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MythFic with Flavours of Gender Balance and Feminism

The Empress of Indraprastha - Entering Kuruvansh is a retelling of part of the story of Draupadi, the wife of five Pandavas. It is simply recounting of a few events from the epic of Mahabharata, from the perspective of a woman. A woman raised with values of gender equality. This is the first in a series of books.

 

The Princess of Panchaal is an intelligent, educated and headstrong woman of royal birth. I was a bit surprised to see her story in this book begin with the tale of her swayamvar. In theory, swayamvar is an empowering concept, apparently giving the woman the freedom to choose her husband. But in the end, it is just as patriarchal or chauvinist as most of the traditions of the era. A man essentially winning a woman in a contest devised by her father, is hardly the most feminist of traditions.


My opinions about the traditions of myth notwithstanding, the author has done justice to the event and the story which is all too well known to most of us. Words like polyamory and polygamy are mentioned, although I don’t know why the word polyandry isn’t used to describe Draupadi’s marriage to five husbands.


As such, this being a well known tale, you will find it hard to be surprised anywhere in the story with the author being limited in her creative freedom due to the source material. I would like to see author Sonali Raje write fiction with her penmanship and the fervour of her feminist beliefs.


All in all, this is a relatively short read which is mainly a preamble to the next book. The first book ended suddenly, in my opinion, without much of a climax, again highlighting my point of the author’s restriction. She couldn’t have dramatized the climax because the main character of Panchaali was only a passive spectator, unable to intervene in the proceeding or or contest the injustice doled out.


I would like to see how the author handles the even more one-sided insults and injustices the heroine Draupadi has in store for her in the future.


This is an easy read, recommended for young women.

This book is available free on KindleUnlimited: https://amzn.to/49G84xg

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