BLF2020 | Mythology via Women – Madhavi S Mahadevan, Rashmi Terdal and Samhita Arni with Mani Rao

Mythology is long-lived, and its retelling is spread across in various formats, from poems to fictional novels. It’s the second day of the Bangalore Literature Festival 2020, and we had a panel of women writers who have written around mythical characters and stories.

Mani Rao, an author who featured in the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry, was the moderator. In the panel, we had Madhavi; she’s a book critic and writer of children’s stories and short stories. She has written two books based on the characters of the Mahabharata. Next, we had Samhita Arni, known for her books ‘Sita’s Ramayana’ and ‘The Prince.’  Then we had Rashmi Terdal, journalist and writer, well known for her translation of ‘Uttara Kaanda’ by S. L. Bhyrappa.

Mani began the conversation by asking the ladies what led them towards writing around mythology and mythical characters.

Madhavi responded that she had heard the stories since her childhood, but it’s only now she realizes how bleak they are. She feels these tales not only need a retelling but a reinvention from a women’s perspective because the role of the women is undermined in the epics. She gives an instance from one of her books, the central character named Madhavi is a surrogate mother. And this story dates back to the Mahabharata times. It was an incident of commercial surrogacy, which is a huge business now.

Samhita shared her view that she had always heard mythical stories that glorify only men’s achievements. If we want to challenge our system for a change, both men and women should join hands and not just either of us. Thus, it is essential to bring forth victories and stories of women from the legacy to influence the future and current generations.

Rashmi said that the versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata that she had read were abbreviated and subdued from a women’s perspective. The female voice is kept submissive and mellow, whereas the men’s heroics are glorified. These things drew her towards writing on the mythical stories from the perspective of the women characters.

Mani asked the panel if their being women influenced their writing and if it would be different for a male writer?

Madhavi said that her being a woman has definitely helped her get to know her book’s character, ‘Madhavi’ more precisely. Samhita said that she was subconsciously driven since she is a woman even though she never wanted her gender to be influential. Rashmi adds to her previous point that Ramayan has always been obsessed with the duties bestowed upon women. She gives an instance where king Dasharatha reminds Kaushalya of her priorities (husband, children, and kinsmen). Then she jumps to another example where Sita leaves the Dharma-Sabha where her exile’s decision took place. Ram was disturbed after Sita left and expressed his concern to his minister, which is highlighted in the book ‘Uttara Kaanda’. She appreciates the writer for giving Sita the voice she deserved and that we need more such writing.

“A woman rejected by a man can cross oceans, but a man rejected by a woman cannot do anything.” – Ram’s words to his minister from the book ‘Uttara Kaanda.’

They concluded the session with a note that Sita was liberated when she left the Dharma-Sabha, and this is just one character from the mythology. There are great stories of women who rose above everything that needed to be told and written about.

About the Author: Puja Ambalgekar is an IT employee who finds writing, reading, and books in general as an outer space experience. She believes that words have the power to make the difference you intend to. She likes writing poetry, mythology, and technology. You can find her here. She currently writes for TheSeer.

Krishn and Arjun at Kurukshetra Battlefield

The Heroes are Dead 

Mythology and historical tales are an interesting part of the everyday life of inquisitive people. It always calls for inspiration and the power to bring about a change. The change is felt deep within but no effort is taken towards achieving it. Let alone the excuses one follows while being driven to the decision of not going all the way. Be it the inspiring Krishna or Rama, Arjun or Hanuman, or even the mighty heroes from Greece, all are momentary whose stories turn powerless once the reader comes to a point of action. Many of them have questions like, ‘Can I make a difference? How will I be able to conquer a problem that is huge and largely deemed impossible?’

‘Myth – a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.’

All the heroes from the past are worshipped for their might, but are we willing to apply the learning from these mighty stories? The mythological tales give a perspective towards things that the audience should interpret and apply to contemporary times for their benefit.


The fear of judgement from society nags the masses. The stories narrated to us with a rising hope, often create a fascinating picture in the listener’s mind. The narrations of bravery and decisions made in times of trouble look wayward to the contemporary. Would you rather choose to slay your brothers in today’s world in choosing the right over wrong? In the event of a real-life circumstance, you need to quit pondering over the probabilities and take action by applying the lessons learnt out of these inspiring tales from times gone by.


The Kali Yuga is here, but how will you go further? We live in a world where everyone seems to be making excuses and there is no development towards cumulative betterment. Those who try to keep up the fighting spirit are being bogged down and diminished by the so-called virtuous ones in society. All those who had been applauded for their courage and mysterious outcomes are now dead. We need to look at it with some implication and application to the current scenario. The world is looking for new heroes, those who could switch the perception of the old into the new.

“कर्म करो, फल की चिंता मत करो” – श्रीमद भगवद गीता

This quote from the Bhagavad Gita translates to – ‘Set your heart upon your work but never its reward.’ By applying these lessons in everyday life, individuals who seek change can develop worthy future.

Straczynski has righty stated that the masses are going wayward and losing attention towards the contemporary – “the point of mythology or myth is to point to the horizon and to point back to ourselves: This is who we are; this is where we came from; and this is where we’re going. And a lot of Western society over the last hundred years – the last 50 years really – has lost that. We have become rather aimless and wandering.”

The modern-day heroes do exist, but they are few in number with a vast mission. Ones who will take righteous actions in everyday life need to be encouraged. Benevolence in this world full of atrocities is highly valuable. The society needs a warrior to fight the ethical devaluation and immoral activity with courageous wisdom, not swords and arrows. The outcomes of issues that have been plaguing the ethics and questioning sovereignty need acceptance. A passionate individual will drive many and create not one, but an army of societal heroes.

The quest for quick success is a myth and the war is larger than what meets the eye.


About the Author: Meetvan Thaker is a wordsmith with versatile interests inclined towards art with a social perspective. 

Illusion or Disillusion

Haven’t we all wished to rewrite the fate of a certain fictional character because we thought they deserved better? Haven’t we all wanted to know what were our favourite characters thinking during the toughest of their times ?  While some of us create an alternate destiny  and let them live happily ever after in our heads, there also a few of us who write a fan fiction as an ode to our favourite characters. But then there are others who feel strongly about them that they can go on to write a full-fledged novel based on those emotions.  Continue reading “Illusion or Disillusion”