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The Resurgence Of Mythology In India: Of Chota Bheem, Shiva Trilogy, Chanakya’s Chant And More!

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By Nanditha Sankar:

For a long time, Indian kids found their superheroes across borders from names like Batman, Superman, Spiderman and every other character weaved by global comic leagues. While the men from Gotham ,Krypton and New York went on hogging the limelight, their Indian counterparts were left behind in the annals of time. The greatest Indian epic, the Mahabharat, was popular as long as it was aired on television and went back into oblivion for a long time to come. The only idea that Indian kids had on our mythology was limited to the 25 pages of the Amar Chitra Katha comics. The picture seemed dull and drab for the brave souls of our past.


The tables turned a few years ago when in 2009, a small dhoti-clad lad from the land of Dholakpur with a fetish for ladoos forayed into our lives. His name was Chota Bheem and he has since then gone on to carve a niche among global superheroes. The television series went on to become a raging hit and was followed by movies and an entire franchise of children’s merchandise. Such was his popularity that Chota Bheem’s powerbooster, the ladoo, garnered the same hype as Popeye’s spinach. Chota Bheem’s predecessor, Hanuman was a hit as well, albeit in smaller proportions. Following the success of these two heroes, more arrived.

If you thought that this uprising was limited to the tiny tots alone, you are wrong. A motley group of authors came out with literature that blended Indian myth with fantastic creativity. In Chanakya’s Chant, India’s manager of yore, Chanakya has a leased life in the present times while in the much-hyped Shiva Trilogy which has even lapped up films, Lord Shiva comes across as an ordinary mortal. Why is this genre of literature suddenly burgeoning into a sizable element among literature aficionados?

Indian mythology is a rich treasure trove of tales, rich in plurality and character. The usual concept of seeing things in just two shades of black and white dissolves as we’re introduced into epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Every character is depicted as humane, prone to errors. Be it Prince Ram who abandoned his wife at the musings of a villager or Kunti (Mahabharata) who cannot bolster up courage to accept her illegitimate son, these icons are prone to folly. It is this very same attribute, when incorporated into the myth-books of present day, that has catapulted them to fame. Shiva smokes pot, swears and still maintains his aura in Shiva Trilogy. In Asura, the vanquished have voices of their own as we get to hear a different take on the Ramayana.

Modern day publishing houses place pre-release publicity of supreme importance. Novel ideas in publicity, such as designing prospective book covers for the yet-to-be released book and inviting readers to theme-based book launches have struck a chord with the Indian readers. Those who wore Harry Potter attire were seen sporting the Trishul or a 10-faced mask with the same zest. Moreover, these books come at extremely affordable rates. Staying honest to the Indian habit of checking the price tag first, this comes as a sure-shot sale booster.

The resurgence of Indian mythology has not been a one-day phenomenon. It has risen, failed and came back with greater fervor. Kudos to men like Devdutt Patnaik (author of Jaya), Amish Tripathi (Shiva Trilogy), Ashwin Sanghi (Chanakya’s Chant) and the rest of their bandwagon for this rebirth. Who knows, in the days to come, a Warner Brothers or Universal Studio would be vying for the next big desi-version of Justice League with our home-grown heroes, when Hanuman would meet Nagraj, Shiva and the 101 Kauravas. The list is endless.

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  1. rajkanyadm

    This is absolutely true and a very well crafted piece at that. I am in complete agreement with the fact that our ‘history’ will repeat itself in ways we didn’t think was possible before. The Shiva Trilogy has revamped the way people look at Shiva now. I wish more books like these keep coming, so that we still retain our ties with the myths that we once read in such a beautiful and exciting manner.

    1. Nanditha

      Thank you. These books and tv shows have definitely made an impact , albeit in different proportions in each one of us. Indian mythology surely seems to have a promising future.

  2. Anand

    Sad thing about this is nowadays indian children and grownups alike need these kind of media rather than reading it from the original texts….

  3. jimmyloyola

    Good read. When I was young we used to go gaga over batman and clark kent now kids have chotta bheem and hanuman 😀

    1. Nanditha

      Yes Jimmy. 😀 The foreign heroes haven’t really been relegated, yet their Indian friends are giving them a run for the money. 😀

  4. saurabh

    I and many of my friends have grown up reading our Raj Comics champs..dhruv,nagraj ,doga being the prominent one..I just feel that our bollywood industry hasn’t developed strong enough to create such characters into a sci-fi..these are our desi heroes but concept behind their evolution and deeds had been moulded into a real and interesting read..

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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