This is Sita’s story, where Ram is just a character: Amish Tripathi
Author Amish Tripathi says his new book, Sita: Warrior of Mithila, tells the story of Sita from her birth to abduction, but isn’t the story of Ramayana from Sita’s perspective.Updated: May 19, 2017 11:36 IST
From depicting the varied sides of Lord Shiva and tracing his relationship with Sati to portraying Rama’s battles and his equation with his step-mother Kaikeyi, author Amish Tripathi has rediscovered the way we look at mythology. And, now, you’ll get to see Sita — not as the damsel in distress, as she’s usually portrayed, but as a fierce warrior, in his upcoming book, Sita: Warrior of Mithila.
The author says, “We’ve heard the Ramayana from Rama’s point of view, where Sita was just a character. In my book it’s not written from Sita’s point of view; it is Sita’s story, where Rama is just a character. From the time of her birth to her adoption, her marriage and abduction, everything features in the narrative.”
Tripathi wanted to shake up the normal understanding that we have of Sita, and hopes that we see her in an entirely new light. “Indians don’t know Sita. Many of them don’t even know that she was adopted by King Janak. It takes tremendous strength for an orphan to rise to the status of a Prime Minister and then to a goddess. The perspective we have of Sita today, is largely influenced by 1980’s television serial, which was influenced by the Ramcharit Manas, a 16th century modernisation of the original Valmiki Ramayana.”
Tripathi adds that in the original version of the epic, even though she’s not a warrior, she’s depicted as a much stronger woman. “There are also ancient versions of the Ramayana, like the Adhbuta Ramayana, where she’s a warrior who kills Ravana by taking the form of Maa Kali. I want to celebrate that version,” he says.
Tripathi has followed a unique narrative structure for his books. The first book follows the birth of Rama, which ends at the kidnapping of Sita. The second book is from the birth of Sita to her kidnapping, and the third will be from the birth of Ravana, to the abduction of Sita. The fourth book will be a common narrative. “I think my readers like such complex structures,” he says with a laugh.
In today’s society, where women are fighting to be heard, he hopes such a book will make a difference. “The way we treat women in our society is shameful. But it wasn’t always like this. It’s frankly an insult to our ancestors because they didn’t treat women in this manner. In ancient times, women had a status equivalent to rishis (sage), who had positions even higher than kings. This was the kind of society we had. The Rig Veda has hymns written by women rishis or rishikas,” he says.
He finds it strange that there are people today who say that women can’t read the scriptures. “They (Rishikas) wrote the scriptures, around 5000 years ago. If we can revive our ancient stories, we can have a higher chance of making an impact, rather than having western talking down to us. We can just tell modern Indians that by respecting women, you’re also honouring your own ancient culture. We can do that, through our stories,” he says, adding that ancient stories don’t have to be reinvented. “Most of the stories you see today, are reinterpretations that emerged from the medieval era. When a society undergoes violence, it becomes patriarchal. When things are peaceful, the balance is restored,” he adds.