Monday, March 14, 2016
Book Review : 'Menaka's Choice' by Kavita Kane
‘Menaka’s Choicea’ is a true Kavita Kane novel. Why I say that is because she has written it, true to her form and grace. It started off with Shakuntala and Dushyant’s meet when Dushyant kills a deer on Shakuntala’s watch. Shakuntala is hurt and admonishes Dushyant, who immediately offers help. But he does this in return for a story. So, Shakuntala narrates the timeless love story of Menaka and Vishwamitra.
Menaka is a beautiful apsara, who is born out of Brahma’s mind. She lives a heavenly existence in Amaravati, and is brilliant at dance and music. She remains a person, every other apsara is jealous of. Due to two main reasons. One is that, she has always been the king of the Devas, Indra’s most wanted, but chose to never be his concubine. Secondly, she is in love with the King of Gandhravas, Vishwavasu, much to the jealousy of Rambha, who is also in love with him.
Vishwavasu and Menaka end up getting married in the Gandhrava method, and also have a child Pramadvara. Pramadvara is quickly taken away, due to the fact that she cannot have a child in heaven. The reason is she was in love with Vishwavasu, but even that child is not allowed.
Meanwhile, Vishwavasu is cursed to live as a monster by Indra, and he ends up on earth. Menaka disobeys Indra in heaven and decides to not dance or sing at all.
Vishwamitra, who was King Kaushik also has a story. He was to be born a Brahmin, but due to the mistake of his mother, he is born a Kshatriya. But King Kaushik, who one day finds himself at Sage Vashisht’s door step. Sage Vashisht is kind to him, and he tells him of the wish fulfilling cow. King Kaushik becomes greedy and demands the cow, when he has a problem with filling the stomachs of his people. On refusal, he starts off his own penance. His penance is so strong that he manages to create a heaven of his own.
Shocked by the event, Indra decides to stop Vishwamitra and this he does by sending Menaka down to earth. Menaka is sent down to earth and told to seduce Vishwamitra. When Menaka comes down to earth, she tricks the sage into believing that she is also on bad terms with Indra and that is the reason she is on earth now.
Believing her, Vishwamtra takes her into his ashram. Soon, the two come
together in love and lust.
Menaka ends up giving birth to Shakuntala. But Menaka, who also becomes
overridden with the guilt of having lied to Vishwamitra, tells him the whole
story. Vishwamitra ends up cursing Menaka telling her, that they would never
see each other again. Shakuntala ends up in Sage Kanva’s ashram and Menaka goes
to back to heaven.
But this is not the end. Does Shakuntala end up living without Dushyant, whom she married in the Gandharva fashion? Does she ever meet her mother and father again? Does Menaka live on in heaven without meeting Vishwavasu again? And does Sage Vishwamitra see the fulfilment of his penance?
The story is a step ahead of its earlier versions. First, due to the fact that it talks of an apsara, who is unlike the other heavenly nymphs. She is an intelligent creature, who not only outdoes herself but is also a thinking one and has all the class, she can muster.
You can Buy the Book, right here.