Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana – Devdutt Pattanaik
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It is significant that the only character in Hindu mythology, a king at that, to be given the title of ekam-patni-vrata, devoted to a single wife, is associated with the most unjust act of abandoning her in the forest to protect family reputation. This seems a deliberate souring of an uplifting narrative. Ram’s refusal to remarry despite the pressure on royalty to produce an heir adds to the complexity. The intention seems to be to provoke thought on notions of fidelity, property and self-image.
And so mythologist and illustrator Devdutt Pattanaik retells the Ramayana, drawing attention to the many oral, visual and written retellings composed in different times, in different places, by different poets, each one trying to solve the puzzle in their own unique way.
This book approaches Ram by speculating on Sita: her childhood with her father, Janaka, who hosted sages mentioned in the Upanishads; her stay in the forest with her husband, who had to be a celibate ascetic while she was in the prime of her youth; her interactions with the women of Lanka, recipes they exchanged, emotions they shared; her connection with the earth, her mother, and with the trees, her sisters; and her role as the Goddess, the untamed Kali as well as the demure Gauri, in transforming the stoic prince of Ayodhya into God.
About the Author
DEVDUTT PATTANAIK writes, illustrates and lectures on the relevance of mythology in modern times. He has, since 1996, written over fifty books and 1000 columns on how stories, symbols and rituals construct the subjective truth (myths) of ancient and modern cultures around the world. His books with Penguin Random House India include Myth=Mithya: Decoding Hindu Mythology, The Book of Ram, Olympus: An Indian Retelling of the Greek Myths, Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana, Shyam: An Illustrated Retelling of the Bhagavata and the Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik Series, among others.