Anuja Chandramouli‘s bestselling mythology based novel Kartikeya, the Destroyer’s Son is based on War God Kartikey’s legend.
Now it is a recent trend in Indian fantasy fiction that authors like to pick up mythological characters from Indian epics and retelling their stories in a different way. No doubt, it is a good initiative, it not only refreshing our memories regarding Indian epics and mythology, but also giving a chance to feel proud of our ancient culture. Kumar Kartikeya, the War God has a fascinating legend, which not only inspired modern writers but also inspired Great Poet Kalidas to compose Kumar Sambhav. This story reminds me of Kalidas’ unforgettable work Kumar Sambhav, especially in the first part, where Goddess Parvati feels about her Man, Lord Shiva and Kamadeva’s intervention in their love life. Similarly, Devi Ganga too loved Lord Shiva, and she was feeling special when his offspring fell into the water. However, the plot was not entirely taken from Purana or ancient literature, but the author has done her own work to give it unexpected twists.
|Book Title||:||Kartikeya: The Destroyer’s Son|
|Publisher||:||Rupa Publications India; Published: (20 November 2017)|
|# of Pages||:||
1456 KB, 238 (Kindle Edition)
|# of Chapters||:||24|
The story starts with Kumar Kartikeya’s birth. His birth was not only a result of Shiva-Parvati’s eternal love, but also the prayers of many Devas, who were suffering badly in the hand of three demon brothers Soora, Soiorapadma and Taraka. The last one Taraka was a merciless warrior and he had a boon that only Lord Shiva’s son can kill him. Therefore, it was necessary for Indra, the King of the Devas or Immortals to trap Lord Shiva in marital life. He sent Kamadeva Madan to lure the God and eventually Lord Shiva’s third eye destroys him. Even after Lord Shiva‘s marriage to Devi Parvati, Indra could not stay idle. He sent Agni (Lord of Fire) and Vayu ( Lord of wind) to carry his Power before it is implanted in Parvati’s womb, because,
Indra was afraid of Shiva-Parvati’s son, who could reclaim his throne for himself. He wanted to control the child since his birth, but his mission failed miserably when Agni and Vayu could not withhold the fire for a long time and eventually dropped into the River Ganges. Goddess Ganga too had an affection for Lord Shiva. She tried to raise the boy as her own, but her water boiled and creatures died in attempting to embrace the fireball in her arms. Gradually, six women found the fireball and as they came closer they discovered six babies. These six women, the wives of six great saints adopted those babies and raised them as their won. However, they forgot that the society does not allow women to take any great decision. So, very soon, they faced questions regarding paternity of their children and their husbands too condemned them to death. Only Shiva’s miracle saved those innocent women and they were placed higher in the land of eternal flames as Kirtikas. The God and Universal Mother claimed their child. Those six children resembling six virtues were put together and reincarnated as a mighty warrior named Kartikeya.
Kartikeya’s life had a mission. Since his arrival in Mount Kailash, his mother realized that. Her son became a pawn of Indra’s politics. He offered his daughter Devsena’s hand to Kartikeya. Kartikeya’s story is portrayed not as a mighty warrior but also as a dutiful husband and a good brother. His disagreement with his mother imparts a realistic shade of life.
Apart from the protagonists other characters are portrayed well, especially the villains and their families. History is always written by the victors and naturally the loser’s point of view is always lesser known and many times, bitter. Anuja’s book gives it its due importance. Evil has its principles too and most often than not, the victor is more likely to play the dirtier game.
He was Soorapadma, one of the greatest warriors in the history of the three worlds and while he was no saint, he drew the line at spying on the love-making of newly-weds and hatching nefarious plots to prevent the conception of their children. That sort of vulgar depravity was exactly the sort of thing his nemesis, Indra, was capable of stooping to, but he would be damned if he was going to cower in fear over an unborn child. Even if the said infant was born to Shiva for the express purpose of killing him.
Indra, despite being a God, is conflicted in his ethics and morals. So was the evil one taking a high moral ground here or just being arrogant?
It is too bad Mother forgot to tell us that getting your heart’s desire is oftentimes the worst thing that can happen to you.
Here the ‘Mother’ is Maya. Someone who seems to have fed her sons with hate since their conception. Raised them with the sole aim of defeating the devas. So who is perfectly happy? The one who has all or the one who doesn’t?
You are not dithering but merely teaching them an invaluable lesson on the futility of waiting for heroes to come to the rescue when they should be expending all their strength and energy on making better lives themselves.
Should one wait for the leaders to guide them out of their problems or put all that effort in pulling themselves out?
Climax was creative with exciting fight and all the great details. The end was beautiful. There could be more to this story but I’m not going to cut the star for it, as tales can be endless when it comes to Indian mythology and anyway author can always write a sequel of this, though there wasn’t any hint.
There are two things I liked most about this book. The language is powerful, intelligent, lyrical & poetic. It is full of metaphors, symbols and allusions. I found two aspects with the language. At one side each line are coiled and lengthy carrying heavy details and meaning. On the other hand it is a beauty in words. Some of the lines were actually swoon worthy with its poetic quality.
The other important aspect was the treatment of the plot. It definitely wasn’t a child’s play and I absolutely adore the boldness and the creative risk, the author had taken especially considering how sensitive and vulnerable religious aesthetics run in India. I am pretty sure that there would be at least a small group of readers who would have their eyes bulging at the way the narration movies. That is why I felt the book was amazing because the narration and the way the author decided to narrate the popular mythology are super impressive nevertheless a really bold step.
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This book review is shared by Mala Mukherjee, an author and an avid reader. To know more about her, please read the author interview with her:
The views expressed are her own and this article is cross-posted at Goodreads: