After reading the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi, my appetite to read similar books aroused. I began searching for more Hindu mythological books written in fiction novels. I found many. Read many and reviewed them. There are many on to-read list of mine.
While Amish Tripathi has re written the story of Shiva in his own version, many version of Mahabharata has been released and some of them are worth to read twice and also could be proudly display in bookshelf.
Some of the most famous Mahabharata version are Mrityunjaya, the Death Conqueror: The Story of Karna by Shivaji Savant, Ajaya by Anand Neelakantan, Illusion of Palace by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Randamoozham by MT Vasudevan Nair, Draupadi by Pratibha Rai. These are the best Mahabharata version I’ve read till date. Each one of them are classic novels.
Mrityunjaya by Shivaji sawant is originally written in Marathi. The book is written from Karna’s POV with special emphasis on criticizing the hollowness of the caste system and status is more important than merit.
Anand Neelakantan has carried forward the revolutionary work of Shivaji Sawant in his Ajaya. It is written from the perspective of Duryodhana. The author has turned the entire Mahabharata story upside down. He has carved out his own version of Mahabharata from the view point of downtrodden and vanquished. The series Ajaya has two parts. One is Roll of the Dice and another is Rise of Kali.
There are also books written from the Pandavas point of view. Like Randamooshan by MT Vasudevan written from Bhima’s POV. The second brother is widely considered to be glutton and big headed. But Vasudevan has given voice to Bheema’s hidden grievances which remains unheard. The book is originally written in Malayalam language.
Arjuna: Saga Of A Pandava Warrior-Prince by Anuja Chandramouli is written with gripping and engrossing narrative about this great Pandava warrior. The book is very unbiased in its approach. It explores both virtues and vices, strength and weakness of the third Pandava brother.
I have read two book on Mahabharata from the Draupadi’s POV. One is Draupadi by Pratibha Rai and other is Illusion of Palace by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Both of the author portrays the character of Draupadi in completely different shades.
Pratibha’s Draupadi is more balance between docile and aggressiveness, obedient and dedicated. Pratibha has concentrated in exploring her relation with five husbands and Krishna.
Chitra has portrayed Draupadi has powerful and ambitious. The book has focuses more on the love and hate relation between Draupadi and Karna. But I think Chitra’s Draupadi is modern and contemporary and readers will more relate to her than the Pratibha’s Draupadi. Nonetheless, both the books are a must read.
First in the list comes Chheranakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi. The book is about master strategist of Chanakya who belong to the medieval period. He was the mastermind behind the overthrow of Nanda dynasty and establishment of Maurya dynasty with ChandraGupt Maurya as the ruler.
Ashwin Sanghi has picked up this historical character and retold his story in the book in two different time period. He tell the s story of two Chanakya. One belongs to 340 BC and another Chanakya as Pandit Gangasagar Mishra of 21st century who has pledged to get his protégée Chandini Gupta appointed to the highest office in India, that of the Prime Minister.
The book is spellbinding and will keep you hooked throughout. It is a well paced awesome political thriller. A must read.
Next comes the epic Mahabharata told from the point of view of Draupadi in the book Palace of Illusion by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Draupadi is the unsung character of Mahabharata and till today people avoid naming their daughters as Darupadi.
But Chitra has tried and I must say quite successfully to break her image. After reading the book you won’t hold the same opinion about her as before. The book starts from her birth and ends with her tragic death falling off a mountain track. Between Chitra has covered the stories of Mahabharata from the Draupadi’s viewpoint with few imaginary twist like Which man does Draupadi really love? who is the one who really, truly loves her? There are many such questions which add charm to the book and also keeps you hooked.
Palace of Illusion has a very fresh take on Mahabharata and quite heartening to read the epic from a woman’s point of view. An absolute admiring piece of writing.
There are many books written on Mahabharata but Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of The Mahabharata from Devdutt Pattanaik belongs to different genre. It is an enthralling retelling of the epic and a rewarding experience t read it.
We all know the main story of Mahabharata. What Devdutt has done is picked up the plots and sub plots of Mahabharata and linked them to other Hindu text like Vedas, Puranas, Sanskrit classic as well as its many folk and regional variants, including the Pandavani of Chattisgarh, Gondhal of Maharashtra, Terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu, and Yakshagana of Karnataka. Little-known details such as the names of the hundred Kauravas, the worship of Draupadi as a goddess in Tamil Nadu, the stories of Astika, Madhavi, Jaimini, Aravan and Barbareek.
It is an excellent book with great narration and impressive art which will keep you glued to it. And you will keep thinking about it even after finishing it.
Even Amish has given a hint in his book The Oath of Vayuputras that he might also re-write the epic Mahabharata.
There are quite a few memorable work done on Ramayana as well. Recently released Sita: an illuatrated retelling of Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik is an excellent book to read. This could be the first attempt to write Ramayana from female point of view. I hope someone also write Ramayana from Kaikeyi view point. She is also the most unsung and anti-character of Indian myth but somehow I find her character very admiring for her strength to admit her fault and feeling guilty for it.
Well may be Anand Neelakantan will fulfill my wish. He is known to write Hindu Myths stories from the anti-hero point of view. Like Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished. Here Ravan is telling his story.
His latest offering is Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan where the story has been told from the point of view Dhuryodhana, the most hated character of Mahabharata. The book has been so far received very well.