Blurb: Surpanakha, Ravan’s famous sister. Ugly and untamed, brutal and brazen—this is often how she is commonly perceived. One whose nose was sliced off by an angry Lakshman and the one who started a war. But was she really just a perpetrator of war? Or was she a victim? Was she ‘Lanka’s princess’? Or was she the reason behind its destruction?
Surpanakha, which means the woman ‘as hard as nails’, was born as Meenakshi—the one with beautiful, fish-shaped eyes. She is often the most misunderstood character in the Ramayana. Growing up in the shadows of her brothers, who were destined to win wars, fame and prestige, she, instead, charted out a path filled with misery and revenge.
Accused of manipulating events between Ram and Ravan, which culminated into a bloody war and annihilation of her family, Kavita Kané’s Lanka’s Princess makes us see the familiar events unfold from the eyes of a woman more hated than hateful…
When we read history or mythology, there are always many characters in the stories; some are villains, some are heroes and some are the sidelined characters who actually get lost in the story. Most of the times we even forget about them. But Surpanakha, Ravan’s famous sister is neither the hero, nor a villain and not even a character who had been sidelined in the story. Some of you might say that she is the villain in the famous mythological story “Ramayan” but then she is actually not the villain as we all remember Ravan as the main villain of the story. Also, though we don’t talk about Surpanakha much but everyone who would have read Ramayan or even seen it on television would know about her as an ugly demon whose nose was cut by Lakshman. She is considered as the catalyst for the Lanka war which led to the downfall of Ravan’s reign.
But there is a lot more to Surpanakha and Kavita Kane has tried to tell the story of this Lanka’s princess to us. Surpanakha, which means the woman ‘as hard as nails’, was born as Meenakshi—the one with beautiful, fish-shaped eyes. She is often the most misunderstood character in the Ramayana. She grew up in the shadows of her brothers, who were destined to win wars, fame and prestige. She was never truly loved by her parents and was ignored by them most of the time. She was a beautiful daughter who was extremely loyal to her father but was always misunderstood by him and others.
Kavita Kane has taken us on the journey of how a little girl who just wanted love and support of her family went on to become a manipulative demon leading to the deaths of most of her family members. Author Kavita Kane, in her book, Lanka’s Princess, brings a new perspective on this infamous character. While reading the book, many of the times I am forced to wonder that would Lanka war would have really taken place if Meenakshi alias Meenu was truly loved and cared by her family, especially her mother, if her husband would have not cheated on her, if her brother would have not killed her husband. As a little girl, Meenakshi had a heart of gold, she didn’t want luxuries in life and was quite content with a simple life full of love and laughter. When she visits Lanka, she is not at all impressed by the gold city, instead she misses her father’s ashram. She adores Ravan’s son Meghnad and cares for him as her own son. The best time she has in Lanka is either when she is with the kids or when she is being loved by her husband.
The author brings out the humane part of Surpanakha very beautifully in the book without sugar coating the demon part of the character. I am sure it must have been very difficult for the author to maintain the balance. Like other books of Kavita Kane, I enjoyed this book too. But my favourite is still Karna’s wife. I somehow feels that the spark and magic which was in the first book continues to miss in rest of the books of the author.
But, nevertheless this book is an interesting read and would be enjoyed by those who love mythology.