Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Palace of Illusions - A Novel


I've always been a die-hard fan of Mythology. And it all started with Hindu Mythology. No Summer Vacation trip to India was complete without the buying of a couple of Amar Chitra Kathas. For those of you who aren't familiar with what ACKs are, they're simple stories narrating different event in Hindu Mythology. They're based in a comic-like presentation, which makes it really easy for young kids to understand and grasp the concepts. 

I recently read Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's "The Palace of Illusions", and it's not your everyday mythology read. Its something that'll actually blow your mind away if you're into all this. It's basically the essence of the Mahabharata being told from Draupadi's point of view. Draupadi was the wife of the five Pandavas.
It takes us down a road we've never even considered before. Every version of the Mahabharat talks mainly about the men and the exile and the war that ended it all. But this book, it gives Draupadi [Panchaali] a voice. It puts us in her shoes - a woman who changed everything, despite being born in the world of men.

I've been reading Hindu Mythology stories for years. I've read different versions of the Mahabharat too. Shorter versions and an elaborate version, and never is Draupadi given the importance she is due. If looked at closely, she's an independent and headstrong woman, from a very young age and it's probably that attitude that ends up causing the Great War in the first place. 

After the countless English Literature classes with a teacher who's no longer in Modern High, its become a common habit to 'analyze' a story which isn't of contemporary setting. And to ask the one big question, "Is it relevant in today's world?" 

The Mahabharat holds such relevance that when read, one is bound to think, "History does repeat itself." And Draupadi's role in it all, it's just so relevant to things in today's world.

If you haven't read it yet, and are looking for a good read. I recommend The Palace of Illusions!

Until Next Post,
Parichay