Review: Sita by Devdutt Pattanaik

Sita by Devdutt Pattanaik

A review

I read Sita, the illustrated retelling of the Indian epic Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik, soon after I had read Jaya, Devdutt Pattanaik’s retelling of the Mahabharata.

Now, it might have been due to my lack of prior understanding of Ramayana, but I found Sita to be a much more compelling and powerful read of the two. My intent behind going for Jaya was to primarily revisit Mahabharata, which I used to find much more interesting, complex and nuanced of the two great Indian epics. Jaya had served that purpose nicely, besides making me aware of many alternate versions and retellings.

Sita, on the contrary, was an experience wholly new and eye-opening. Devdutt Pattanaik begins the book by saying that those who find Ramayana simplistic vis-à-vis Mahabharata, do not understand Ramayana fully. There onwards, Sita goes on to make this point. And at the end of the book, I completely agree that this book gave me an entirely new perspective of the story of Ram.

Devdutt Pattanaik’s narrative is still short of drama and spice (which was my major peeve for Jaya too) but he has certainly grown as an author. But language apart, this work is way beyond Jaya,  much more confident and organized. The research in terms of alternate versions, and intermingling the different ones in the primary stream and the subsequent notes at the end of each chapter, has been done with great control.

The book gave me a novel understanding of many aspects of this great epic. In fact, it makes me hungry for an even deeper understanding of Ramayana. Informative and entertaining as these books are, these do not really seek to spend too much time or space on exploring concepts intensively, and must be looked at as a fine bibliography of ideas and stories rather than an encyclopaedia.

Together with Jaya, it forms one brilliant pair of books that I can recommend without doubt to anyone who wants to revisit these twin epics. But if you are looking to read these epics for the first time, or looking for an in-depth treatment, these might not be the best points to start from.

Link to the book’s page on the author’s site: Click here

 

 

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