TITLE: Mohini – The Enchantress
AUTHOR: Anuja Chandramouli
PUBLISHER: Rupa Publications
NO. OF PAGES: 226
GENRE: Indian Mythological Fiction
Do I recommend it? Yes. Especially, if you’re extremely interested in knowing various interpretations of Indian Mythological tales. However, I will not recommend this book to someone who is just starting on Indian Mythology.
WHO IS MOHINI?
If you’re quite familiar with Indian Hindu Mythology, then you probably know that Mohini is the only female avatar out of the eleven avatars of Vishnu. So, yes… Mohini is a Hindu Goddess with a part of a Hindu God in her.
WHY “THE ENCHANTRESS”?
Let me share an excerpt with you folks.
Though they were mostly males who could not or did not want to look beyond the sumptuous perfection of her physical attributes, none of it was an exaggeration. For she was bewitching and her beauty had a power of its own, which could simply not be discounted. And yet, when it came right down to it, her beauty was almost beside the point. Ultimately, it was all the things she stood for that really mattered.
The above paragraph is from the very first page of the book’s prelude.
I hope you can already make it out that “The Enchantress” title was probably given to Mohini by the male of our species. However, this book is majorly about “the things she stood for”.
Also read: Tales & Legends from India by Ruskin Bond
PLOT & STRUCTURE:
This book does not have a plot per se. Neither is the structure quite definite. It’s rather a collection of narratives on various tales from Indian Mythology from the very perspective of Mohini. The book does not follow a chronology either. The author has picked up the tales from everywhere and put them down in quite an interesting and elaborate language.
The writing style used in this book by the author is not for beginners. The narrative is way too complex, cryptic, and loquacious. I was getting distracted while reading and often got bored of the story. In fact, I had to keep the book aside for a couple of months to gain back the interest. Eventually, I did pick it up and resumed reading.
The narrative of this book is peppered with an abundance of difficult words which I thought was not necessary. However, at the same time, I think I do understand why the author might’ve chosen this specific way of writing using unfamiliar words.
The wonderful part about the author’s writing is that it grows on you with time. You start loving it enough to keep reading the book and think about how beautifully everything has been presented.
Since the narrative of this book is unconventional, the themes that this book dealt with was not crystal clear for me at once. But when I was reading through the notes and later when I resumed reading the book, I found myself delighted by the type of topics covered with such subtlety.
Mohini was narrating various tales from all over the Hindu Mythology with her opinions infused in it. I have to admit that the writing has a certain kind of grace that can match the titular character’s elegance.
Starting from domestic issues faced by a woman, misogyny, patriarchal and social constructs that have affected the modern-day humans through mythological tales, the author has also covered both the sides of Devas and Asuras and not just the “goodness” of the Devas. The characterization of God Indra was quite shocking for me as I didn’t know this other side of him at all. I am overall extremely satisfied with the entire book and how it’s more like a mirror to our present society in an Indian Hindu Mythological setting with real issues and realistic characters.
Since I wanted to read books on Indian Mythology and because I hardly knew anything about the character of Mohini, I decided to read this book. If you too want to know more about Indian Mythology, this is definitely one such book that will give you newer perspectives on older tales. However, I will recommend this book to seasoned readers only and not to beginners. Because the narrative might be too difficult for folks who just started reading. It will probably end up straying them off the path of a beautiful reading journey.
Quick Question: Which book on Indian Mythological Fiction would you recommend to beginners?