There is a saying in Bengali, ‘jaa nei Bharate, ta nei Bharate’, meaning what does not find a mention in Mahabharata, does not exist in India. The biggest epic ever-written, the magnum opus tells us so many tales that every reading reveals an unexplored aspect. Mahabharata is more than just the dharma-yuddha of the Pandavas and Kauravas. There are characters galore, each with a back story that can become a novel in itself.
Kavita Kané, who is the bestselling author of ‘Karna’s Wife’, ‘Sita’s Sister’, ‘Menaka’s Choice’ and ‘Lanka’s Princess’ tells us the story of an enigmatic woman in ‘The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty’. Matsyagandha, Daseyi, Yojanagandha, Satyavati – we are introduced to the various identities of the lady who shaped the future of Bharatvarsha. Born a princess, she is denied her royal life, brought up by a fisherman and violated by a Rishi in her adolescence.
Hardened by the life of struggle, she decides she will marry a man only on her terms, and she succeeds. Satyavati becomes the queen of Hastinapur. Even as queen, she is ruthless; her political manoeuvres make her unpopular with many. Yet, she remains steadfast. She is now the matriarch who set the ball rolling for the scheme of things in Hastinapur to take shape.
On the other hand, we have Prince Devavrata, who took a vow of celibacy so that Satyavati marries King Shantanu. His great vow earned him the title of ‘Bhishma’. The rightful heir to the throne, Bhishma assumes the role of lifelong service of the king. Satyavati’s obstinacy and his stricture for astute morality change the history of the land forever.
Most accounts of Mahabharat till date, in print or TV, have mostly glossed over this phase of the Kuru dynasty. Characters like Satyavati have hardly got the attention, or interest, they deserved. Thanks to Kavita Kané, her challenges are now known to the readers. The riveting narration, solid writing and lucid and articulate language will surely arrest the interest of the readers.
The blend of facts with fiction is of the right proportion, thus ensuring the novel does not lose track. The imaginative re-invention of the characters we have all read about and seen on TV, makes you want to revisit the Mahabharata.
Overall, ‘The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty’ is a fascinating retelling of the woman, who rose from ranks of a mere fisherwoman, to be able to dictate the fate of a sub-continent. All, on her own terms. Satyavati could be an ideal for the women of contemporary India to emulate.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by Westland Books
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