Book Review: Shakti by Anuja Chandramouli

”The Goddess belongs to everybody, and cannot be claimed by anybody, regardless of whom they might be. All such attempts will be met with a prompt rebuff.”- Vishnu to Brahma over why Shakti cannot be just Brahma’s

Shakti- The Divine Feminine by Anuja Chandramouli is a part fiction part mythology story about the Mother Goddess, Shakti. Shakti, whose numerous forms we pray to; Kali as the Destroyer, Durga as the power source, Saraswati for Education. The story of Shakti starts with Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, who wanted Shakti to be their other half. But Shakti was a Goddess who could not be owned by anyone. Therefore, she chose Mahesh or Shiva, with whom she could create the world and also restore it’s balance as well.

During the story of Shakti, we come across numerous forms of Goddess. Usas, the Goddess of Dawn who was wronged by Brahma who took away her virtue. She runs away from the Land of Gods and takes form of Durga, who teaches a lesson to Brahma for his wrong doings. Then Indra, who is always insecure about his title as the King of Gods, kills his so called enemy brutally. One by one, Indra keeps on eliminating his enemies on the words of his cunning wife, Sachidevi. Once such murder led to the rise of Mahishasur, who was born to kill Indra with a boon that he will be able to rule all three worlds one day and will never die from the hands of a man. Once again, Durga rises to kill Mahishasur.

After eliminating Mahishasur, the mortals and immortals started praying frantically to Durga and formed a sort of cult which became an eye sore for jealous Indra. He then creates a master plan to eliminate all Durga’s followers. Drowned in his ego and insecurities, a killing spree takes place by Indra where no woman was spared. Each and every woman was killed, brutally raped to show them their place as child bearers and husband followers. Rules of the land were rewritten to show the women their right place. And then, again to restore woman’s right place in the world, Kali is born.

All in all, the book is a good read. We loved the fresh take on Gods and Shakti. What was surprising to read the way Creators of the world fought over petty issues of women and insecurities. Sachidevi influencing her husband Indra to kill all his enemies, even though they were not the real enemy. Brahma, a lust crazed lover, always repeating his mistakes and Shiva, the too righteous God. It was amusing to see Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh in such an Avatar. We also loved all forms of Shakti, the way they fought and debated over women issues in the male dominated world. We loved the way the story was formed, each chapter like beads in a rosary. The flow of story line was great and kept us mostly engaged in the book.

What we didn’t like in the book was the language. It was as if Anuja has deliberately included tough words in each and every sentence which honestly might turn out to be road block for many readers. Shakti could also have used a little less pages. From the Mahishasur’s part, the book was a little dragged that might hamper engagement of readers. Anuja could have easily saved about 30-40 pages. At some parts, a lot of emphasis has been paid on the Indra and Sachidevi’s planning and plotting, which hid the main focus point, Shakti. Instead, Anuja could have covered other forms of Shakti as well.

Overall, the book is a good read. I recommend it to people who love the genre of mythological fiction. You will definitely love the new side of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, who are acting like us mortals in the book.

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