Bookish Witch

Pritha by Dr. Priya Marwah

Book Blurb:

Pritha, also known as Kunti, a protagonist of the epic Mahabharata, who is unfairly judged, ridiculed, and rejected talks about her journey through the epic. Suffering silently, an epitome of poise, integrity and stoicism, she tells you what the Mahabharata never told us. Isn’t there an element of Kunti in all the women out there? Journeying through her story, feminism takes a beautiful meaning and her true spirit unfolds a positivity of hope and beauty.

Genre: Mythological Fiction/Classic Fiction/Myths, Legends and Sagas

Pages: 84

Format: Kindle eBook/Paperback

Price:

  • Kindle eBook: 79 INR/$2.99
  • Paperback: 150 INR/$9.99

My Ratings: 4.1/5

The epic mythological saga, Mahabharata, has been retold by many and from various PoVs over the years. But this one tells it from the angle of Kunti, a major female protagonist who was considered instrumental in the incidents that led to one of the most remarkable wars ever fought. Read this one to understand Kunti’s predicament as a daughter, mother and mother-in-law.

Retelling of the Mahabharata from Kunti’s PoV

What I liked about the book:
–>Mahabharata has always been a fascinating tale and this book provided a fresh perspective by someone who has always been seen as a silent spectator through the series.
–> It felt good to read from a female perspective, besides that of Draupadi.
–>A great read if you are expecting/looking to get a brief idea about the epic Mahabharata.
–> It’s a fresh take on feminism, especially how it was perceived during that time and how it has changed over the years to come to what it is today.
–> The way Kunti’s character has been written. She comes alive in the most human way and her narrative is neither apologetic nor an excuse for the choices she makes whether under societal pressures or due to personal impulses. She is presented as someone who is poised, graceful, stoically committed to Dharma and an epitome of feminine grace and dignity in adversity.
–> A flashback to what we originally know and have read about Mahabharata. It actually even revealed sides of the epic that I was unaware about till now and made me delve into reading up about certain incidents.

What I did not like about the story:
–> The plot moved from one to the next very fast. It makes you wish there was more depth and detailing to the story as well as the characters.
–> Some incidents were assumed to have been known to the reader.
–> At times we are left exhausted and irritated by Kunti’s/Pritha’s choices.

Quotable quotes:
–>I was soon to be renamed but a giver…..I was forever to remain.
–>What do stars foretell? Do they in any way help you lead a life or pick a path away from the treacherous demons that await you?
–>Feminism was not a word in the vocabulary of mankind then and I did not strive for it either. As my foster father’s dutiful daughter, I worked hard on being just that— dutiful.
–>The growing up pains and a boon which would be a curse too…
–>Humility and patience- two virtues which would come in handy much later.
–>Time heals and moves on.
–>Choose well because your decision will make your destiny.
–>Choose wisely, advises my mother, after all, it is your right. It is!
…. Is it?
–>You chose the best, my sweet daughter… did I or did I merely live up to their expectations? Contemplate? No, I shall not. The shroud of quiet acquiescence grows thicker.
–>My husband helped me alight and his touch sent a gentle shiver down my spine. Little did I know that beyond this touch, it would be a long time before I would know what it felt to be loved.
–>Tears, they say wash away the pain.
–>My sons were surprised that I preferred Bhima marry her rather than the eldest son. It was not about preferences but about respecting an able and beautiful woman’s wish. I do not believe that a man should agree to marry any woman who throws herself at him but if there is no reason to deny a woman, men should be gracious enough to stand by a woman who has sought their protection. My views on feminism were all about respecting women, nothing more or nothing less than that.
This is how my life had always been. I could never understand why I was judged for actions I had never performed, judged for thoughts that had been misconstrued.
–>How I had wronged because I had spoken in haste, how I had committed a huge sin because I had considered a woman a thing. I had had enough! Though I would continue to be accused of this sin all my life, this was a moment where I wanted to tell my sons how they had erred. And tell I did. How could they describe a living, breathing strong woman as a thing? A woman was not a commodity and they had dared to call the most powerful force of nature, just that! Women would continue to be considered just that for generations to come and I have a foreboding that may be till eternity.
–>The dice was cast!
‘Karma’ said the elders. ‘Revenge’ said the Kauravas. ‘Shocking’ said Vidur. Dhritrashtra joined his hands in prayer for his son’s victory while Bhishma joined his for a fair game. Shakuni smiled and Hastinapura moved a step towards self-destruction. The events that followed would be the stage for a war that would wipe out entire clans.
–>‘Elder father Bhishma, your silence through the whole episode will not go down well in history and I see bad times. History will blame my daughter in law but in my heart and my Draupadi’s mind, you will always stand as the adjudicator who erred in his judgement to women kind’
–>’Yuddhishtra,’ my son, I would never be able to forgive you for the wrong you have done to your wife. I raised you to respect women and not treat them as commodities. You sinned, Yuddhishtra, a sin so grave that if I were the God of Justice, I would never let the heavens open their gates for you. I failed as a mother because not only did you fail your wife, but you failed all women. Yuddhishtra, Draupadi asked you and I ask you again. In what capacity did you stake her? Did you lose yourself first, because if you did, Oh! self-righteous son what right did you have to bid your wife? Are you not aware that a sold commodity can never be a buyer? And if you bid her before yourself, how could you commit a sin so grave? You failed in your righteousness because you considered a woman a commodity. You erred because you bid a person who is not yours alone. Did you forget that she is a wife to your other brothers too? Did you take their permission? In your lust for gambling, did you seek permission from your citizens before you bid your kingdom? You sinned, Yuddhishtra, because you considered your family and your citizens as your property. History may forgive you, but I pray that Draupadi does not because I never shall’
–>‘Draupadi, I come to you in anguish and pain. Anguish at the deterioration in human values and pain at the sheer helplessness. How do I explain my predicament to you? How do I negate the physical abuse, the unexplainable torture and the unmerciful verbal assaults? It is not about the physical abuse. The pain and the misery of physical being are beyond imagination, I know. It is about the death of the soul of your beautiful heart. The emotional and mental rape is about murdering a human soul and leaving the world bereft of human values, compassion, and above all the ability to trust anyone again. From Ahilya to you, the age, the caste and the innocence never mattered. It is and always has been a matter of settling scores. How do I ever justify to you that just because you are the female sex, you can be abused to show the world a man’s power, lust, and inhuman ways? No, don’t blame or change yourself my dear child and no, I am not even asking you to forgive your wrongdoers, especially, my son Yuddhishtra, but never ever look down upon yourself. I seek your forgiveness, my beautiful child, for mothering such spineless sons, and today, I proclaim to the world, that whatever history may say, you, Draupadi, in my eyes and in the eyes of fair judgement will always be the epitome of feminism, the world will bow to. What so ever, history may tell, but I Kunti, mother of the five legendry Pandavas hereby absolve you of all the blame that might come your way as a repercussion of today’s incident. Rise up child and face the world with the confidence and determination you are known for. For women, history and status have never changed. Draupadi, you have sacrificed your right to beautifully adorn your hair, lest your husbands forget their vows of revenge. Sacrifice! From the supreme sacrifice of Sati to now Draupadi, a duty unrightfully forced upon women.
–>A rapist does not belong to any caste, earth, heaven, or hell. He is just that- a rapist.
–>How easy it is for a man to denounce a woman he aspires but cannot get, as a slut!
–>How do you handle a situation when two members of your own family fight for the same thing and expect you to take a side?
–>I had not chosen my son’s victory. It was imperative. I had chosen Dharma- the righteous path and in my blessing, I had hoped and prayed that you would be spared the wrath of my sons and live a long life.
–>The Mahabharat would set the path for wars in the future. The lives of those least affected by victory or defeat would be lost the most. The common man would forever pay for the misdeeds of those higher in the hierarchy.
–>No scriptures or words of wisdom could ever justify a mother’s prayer for her children.
–>No man can ever be spared the wrath of justice if he sides with Adharma on the pretext of loyalty…
–>But my life was never about me. It was all about the restoration of righteousness, Dharma, and moral values.
–>Every mother showers her love equally on different children but is reflected differently in the way she cares.
–>Ever since, every time a woman is dishonored, Pritha’s soul sheds a tear
–>Kunti never got the place she deserved in the Mahabharata, but the message she imparted to the women will forever be a milestone to feminism. No, we do not need to change the way we dress, carry ourselves, or lead a carefree innocent life. We need to live on in the same pretty, innocent and compassionate ways and yet be safe. No, we do not seek deification, love, equality, or even special reservations. We just ask for and strive for being human. As Gautam Buddha said: BE CAREFUL WITH HOW MUCH YOU TOLERATE, YOU ARE TEACHING OTHERS HOW TO TREAT YOU.

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