Of myths, mists and illusions


rise of hastinapurBook review of the The Rise of Hastinapur.

ISBN 9789351773766

Publisher Harper Collin

Genre Fiction.

In the first book The winds of Hastinapur author Sharath Komarraju tells the story of Ganga and Sathyavathi, the book was brilliant.

The second book The rise of Hastinapur deals with the next generation of the woman of hastinapur. Sharath presents the book as three books, the book 1 dedicated to Amba, book 2 to Kunti and book three to Gandhari.

Each book further unfolds the story of these women in three tiers the first of the neutral observer who does not seem so neutral, then the second person narration finally Ganga the river Goddess weaves the threads together.

Sharath, it would have done well if you acknowledged the conversation we had at Goa about Amba and Shikhandi. It is quite interesting that Sharath picked up part of the conversation; he is still reluctant to allow the Kshatriya princess of Kashi to become a warrior.Yet he makes a very interesting observation, despite of being Patriarchal, the blood of the Kshatriyas runs through the women. The scorned princess of Kashi a seeks help from Drupad only to be refused, she finally takes refuge in Parashurama, who converts her to a priestess.

When it comes to the story of Kunti or Pritha as she is named, the story of Durvasa has been retold such that the story of Karna becomes more acceptable. For some reason the Sharath has been inspired to say that Pritha tried to free the Vasudeva the imprisoned prince of the Yadavas. Though this in itself somehow does not seem very practical, the question of why was the Prince of Yadavas left languish did pop up.

The story then takes a very Barbara Cortland kind of twist, with a surya celestial pretending to be Durvasa pretending to abet Pritha actually is in search of the secret of the Mathura. (Great title for Ashwin Sanghi’s next book.) finally Pritha’s story ends with the birth of her illegitimate son Karna.

The final third of the book is the story of Gandhari, here Sharath creates a background where a Gandhar rich in gold mines receives tributes from Hastinapur while Hastinapur is gradually stealing the wealth of Gandhar, the workforce of Gandhara is slowly replaced by the workforce from Hastinapur, and eventually the Gandhara falls to Hastinapur. Sharath’s Gandhari is twenty year old, and is dealing with blindness, while Shakhuni is maimed not by Bhishma but by Gandhari in a childish game. Also Shakhuni is intrinsically mean here and not the 5yr old who decides to avenge his wronged kinsmen.

Interesting. There were some really brilliant observations, like the story of Amba is the beginning of the story of Devavrata. Somewhere we find that the Mahabharata we talk of is the story of a changing society and the role of Bheeshma in it.

another interesting observation, is by Gandhari, she says,”Hastinapur has looted Gandhara, for the past so many years, till yesterday we were the richest and the most powerful kingdom suddenly we are vassals the only difference between yesterday and today is the knowledge that we have been looted.”

But Goddess of the river does not really flow peacefully. There notes are too jarring.

In story of Amba she rummages through her pockets, well there are no pockets in a draped costume.  Money or coins would be tucked in the knot of the dhotara, or it would be placed in a kanchuki which in the current language is a batua.

When Sharath talks of a carefree Pritha before Durvasa enters her life, and her friend Agnayi there is a severe undertone of lesbianism.

The origin of the secret of Mathura could be a direct take off from the story of James Watt and the boiling kettle. While the short tempered curse spewing Durvasa is forgotten and a manipulative creepy Surya takes his place. Oh! Yes Pritha and Durvasa/Surya see strays patches of tomatoes and potatoes growing, now, that is rather interesting considering potatoes and tomatoes came to the subcontinent with Portuguese.

What the book left me with other than a sense of disappointment was, the story of Amba may or may not be part of the story of Hastinapur, but the story of Ambika and Ambalika definitely is. Vichtraveerya may or may not have suffered from STD the author shares is not so subtly, somewhere is the story of Chitrangadha the prince who was killed by a Gandharva.

Over all a good read, though not as brilliant as the first. To be honest it is definitely a very good read.

This book was sent as complimentary copy for review purpose. To pick your copy <a href=”http://www.flipkart.com/rise-hastinapur-english/p/itmec39gkd4pnyhz?pid=9789351773764&affid=sneckharya”>The Rise of Hastinapur (English)</a>

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