Sita may be the first single mother in literature who raises children to defeat a warrior like Ram: Anand Neelakantan

Best-selling Indian author, columnist and series creator “Bahubali” Anand Neelakantan released his latest book “Valmiki’s Women” at a digital event on August 7th. The author published her book with Vinita Dawra Nangia, Director – Write India and Times Literature Festivals, at a digital event live on the Oxford Bookstore Facebook page.

The discussion started with Vinita by mentioning that Anand always gives space to those who are not recognized in the main story and asking her what he thinks of “Valmiki’s Women”.

“I have explored what I have heard and learned. The Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas are a great ocean. Lately I have discovered that maybe because of the influence of television it is become more of a narration in one point of view. If you see in India there are several versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Most of the oral versions are those of the subordinate versions. They give voice to those who are defeated and defeated. ‘gap, including women, servants etc. this perspective and brings us back to how these tales are traditionally told, ”Anand replied.

He added: “In all times, women are the most oppressed. If you see, in a way, they’re set on a pedestal, which is the easiest thing to do – make them goddesses. But if you really go through the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, you see that women are post-modern in their approach. If you take the example of Sita, she may be the first single mother in literature to raise children to defeat such a great warrior as Ram. ”

As the discussion progressed, Vinita asked Anand if he saw women in epics as submissive or animated, and was it difficult for him to match the dynamics of his latest book with modern sensibilities.

In response to Vinita, Anand mentioned that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are stories of today. It’s the beauty of storytellers to make it relevant at all times. Moreover, according to him, there is not a single gentle woman in the Puranas. They are not submissive characters, they have their own minds and prove to be much stronger than any male character. Their representation as submissive is a very late medieval thing.

Vinita also referred to an old conversation between the two, where Anand told her that portraying Sita as a submissive and submissive wife is a North Indian thing, which is not the case in many. other parts of India.

To this, Anand commented, “The Ramayana has changed according to society. Perhaps the way Sita is portrayed has changed because of the invasions that have occurred. Sita is a woman of choice, who decides to go to the jungle with her husband. , even when he denies it. She chooses to cross the line that Lakshman draws around her to protect her. She is therefore not the submissive Sita that we see. ”

When Anand said that the concept of restricting a book to a particular genre is very Western and that there are different ways of looking at a story differently, Vinita said, “There is a beauty in that flexibility. If you don’t agree with a certain part, you can tell your own story in a different way. ”

Referring to her book, Vinita mentioned that Neelakanthan brought together the literal opposites – Sita and Surpanakha beautifully in the book in a scene where the first is sent into the forest and meets the second.

“It is an imagination, but there are versions where Sita meets Surpanakha just before she is banished. What I was saying here is that in the end there is no difference between the way women are treated. It’s a meeting point between two women who have been chewed up by society, “said Anand.

Responding to a question from a viewer to the two speakers, asking which priority to choose between dharma, karma or just being a woman while grooming girls, Anand said, “Dharma is not just someone’s thing. someone else should decide. Whether you are raising a girl or a boy, they should have the courage to choose whatever they decide is their own dharma. It is their decision, not that of the company. ”

“I believe that we need props like heaven and hell and good and evil to pass on and teach values ​​to our children. It is more important to teach by example than by speaking. When we raise our daughters and sons, all we want them to be is what we should be. The most important thing is to teach them values ​​and let them create their own set of values ​​and follow, ”Vinita added.

She has also noticed that what she finds interesting in reading the readings and reinterpretations of various stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata is the fact that we come to understand and appreciate the different facets of personalities. Readers see which side they choose to see, or what the storyteller shows them. In this sense, a storyteller is a mind shaper.

The discussion ended with Anand talking about his latest audiobook released a few days ago.

“It’s the result of all the notes I’ve taken over the years. I bring various Ramayanas to it and try to show people what I see in there. Through the book I try to show that there are different versions of our truth, ”he said.

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