Her book on Kamadeva, the god of love, stirred new debates on sexuality and power struggles. A college topper in Abnormal Psychology, Anuja Chandramouli believes that we need a new narrative on feminism. She has authored Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, Shakti: The Divine Feminine, Kamadeva: The God of Desire, Yama’s Lieutenant, Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts and Kartikeya: The Destroyer’s Son.
By Nidhi Raj Singh
What attracted you towards Indian mythology?
I love everything about it: memorable characters, intricate plots with a surfeit of philosophy, common sense and profound wisdom, all of which is entirely addictive in terms of sheer entertainment value. Indian mythological lore is so complex, with endless layers that cannot be unraveled in its entirety over the course of a lifetime and yet, ultimately it has always been the quintessential dispenser of simple, helpful truths that serve as an indispensable guide towards navigating the perilous terrain of life in any age.
What has been drawing authors towards this genre?
Indian mythology is a great muse and is a constant source of inspiration, which is probably why authors are drawn to it. There is a lot of great material readily available which has the added advantage of already being firmly entrenched in the consciousness of the target audience. With a little skill, something truly special can be created.
Do you think too much liberty has been taken reinterpreting the scriptures?
I feel artistes are well within their rights to take all the creative liberties, provided they treat the source material with respect. Of course, there are many who would feel otherwise and may be inclined to worry that the great epics are needlessly
being tampered with. This is a sensitive area because unlike Greek, Roman, Norse or Egyptian mythology the pantheon of Gods and characters in Indian mythology are still worshipped and revered. Ultimately, irrespective of where you stand on this issue, Indian mythology wins in the end simply because it has never had a fixed narrative.
Why did you choose the characters that you have based your books on?
Actually, the characters choose me. My first book was on Arjuna and since he remains the greatest love of my life, it was a given that my first book would be on him. While writing his story and exploring his friendship with Krishna, Pradyumna captured my fancy, which is why my next book was on Kama and his reincarnation as Krishna’s son, Pradyumna. Kama was a great devotee of goddess Gauri one of the many faces of Shakti, and my third book was on this enigmatic, mysterious and powerful entity. I also wrote an adventure series on Yama and his lieutenant, set in the near future because the God of dharma and death is fascinating, plus it was a wonderful opportunity for me to try my hand at fantasy and horror.
Do you think Indian mythology has a strong feminist narrative?
Of course it has! Despite what the current tone of cultural discussion on feminism, which insists on portraying woman as victim would have you believe, Indian mythology has always had powerful female characters who are spirited, feisty, independent, and filled to the brim with moxie. Contrary to popular belief, they seldom waited around to be rescued or demanded that the men in their lives become woke and accord them equal status for they were too busy crafting their own legacies, getting ahead and being seriously awesome, never once believing themselves inferior in any way. More importantly, they owned every challenge and hardship circumstances threw at them without wailing about their woes or complaining about adversity.