Sita – Warrior of Mithila is a lot of things – disappointing is not one of them. Amish Tripathi’s second attempt at a series after the Shiva Trilogy is turning out to be rather interesting. The second book of the Ram Chandra series – the first was the Scion of Ikshvaku – traces the story of Sita, princess of Mithila, Lord Ram’s wife, and the quintessential bhartiya nari we were taught to revere as kids. Her virtues were limited to being
a perfect wife a perfect docile wife. Shant, sundar, susheel.
The Sita of our childhood is synonymous with terrible fire VFX consuming her as she meekly submits to agni pariksha to prove her ‘purity’. She does not fight back, talk back, she does not overrule her husband’s diktat as being utterly ridiculous. Sita was, in essence, a follower we learned. What Ramanand Sagar taught, Amish Tripathi seeks to undo.
For those wondering, no, the story does not really move forward – the two books in the Ram Chandra series present two versions of nearly the same set of events. Each novel ends with the abduction of Sita. The next book in the series is apparently based on the third most important character of the Ramayana – Raavan. Needless to say, we are looking forward to see what twist would be given to the mighty Lankan king’s origins.
To be fair, portraying women as strong, independent creatures who have an ability to think isn’t new to Tripathi. Sati, in the Shiva Trilogy, was a fierce warrior who leads an army to the gates of a (failed) battle. Sita, is no different.
She is easy to anger, quick to defend the defenceless, a seasoned warrior, a good Prime Minister and an avatar of Vishnu. Where the Scion of Ikshvaku traced the origin of Ram and the dynamics of the royal house of Ayodhya, Sita – Warrior of Mithila – is the tale of Sita’s origins. From her adoption to her adoptive parents, from her training in combat to her dynamics with Maharishi Vishwamitra – everything is covered in detail.
Her bravado on field and off it is established painstakingly before Ram even makes an entry. Why is that important? Because Sita isn’t famous or revered because of her association with Ram in this version. Tripathi’s Sita is revered because she is formidable. She is his equal.
Mind Your Language. Not:
It was easy enough to cringe through the Shiva Trilogy, and while colloquialism has been toned down quite a bit in the Ram Chandra series, Sita – Warrior Princess of Mithila does not wholly escape its clutches.
Expect the Unexpected:
Ramayana has always felt like a story that should ideally have been narrated by a woman. The story isn’t about an obedient son’s completion of 14 years of exile, after all. It is about a woman taken against her will and the war waged by her husband to rescue her – only to insult her by insinuations of infidelity. As a consequence leading to her decision of becoming a single parent.
Amish Tripathi’s attempt to bring Sita centerstage was therefore a welcome change. In this version, Sita isn’t weirdly enamoured by a deer in the middle of a dangerous forest and isn’t fooled by a mysterious sage into throwing caution to the wind. In this book, it takes an entire group of Lankan soldiers to bring her down, and make her captive. Like we said, formidable is the word.
Do buy. Do read. Do enjoy.
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