My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent primer to the Ramayana. Many Ramayanas have been amalgamated. I think Devdutt being partial to Odisha has put in a lot of the Odiya versions. The sequences seem slightly jumbled but overall the story and the plot is well maintained. Ramayana as many may know is the story of Rama, the king of Ayodhya. This is more of a Sitayana, the story focused on his chaste, pure wife.
Pattanaik does offer more detail about women’s worlds than most versions of the Ramayan: the child Sita entering the kitchen, or Sita and her sisters as newly-arrived brides in Ayodhya spending “all day and all night listening to tales of the sons told by their adoring mothers”. He tries to bring relationships between women to the fore: Anasuya welcoming Sita into womanhood with a garland, a garment and a pot of cream—symbols of shringara (adornment), or Mandodari barring Ravana’s way, taunting him to wait for Sita to come to him willingly. “Only Sita understood what Mandodari had done; she had protected her own station in the palace while ensuring another woman’s freedom”.
The focus is also on Sita and Ram's relationship, which is said to be the pure and unblemished. Even with the sexual overtones in describing certain passages, the stress is always on the purity and independence of the protagonists. ‘You feel your Ram has abandoned his Sita, don’t you?’ she asked gently. ‘But he has not. He cannot. He is God; he abandons no one. And I am Goddess; I cannot be abandoned by anyone.’
Overall an engrossing read for the new comers of Indian mythology and also as a study reference for experienced mythologists. I recommend this to all.
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