Mahabharath

The Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju (Hastinapur, #3)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Mythology
Imprint: Harper Collins, India
ISBN: 9789352773138

The Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series. First two were Winds of Hastinapur and Rise of Hastinapur. Hastinapur series is a retelling of Mahabharath. This retelling shows how humane and materialistic the characters of the epic saga are compared to their depictions in the original and other versions.

Gandhari is striving to secure her chance to be the queen and the future queen-mother of Hastinapur. Pritha is striving to secure her place in the heart of her husband, the king of Hastinapur, Pandu, who has taken Madri as his second wife. The gods on Mount Meru are striving to resist the flourishing of Hastinapur to prevent the great empire, under the aegis of Devavrata, invading their abode on the holy mountain. Devaki is striving to keep her new-born alive so that he can grow up to kill his uncle Kamsa. King Kamsa is striving to keep his kingdom Mathura safe by coming into an alliance with King Jarasandha. The gods on Mount Meru have to now strive to keep themselves safe from the strong alliance of Kamsa and Jarasandha because Kamsa will definitely try to avenge the theft of the black stone magic by the gods from his kingdom. Jahnavi, Ganga’s apprentice, sent by the gods to Mathura, along with Kubera and Nishantha, gets caught by Kamsa and they all strive to get out out of the prison. What happens to all these women who are striving in this game of power? What happens to the men whose lives are entangled with the lives of these women? Ganga continues to tell you the epic story of Mahabharath.

Since the Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series, you need to read the first two books too to understand what is happening. After watching B R Chopra’s Mahabharath on television, this fresh retelling that shows each character in a different angle is welcoming. But, compared to the first two books, the Queens of Hastinapur’s narration seems pale, especially the part of Jahnavi, Kubera and Nishantha. Rest of the book’s narration is tolerable.

Hoping that the birth and upbringing of Krishna will not make women suffer more, hoping that the fourth book in the Hastinapur series will have a better narration than the third one, do give the Queens of Hastinapur a read.

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Harida Honalu by Usha Navaratnaram

ಹರಿದ ಹೊನಲು – ಲೇಖಕಿ ಉಷಾ ನವರತ್ನರಾಮ್ (Harida Honalu by Usha Navaratnaram)

English translation of this book review is given after the Kannada version.

ವಿಮರ್ಶಕರು ಶ್ವೇತಾ ಏಚ್ ಎಸ್

ಶೈಲಿ : ಕಾಲ್ಪನಿಕ, ಕೌಟುಂಬಿಕ, ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ
ರಚನೆ: ಉಷಾ ನವರತ್ನರಾಮ್

ಉಷಾ ನವರತ್ನರಾಮ್ ಅವರು ಅನೇಕ ಕನ್ನಡ ಕೃತಿಗಳನ್ನು ರಚಿಸಿದ್ದು, ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಸ್ತ್ರೀ-ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ಮತ್ತು ಕೌಟುಂಬಿಕ ಹಿನ್ನೆಲೆಯನ್ನು ಉಳ್ಳವುಗಳಾಗಿವೆ. 2-3 ದಶಕಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ, ಅವರ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಗಳು ಕನ್ನಡವನ್ನು ಆಸ್ವಾದಿಸುವ ಮಹಿಳೆಯರ ನಡುವೆ ಬಹಳ ಪ್ರಖ್ಯಾತಿ ಹೊಂದಿತ್ತು.

ಈ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯ ಪ್ರಮುಖ ಪಾತ್ರಧಾರಿಗಳು ನಿರ್ಮಲ ಮತ್ತು ಅವಳ ಕುಟುಂಬದವರು. ಪ್ರಾರಂಭದಲ್ಲಿ, ಓದುಗರಿಗೆ ಮದುವೆಯ ಮುಂಚಿನ ಅವಳ ಕುಟುಂಬದ ಕುರಿತು ವಿವರಗಳನ್ನು ನೀಡಲಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಅವಳ ಹೆತ್ತವರಿಗೆ, ಮೊದಲೆರಡು ಹೆಣ್ಣು, ನಂತರ ಗಂಡು ಮಗುವಾಗಿ, ಕೊನೆಯವಳೇ ನಿರ್ಮಲಾ. ಹಿರಿಯ ಮಗಳನ್ನು ಶ್ರೀಮಂತ ಮನೆಗೆ ಮದುವೆ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಟ್ಟರೂ, ಅವರು ವರದಕ್ಷಿಣೆಯಾಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲದೆ ಕೇವಲ ಉಡುಗೊರೆಯಾಗಿ ‘ಸ್ಕೂಟರ್’ ಒಂದನ್ನು ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಅದನ್ನು ಪೂರೈಸಲು ಆಗದ ಕಾರಣ, ಅವಳ ಗಂಡ ಅವಳ ತವರು ಮನೆಯ ಸಂಪರ್ಕವನ್ನು ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣವಾಗಿ ಕಡಿದು ಹಾಕುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ, ಮೊದಲ ಮಗಳು ಬದುಕಿದ್ದರೂ ಸತ್ತಂತೆ ಆಗಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಎರಡನೆಯ ಮಗಳು ಸನ್ನಡತೆಯ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಮದುವೆಯಾಗಿ, ಹೆರಿಗೆಯ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾಣ ಬಿಡುತ್ತಾಳೆ. ಮಗು ಸಹ ಉಳಿಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಹೀಗೆ ಎರಡನೆಯ ಮಗಳನ್ನು ಸಹ ಕಳೆದು ಕೊಂಡ ನಿರ್ಮಲಾಳ ತಂದೆ-ತಾಯಿಗಳ ಸಂಕಟ ಹೇಳ ತೀರದಾಗಿದ್ದು, ನಿರ್ಮಲಾಳ ಬದುಕು ಹಸನಾಗಬೇಕೆಂಬ ತೀವ್ರವಾದ ಹಂಬಲವಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಅವಳ ಸಹೋದರ ಕೂಡ ಅವಳನ್ನು ಒಂದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಮನೆಗೆ ಸೇರಿಸುವ ತನಕ ತಾನೂ ಕೂಡ ಮದುವೆಯಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಪ್ರತಿಜ್ಞೆ ಮಾಡಿರುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಇಡೀ ದಿನ ಅಗಲಿ ಹೋದ ತನ್ನ ಇಬ್ಬರ ಹೆಣ್ಣುಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ನೆನೆಯುವ ಆದರೆ ಬದುಕಿರುವ ತನ್ನನ್ನು ಕಡೆಗಣಿಸುವ ತಾಯಿಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಿರ್ಮಲಾ ಜಿಗುಪ್ಸೆಗೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾಳೆ. ಮದುವೆಯಾಗಿ ಗಂಡನ ಮನೆಗೆ ಹೋಗೋಣವೆಂದುಕೊಂಡರೆ, ಅಪ್ಪ-ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ ಅದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕಾಳಜಿಯೇ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಅದೃಷ್ಟವಶಾತ್, ಪಕ್ಕದ ಮನೆಯ ಮಣಿಯಮ್ಮ ಒಂದು ಕಡೆ ಸಂಬಂಧ ತಂದು, ಎಲ್ಲರ ಒಪ್ಪಿಗೆ ಪಡೆದು, ಮದುವೆ ಮಾಡಿಸುತ್ತಾಳೆ.

ಗಂಡನ ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅತ್ತೆ-ಮಾವಂದಿರ ಕಾಟ ಇಲ್ಲ – ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಅವರು ಬಹಳ ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆಯೇ ತೀರಿ ಹೋಗಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಐದು ಜನ ಅಣ್ಣ-ತಮ್ಮಂದಿರು ಜತೆಗೆ ಅಡುಗೆ ಮಾಡಲು, ಮನೆ ಸ್ವಚ್ಛಗೊಳಿಸಲು ಇಬ್ಬರು ವಯಸ್ಸಾದ ಹೆಂಗಸರು – ಇಷ್ಟೇ ಜನರ ಕುಟುಂಬ. ಐದು ಜನರಲ್ಲಿ, ನಿರ್ಮಲಾ ಮದುವೆಯಾದದ್ದು ಎರಡನೆಯವನಾದ ಅಶೋಕನೊಂದಿಗೆ. ಹಾಗೆಂದ ಮಾತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಮಹಾಭಾರತದ ದ್ರೌಪದಿಯ ಕಥೆಯಿದೆಂದು ಭಾವಿಸಬೇಡಿ. ಹಲವಾರು ಖಾಯಿಲೆಗಳಿಂದ ಬಳಲುತ್ತಿದ್ದು, ಯಾವುದೇ ಕ್ಷಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾವು ಬರಬಹುದೆಂಬ ಭಯದಿಂದ ಹಿರಿಯವನಾದ ಅನಂತನಿಗೆ ಮದುವೆಯಾಗಿಲ್ಲ. ಮನೆಯ ಯಜಮಾನನಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಬಹಳ ಗಂಭೀರನಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಎಲ್ಲರ ಮಾರ್ಗದರ್ಶಕನಾಗಿರುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಮೂರನೆಯ ಸಹೋದರ, ಅಜಯ್, ಹೆಚ್ಚುಮಾತನಾಡದೆ, ಮನೆಯ ಹೊರಗಿರುವುದೇ ಹೆಚ್ಚು. ನಾಲ್ಕನೆಯವನಾದ ಅರವಿಂದ ಅತ್ತಿಗೆಯನ್ನು ತಾಯಿಯೆಂದೇ ಪೂಜಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಕೊನೆಯವನಾದ ಅಮರೇಶನು ಸಹ ಅತ್ತಿಗೆಯನ್ನು ಬಹಳ ಹಚ್ಚಿಕೊಂಡು, ಅವಳ ಸಂಗಡ ಏನ್ನನ್ನೂ ಸಹ ಮುಚ್ಚಿಡದೆ ನಿರ್ಮಾಲಾಗೆ ಬಹಳ ಅಚ್ಚುಮೆಚ್ಚಿನವನಾಗುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಕಿರಿಯವನಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಇನ್ನೂ ಕಾಲೇಜಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಓದುತ್ತಿರುವ ಅಮರೇಶನು ಎಲ್ಲರಿಂದ ಕಡೆಗಣಿಸಲ್ಪಟ್ಟು, ನಿಂದಿತನಾಗಿದ್ದ ಕಾರಣ ಅವನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಿರ್ಮಲಾಗೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಮಮಕಾರ.

ಬರೀ ಗಂಡಸರೇ ಇದ್ದು, ಅವರ ನಡುವೆ ಮಸಲತ್ತು ಮಾಡುವ ಕೆಲಸದಾಕೆ – ಇವರೆಲ್ಲರನ್ನು ಸಂಭಾಲಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು, ಯಾವುದೇ ರೀತಿಯ ದೂರಿಗೆ ಆಸ್ಪದ ಕೊಡದೆ ಎಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ಸರಿದೂಗಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗಲು ನಿರ್ಮಲಾಳಿಗೆಆಗುವುದೇ? ಆ ಕಾಲಘಟ್ಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಸರ್ವೇಸಾಮಾನ್ಯವಾದ ಒಂದು ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ-ಕೌಟುಂಬಿಕ ಕಷ್ಟಗಳನ್ನು-ತಲ್ಲಣಗಳನ್ನು ಲೇಖಕಿ ಬಹಳ ಸೊಗಸಾಗಿ ವಿವರಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಕಥೆಯ ಮುಂದಿನ ಭಾಗವನ್ನು ಮತ್ತು ಸುಖಸಂಸಾರವನ್ನು ಹೊಂದುವ ಆಸೆ ಕಾಣುವ ನಿರ್ಮಲಾಳ ಬುದ್ದಿವಂತಿಕೆಯನ್ನು ತಿಳಿಯಲು, ನೀವು ಈ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯನ್ನು ಓದಬೇಕು.

ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಪಾತ್ರಪೋಷಣೆ ಕೂಡ ಬಹಳ ಸೊಗಸಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಈಗಿನ ಟೀವಿ ಧಾರಾವಾಹಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡುಬರುವ ಅಸಂಬದ್ಧ ಅತ್ತೆ-ಸೊಸೆ, ಅಥವಾ ತೊಂದರೆ ಕೊಡಲೆಂದೇ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಲ್ಪಡುವ ಪಾತ್ರಗಳಂತೆ ಅಲ್ಲವೇ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಪಾತ್ರವೂ ಸಹ ಕಥೆಯ ಓಘಕ್ಕೆ ಸಹಕಾರಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಒಂದು ನೈಜ ಚಿತ್ರಣವನ್ನು ನೀಡುತ್ತವೆ.

ಇಂದಿನ ಕಾಲದ ಮನಸ್ಥಿತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯನ್ನು ಓದಿದರೆ, ಈ ಪಾತ್ರಗಳು ಅಷ್ಟು ಮನಸ್ಸಿಗೆ ತಟ್ಟದೇ ಇರಬಹುದು. ಆ ಕಾಲಘಟ್ಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಇನ್ನು ಅಂಬೆಗಾಲು ಇಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಮಹಿಳೆಯರ ಮನಸ್ಥಿತಿಯನ್ನು ಅರಿತು ಇದನ್ನು ಓದುವುದು ಒಳಿತು. ಯಾವುದೋ ಅಳುಮುಂಜಿ ಕಥೆಯಿರಬಹುದೆಂಬ ನನ್ನ ಊಹೆ ಸುಳ್ಳಾಗಿ, ಒಂದೇ ಓದಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಗಿಸುವಂತಾಯಿತು. ಹಳೆಯ ತಲೆಮಾರಿನ ಜನರಿಗೆ ಸೂಕ್ತವಾಗುವ ಈ ಕಥೆ ಈಗಿನ ಆಧುನಿಕ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಮಂದಿಗೆ ಅಷ್ಟು ಪಥ್ಯವಾಗದು. ಇದನ್ನು ಓದದೇ ಹೋದರೆ ನೀವು ಏನನ್ನೂ ಕೂಡ ಕಳೆದು ಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಬೇರೆ ಯಾವುದೇ ಆಯ್ಕೆಗಳಿಲ್ಲದೆ ಹೋದರೆ, ಇದನ್ನು ಖಂಡಿತ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ತಿರುವಿ ಹಾಕಬಹುದು.

Given below is the English translation of the book review given above.

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Fiction, Family Drama, Social
Author: Usha Navaratnaram

Usha Navaratnaram has written many Kannada novels. All of them are either women or family oriented. About two-three decades ago, her novels were known among women who could read, write and speak Kannada as well as enjoy the language.

The story of this novel revolves around Nirmala and her family. To begin with, the reader is told about her family before her marriage. Her parents have four children: two daughters, a son and at last, Nirmala. The first daughter is married to a man whose family is wealthy enough and still demand a scooter from the in-laws, not as dowry but as a gift. When they can’t provide what is asked, the husband stops all the communication with his wife’s family and doesn’t let his wife also to talk to her parents. Thus, the first daughter is as good as dead. The second daughter marries a noble man, but dies during delivery. The baby doesn’t survive either. Therefore, the second child is also lost. The old couple’s plight is they have lost two children and they don’t want to lose the remaining daughter, Nirmala, too. Their son strives to get her married to a good family and vows to marry only after getting his sister married. Nirmala is fed up of her mother, who is always wailing about daughters who aren’t there and doesn’t care about the surviving one. She just wants to get married and go away to her husband’s place hoping there situation would be better. But her parents have ignored the matter of her marriage. Thankfully, Maniyamma, their neighbour brings a marriage proposal for Nirmala and after everyone agrees, she gets married. At the husband’s place, there are no in-laws; they are dead long ago. It is a family of five brothers with two old ladies to cook food and clean the house. Nirmala is married to the second of the five, Ashok. She isn’t Draupadi, so we can let go Mahabharatha here. The first brother, Ananth, doesn’t want to get married because he has too many health issues and is afraid that he might die anytime. He is also the family’s caretaker; a very serious person and everybody consult him before doing anything. The third brother, Ajay, doesn’t talk much and out of the house most of the time. Aravind is the fourth one who treats his sister-in-law like his mother. Amaresh is the last in the line and totally adores his sister-in-law and doesn’t hide anything from her. Of all the five, the last one is still in college and other four reprimand him for everything, so Nirmala has a soft corner for him. In a house full of men and a scheming cook, how does this new bride take care of everyone and keep them happy without giving a chance to complain? The author has written a story with believable difficulties that may occur in domestic life of that era. Read the novel to know the intelligence of the girl who wants to have a happy-married-life.

What are commendable about the story are the well developed characters. Unlike the new age saas-bahu serials, the characters in here don’t sit jobless and hatch plans how to pathetically torture each other. They are well developed characters with their own lives to lead that aid the story to proceed.

If you read this with a mindset that is constantly running in these times, then you might not be able to relate to the story as this is set back when women were trying to break free one step at a time.

I thought this might be a sob story, but it isn’t. It is a story that you can finish at one go. It is written well enough for people of the previous generations. It isn’t a loss to read this story, but it isn’t that great also to recommend to everyone. Pick this book up when you have nothing else to read and have shunned other books.

ವಿಮರ್ಶೆಯನ್ನು ಕನ್ನಡಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುವಧಿಸಿದವರು ಸತೀಶ್ ಏ ಜೀ
Book review is translated into Kannada by Satish A G

The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju (Hastinapur, #1)

Review by Shwetha H S

We grew up listening to tales of Mahabharata and sub-stories related to this epic. Many of us must have even watched the telecast of B R Chopra’s and Ravi Chopra’s Mahabharat and its many re-telecasts. The epic is etched on our minds so well that we can’t imagine anybody else for all the characters apart from those who portrayed them. But Sharath Komarraju manages to cast away those familiar images and instil new ones in their places through his first book in this Hastinapur series, which is a retelling of Mahabharata, called The Winds of Hastinapur. You certainly won’t think of Mukesh Khanna when you think of Devavrata while reading this story.

The Hastinapur series is not only about Mahabharata, but about women of Mahabharata. True to being the first in the series, The Winds of Hastinapur tells you where and why a path was paved for this epic. There is a great man at the beginning of every epic and behind every great (replacing successful) man, there is a woman. And that woman is none other than Ganga, and many other women who were the Lady of the River before her. Then came Satyavati followed by Amba and her sisters. The story in the first book mainly revolves around the age-old concept, you know what they say, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Well, this applies only for Ganga here. Satyavati is more of “I am the woman.” Amba arrives towards the end of the story and that makes me guess it is from her the next story starts.

There are men too in this story. Apart from many celestials and sages, we have many kings here. Out of them, Shantanu and Devavrata, who goes on to be known as Bhishma. You will take pity on both the men as the story moves ahead.

From what is depicted of this epic in sculptures and paintings on ancient architectures, we already know that men were brave and women were sensual. But imagine them to be making out with each other? Oh, they were more human than divine. Or did divine blood too crave for intercourse? This retelling is more realistic than completely magical; like babies popping out of nowhere. Nonetheless, this retelling of Mahabharata is worth reading and it keeps you waiting for the next book is the series, The Rise of Hastinapur.

Warrior by Olivier Lafont

Warrior by Olivier Lafont

Review by Shwetha H S

Set in the backdrop of apocalypse, this must be one of the first novels to be written addressing this theme and set it in India. Thanks to Olivier Lafont, we have an Indian version of Doomsday, which he addresses as End of the Days. Warrior is a very gripping story which Indians for once can relate to instead of imagining the movie 2012.

We have here the last remaining son of Lord Shiva. His name is Saam. When the Enemy announces the beginning of the process for End of the Days, everybody goes berserk. The Peerless, a group formed by demigods who are abandoned by their Godly parents and don’t have much power left, look up to Saam to mediate between Lord Shiva and rest of the world to save themselves. But Saam refuses to help them as he knows that his father won’t listen to him. To make things worse, he get embroiled in petty wars with supporters of the Enemy. He ultimately gets drawn into the core of this apocalyptic matter due to one situation leading to another. There are many other people to get the story interesting. They are Saam’s human girlfriend Maya, his half brother Ara the Spider, his friend Lalbaal, a scholar Fazal, Ara’s friends Fateh and Moti the Pearl. Through this story, Olivier Lafont takes us on a journey in a Quantensplatschiff sailing from one world to another. All these days we were reading Greek gods and demigods. Now we get to read about Hindu gods and demigods. This book shows our mythology in new light. You even get to read about savvy Ketan, the king of serpent people. But who is this Enemy?

Except a small confusion in the narration about Ramayan and Mahabharath, there is no flaw in the story. You will actually be left wondering what to learn and unlearn. Go for Warrior! You will not be disappointed.