Sudha Murthy's new book profiles strong, brave women from mythology


Sudha Murthy has profiled strong, brave women from mythology in her latest book

Women in Indian mythology may not occupy all the shelves of book stores, but their stories of strength in epics are many. “There are stories of women who slew demons and fiercely protected their devotees,” says Sudha Murthy. Speaking at the launch of her children’s book, The Daughter from a Wishing Tree: Unusual Tales About Women in Mythology (Puffin) at Crossword Bookstore recently, Sudha says, “From the well known such as Parvati, wife of Shiva and Mandodari, Ravana’s wife, to the lesser known, Ashokasundari and Bhamati, my book features women who frequently led wars on behalf of the gods. They were the backbone of their families and makers of their own destinies.”

This is the fourth instalment of her mythological series following The Serpent’s Revenge, The Man from the Egg, and The Upside Down King. “The Daughter from a Wishing Tree contains 24 inspiring stories. People should know how strong women were in mythology, and every story has an inherent message. I wrote the book to tell the stories of these women.”

About inspiration, Sudha says, “When I heard these stories from my grandparents and elders in the family, I felt that all women whom we have heard of in mythology have not been represented properly. While men have been in the spotlight, many women were not spoken about. Sita and Draupadi have got all the attention, but it is time the other women are recognised.”

Ask Sudha to pick a favourite and she says, “Every story is nice and interesting. How many know about Shakambari Devi, the goddess of fruits and vegetables, who was the form Parvati took to kill the asura Durgamasura? Parvati says, ‘the form in which I fought against Durgamasura will be known as Durga. To save the world, I will give the seeds to grow plants, trees and vegetables, and Varuna will send rain and help cultivation. For this purpose you must pray to me in my form as Shakambari, with vegetables, and not flowers or ornaments. I will create a garden and be known as Banashankari, or the Goddess of the Garden’.” This temple is both at Banashankari in Bengaluru and at Bagalkot district in North Karnataka.

Sudha was born in 1950 in Shiggaon, north Karnataka. With an MTech in computer science, she went on to write novels in Kannada and English. “I have written 35 books. My next book, Gopi, will be out in December. It is based on my dog and written from my dear Gopi’s voice who is very much a part of our lives.”

With nearly three dozen titles to her credit how early did Sudha start her writing? “I started off in Kannada in school and college and did not write for 10 years during my engineering and Infosys Foundation work. Initially I wrote all my novels in Kannada until I turned 50 in 2000. My first English book came up two years later with Wise and Otherwise. My books have been translated into 12 Indian languages and Italian too,” she says.

Sudha says her target audience is not only children but young people and parents as well.

“What parents know will be passed on to the next generation. If we didn’t have folk tales that were passed on, how would we have this abundant folklore? With the amount of mythology books available in bookstores and online, I wondered if people would be interested in books on mythology. My editors convinced me.”

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 12:39:42 PM |

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