Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Book Review : 'Satyavati' by Utkarsh Patel
Utkrash Patel’s ‘Satyavati’ is a challenging book. Firstly, because it came to me on Readify, an app, which I had never checked out earlier and secondly, because of all the elements of surprise that it has.
The first few and the last few pages are a complete eye opener for most people. In fact, I doubt if I mention that you probably are totally wrong if I told you that she was not born out of a fish. She and a brother are born out of wedlock to the King of Chedi and the daughter of the leader of fishermen on the banks of the river Yamuna. She is born with a strong smell of fish emanating from her body.
Her mother dies at childbirth, and it is left to her grandfather to bring her up. The child, treated badly by her father due to her smell, while the son, who was born without any odour was quickly taken in by him. But thankfully, she is brought up by her grandfather. Once, as she is ferrying Sage Parashara she ends up with a son, out of wedlock. The sage takes the son with him and leaves Matsyagandha, now free of the smell, but left with a musky fragrance and also a virgin.
Matsyagandha, who would now be known as Satyavati. She is desired by many, but finally, the one who catches her eye, is the King of Hastinapur, Shantanu. Her grandfather, the leader of the fishermen, is told of the same but he lays down the condition that her son would be the inheritor of Hastinapur. The king leaves, in much thought and grief. But Bhishma his son, who finds out about the issue comes and takes her to his father, vowing that he would remain celibate.
So, Satyavati is now Queen Satyavati and leaves for the palace. She is soon mother to Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. How then, she becomes the grandmother of the Kaurvas and the Pandavas, forms the rest of the story.
But, the best part of this telling is the many facts, which are possibly displaced, from the Mahabharata that we get to read today. She seems forgotten and rudely out of our minds. But, what she said and did are things which can now, not be forgotten so easily.
She has transformed from the lost maiden to the real reason behind, what she eventually did. She becomes a woman with foresight, the one behind the kingdom ruled out of pragmatism and sensibility, rather than the objectives, which would have been preferred. The woman left behind so many times, ends up challenging her own conscience, and tells it off, right towards the epilogue.
Very well written and given the importance it deserves. Loved the book, though of course, it is not error free. :D
Notice that societies then and now have little change, in the treatment of women. It is a sad day when a woman, was raped and asked to find her way then and is today, treated pretty much the same way.