Kandarpa Aganeeta Ameeta Chabi

Nava Neela Neeraja Sundaram

Patapeeta Maanahum Tarita Ruchi-Suchi

Navmi Janaka Sutaavaram

Shree Ram Chandra Kripalu Bhaju Mana

Harana Bhavabhaya Daarunam

 

Introduction:

I was humming this Bhajan from the last couple of weeks, we have been practicing it in our Kathak Class and the words somehow weren’t leaving me alone..as much as I heard them they were digging deep and sitting in a different deeper place in my heart which I wasn’t ready to unravel. That place in my heart was kept untouched for a couple of decades and I was totally into the whirlwind of the worldly charms which had already engulfed me consciously and unconsciously.

I bought “The Forest Of Enchantments” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on a whim and could find that the way Saint Tulasidas has described Lord Ram in his Bhajan is what Sita and everybody who loves Ram would be feeling about him. Since childhood, I was not very fond of Sita. I never thought that she was weak to protest but somehow I could not relate to her.

There have been many books on Sita. But I could not get myself to read them because I always felt that Sita endured too much for her being. Her story was always heartbreaking and I never wanted to touch that part of my heart.

It is usually said that what you sing or what you do from the bottom of your heart shows you the way further. All that hemming and doing classical moves on the tune of “Shri Rama Chandra Kripalu Bhajaman” had brought me to read a bit about Ram and more about Sita through this book “The Forest Of Enchantments”  

 

Why you should read the book?

 

Relevance

 

Valmiki Ramayan, Ramacharitmanas, Kamba Ramayan and all the contemporary Ramayan and Sitayans have been told in different ways focussing on the different aspect of the epic and never any of these storytellers have looked at Sita from a perspective I was looking for. This book is amazingly relevant to today’s times.

 

Portrayal

The author is a great storyteller which is apparent as the scenes and the settings are quite vivid.

The author has introduced Sita’s internal beauty and not much is said about Sita’s appearance as such. I felt it as a welcome change. It is very smart to portray Sita purely based on her thoughts and her natural being.

 

Relationships

When it comes to managing and handling relationships, the author has succeeded in giving all the girls a new idol to look up to.

Relationships of a new, coy bride and her way of settling in the Palace of Her Beloved have been interestingly portrayed. As a new bride when you are just understanding the ways of new life and you have nobody to look out for, Sita and her story of settling at her in-laws’ place is something to learn from.

Treta Yug or Kaliyug, Sita’s story emphasizes the fact that when it comes to relationships not much has changed.

 

Approach to situations

This is the most important part of the book. Sita is very objective in her approach to life. She does not go by the book like her husband but follows her heart in every situation. There the author truly won over me.

She is a thinker who thinks rationally about every situation that she faces and is not afraid to be forgiving or to be sorry if she has taken any wrong move.

 

A great insight on confrontations and negotiation

Not a fan of Confrontations, Sita is a great negotiator. She does not speak her mind but acts as per her mind and makes others do so when the time demands.  Sita does not regret but owns her mistakes on her sleeves and marches ahead with dignity. The author has bowled me over by showing me what I could not see ever in Sita.  

 

What I longed for in the book?

The portrayal of women of strength throughout Sita’s life was great but I would have loved to know more about each of them.

Her relationship with her father could also have been portrayed in detail.

The bond which she shared with Lakshman could have been detailed a bit too.

 

What I truly loved and I am happy about?

That Sita spent most of her life with Ram. She had an amazing married life which I was very happy to read.

 

How much Time did it take to read?

365 pages in total, it took 8 hours for me to read. I am a very slow reader and like to live every moment and every scene portrayed in the book.

The book was so enticing that I could not put it down and I think the whole credit goes to the author for making it such a fantastic read. Easy and flowing words made it more interesting.

 

Tips for slow readers like me.

Go with the flow, not all the books can be read fast as per my experience, especially the books like these which have many hidden messages and meanings

If you want to complete it soon, just read it like a glance, no need to go deep and understand every bit. But I am sure you would have to revisit it again.

Keep reading 2-3 pages when you get time. You might amp up the speed in some time.

Judging the book on the scale of 5

Book Cover: 4/5

Storytelling: 4.5/5

Book Length :4/5

I am glad Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the author of “The Forests Of Enchantments” has written the book in such a way that any person despite the gender can draw a lot of strength from Sita.

Epics are the stories which are retold by different storytellers through the centuries. It is about how the story is being told and how creative is the storyteller. The plot of the epic is the same, but the delivery of that plot and the take away from it is in hands of the storyteller.

The author wins over me hands down and I send a lot of power to her for creating a new idol for many women like me who need to be inspired, motivated from time to time.

You can buy the book here:

The Forest of Enchantments