Now I’m waiting for a book on Radha, to view her through a brand new prism.
We’ve had Irawati Karve on Kunti. Devdutt Patnaik on a new free spirited Sita. Amish Tripathi on a transformed Parvati with her twin Kali. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on Draupadi in the Palace of Illusions. Did I miss out on any major one?
Our ancients are a discovery for me. At my mother’s knee, I learnt very abbreviated versions of the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. No grandmas abroad in those days.
My first interaction with the ancients was when my children sat around my knees for bedtime stories from that wonderful Amar Chitra Katha series. Could any civilization survive millennia with petty minded women and such brutes of men?
Then I discovered modern prisms ton history and the scenario stood transformed. I even wrote my own historical novel, MASTANI: from the rumored dancing girl of old text books, she emerged as a true blue Bundela Kshtrani, daughter of Maharaj Chhatrasaal Bundela, whose dowry paved the road of the Marathas into Delhi.
Karve’s Kunti hinted at different relationships, outside the realms of the ‘gods’. More human and believable. Why should surrogates be chosen by someone else? Why not by the woman concerned? Like “Kunti’s Daughter” in my forthcoming anthology.
Devdutt’s Sita was a joy to make friends with: a woman who could enjoy her own company as much as that of the creatures of Nature ….. better than those sullen followers of Raghukul’s rules and regulations for kingdom. A woman who combined the wisdom of philosophy with that of homespun domesticity, never mind if it was homespun in forests. One had to admire the person and her convictions.
I waded through Tripathi’s Parvati and Kali with great glee to come to Chitra’s Draupadi/ Paanchali/Krishnaa. Please note that extra ‘a’, to differentiate her from Krishna, her first love, confidante, fellow conspirator, what have you. Here was a woman, proud in her womanhood. No goddess or saint. Born for vengeance and lived with it. Her two loves permeated her soul, never acknowledged aloud.
She lived burdened with not one but Five husbands who claimed to love her, but would not raise a little finger for her, sitting paralyzed by – again - manmade rules & regulations when she was being stripped in public. Any wonder why she gave them their due in marriage, through all their adversities but did not ‘love’ them?
Incidentally those adversities were inevitably brought on by the violation of some manmade rule or regulation, and accepted stoically ---- was it because the violation was by males, of males, for males?
Where a female came into the picture, men became honor bound to dishonor her? Witness the Pandavas and the Maryada Prushottam…..
Now we need a brand new prism for Radha…one more candidate for Maa dom.