Amish Tripathi: 'My portrayal of Sita is closely aligned with Valmiki's Adbhut Ramayana'
Amish Tripathi recently spoke to us about his new book, Sita, The Warrior Princess of Mithila, the second in his Ram Chandra series
Amish Tripathi, of the Immortals of Meluha fame, is known as “the fastest selling author in Indian publishing history", having sold over 3.5 million books with gross retail sales of over Rs 100 crore. Amish is highly regarded for his ability to humanise the Gods in his books, extending to them a ‘cool’ factor, allowing his readers to view them not from a pedestal but as rebels who’re not as infallible as popular sentiment makes them out to be.
Amish recently spoke to us about his new book, Sita, The Warrior Princess of Mithila, the second in his Ram Chandra series. He maintains that it’s a book told through the perspective of Sita, of her much overlooked trajectory that existed even before her marriage to Ram. In a way, he maintains that this is more of a Sitayana as it details the events that build up in Sita’s life until her abduction by Ravan.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why have you chosen to portray Sita as a warrior princess, which is much in contrast with her widely perceived image as a submissive, duty bound wife?
The portrayal of Lady Sita in my narrative is closely aligned with her description in the ancient texts of Valmiki’s Adbhuta Ramayana.
Do you think the Sita in your narrative would respond well to the much contested structures of the Lakshman Rekha and the Agnipareeksha?
I see nothing wrong with protecting the people you love and care for, the problem starts when you begin infringing upon their personal space which inhibits their freedom. An illustration of this can be seen in the western world, where relationships crumble on account of the high degrees of individuality. There is a dire need to strike a balance between the two.
Sita, the warrior princess of Mithila is the second book in the Ram Chandra franchise, which chronicles the journey of Sita until her kidnapping. Why have you chosen a multi-linear narrative to structure your story?
The first book in the series chronicles the events that occur in Lord Ram’s journey until the abduction of his wife, Lady Sita. Similarly, the second book relays the story of Sita, right from her adoption by King Janak and Queen Sunaina until the episode of the abduction. In the third book, the story recounts Ravan’s trajectory while the fourth and fifth books have a common narrative. I believe that the characters of the story bear the onus of telling the tale, so I decided to sketch out the background of the key characters to familiarise the readers with their unique trajectories.
You’ve mentioned in prior interviews that India used to be a model of a liberal sphere in the past, which we’ve been veering away from. Could you cite examples of the same?
Women in a time far removed from now, occupied the status of rishikas which is the female counterpart of rishis or sages, and the most revered position in a society. They were regarded as a treasure house of knowledge and celebrated with the pomp reserved for prophets and messiahs.
You’ve mentioned that it takes immense strength of character for an adopted child to rise to first become a warrior, then a prime minister and finally a goddess. Why is this so?
The prejudice that one is subjected to on not being the natural heir to a powerful royal family is significant and to rise above that is praiseworthy.
How has your journey been so far in the literary world, especially considering you don’t hail from a formal writer’s pedigree?
It’s been an absolute dream. I didn’t anticipate having a creative bone in my body. I’ve always been a voracious reader of nonfiction but hadn’t pictured myself writing fiction, I’d always considered myself to be left brained. It’s all been possible owing to the grace of Lord Shiva.
How do you overcome a writer’s block?
I’ve never actually experienced a full fledged writer’s block. For a brief period of a month, while writing the Shiva trilogy, I was unable to write since I was writing in a methodical fashion as dictated in the self help books. I was quick to abandon this approach as I’m naturally an instinctive writer.
What inspired you to pen the Ram Chandra series?
I was at a literature festival in Mumbai when a lady spoke to me about Lord Ram in a rather unflattering light and this didn’t sit too well with me as I admire his personality. I set to work the very next day and put pen to paper (or more like fingers to the keyboard) and began writing the Scion of Ikshvaku, the first book in the Ram Chandra series.
Will there be more books with women-centric narratives?
I’ve left a number of clues of the forthcoming books in The Immortals of Meluha trilogy; having said that, a character based on Lady Mohini seems likely on the cards.
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