I was longing to read about Ravana frm a very long time n dis book quenched me thirst. Beautifully explained. It has 3-4 stories but I was mesmerized by reading about Ravana n mandodri. 4 stars just fr dis half of d book
Honestly, I found it difficult to write a review for this book, because it was at the same time both interesting and irritating. I found it interesting because of all the titbits of fascinating information about the gods and their lives and their scheming that are little known. The author has obviously done a lot of research and there were times where I, a diehard fan of Indianmythology, went, “Oh! Is it? That is something I didn’t know!” It was irritating because it brings home the fact that nothing has changed through the ages. The gods are as fallible as men. They go about granting boons to anyone who strokes their ego with devotion, without any thought of what chaos and destruction the boon is going to bring about. Then and now, it seems, physical beauty is more important in the choice of a mate. You have Ganesha with all his qualities, wisdom and powers wooing Riddhi, yet she prefers him as Sumukha . She cannot or does not want to accept him in his half human, half elephant form. Siddhi, in a past life immolates herself because the one she falls in love with does not return her love and she feels slighted. Does a woman only have a reason to live if someone loves her back? I fell so terribly sorry for Mandodari. She has been created exclusively to cater to Ravan’s lust and to deflect his thoughts from Parvati. Her entire life is given up to pleasing him and enduring all his philandering in the hope that one day he will belong only to her. We all know how that ended. The author however does have a great narrative style and her language is impeccable. As you read, the scenes unfold before you and I swear I could almost hear Ganesha sulk when things did not go his way. So though I prefer her “Pradyumna: Son of Krishna” and “The Secret of God’s son” to Prem Purana, I am rather glad I decided to read this one.
Three characters from three realms, diverse in nature yet what makes them a part of this book titled ‘Prem Purana’ is that their heart beats with love for that is neither frivolous not soaked in lust. In fact it is pure love that drives their thoughts and actions. Split into three sections ‘Prem Purana’ deals with Ganesha’s love life, Mandodari’s love and Damyanti’s riddle. While Ganesha’s attempts to woo Brahma’s daughters brought a smile to the face, Ravana’s attitude towards Mandodari and his extra- marital affairs in the latter part of the story had me virtually gritting my teeth. Nal Damyanti’s story though short when compared to the other two, was like a dessert served at the end of a sumptuous meal, sweet and satisfying.
What took me by surprise?
1) Ganesha’s love life! I’ve always looked upon the cute little God, the ‘vignahartha’ as a bachelor. So the story of his attempts to woo not one but three damsels came as a surprise. But then IndianMythology is open to vast interpretation. So if you look at this story from another angle, you may not feel surprised. Isn’t Ganesha after all Buddhi, Riddhi and Siddhi all packaged into one? Yes, he is. So I guess he is wedded to these three virtues that make him the most popular of all Gods sacred to the Hindus.
2) The Secret of Mandodari’s daughter. I’ve never come across this one. But then I guess I’ve never given Mandodari much of a thought. It’s always been Ram, Sita, Lakshman, Ravan, Kumbhakaran and Meghnath.
Endowed with the gift for making even the mundane witty and interesting, Usha Narayan weaves a magic of sorts with the characters especially in the first two sections of the book. One feels the events unfolding before one’s eyes, making one feel a part of the times and the venue the stories are set in. There are places where one can’t help but try suppress a good laugh and there are others where one feels bitter, wishing to knock some sense in the character.
The language, the style and the stories make the book a truly enjoyable read.
Prem Purana is a collection of love stories involving Hindu mythological characters written by Usha Narayanan & published by Penguin Books. The author had a successful career in advertising, radio & corporate communications before becoming a full time author. She has written several books, including the suspense thriller The Madras Mangler & the fun office romance Love, Lies & Layoffs. Her books Pradyumna: Son of Krishna & The Secret of God’s Son have been praised an ‘Indianmythology at its fiercest & finest’.
The book is a collection 3 love stories which involve Hindu mythological characters. The first is Ganesha’s Brides, the story is about Ganesha’s quest to win over the hearts of RIddhi, Siddhi & Buddhi the 3 daughters of Brahma & Laxmi. Mandodari is about the pious love story between Ravana the learned king of Lanka & Mandodari. How she never left her husband’s side & tried to warn him again & again to bring him on dharma’s path. The last is Damayanti, her love story with Nala the king of Nishada is quite well known & reinforces the idea that true love always win. Get this book to unravel these sweet & intense love stories.
I have heard great things about Usha Narayanan’s work but never got the chance to read any of her books & I admit that I’ve missed a lot. The book etches the characters beautifully & makes a clear picture regarding each one of them. The stories are indeed interesting while the language used is easy to comprehend. The cover is gorgeous & the title fits too.
In an age when mythology is written, rewritten according to the perception of a writer's viewpoint, it's a miracle that we still remember Krishna or Rama as they were perceived during the times of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It's becoming equally difficult to distinguish between the original and the perceptions. Mythology is no more true to its form and changing rapidly according to the need of the hour. And it's not wrong to do so. Clinging to age-old values is not possible if one has to inculcate values amongst the younger generation. I think Amish Tripathi in his perception of Shiva has done a great job in bringing out the love of mythology amongst the younger generation. And with that, the floodgates have opened and many writers are now leaving their mark in this genre.
One of the leading personalities in this field is Usha Narayanan. With her Secret of the God's Son and Pradyuman she had captured the hearts of many mythological lovers weaving the story of Lord Kama's rebirth with all its fascinating details. Prem Purana, the latest publication of Ms. Narayanan is a collection of three short stories that kept me engrossed for a long time. I took time to read this book. Pages after pages, I lost myself in the story of Ganesha, Ravana, and Nal.
Ganesha's story starts with him meeting Riddhi and then Siddhi and Buddhi are introduced. Frankly speaking, I had no clue about the three wives of Ganesha and always thought he had two wives. The characterization of the three is very interesting, from being the beauty to a brain to a brawn. Somehow I found that the doctrine of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati is retold through these three sisters. Or maybe that is what needs to be told to the younger generation, every time, in every form. Ganesha needed all these qualities to fulfill the reason behind his future reincarnations. Beautiful thought. The way he went about wooing each of the sisters and how it ended with each of the sisters finding their true love is the crux of this beautiful saga. While Polygamy is no longer in vogue, we somehow have to raise our consciousness to understand that these stories are not about three women but three qualities in a woman. My research told me that it is us, humans, who have bifurcated the three qualities into three women but in reality, it was one for they all were one soul. And this is true in all the stories of our Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is my theory.
Ravana's love story sent a few chills down my spine. I had a mixed feeling about this one. Ravana, you just can't like in this story, yet he has a love story. Should I feel sorry for Mandodari or applaud her strength in finding something good in a man who is hated till today? There was not one redeeming quality in this man according to Ms. Narayanan's interpretation. Yet many historians and mythological writers believe that Ravana was a demon who dared to challenge the Gods but according to Ms. Narayanan's penning, Ravana was a brute who had no redeeming quality. Except for the last line where he recognized the great soul Rama was.
While Ganesha's story was the innocence of love Ravana's was the fiery passion where a dark soul could love yet destroy the very person he claimed to have loved. As against these two stories Nal and Damyanti's story was about the pain in love. The pathos. How after getting the love of one's dear desire, one is not able to stay with their loved ones due to the wrong decisions that are taken on a spur of the moment.
Each story deals with a particular rasa of love and each one has some message to impart. One of the strengths of a mythological tale is to leave some message for the present generation and I think Ms. Narayanan had achieved them beautifully.
Totally recommended for those who love mythology and would love to know where our Indian philosophies of life and love stem from.
Usha Narayanan’s "Pradyumna" was the book that prompted me to give the Indianmythology genre a try for the first time, and I haven’t regretted it. Enjoying the book a lot, I read "The Secret of God’s Son" as well. Now I’ve given this book a chance, and while it is different – as it contains three stories with several episodes/chapters each, instead of one novel – it also has many of the author’s trademarks: captivating scenes, vivid descriptions, mythological references, and fascinating characters such as Lord Ganesha.
I believe it is one of the author’s strengths to mix myth and imagination to such an extent that the reader half-believes she was right there centuries ago or has written down words whispered into her ears by the gods themselves. While I am not familiar with most of the "puranas" that serve as the base, I easily got the feeling that a lot of facts or historical tales have been incorporated cleverly with the details filled in by the author.
Over all, this book is a tale of love in its many forms, adoring or obsessive, doubtful or pre-ordained, gentle or fiercely passionate. Mixed in are thought-provoking lines as well as breathtaking action sequences. Love is portrayed through the eyes of onlookers as much as through the emotions and behavior of the protagonists. Take this quote, for example, which gives a lot of ‘in a nutshell’ insight on how love may be perceived and may transform a person: >>‘We have never seen him so content,’ said the courtiers who had often faced his blistering rage. ‘His ambition seems to have been curbed by his passion for his queen.’<<
If you’re a fan of (Indian) mythology or simply someone who enjoys fast-paced, colorful, dramatic, historical love stories, you shouldn’t miss this treat.