Friday, 22 February 2019


Ramayana: A fantastic Hindu mythological tale about the journey of the righteous king Rama from being the crown prince of Ayodhya to being banished into the forest for 14years, and then waging a war against the demon king Ravan ensuring that justice prevails and spread the message of the victory of goodness over evil.

There have been innumerable stories written on the virtuous life of Shri Ram extolling his achievements and the pious way he lived his life setting an example for leaders and kings for centuries to follow.

The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is yet one more retelling of this great tale. However, this time the story is written from the perspective of none other than Lady Sita, daughter of King Janaka and wife of Ram.

Although Sita has always occupied the space of great importance in the Ramayana, this book is unique in the sense that here, Sita is the main protagonist and we get to understand the Ramayana from her outlook. The most distinctive feature of this book is the manner that Divakaruni uses Sita's story to explain the startling and diverse forms of LOVE and our actions-reactions to this most-desired yet the most-complicated emotion!

We all believe love to be an all-encompassing feeling that alone can make our lives picture-perfect. How wrong are we in this thought process and even Sita realized it through her trials. One gem on this emotion that caught my eye in the story is, "Love, no matter how deep wasn't enough to transform another person: how they thought, what they believed. at best, we could only change ourselves."

Divakaruni has a divine gift wherein she has the ability to beautifully portray the varied gamut of emotions faced by Sita in her tumultuous journey of life bringing alive her decisions, her judgments, her feeling of despair, her joys, her loneliness, her fear, and the deep and true love for her husband.
Being a woman, a wife, and a mother, I could relate to Sita's feeling of helplessness and her righteous anger or should I say hurt on some of her husband's decisions that may be correct from the point of view of an honest and fair leader but are biased and unfair for the wife.

Why is it that the family of a conscientious man should always be the one to pay the heaviest price? Why can a just ruler not be able to balance duty and love?
Why should be always the female who has to be the one standing beside her husband in all his decisions irrespective of whether she approves it or not?
Why is the woman who has to make sacrifices in the name of duty towards her husband?
Why is it always the woman who has to prove her innocence time and again, just for the satisfaction of the male ego?

As Sita rightly said before she leaves her life on Earth to join the otherworld that when life tests us, we women should be able to stand steadfast and think carefully with our hearts and head when to compromise and when to say NO MORE.

Through this hauntingly soulful story, Divakaruni has given a place of prominence and a voice to the otherwise silent female characters who have been unceremoniously pushed to the edges of the Ramayana: Queen Kaikeyi, Queen Kaushalya, Ahilya, Surpanakha, Queen Mandodari, and last but not the least Urmila.

This book is a true feast for all book lovers and a must-read. Pick your own copy by clicking on the link below:

I want to end this post using another of Divakaruni's definition of Love that says that love is like an ocean: unfathomable, astonishing, measureless, and of course, forgiving!