Sunday, January 20, 2019

Book Spotlight: Draupadi – The Tale of an Empress by Saiswaroopa Iyer

Blurb : 

Being born a princess, and raised by a loving father and three doting brothers would make life seem like a bed of roses to any woman. Born out of the sacred fire, Draupadi is no ordinary woman, and her destiny cannot be to walk the beaten path. Witnessing estrangement and betrayal within her own family makes her perceptive and intuitive beyond her years. 

Complicated marital relationships, a meteoric rise and a fateful loss, humiliation unheard of and a pledge of revenge, all culminating in a bloody war—her ordeal seemed never-ending. Yet she stands up to it all—never succumbing, never breaking. 

One of the most unforgettable characters of the Mahabharata, Draupadi shows what a woman is capable of. Told with great sensitivity and passion, this book brings alive a character of epic proportions that resonates with every reader across space and time.



Excerpt :

An awestruck silence overtook them, each drowned in their own memory. Uttara was remembering her association with her enigmatic mother-in-law, and Janamejaya was thinking about Rishi Vaishampayana’s narration of the exploits of his ancestors and their much-celebrated queen. He saw Uttara fiddle with her silvery white plait, still long and lustrous, despite her ripe age of nearly eighty springs. 

‘You lost a lot in the great war, Grandmother,’ he murmured, shuddering while he imagined the dance of destruction at Kurukshetra. ‘Was there ever an occasion when you felt your life would have been better had you not married into the Pandava household?’ 

‘Depends upon how one defines the word “better”, Janamejaya,’ Uttara replied, still staring into space as if she was viewing the incidents of her past right there. 

Janamejaya moved closer, taking his place by her feet. ‘After listening to the most learned rishis of Bharatavarsha for days, I have still not been able to come to terms with my father’s death, Grandmother Uttara. How can I even dare to imagine how it must be for you who lost…’ he could not complete the sentence, partly out of the numbness his empathy generated.  and partly because he did not want to refresh her moments of bereavement. Uttara had lost her father, brothers, and a very young husband with whom she had hardly spent a year of marital life, to the war at Kurukshetra. Her unborn child, Parikshit, Janamejaya’s father, had escaped from an episode of horrific midnight slaughter. 

‘Everyone lost someone dear to them in the war, Janamejaya,’ Uttara sighed. ‘My marrying into this household at least gave me the satisfaction of bearing an heir to this empire. In fact, I am proud that the thought of unborn Parikshit gave the much-needed hope and strength to Uncle Yudhishtira to take up the reins of this devastated land. I had the good fortune of being a daughter to Mother Draupadi when she lost everyone born of her womb to that midnight slaughter.’ 

Janamejaya’s eyes filled with a sense of admiration. ‘Old men and women at Hastinapura still blame Empress Draupadi and her anger for their losses in the battle.’ With a pained shrug, he added, ‘The gap of understanding that exists between the wise and the mundane.’ 

‘As the emperor, it is your dharma to dispel misunderstandings surrounding the history of this land, Janamejaya,’ Uttara’s voice was stern. ‘The whole point of reciting the records of the past is to learn from the exploits of our ancestors, take pride in their valour, strength and courage, while gaining wisdom from the stories of their tribulations. If people judge their ancestors because of false notions about history, it is only a matter of time before the population is uprooted from the values their ancestors fought for, and falls apart.’ 

Janamejaya nodded. ‘That is the reason why I have impressed upon the rishis and acharyas to impart the timeless record of Bharata to students while they acquire education from their gurus. I have also appealed to the erudite disciples of Bhagavan Veda Vyasa to conduct recitation sessions in public gatherings during the festivities.’ 

Uttara smiled in satisfaction at his genuine attempts. ‘Janamejaya, lazy intellect puts the blame of the Great War on one person. Those who truly understood what led to the eighteen-day-long slaughter at Kurukshetra would reflect on the events and choices of three of the four generations that led the entire empire to war. Blaming someone like Mother Draupadi is not only foolish but also a disturbing sign of misogyny that would be frowned upon by the learned rishis who recorded history and composed the timeless story. Mother Draupadi, in fact, saved the empire from many disasters with the sheer power of her desire to protect this land.’ 

Janamejaya listened to her animated discourse and smiled. ‘Grandmother Uttara, I have never seen a woman defend her mother-in-law with the passion that you did just now. Pray, tell me the story again, this time through her eyes.’ 

Uttara rejoiced at Janamejaya’s undying enthusiasm to listen to the tale of his ancestors repeatedly. Very few were fortunate enough to carry the legacy that he did and even fewer realized and strived to live by it as he did. She was more than delighted to narrate the tale, especially from the perspective of the woman who had captured her respect, awe and love for this life and the lives to come—from the perspective of Draupadi. 


The book can be bought from:


About Author:


An Alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and an investment professional turned satisfied writer, Saiswaroopa is the best selling author of four novels, all based on legendary female protagonists from Ancient Hindu Literature. Her second novel Avishi, based on a Rig Vedic hymn, has been acquired for screen adaptation by a major studio. 

Saiswaroopa is passionate about Ancient Indian history, philosophy and literature. She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford School of Hindu Studies. As a trained Classical Singer, she has also been awarded a Gold medal by TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams). 

In her spare time, she likes to search for her next inspiration in books, pravachanas and historical temples. She lives in Bangalore with her husband and daughter. 





Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book Spotlight on 'Guardian Angel' by Ruchi Singh

Excerpt:

As Ziya entered her apartment after a long day at the university the next Friday, the loneliness which had receded to the back of her mind during the workday unfurled its tentacles once again. Seeing Nikhil had put her on high emotional alert. She had expected him to appear by her side every second for the past three days, but he hadn’t obliged. 

Eating solitary dinners and feeling sorry for herself would not help her cause, she thought in sudden rebellion. Why couldn’t she go to the restro-bar down the lane and get to know the locals? The area was near her university, maybe she would bump into someone known to her from her first year.

Ziya scanned the restaurant but couldn’t spot an unoccupied table. So intent was she on having a good time as she made her way toward the bar, that she failed to notice a pair of eyes watching her cross the dining hall. Her back toward the diners, she settled on one of the stools. She flicked through the menu but couldn’t zero down on a drink to suit her mood.

“May I buy you a drink?” someone said.

She turned and stared. He looked just like she had pictured him—handsome in a navy-blue dinner jacket and light-blue shirt open at the neck.

He smiled. “Hi, I am Neal. Neal Mehra. May I join you?”

The bleakness of her life disappeared the very next moment. She wanted to launch herself into his arms. He, on the other hand, stood composed like a stranger who had a mild interest in this girl he had just seen. Sudden tears threatened to spill out from the corners of her eyes. She blinked and dropped her gaze to the mobile in her hands. 

“Are you alright?” he asked softly. 

She nodded and swallowed the salty liquid constricting her throat, then looked up again. “Actually, you reminded me of someone I had met a long time back,” she said.





Buy it from 




About the author



Author of the bestselling romantic thriller ‘The Bodyguard’, Ruchi Singh is an IT professional turned novelist. Her other published novels are ‘Take 2’ and ‘Jugnu (Firefly)’. Winner of TOI Write India Season 1, Ruchi has also published a short story collection, ‘Hearts and Hots', besides being a contributing author to many anthologies.

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