Sita – Warrior of Mithila (Paperback; Amish; Westland; Pp 376; Rs 350
If one thinks of this as a book of fantasy he will be proved wrong. Be it Scion of Ikshavaku or Sita, the author does not take a backseat in discussing sensitive topics which hound us in our present times
“And what to speak of Sita? You may exhaust the literature of the past, and I may assure you, will exhaust the literature of the world of the future, before finding another Sita. Sita is unique: that character was once depicted, and once for all.” These are the words used by Swami Vivekananda to describe Sita Devi. Perhaps, he is right in saying so and hence we keep writing about her in one way or other.
The book “Sita: Warrior Princess of Mithila” is second book in the Ramachandra series. Readers would remember the first book was Scion of Ikshavaku which dealt with Lord Ram. Amish had earlier mentioned that it was an interaction during a literary fest that made him write something on Lord Ram who is historically misunderstood.
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The book begins by throwing open a big surprise. This is a pleasant twist to the plot. After, Scion of Ikshavaku one would have thought what would be coming next. Someone, who knows the Ramayana knows what would happen eventually. But, it is the thrill that this series create by modifying characters and making them adaptable in modern times, that does the trick. Throwing up one surprise after another has been a USP for Amish. People who have read Meluha series can relate to what I am saying. It gives you a background on Sita her upbringing and why and what for she lands up in trouble.
If one thinks of this as book of fantasy he will be proved wrong. Be it Scion of Ikshavaku or Sita, the author does not take backseat in discussing sensitive topics which hound us in our present times. Through the characters, he brings forth the dilemma faced by an administrator and that of the people. Even in the earlier book he had brought about the sensitive topic of rape and how and administration should deal with it. The moral discussions between various characters is worth admiring. These discussions would keep you turning the pages and wanting to be part of it. They delve upon some of the most common problems that we face today be it gender equality, caste etc.
Historically, if Lord Ram has been misunderstood which is true, no one has attempted to understand Devi Sita. She has been always type cast and herein, is a bold attempt by the author to unveil the other side which has seldom been discovered. It is true that type-casting of Devi Sita in a role did help some people and through this book those ideas would be challenged. Even though some might discard this as a figment of someone’s imagination yet, it will bring some questions in every reader’s mind: “What was the role of women in ancient India? Where they confined to being a homemaker only? What were there privileges?” The question that one needs to ask is: Why were there not any mass feminist movements in our country like that in Europe & Americas? One of the answer to this question is the religious views held in those countries compared to those prevalent in India. We have religious views which say that woman is made from the spine of man. Take this view of creation to the one where woman and man are considered equal and wherein one is incomplete without the other. The same idea acts as an undertone for this book.
After a reading SITA one can easily come to one conclusion, that Lord Ram is incomplete without Devi Sita and so is Devi Sita without Lord Ram. It reiterates the Indian thought which makes us all respect the divinity of women. In an age, where women are objectified and have been looked upon as an object of gratification, SITA is the hope. It throws light on the condition of women in ancient India. How women were dominant and were shoulder to shoulder with men in everyday affairs. It also has some anecdotes indicating how being aggressively feminist can also be a problem. Overall, the book will establish the legend of Devi Sita and how women in present times can take a cue from her. As started I would end as well with a description from Swami Vivekananda: “She is the very type of Indian woman as she should be, for all Indian ideals of a perfected woman have got around that one life of Sita, and here she stands, these thousands of years commanding the worship of every woman, man or child throughout length and breadth of the land of Aryavarta. There she will always be, glorious Sita, purer than purity itself. All of our mythology may vanish, even our Vedas may depart and our Sanskrit language may vanish forever, but as long as there will be five Hindus living here, speaking the most vulgar patois, there will the story of Sita be present.”
(The reviewer is a blogger)