The resurgence of all things mythological in the literary space is a welcome phenomenon and not only because many authors including yours truly have made a career out of this seemingly insatiable interest. Any book that can distract youngsters from their addiction to fancy gizmos designed to make douche bag zombies out of them by harkening back to the glories of an ancient time must be considered a truly marvellous accomplishment. In fact, offerings in this sphere have helped people from all age groups suffering from smartphone syndrome. Which is why it is encouraging when books in this genre especially when penned by the likes of Amish Tripathi, Anand Neelakantan and Kavita Kane sell like hotcakes with a little something illegal stirred into it.
Yet, in keeping with the adage that where there is a demand there must be an excessive supply this trend has led to aficionados overdosing on the stuff and reaching saturation point. Publishing houses are spewing out endless mythology related titles featuring every single character from the Ramayana and Mahabharata into the sea of books that have already been written on the same, Many aspiring writers who dream of getting published feel that mythology is the way to go and contribute steadily to the massive influx.
In fact, there is even talk that one enterprising author has successfully pitched a book – proposal to a leading publishing house about a fly on the wall who happened to be present when Ravana and Mandodari were engaged in a heated debate over the unmitigated gall the former had displayed in kidnapping another man’s wife which the latter felt was a scathing indictment of the fact that her looks where no longer what they had been before she had borne him the warlike sons, he had insisted upon. The eponymous character is saving the details about the make-up sex that followed as well as his familiarity with Ravana’s bowel movements for a sequel.
If this sort of desperation does not put off the faithful adherents to the genre then the infamous ‘Gau Rakshaks’ and religious doggerel spouting extremists will definitely do the trick. They have managed to take a lovely tradition and found a way to make it something unspeakably ugly by using it as a weapon to spread hate.
If they had their way India would be a nation of clones brainwashed into toeing the line for jingoistic goons who would have us believe that ideally we should all turn vegetarian, embrace Hinduism, speak nothing but chaste Hindi, enforce modesty upon women by forcing them into clothes that cover up every inch of their bodies as well as chastity belts and figure out a way to reproduce by swallowing tears. Partying, kissing, hugging, sexual intercourse (Gasp!) and questions of sexual orientation (Double Gasp!) ought to be made taboo in the interest of preserving our culture of course.
Such regressive thinking has to be contained in order to prevent folks becoming allergic to all things related to Indian mythology, especially those who have been victimized and marginalized in its name. Which is why it is more important than ever to read retold versions of beloved tales in order to stop those who would purvey distortions and half – truths to further their twisted agenda. It is imperative to understand and familiarize oneself with the compelling philosophy, complex truths and pearls of wisdom bequeathed to us by the best minds of the past through this medium. And no, they were not intolerant jerks who sought to belittle and prosecute others over petty nonsense.
The noblest and greatest of our ancestors sought to teach us how to be better people and live rich fulfilling lives by learning to do the right thing by ourselves and others. There is nothing in the knowledge imparted to us over the eons that encourages us to be judgemental, badly behaved buffoons who would bully others into behaving in keeping with misguided beliefs.
By preserving the proper spirit of the past contained not just in Indian mythology but in those belonging to different parts of the world, passed on by storytellers, wandering minstrels, bards and yes, present day writers on the subject, we can find a way to deal with the horrors of the present in order to usher in a better future where sense prevails.