A truly great book on Indian mythology
I am fond of reading and recently (over the past two or three years) have ventured into the world of Indian literature. Being an Indian, I am of course aware of the famous names from our part of the world: Satyajit Ray, Rabindranath Tagore, Amrtya Sen, Vikram Seth etc..but some of the female authors I have read recently have left a truly impactful impression on my mind.
I just finished reading a very famous, well written and absolutely fascinating novel by the Oriya author: Pratibha Ray. It’s an English translation of her work and I am sure it’s just as good as the original. The novel is titled: Yajnaseni. Reading it made me really proud of our mythology and jealous of the relation true devotees have with their God..Here are a few excerpts from it:
A creature is bound by the triple thread of the three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas. Tamas gives birth to attachment. From Rajas comes addiction and desire. Sattva produces purity. If Tamas and Rajas were shackles of iron, then Sattva was a chain of gold. Therefore, even though the desire to reach swarg through the Himalayas was sattvik, it seemed to me like chains of gold around my ankles. For, even this had been transformed into an attachment for me. If the desire for getting a kingdom was shackles of iron then wasn’t the desire to attain svarg a chain of gold? Who was free of attachment ? I ? My husbands ? Could a man who had attachment achieve svarg? Attachment blinds a person. But to proceed onwards, some attachment, some desire from results does exist within a person. Therefore, like a blind man, without considering what is right and what is wrong, he keeps walking on the path, just like us.
While walking on I mused: “What did I get in this birth? What did I lose ? Why did I come ? What task was accomplished through me? What ought to have been done by me. Food, sleep, sex, the pleasure of a kingdom, etc- I got everything in life. Still it seems that my life has remained unfulfilled. What is wanting ? Why have I borne so much sorrow, grief, pain, in life? I feel that with Yudhisthir as husband, any woman will have to suffer… … … . And while thinking thus, my feet slipped on the golden dust of the Himalayas.My five husbands, whom I had regarded even as my five senses all through life and who had been my companions in life after life, did not even look back. They kept walking straight ahead on the path to svarg. I was alone at death’s door!” … … … … … … … … Pride is an obstacle on the path to svarg. Can anyone be free of pride in this world ?
I was the royal queen of Hastina. Sacrificing father, sons, brother, friends – everyone, I had won the status of queen. How can it be that there will be no pride in my mind? There was enough scope for pride in that life. But even that life did not seem fulfilled to me. Today I lie alone on the way to death. My arrogance has certainly been removed. But helplessness is waiting to swallow me up. Helplessness is filling me with a sense of want. Today I am realizing that life is not just pride, and nor is it only full of helplessness. It is between these two that the stream of life keeps flowing. Both pride and helplessness have significant roles to play in life. Pride by itself blinds a person, while helplessness fills him with a sense of want.But if the pride and helplessness, instead of being petty, are noble, then life becomes fulfilled.Then man thinks “O Lord! I am but your creation, and that is the source of my pride. Then when he thinks that all his strength, all his support is He alone, his soul soars upwards and the doors of svarg open up to receive it.
ps- the word swarg here means heaven. Gunas means characters.