A Book to Have and to Hold
Arshia Sattar
ADI PARVA: CHURNING OF THE OCEAN by Amruta Patil Harper Collins, 2013, 270 pp., 799
November 2013, volume 37, No 11

People often ask me whether there is something special about our times in terms of an apparent resurgence in the tellings of our ancient tales, myths and the epics. Why are we retelling these stories and why are we re-telling them now? I don’t think we live in especially myth-interested times. In fact, one of the great pleasures of reading Hindu mythology is precisely the fact that there is no single version of any beloved story. And that every beloved (or problematic) story has been told over and over again through the centuries. What we are seeing now, more acccurately, is that metropolitan, urban Indians, many of them young, have started to retell the old stories, shaped now by their own narrative instincts and trajectories and told in ways that address their own concerns. These new retellings grapple with the same questions (how to understand Krishna’s actions in the Mahabharata), the same problems (how can the so-called ‘ideal man’ be so cruel to his innocent wife in the Ramayana), but the questions and the answers are voiced for a new generation that lives and loves in an entirely different milieu from the traditional village story teller or the equally traditional grandmother.

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