seeing the picture. “You both were like 15-16 years old? That Krishna’s costume suited you.”

“Fourteen. In Std 9.” Rukmini replied looking lost in the memory. I remember as I behaved like a sore loser after this performance.

Vasu had an amused look and hauled his brows. “What did you do?”

“Well, typical adolescent jealousy. Radha’s mudras, poses and transition between varying rhythms, everything had finesse. She was a natural. You know, Amma was almost like her fan. And I was a bit tired of the constant comparison. This was one performance where I snapped.”

“Were you both performing Madhura Nagarilo?”

Rukmini nodded. Her glance hovered aimlessly fighting the sharp surge of embarrassment. “She played the role of Radha and there was this viewer who commented that the Radha commanded the stage so well that the Krishna seemed totally redundant. I snapped. Swore to my mother that as long as Radha dances, I am not even going to wear anklets, leave along dancing.”

Vasu’s surprise was palpable. So was some relief realizing that the girl he married seemed a far less fierce version of what she used to be. “And Amma listened to you?”

“Come on! It is Amma and her dream of seeing me become an accomplished dancer. She won eventually.”

“So Radha stopped dancing?” Vasu’s gaze showed that he fervently hoped that the turn of events was not as melodramatic as he feared.

“Friendship is stronger than jealousy, boss. We patched up soon after.”Rukmini laughed. But after that, we shifted to Hyderabad. The Senior Secondary School pressure gave me the welcome break from dance. But thanks to Amma’s ceaseless efforts, I rediscovered my passion for dancing, free of competitive pressures. So here I am.

Sadly, fate had different plans for Radha. Guess she achieved a pinnacle too early in life. Her arangetram at the age of nineteen ironically was her last major public performance.”

“What? Why?”

“Conservative family.” Rukmini sighed heavily with a slight shrug. Her parents did not realize the value of her talent. They married her to some US-returned guy when she was barely twenty-two and marriage sealed any possible opportunity of her return to dance.”

Either words failed him or the dense traffic commanded the bulk of his attention, Vasu remained quiet. Rukmini swallowed admitting to herself. Had Radha too taken part in this competition, she would never have won this prize.

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(Picture Credit : Bhamakalapam from Kuchipudi Vaibhavam blog)

Sensing that they could not afford to feel sad just before Rukmini was to have her proud moments, Vasu reached out to the music player. Their car had a storage of discs full of old Telugu movie songs. Vasu was a huge fan of the yesteryear singer Ghantasala. Rukmini more or less shared his tastes. He blindly selected a disc and thrust it into the player.

Kaaru lo, Shikaarukelle Paala buggala pasiditaana

Bugga meeda gulaabi rangu ela vacheno cheppagalavaa

(O maiden enjoying the ride in your car,

can you say from where the rosy blush on your cheeks came?)

With an audible gasp, Vasu reached out to stop the song. Rukmini held his hand. “Let it play,” she chuckled. He gave in with a shrug. They had almost reached the venue. The song played on.

Ninnu minchina kannelandaru mandutendalo maadipothe

vaari buggala nikku neeku vachchi cherenu telusuko

(As the girls more deserving than you, suffer in the scorching sun,

the pink due on their cheeks found its way onto yours)


Rukmini held the mic close facing the audience, her other hand clutching to the prized trophy of the bronze Nataraja mounted on a wooden stand that bore her name with the title “Natya Mayuri.”

The screen behind her flashed selected scenes of her final round performance. She had indeed trained hard to give her best sequence of the complex jatis for the lines.

Bhaamane padiyaaru vela komalulandarilo, lalana, cheliya, maguva, sakhiya, Raamaro,

Gopaala devuni Premanu dochina Satya bhaamane Satya bhaamane

(I am that Bhama, who out of the sixteen thousand beautiful damsels,

managed to steal the heart of Gopala Deva, Mind you, I am Satyabhama).

The Video that carried the final sequence of Jatis earned a resounding rounding applause. The sound of claps tapered off as Rukmini cleared her throat to give a thank you speech. “Behind every successful woman,…. she paused and smiled before pointing her hand towards Vasu sitting in the first row, who for a moment became the centre of attention as the applause grew louder. Had he not taken care of the mundane chores in the last couple of months, believe me, I would not have been able to do that.

“Behind every successful woman, is a strong mother who believes in the potential of her child early in life. You all might not have believed. I had given up on dance, let alone giving performances, about a decade back and it was Amma who inspired and goaded me to test my limits and reach where I have come today.

“Behind every successful woman, are those scores of women who did not get the opportunity to be themselves. I remember a dear friend of mine who excelled me in every Kuchipudi performance we gave as children. Who knows if she had participated in these competitions, I might not have stood a chance. But…” Rukmini’s voice trailed and the audience waited for her to complete. Being the dancer she was, her expressions tended to be pronounced. Even more so as the feeling erupted from her heart. The scorn was palpable when she concluded. “Behind every successful Rukmini, there are those narrow-minded and conservative families which stopped their Radhas from having their due.”

Book Review – The legend of Parshu-Raam by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal

क्षत्रिय रुधिर मये जगदपगत पापं
स्नपयसि पयसि शमित भव तापं
केशव धृत भ्र्गुपति रूप जय जगदीश हरे

You bathe the world, whose sins have been destroyed and whose afflictions of existence have been allayed, with the waters mixed with the blood of the Kshatriyas. O Keshava, You who have assumed the form of Bhrigupati, O Lord of the world, victory be unto You.

– Jayadeva’s composition

Vineet Aggarwal’s Legend of Parshu-Raam chronicles the genesis of the warrior-Rishi Raam. The book is a sequel to his earlier one, Vishwamitra – The man who defied Gods (I had liked that a lot as well. My review pending). The rise of Vishwamitra to the pedestal of Brahmarshi is one of the early examples of Varna ‘transgression’ that was also blessed by the gods (albeit after continuous testing). The emergence of Rama, the Bhargava as the warrior can be seen as a converse ‘transgression’ which in fact got the world rid of the tyrannical rule of wayward kings. In a way, I see it as a negation of hierarchy (if any) and hailing the action of ‘rising to the occasion’.

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Coming to the book, Vineet draws from the Puranic version of the story where the destinies of Vishvamitra and his nephew Jamadagni (consequently passed to Jamadagni’s son Rama) were determined by the magic potion concocted by Maharishi Ruchik. In contrast to a lot of popular retellings, the author sticks to the Puranic plot while successfully chiseling the character sketches, narrating their journeys and visualizing relationships. Being a woman, I liked the way character sketches of Satyavathi and Renuka were conceived and presented.

Another noteworthy aspect of the story is the rise (and subsequent fall) of Arjun Kartavirya. Most of the existing legends start with an arrogant, tyrannical figure when they start the tale. Vineet however, has taken care to bring out the hero out of Arjun before charting the imminent fall. Readers can’t help feeling bad for him while realizing how the loss of discretion can result in a rapid fall, bringing all the hard earned achievements to a zilch. If not for the protagonist Raam (who by all means is endearing), the book should be read to understand this enigmatic anti-hero (or so I am forced to call him) Arjun.

The legend is too well known and I am not attempting to summarize the plot of Parshuraam because it is the approach and execution (or call it narration) that stands out. The social commentary about the Chaturvarna system and Vishwamitra’s reformist steps about the ritual of animal killing make for a contemplative reading. We need more honest story-tellers like Dr. Vineet Aggarwal and more stories from Vineet himself.

Interested readers can buy the book from Amazon

Those with a passion for the tales and legends of Puranic lore should also check out the book Bhagavan Parashurama by KM Munshi published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. At many places, I could not help comparing both the narratives though the stories were too far apart. KM Munshi identified the tussle between Vishvaratha and Vashishta, which was more ideological in nature as a prelude to the battle of ten kings.

Book Review – Gods, Kings and Slaves by Venkatesh Ramakrishnan

Historical fiction is an ever green genre in India. The regional literature with had got into the genre quite early and has established its mark. The classics by the likes of Kalki R Krishnamurthi, Vishvanatha Satyanarayana, KM Munshi have remained all time favourites and some of their works have groomed fan cults. Indian English literature has begun to get into historical fiction quite late and is quite welcome.

Gods, Kings and Slaves, The siege of Madurai by Venkatesh Ramakrishnan, a Chennai based historian and author dwells on the conflict between Malik Kafur, the slave and trusted war general of the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji and Veera Pandya, the King of Madurai.

Starting with an engrossing narrative of the individual travails of both the characters in their early youth, the book sketches their journey upwards. The reader can be moved by the making of Malik Kafur and inspired by the ambitious Prince Veera. The tale of Malik Kafur that transformed an innocent love lorn youth into a stone hearted manipulative war general who knows no defeat was quite eye opening. The dramatization of Veera’s exploits at a crisp pace makes this book a page turner.

The book also dwells into the internal conflicts of the Royal Pandya family. Being the son of a courtesan by the Pandya King, Prince Veera is not considered a natural heir to the throne of Madurai against his step brother Sundara Pandya. But a dramatic turn of events sees Veera ascend the throne but the power comes at a high cost, at the cost of love and friendship. The book alternates between the individual tales of Malik Kafur (I am almost tempted to give his real name away, but that would be a spoiler 😉 and Veera Pandya and I personally found the alternating narrative quite gripping.

Gods Kings and Slaves

One highlight of the book with regards to the war scenes was the balance struck between dramatic narrative and attention to detail be it the description of the fortress of Warangal or strategies that made Prince Veera secure a crucial victory at Lanka. A history enthusiast could have his interest rekindled about the many dynasties the author mentions that most of us would not have studied in high school history. His description of Warangal actually made me want to visit the place the very following weekend. (I was in Hyderabad then).

The author’s way of handling the after effects of a battle is another noteworthy aspect. One can empathize with Veera Pandya’s broken heart at losing Madurai to invaders and his unspoken grief in seeing the changed layout of the city when he visits the erstwhile Pandya capital in incognito. May be as a poetic justice (oops a spoiler!) all does not go well with Malik Kafur back at Delhi after his victorious conquest of medieval India. The idol of Goddess Meenakshi that he is smitten with which he takes from the temple of Madurai has her own ways of working.

The mystique touch at the end of the novel was the lone thing which I felt was out of sync with the rest of the book which does not have a super natural angle. (It might be just me). But then with Kings and Slaves dominating the story, the gods had to show themselves sometime and it happens in the last few pages. The book ends with a brief epilogue about Kumara Kampana, the Vijaya Nagara Prince reclaiming Madurai.

I personally liked the strong female characters along the novel, be it Tara, Sunanda, Radhika or Vani. Readers could wonder about who the male protagonist of the book is when it alternates between the stories of Veera and Kafur. But each of the women make it clear to the reader that they are all here as heroines of their own mettle.

In the authors note, we get to know that ‘Madura Vijayam’ a 14th Century work written by Queen Gangamba was the inspiration for the book. Or rather the book might work as a sequel to the events described in Madura Vijayam. As a history lover I hope that R Venketesh does take to writing the sequel of reclaiming Madurai too.

Venketesh is a bilingual author and has penned Kaviri Maithan, the Tamizh sequel to Kalki R Krishnamurthi’s block buster classic, Ponniyin Selvan. Gods, Kings and Slaves – The siege of Madurai happens to be his first novel in English. The novel did reignite my enthusiasm for the medieval Indian history, especially that of South India and got me reading about the rise and fall of many kingdoms and dynasties that my school curriculum had by passed. If you are a history lover, then go for it on Amazon.

Book Review – Kaal Trilogy by Sangeeta Bahadur

I had picked up the Book One (Jaal) of the Kaal Trilogy in a serendipitous moment in a Bangalore based book store. As I read through I realized that it was more than a novel (in present day fiction standards). Reading Jaal was a total experience in itself. The totally new universe created by the author with its own Pantheon of divinity, super natural beings, mystics and the ever lively characters make for an intriguing and yet a pleasing read. I should mention that this series is definitely not for a racy reader and it demands a greater attention span from the reader while returning a unique experience.

Jaal starts with a cosmic situation where the pantheon of the universe is faced with the peril of facing the wrath of Aushij, the wayward God of Maya. Arihant, the protagonist is the nemesis to Aushij chosen by the Gods. But his destiny comes along with a mixed path of obstacles, assassins , devoted friends, enigmatic mentors and breathtaking confrontations. Jaal is about the journey of Arihant as he begins to discover that the idyllic life of his cosy village was not what he was meant for and leaves everything dear to him behind to find the answer to his questions.

The reader is also presented with the political dynamics of the continent of Hastipeeth where righteous and the wicked are on a constant strife. The exiled Queen Vagdatta, the devoted friend Brihadrath and the enigmatic Vakrini stand out of the rest. There are the sages who work in tandem with the pantheon for the good of the universe. There are intriguing mythical beings, each of them adding his or her own bit to the greater cause. And the spectacular highlight of Jaal is the revelation of the Supreme Goddess. Without spoilers, I can say that I was reminded of the Saundarya Lahari and Mahishasuramardini hymns where contrasting aspects of Adi Shakti reveal themselves

Jaal
Jaal left me waiting for Vikraal, the second of the series which finally came out in March. The Author Sangeeta Bahadur has made the wait worth it. I could feel the characters growing as the story plot evolved. Arihant grows honing his acquired mystic skills. We find him experiencing new phases of life as he finds the love of his heart. With Jaal, the first book giving sufficient clue for the romantic story that would ensue, I was waiting for it to happen in Vikraal. I expect the reader to be pleasantly surprised as here, the woman is the first to profess her love. Aagneyi’s character comes of as something worth admiration on multiple fronts. Revealing anything more might just spoil the fun.

The plot of Vikraal sees the various kingdoms of the continent Hastipeeth becoming aware of the impending conflict between Arihant and Aushij. Adventures and surprises (some pleasant and some not so pleasant) are a part and parcel of Arihant’s journey. We also get to see more of Raudra, the high priestess and warrior on the side of Aushij with her side of the story, intriguing, touching and yet something which stokes fear.

Two parts of the book that can awe the reader from a philosophical point of view are the commentary about Vikaaras or what we know as the six internal enemies and the conversation that Arihant has with another mystic entity about discovering his own self. Philosophically, this is a treat to the reader. The name Arihant started to make more sense as I read more about these internal enemies. The physical journey of Arihant would then seem to each of us like our own virtual journey combating our weaknesses in search of the ‘self’ each of us is.

Vikraal1The greatest aspect that sets the series apart from the rest is the rich descriptive language. It is something which transports the reader into that universe and experience the story. At the same time I fear the description could hamper the pace of the story, especially in nail biting situations of combat and battle. I found it a bit challenging to stay focused when the story shifted to multiple perspectives of each of the many kingdoms. But I think multiple perspectives are key to what become epics. At places I also found the language a bit too modern for the look and feel of the universe of Kaal. (Might be just my perspective)

Vikraal ends on an almost tragic note while leaving a faint hope for something miraculous to happen in the third book Mahakaal. As a reader I found myself praying for that ‘moment’ and am waiting for Mahakaal to come out soon! Buck up Sangeeta, you have loads of readers waiting I am sure!

You can buy Jaal and Vikraal from Amazon.

Scion of Ikshvaku: An Engrossing And Moving Read

This was written for Swarajya Magazine and published in June 2015

There are few books that leave you sleepless when half-read. Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish Tripathi was one such a retelling of Ramayana. It goes without mentioning that the epic of Ramayana has undoubtedly captured the imagination of poets over millennia all across the Indian subcontinent, with versions travelling as far as Indonesia. Each retelling carried a fresh perspective with each poet trying to drive a contemporary message. Hailing from the southern part of the country, I can say Sri Ramachandra is one name taken by one and all in every instance of extreme emotion. His is the first cradle story an average child hears from his or her parents/grandparents or it would not be much of an exaggeration to say that celebrating Ramayana begins right from the womb.

Scion of Ikshvaku was surely one of the much-awaited books this year and, fortunately, the Kindle version was available overseas too. For those who know the structure of Ramayana, this book covers the Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda and most of Aranya Kanda. The opening chapter ofSitaapaharan grips your attention and gets you hooked as the story flashes to the beginning of Ramayana. Amish has taken care to detail the prevalent socio-political dynamics of Sapta Sindhu in those days and the inevitable dangers of an apparently unwise belief of looking down on trade activity by the Kings.

For those who have read his Shiva Trilogy, Amish’s creative liberty does not come as something new. Creative liberty, of course, has been something that every poet and storyteller has indulged in the literary history of India and this book is a welcome continuation of the same tradition. We see Ramachandra having a troubled childhood taking the burden of an undeserved blame and moving us with his commitment (in contrast to who we know as someone being everyone’s apple of eye).

The second thing which would strike the reader is the amount of discussion and debate over philosophies and codes. The indulgent conversations between Guru Vashishta and the four princes of Ayodhya would make one wish that the kind of education system returns to us, where each student is encouraged to voice his/her opinion and build upon the same with differing perspectives. I really liked the part where Bharata boldly points out that Ravana was a better ruler of Lanka than Dasharatha was of Koshala. “Even honourable men sometimes prove to be terrible leaders. Conversely, men of questionable character can occasionally be exactly what a nation requires” is one pragmatic quote of Bharata where he separates the desired personalities of an individual and a ruler without superimposing.

The amount of care with which relationships between Rama and his brothers have been dealt with is another endearing aspect of the book. We would adore the young Rama for his steadfastness as much as we would adore Bharata for his frank views often disagreeing with Rama and yet take delight in the unaffected fraternal bonding.

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Intriguing conversations don’t really hamper the pace of the plot. One can see the amount of effort that has gone into balancing the philosophical content with the lively nature of characters while reconstructing every detail. In the second half of the book, we are introduced to Sita, who like Sati of the Shiva trilogy is a warrior princess with steadfast beliefs. The ensuing romance of the poised characters of Sita and Rama is something one would look forward to read. The couple who are probably the most celebrated couple in our culture (The only ones who come close are Parvati and Shiva). Sita Kalyanam, the eternally celebrated event though has been retold in a thrilling manner where the newly wed couple would face the battlefield together, almost immediately after their wedding. We also see Ravana, the antithesis reconstructed with great care.

The readers should be ready for Vanavasa episode to gather new reasons other than just Kaikeyi causing it in the last moment (as told in most of the narratives). The quick pace with which Vanavaas came to a close was surprising. I was expecting a discussion or two with Rishis like Atri, Gautama and the Charvaka Jabali, who Rama meets in the original Valmiki’s version. Surprisingly, Scion of Ikshvaku does not contain Rama’s interaction with either. But the nail-biting chapter where the book ends surely makes the reader await the next book.

The book in its first part also has, what I felt, the author’s tribute to Nirbhaya, an event that made our national conscience shake with shock and burn with anger. The character Roshni (the word is of Persian origin though, which I felt was slightly out of place), the daughter of Manthara and the childhood mentor of Rama and his brothers endears herself to the reader in the short duration of the narrative. As a woman, it satisfies me that in this book at least, justice was dispensed even at the cost of the law.

In summary, the book rekindled my love for Ramayana and reminded me about my own earlier love-hate journey with Sri Rama since my teens before I settled as a seeker. Caught between singing Thyagaraja Kritis like Jagadananda Kaaraka while seething with anger about how he (supposedly) treated Sita, my past predicament would have amused Lord Rama for sure. I remember a certain blog post of mine hailing Rama got me angry messages from my feminist friends (the reasonable ones too). After a lot of books that have given a glorified platform to those against Rama or angry with Rama, a counter view from Rama’s perspective was much needed rather than the usual defence of ‘He did what the society expected of him’. This Ram Chandra series by Amish Tripathi will hopefully go a long way in bringing the reader closer to what the spirit of Rama is.

Jagadananda karakaa Jaya Janaki Prananayaka
Gaganadhipa satkulaja Rajarajeshwara
Sugunakara sura sevya bhavya daayaka Sada Sakala
(Jagadananda Kaaraka)

Hail, the one who is cause of universal bliss, the soul mate of Janaki,
The scion of the blessed dynasty of the Lord of skies, the king of kings,
The Ocean of noble characteristics, the one worshipped by gods, the bestower of divinity,
The eternal cause of bliss to all the worlds

-Saint Thyagaraja

Here is the Amazon link to buy Scion of Ikshvaku. Hindi translation can be bought here