Reviewed: The Girl Who Chose By Devdutt Pattanaik
Having lived in India, we’ve grown up reading about epic books like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. I remember lying on my grandmother’s lap as a child, as she would tell me all about the bravery of Lord Ram, how he managed to rescue his wife Sita, and about the values I should learn from these tales. Growing up in a South Indian family, I’ve heard lots and lots of stories about mythical beings, gods and goddesses, and more. They seemed like entertaining and fascinating tales to a little girl. Even today, I love reading all about the myriad characters from Indian folklore.
This is exactly why I enjoyed reading Devdutt Pattanaik’s new book The Girl Who Chose — A New Way Of Narrating The Ramayana. Pattanaik is renowned in the field of myth, mythology, and management. He has written a number of beautifully illustrated stories, inclucing Sita: An Illustrated Retelling Of The Ramayana and the Fun In Devlok series. His latest book is yet another retelling in that genre. Of course, point-of-view narrations are very common when it comes to mythology. There have been retellings of stories from the point of view of several different mythological characters, including Sita’s sister Urmila and Mahabharata’s tragic queen Draupadi. However, this particular book comes with a fresh new perspective.
At 111 pages, this illustrated book revolves around the plot of the Ramayana. But, its prime focus are the five choices made by Sita, which caused so many events to unfold. The author takes you through the story that you already know but makes you realise how important the choices you make really are. If you think about it, what would have happened if Sita had not opted to go to the forest with her husband? She would probably never have been kidnapped by Ravan, right? There would essentially have been no Ramayana to speak of, had that happened.
In this manner, the book takes us through the five choices that Sita made in the course of her life and the consequences, good or bad, of these choices. Ram had no choice but to follow the rules of his kingdom, Ravan chose to break all rules, but Sita was always free to choose. This is the underlying theme of this narrative. But that’s not all. You will also find the book interspersed with little boxes that provide you with some interesting facts and point out certain things about the story that will really get you thinking.
Written in an easy and engaging style, the book is something you can skim through at any time. Whether you’re off on a holiday or commuting to work, this book will keep you busy. Moreover, if you like reading about Indian mythology, you should give this one a read. Apart from opening up so many new possibilities, it also teaches us all one important lesson, and I quote: “If you make a choice, accept all the consequences with grace.”