Wednesday, the 17th of June, and time once again for Shelf Control! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where you got it, and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks!

Today, I have a slightly different pick than usual, mythology and that too, a retelling–Sita (2013) by Devdutt Pattanaik. The Ramayana is of course one of India’s great epics and familiar to many–the story of the righteous Prince Rama, exiled for fourteen years by his father. While in exile, where he is accompanied by his wife Sita, and younger brother Lakshmana, Sita is abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka. Rama, Lakshmana, and an army of vanaras (monkeys) then go and rescue her, killing Ravana. (That’s as best as I can put it in a few sentences). Sita, herself, as the book description too, points out, suffers a lot of injustice in the story, eventually being abandoned by her husband, to do ‘justice’ and for ‘honour’.

This version tells this story but from Sita’s perspective–her childhood in her father Janaka’s home, her stay in the forest with her husband while in exile, time spend in Lanka and her interactions with the women there, her connection with the earth, her mother, trees, and her role as a goddess.

I have read one full version of the Ramayana before, besides watching a couple of adaptations, and this version written and illustrated by Pattanaik interested me very much as although I have not read any books by him so far, I have seen one of his programmes on TV and liked the stories–legends and myths–how they came about, different aspects associated with them that he narrated. So the idea of the Ramayana written from a different perspective definitely interested me. So, when this was on sale on kindle, I picked it up.

The author: Devdutt Pattanaik is a mythologist, illustrator, and author; he started off as a physician who wrote articles on mythology while working in the healthcare industry and later switched to writing full time. He has written over 30 books on mythology besides also some fiction, children’s books, and quite a few of management as well.

This one sounds like it will certainly be an interesting read, and I’m looking forward to picking it up soon.

Have you read any versions of the Ramayana? Or any of the new tellings/retellings? Which ones and how did you like them? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Info on the book is as always from Goodreads (here), as is the cover image; author info from Wikipedia (here)

8 thoughts on “Shelf Control #95: Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik #TBR

  1. A different take on mythological stories , this is fascinating.

    I started reading Hanuman: The Devotion and Power of the Monkey God [Vanamali/ Inner Traditions/2010] few months back. While reading the book, here is what I thought about the mythological text/stories;

    1. That names are eternal . The book explains the meaning of HANUMAN [destruction of the mind through focus and dedication]- its spiritual significance. Contemporary, the mind and yogic practices associated with it.
    And then the different name versions of Lord Hanuman , like Maruti [The Maruti Car- remembered as swift and light].

    2. The lead role and supporting role dichotomy.
    The book on Hanuman beautifully explains as to how the success of Lord Ram’s journey was built on the sacrifice and hard work of Lord Hanuman. One can go back and forth on this trip, for instance with the roles of other characters Lakshman , Sita, Bharat…

    3. The human and animal interface & transcendence-
    Lord Hanuman is seen as diluting the human centrist understanding of divinity and goodness [the title- monkey god]. He is heroic, loyal, forgiving and dedicated. He loves and respects all creatures. Also, the God that lives forever.

    4. The eternal relationships.
    The relationships that the different characters have in different lives [Lord Hanuman meets his brother] The past life connections. Past life boons and curses etc.

    5. Our current faith and practices
    The stories in the book explained as to why Hanuman Chalisa or the worship of Lord Hanuman is seen as the most powerful means to ward evil in material and non- material forms. [e.g. stories showing how Hanuman was not afraid of Lord Shani – the most dreaded entity/planet that brings sorrow and misery].

    6. The Prophecies – this is the most fascinating.

    i can go on….
    waiting eagerly for you to review the book….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many aspects he highlights–I also liked the concept of the story being cyclical–it must be in the Hanuman book–that when it is time for Ram to die, he drops a ring down in the underground world, and asks Hanuman to go fetch it since he won’t be able to give up his life when Hanuman is with him. Of course. Hanuman obeys, and when he goes there, the gods who live there are present and when he asks for their help in locating the ring, they point to a whole mountain of rings and when he asks which is Ram’s, they say that all are the rings thrown by Ram, and that each time, it is time for Ram to give up his life, the same process happens and these are all the rings from the cycles.

      Like

  2. I remember the story of Hanuman and the ring from Devdutt Pattanaik’s TV show. His knowledge is phenomenal and the way he puts it across is so simple and logical. I’ve never tried a book by him, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s different from the genres I usually read too, but i really liked the stories he tells and am looking forward to this one.

      Thanks for sharing your link 🙂

      Like

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