Book Reviews

Book Review : Ahalya by Koral Dasgupta

Title : Ahalya
Author : Koral Dasgupta
Publisher : Pan Macmillan India
Pages : 216
Genre : Mythological Fiction

Story :

It is known that Ahalya was cursed by her husband, Gautam, for indulging in a physical relationship with Indra. But is there another story to Ahalya’s truth? Who was Indra anyway? A king? A lover? A philanderer? The first book of the Sati series, Ahalya hinges on these core questions, narrating the course of her life, from innocence to infidelity.

In the Sati series, Koral Dasgupta explores the lives of the Pancha Kanyas from Indian mythology, all of whom had partners other than their husbands and yet are revered as the most enlightened women, whose purity of mind precedes over the purity of body. The five books of the Sati series reinvent these women and their men, in the modern context with a feminist consciousness.

Review :

Ahalya is one of the Pancha Kanyas in Hindu mythology. Through the first book in The Sati series, we are being introduced into the world beyond mortality.

Ahalya’s soul is not nurtured in a mother’s womb, as Brahma, her father (rather creator) wants her to be the epitome of perfection. The one who is not anchored to the liabilities of human life. She questions her creator about the roles of a Mother and a Father, and hearing his answers validates the fact that the firm grip of patriarchy goes back a long way.

Ahalya is constantly on her toes, making sure to abide by the rules that have been set for her long before her very birth. She is not supposed to shed tears, she is not supposed to feel happy, she is supposed to be the perfect wife and perform her duties, and in a nutshell, she must pledge death to her will.

Through her narration, we are finally being privy to ways of the Heaven and how it extends to life on Earth. There’s always another side to a story, and this one’s the side of the Woman, whose voice have never been heard before, whose tale has never been told before.

Definitely recommend it to mythology lovers and feminist literature enthusiasts.

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