"Sita: Warrior of Mithila" | A new perspective on Sita, and Ramayana
Even two years later Amish Tripathi’s ‘Scion of Ikshvaku’ continues to sell like hotcakes and social media cannot stop lauding the very sought after author. Amish Tripathi has probably made Indian mythology more in vogue than it had ever been, thereby successfully grabbing the attention of many more readers in the genre. And why shouldn’t it be? While his ‘Shiva Trilogy,’ was the fastest selling book series in Indian publishing history, the first title, ‘Scion of Ikshvaku’ from the five-part ‘Ram Chandra Series’ was the fastest selling book of 2015.
What is really appealing about the second book from his ‘Ram Chandra Series’ titled, ‘Sita - Warrior of Mithila’ is the “warrior” tag which has been novelly used to describe the otherwise demure image associated with the Hindu goddess Sita. It’s made clear from the very title that the protagonist is Sita but not the Sita we have read or heard of. She is fierce, an expert at the art of warfare and the chosen avatar of Vishnu. Patriarchy, take not.
While the essential story would be familiar to most Indians, Amish gives us a Sita, very different from the constrained creature of several maudlin text and screen versions – fancy this: “Sita rolled as she fell to the ground and quickly steadied herself behind a tree. She stayed low, her back against the tree, protected for now”.
Given that most readers already know the basic plot, it could have also been a disadvantage for the author but he has carefully counted on the minute details of the characters to keep the interest of the readers alive. The book is a wonderful read, leaving you in a constant state of awe at how gracefully Amish fuses rich mythological detail without losing out on the credibility, which particularly interests the modern mind. The novel is full of intricate observations along with words and catchphrases that seem to sync with the regular diction of the contemporary readers. We however do not get her entire story just yet as Amish has planned a series of four related narratives separately telling the stories of Ram, Sita, and Raavan from their individual births up to the kidnap. The last two books in the series will, in all possibility, finally bring these three strands together leading to a denouement.
What actually makes this book gripping is the fact that readers get an opportunity to know Sita in a more comprehensive manner. The second chapter of the book goes 38 years behind the first chapter and moves thereon till the current event – the first chapter – towards its end. And along the journey, Amish takes his readers into the life of Sita and together we explore the lesser known aspects of her life.
Finally, is this novel worth your money and time? Yes, it is highly recommend for anybody, who has an interest in Indian mythology but is too intimidated by the lofty scriptures. And if you look at it in another way, popularity has been used to sell all kinds of works – sex scandals, call centre chaos and IIT affairs – but here is a writer, using his immense popularity and creativity to re-imagine the saga of our mythology. In doing so, he not only preserves a sound literary standard, but also rightly deserves the readership that he commands.