If You Are an Indian Mythology Enthusiast, These 5 Books Are for You

Article of the Month - Oct 2021

This article by Manisha Sarade

(Viewed 4418 times since Oct 2021)

The great saga of Gods, demi-gods, and talking monkeys; of sibling rivalry that goes on for a dreadful amount of time, and ridiculous obstinate oaths that cannot be broken. The story of ideals and morals, sacrifices and love; of innovative ways to conceive a child, and enigmatic and flawed characters. This is Indian mythology. It is a narrative where imagination and reality merges to give us an extraordinary tale weaved by magic and divine powers. Here, creativity knows no bounds. Mythology fiction has found a vast reader base with authors having a rich fountain of mythological knowledge to fall back on. With different versions of the same myth, this water of knowledge runs deep.

Here is a list of 5 Indian mythology fiction by Indian authors who enthral with their words. A must read for Mythology enthusiasts out there:

1. Sita’s Sister by Kavita Kane

How does a woman react when two of the most important people in her life – her husband and her sister – leave her feeling unwanted in the name of following their dharma? Urmila, the protagonist in Kavita Kane’s Sita’s Sister finds herself surrounded by all these questions. How can you accept a man who has sacrificed himself for another? Where does it leave you? Written from the perspective of Sita’s sister and Lakshman’s wife, Urmila, the novel brings us face-to-face with an important question – yes, the Ramayana has been about Ram, Sita and Lakshman but doesn’t Urmila deserve her due credit in the story? The lonely wife and sister, left behind in the luxurious palace as Ram, Sita and Lakshman head for their exile, demands more importance. This novel is, therefore, a peek into her life and her reaction to the unfortunate unfolding leading to the Ramayana.

Sita's Sister

2. Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish Tripathi

Due to its riveting structure, Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku amazes and awes the readers with its new approach to the most revered tale Ramayana. The characters of Ram, Manthara, Dasharath, and Sita are all portrayed against our preconceived notions. Ram is depicted as an unloved child, as Dasharath believes him to be unlucky for his kingdom; Manthara is a wealthy businesswoman with a glaring antipathy toward Ram, for she feels that he has erred in his judgment; Sita is the princess and prime minister of Mithila; and Dasharath is an old king ruling over the Sapt Sindhu Kingdom, which is facing bankruptcy and is battered after years of futile wars with Raavan.

Scion of Ikshvaku (Book 1 of the Ram Chandra Series)

The book clearly creates a parallel Ramayana and many interpretations of known beliefs are intriguing. The first paced narration will keep you occupied for hours. The twisting and the interesting characters set a strong stage for the remaining books. The book is a pure enjoyment and will leave you refreshed and wanting.

3. Chandrakanta by Devaki Nandan Khatri

While people still remember the hugely popular television serial Chandrakanta, not many of its devoted viewers would be familiar with the name and contribution of Devaki Nandan Khatri, the man who created the character of Chandrakanta and blazed a new trail in the field of novel writing in Hindi, that too at a time when Hindi novel was in its infancy. Devaki Nandan Khatri’s Chandrakanta is the virtual Taj Mahal in Hindi fiction, still as much glorious and historical. As the Taj is the emblem of real love, here we have the fictional counter-part. What’s more, it is the exuberance of magic and romance, imagination and fantasy, suspense after suspense, battles and wars, espionage and conspiracy, tricks and tact, all blended together to make a sensational love story. Here we have the aiyars, human beings with extraordinary capacity to transmogrify themselves and take on the appearance of anybody, their voice, their manners and all. Moreover, there is the Tilism, which is a hidden treasure constructed underground with ingenious safeguards and magic locks and entrances. Chandrakanta has the spell of fantasy, a detective novel, a romance par excellence.


4. Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

Anand Neelkantan was born in the Trippunithura village, on the outskirts of Kochi, Kerala. He grew up listening to anecdotes from the Ramayana and felt more drawn to the villain of the scripture, Ravana, and his people, than to the protagonist, Rama, and his allies. Asura is the tale of Ravana and his people. Most of us are familiar with the story of Ramayana, the fight between the good and the evil and how Rama triumphed over Ravana. However, in this novel, Neelkantan narrates the story from the perspective of Ravana, the evil demon of the Ramayana. The book starts with a detailed description as to why Ravana was portrayed as a ten-faced demon. According to the author, Ravana was a complete man, who embraced all the base emotions of a human being and was eager to deal with whatever life threw at him.

Asura : Tale Of The vanquished (The story of Ravana And His People)

The story is described from the viewpoints of two people – Ravana and Bhadra. Ravana narrates the story of his life, from the time of his birth to the hardships he faced in his childhood days and how he ultimately ascended to the throne of Lanka. Bhadra is a common man of Lanka. He narrates the stories of the ordinary people of the Kingdom and how they viewed the decisions of their King. The story picks up from the conclusion of the epic Rama-Ravana war. Ravana awaits his imminent death and finds himself face to face with the ill-effects of war. He remembers what he did to the defeated kingdoms when he emerged victorious in the wars against them. The terrified people of his kingdom await the same fate. He recalls his childhood struggles and the glimpses of his life as death slowly begins to engulf his soul.

5. Sati and Shiva (Amar Chitra Katha) by Anant Pai

Anant Pai popularly known as Uncle Pai, was an Indian educationalist and creator of Indian comics, in particular the Amar Chitra Katha series in 1967, along with the India Book House publishers, and which retold traditional Indian folk tales, mythological stories, and biographies of historical characters. According to the Shiva Puran, Daksha-Prajapati sought worthy grooms for his many daughters, men of substance, gods who helped life on earth, like Indra, the rain-god or Agni, the fire-god. In this book, the story goes that when Daksha-Prajapati refused to invite Shiva to his yagna, Sati flew into such a rage that she burnt herself to death in protest and disrupted the entire ceremony. A great confrontation followed where Daksha-Prajapati and his guests saw the fury and power of Shiva. An uneasy peace was finally restored, with Daksha-Prajapati begging for forgiveness and Shiva withdrawing into his cave. What follows next is what this enchanting tale unfolds in the book.

Sati and Shiva

In a narrative manner, this book gives a lesson on how in a way, we are all like Shiva – individualists, creative thinkers, who function best when allowed to be ourselves. Over time we all become Shankaras, getting drawn into the system, working with others, becoming part of teams. Some Shankaras even become Vishnus totally assimilated to the ways of the world.


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