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Book Review: The Winds of Hastinapur

The epic tale of Mahabharata was not written in the blood of men, it was written by tears and ambitions of women, who wove the circumstances which led to the greatest battle on Earth. The Winds of Hastinapur is a story about these women, who did not pick up a single weapon, but still gave birth to the epic battle of Mahabharata.

The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju is a story about two women, Ganga and Satyavati, one born to bear children who can fulfill higher purpose of Gods and Men, and the other born to lucky circumstances where she can twist her destiny to suit her ambitions and desires.

The story of The Winds of Hastinapur starts before the birth of Mahabharata’s narrator, Ved Vyasa. Ganga is a young girl who is being trained to become the next Lady of the River, just like her mother. Cursed by Arundhati, the eight Vasus are to be born on earth like regular humans. And out of them, the youngest one, Prabhasa, has to live the longest life on earth. Ganga is chosen to be their mother, but she is instructed not to keep her babies. But only one if born a girl, who can take her place as Lady of the river. One by one, Ganga mercilessly kills all her children. But then Prabhasa doesn’t allow her to continue the practice. Ganga then returns back to Meru, her celestial homeland with her last son Devavrata.

Devavrata starts his training into learning mysteries of Meru. But one day, he deciphers a mystery that changes the very fabric of his existence on Meru. Standing face to face with the harsh truth behind one of the Mysteries, he leaves Meru and returns to earth as a human, to work in the betterment of his father’s kingdom, Hastinapur.

The second part of The Winds of Hastinapur is narrated by Satyavati and starts at the point when Devavrata, now known as Bhishma has descended on earth and is next in line to rule his father’s kingdom. The story unearths her life- her birth as Kali or Matsyagandh (one who smells like fish), her transformation into the Queen of Hastinapur, Yojanagandh or Satyavati, Bhishma’s celibacy oath so that Satyavati’s sons can rule the land of Hastinapur, re-discovery of her son, Ved Vyasa who was born out of an illicit affair with a sage.

The Winds of Hastinapur turned out to be a delightful read for me. Since many mythological fiction books have been written depicting the epic battle, this book turned out to be a fresh perspective on the same topic. The book voices and shares the story of women who were associated with the creation of events that led to the epic battle, something which other authors haven’t done and are comfortable enough in writing the same old story with some little twists. Kudos to Sharath Komarraju for his creativity and intelligence.

Easy to read and engaging, the book has been a great experience. The storyline is easy to follow and has a certain flow which will keep you hooked to it. It’s hard to choose a favorite character out of the book. I shortlisted only two, the female protagonists, Ganga, and Satyavati. Both are true to their character and have their unique nature; Ganga, the one who hopelessly keeps on trying to keep her life as per her wishes. Initially bounded to a union which she wasn’t ready for, then losing seven children to destiny, and then the eight one, Bhishma to live on Earth. On the other hand, Satyavati is more commanding and controlling in nature. She knows what she wants and isn’t ashamed of it. Whether it is seducing the King of Hastinapur for her benefit or tricking Bhishma into an oath of Celibacy so that her sons can rule Hastinapur.

I personally recommend The Winds of Hastinapur to everyone, especially to those who would like to have some fresh take on the epic tale of Mahabharata. I will be sharing a review of the second book The Rise of Hastinapur by this weekend. Till then, Happy Reading 🙂

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