Book – Narayani: True Story of a Sati
Author – Monica Sudhir Gupta
No. of pages – 235
For some possessing a lengthy name and a lengthier surname, I was desperate when I saw a reading prompt in an FB group dedicated to voracious readers. It went like this – Read a book with a title which contains all the letters of your first or last name.
But maybe Rani Sati Dadi saw my predicament and conspired with destiny to bring this book within my sight. Not only does the title match my name to the T, but its heroine is my namesake. A double whammy, I say!
After a decade into their marriage, Gurshamal and Ganga are blessed with a daughter. Tackling and triumphing over patriarchy at every stage, the liberal couple not only educates Narayani but also trains her in horse-riding & self-defence. But destiny has other plans, and Uttara’s reincarnation marches on to fulfil her role in this mortal world. Years later, people would begin to worship her as a Goddess.
Until today, I was blithely unaware of the legend of Rani Sati Dadi, let alone the fact that there exists something called a Narayani Chalisa, or even a Narayani Charit Manas. It was my curiosity and inquisitiveness to learn more about its heroine that made me zero in on this book for the above-mentioned prompt.
Writing about a warrior figure whose legendary tales have been recited orally is difficult. One should keep in mind the era in which the narrative moves forward. The author should respect this while exercising a bit of creative liberty.
Monica Sudhir Gupta does an above-average job of keeping the interest of the readers. The plot moves at just the right pace and doesn’t slacken even for a second. Narayani’s character arc has been developed quite well, but her conflicts get resolved too quickly. Also, I would have loved to know more about Tandhan and his family.
The chapter where Narayani meets her future husband is filmy. I doubt if this happened in real life. However, the chapters of Mahabharat’s Uttara and the fierce duel with Nawab Jhadchand avenging Tandhan’s death induce goosebumps.
Some sentences are worth pondering.
God gives us life, but a teacher teaches us the way to live life responsibly and righteously – The daughter of an underpaid Nursery teacher vehemently agrees with it.
If you worship Narayani, yet treat your own mothers, daughters, and sisters with disrespect, it is all futile – How apt!
I recommend this book to those who love mythology, but please do so with an open mind. One might question the practice of Sati, but one must be aware of the era and its customs. Even in the so-called modern world, women struggle for equality. It’s futile to expect a paradigm shift in womanhood in 12th-century Bharat.
Rating – 3.75/5
Readers can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon.
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