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Monday, December 09, 2013

Book Review : ‘The Winds of Hastinapur’ by Sharath Komarraju

Frankly speaking, I do not know of my opinion of this book, ‘The Winds of Hastinapur’. So, I guess I’ll leave that to you, folks...

Sharath Komarraju’s book is divided into two parts, ‘River Maiden’ and ‘Fisher Girl’. Yet, it is not either of their books; it is Devavrta’s or perhaps, Bhishma’s.

‘River Maiden’ reads like a fantasy tale. From the beginnings of the river Ganga, when she is known as Jahnavi to her transformation to Ganga, the Lady of the River. We are quietly told the story albeit, a little differently. 

It is not like any tale, it is not meant to be written and understood. But, it is meant to be only heard, and quietly taken in. The first part, that is. The second part, on the other hand can be read and understood.

Ganga is but a maiden, when she is told of a terrible curse, which did not involve her at all. But she is unfortunately, a part of it. Not just any part, but she is the carver of it. She finds herself in Hastinapur and with its king, Shantanu with whom she is destined to be married to. The king soon falls in love and promises to keep her,  provided she gives him the son, she had promised. What she has to go through, before she finally hands him over, forms this episode.

Devavrata is the eighth son born to Ganga and Shantanu. His growing up, which happens in Meru with the Celestials and his coming out as a man, that happens at Brihaspati’s ashram are all in the first part. About what the Crystal Lake contains and how salt is created are parts, which could have been excellent, but instead become a tad confusing.

This first part ends with Devavrata leaving Meru behind to find his father, because Hastina on earth, is where he is destined to be.

The second part opens with the entrance of Kali. Kali, as Satyavati was known at the start was a fisher girl. She is meant to lay with Parashara, have his son and not know him. How she manages to get out of her little fishing settlement to become the second wife of Shantanu forms this part.

Her life with him, her destiny, her ways of destroying Devavarta’s so-called destiny, her two sons, and finally her tryst with her first son, lead towards this pre-Mahabharata phase. 

The second part, though written by the same author, does not look it. It seems like this entire portion of the story, is far from the fantastical parts (River Maiden)of this book. I did not like the first part, but I did like the fisher girl’s version in the second part.

P.S. Would have loved to know why and how the characters got their names.  I do have to say though, of the weird bold text used in the book. Also,the capital letters whenever there is talk of somebody or something important, was terribly distracting. But, one does get over it...
Author: Sharath Komarraju 
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers India
ISBN  978-93-5116-087-8
Price: India:  Rs 299

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