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An Alternative Retelling Of Indian Mythology: How Shiva, Mahabharat And Ramayan Became ‘Cool’

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By Radhika Narang:

Reading books, which was a hobby long forgotten has been slowly catching up. Nowadays, people read books which not only have romantic plots or are thrillers, but even mythology and fiction. These books are becoming increasingly popular among the people of India. Many books inspired by the mythological characters like shiva and ravana, written by Indian authors like Amish Tripathi and Ashoka Banker have hit the Indian bookstores in the last two years and have been selling like hot-cakes. Here is a list of top 10 mythological fiction books that are current hot favourites among the people, especially the youth of India.

The immortals of meluha

1.The Immortals Of Meluha by Amish Tripathi:

This novel is first in line of the Shiva trilogy. Amish Tripathi has taken a fictional take on lord shiva, had he been a human and described how he would then have encountered situations on earth. The novel talks about the strong character that the Tibetan immigrant shiva possesses. The story begins in 1900 BC. The inhabitants of that period called it the land of Meluha, which the modern Indians now know as the Indus valley, an empire created by Lord Ram. This empire was ruled by the Suryavanshi’s who faced numerous problems. The empire’s primary river, the Saraswati, is slowly drying up. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the east, which is the land of the Chandravanshis. the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, who belong to a race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills!

The only hope for the Suryavanshis is the Tibetan immigrant Shiva. He is suddenly drawn to his destiny, and his life is intertwined between duty as well as his love for the beautiful sati, he is forced to make tough decisions. The story in the later half revolves around the most important question of how Shiva leads the Suryavanshi vengeance and is instrumental in destroying the evil.

The book created a lot of buzz on it’s release. It is immensely popular in today’s youth and has generated a lot of interest due to the way shiva’s character has been introduced and written about; the kind of person he is – silent, strong and courageous and also has an emotional side to himself when he falls in love with the beautiful Sati and is ready to go to any length to protect her from the demons. It is said that Karan Johar has decided to make a film on this book due to the immense popularity it has with the masses. This book truly has captivating content and towards the end of the book, it makes the reader idiolise or rather fall in the love with the character of shiva.

2. Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi

This novel simultaneously explores both ancient and modern India. It gives a detailed account of the great Chanakya, who has been known throughout Indian history for his wit and how his strategies seek his revenge and also, at the same time, manage to overthrow Alexander the Great’s plan to invade Bharat. He was also instrumental in establishing the Mauryan empire. Years later, there is a man who is a brahmin called Pandit Gangasagar Mishra, he lives in Kanpur and learns from the greatest strategist that ever lived, Chankaya, in order to get his protégée Chandini Gupta appointed to the highest office in India, that of the Prime Minister. As was with Chanakya, the same is with Pandit Mishra, there is no rule that can’t be broken or mended and nothing that can stop you from reaching your goal. This popularity of the book can be attributed to a fast paced thriller kind of story that seamlessly shifts between two zones, ancient and modern India and keeps the reader engaged till the very end.

3. Asura – Tale of The Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

The story of the Ramayana has always been told as the story of the triumph of good over the evil, in which the mighty Lord Ram defeats ravana and rescues his wife and returns to his empire in Ayodhya. Whenever the Ramayan is told, ravana is always known as the evil person who has a dark side. Nobody talks about his scholarly achievements, that he was a devotee of the shiva and how he was the savior of the people of the asura empire.

This novel has a very interesting take on ravana and an alternative interpretation of him. It explores his side of the story that if given a chance, what would the people of his empire have to say about his contributions to the people of his empire and how he was perceived by them as a king and as a person.

Through this novel, the readers get to know the tale of raavana that has not been explored much. Also, how he was strong willed about the various victories that he achieved for his empire. Since there are very less books that explore the subject on raavana, hence this one makes a hot favourite and a very fascinating read among the people.

4.The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi

This is the second novel of the shiva trilogy. It begins from where it left off, the naga has killed his friend brahaspati, leaving shiva enraged with fury. In this novel, that warrior is stalking his wife Sati but he is certain that he would not rest till he gets hold of that sinister warrior. As the name of the novel suggests, this novel is extremely gripping with many mysterious and dangerous alliances and many secrets that shiva discovers, be it about his beloved wife Sati or in the naga capital of panchavti, where all sorts of surprises are waiting for him. The many twists and turns and action described in the novel make it a impressive, engaging and a popular read among the people.

5. The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi

This novel explores the theory of the survival of Jesus from the crucifixion. The book very interestingly describes various characters and locations like the ancient Christian period Syria and Egypt, with very intricate details.

The story begins with an American priest called Father Vincent Morgan, who sees visions of Christ and also has dreams about his past. On the other hand, there is an Islamic terrorist group of 13 people who execute plans of destruction. The story is about the many astonishing and unexpected discoveries that the priest makes that traces the origin of religion. The footnotes provided in the book are really interesting and makes you question well established notions and facts. Also, the story is very unpredictable and it makes it a popular and compelling read.

6. Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik

This novel retells the tale of Mahabharata, which was originally known as Jaya. This is a very unique novel since it has about 250 illustrations and 108 chapters which bring about the rarer known details, like the names of the hundreds of  kauravas and Draupadi being worshipped as a goddess in Tamil Nadu.

It is very different from the other novels written on Mahabharata as the drawings in the novel make the novel more interesting to read and bring out more clarity and simplicity.

7. The Oath of the Vayuputras —Amish Tripathi

This book has been much awaited among the Indian readers and the copies just sold off the racks within a week of it’s release. It is the final book in his Shiva trilogy. It starts from where it left off in the second part. Shiva discovers that Somras, the elixir of immortality, is the true evil in The Oath of the Vayuputras. Shiva then declares a holy war on the Emperors Daksha and Dilipa as they continue to use somras. The battles is on and Shiva travels to the land of Pariha to consult with Vayuputras, who are a legendary tribe. When he returns, the war has ended and Sati, his wife, was murdered. An enraged Shiva avenges the death of his beloved Sati by destroying the capital of Meluha as well as Somras. The story ends with Shiva and his associates being popularized as Gods for their deeds and accomplishments. This book has been very well received by the Indian readers and is highly popular among the youth.

8. The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

This novel brings an alternative perspective on the vedic age. This novel is about a historian Ravi Mohan Saini, who was accused of murdering his childhood friend. To prove his innocence, he researches about Indian mythology. While digging for facts, he comes across the story of a boy in today’s times. The boy is a serial killer and believes that he is the final avatar of Krishna, which is kalki, and he is needed to save humanity at the time of kalyug. This is a gripping and hard hitting novel with many twists and turns is a current favourite among the thriller addicts.

9. Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok K. Banker

Ramayana, which is an epic tale read and known not only by the Indians but by people throughout the world, is a saga that brings out the story of the brave prince Ram’s incarnation of Vishnu rescuing his wife from the evil Raavana and returning to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. But this novel explores the happenings and the minute details that one misses out when one talks about the Ramayana. This novel wonderfully brings out the lesser known incidents that happened, like the maneuvers of the queen Kakiyei and the description about the asuras.

10. Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince by Anuja Chandramouli

This novel retells the tale of Arjuna, who is considered a legend and India’s true hero, be it in terms of his courage or the undivided focus. The novel is set in the time of Mahabharata and very beautifully captures Arjuna’s life, starting from his birth and talks about his friendship, his bonding with his brothers, his weakness and respect for his dear ones, his confusion when he is at the crossroads and has to choose between his dear ones and his duty and finally how he is able to choose duty over his loved ones under lord Krishna’s guidance.

The novel also describes many of the interesting incidents that took place in his life, his stint as a eunuch, his death and revival and his great skills as a warrior. The USP of this novel is the fresh style of writing that brings out humour and emotional sentiments in the book and it becomes hard to put down the book.

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  1. Satyaprem

    Not to nitpick, but you should really capitalize the names, since they’re proper nouns (Besides the respect aspect!)

    Otherwise… Nice article! I’ve noticed people in their teens are getting more into their own culture these days, because it’s got exposure in mainstream entertainment media as opposed to having them associate it with being forced to go to temples.

    Hopefully this will make them more open to reading the actual texts, as well as other ancient ones – they’re more ‘epic’ than any Latin or Greek stuff, plus there’s so, so much!

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