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Most of the legends we read or listen to stand as advocates of morality and learn from the well-known mistakes. This is the season that celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana and so, it seems wise to look back on all the moral advocacies that this legend of Ramayana teaches us. A story never means just one thing. There are several ways to look at it. 

When one talks about Ramayana, one of the most well-known Indian mythological texts to ever exist, the story of Rama, which has been told and retold time and time again, comes to mind. But if one looks closely, too many characters might want to say the same story differently.

Books Based on Ramayana

Here is a list of all the ways Ramayana can be reconstructed and learn how the narration of stories can be twisted if they are told by a completely different character. 

This list includes many modern retellings of the epic Ramayana, which can be found feminist and innovative with huge spotlights on some of the most minor characters. In contrast, some of them, including the villain’s point of view, show their conflicted perception of the world. We hope these books will give you a newer vision of this epic and your own life this Diwali.


1. Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik

Sita book

While in many modern retellings, Sita is shown as the victim of patriarchy when she is told to spend her days back in the forest in exile as a part of Agni-pariksha, Devdutt Pattanaik justifies her conditions and Ram’s actions by turning around the whole narrative and making Sita the main protagonist of this book while explaining the reasons why Rama had to let her go despite his own sorrow and refused to marry any other woman. 

It throws light on Lord Rama as the Ekapatni Vrata follower or the one woman man and beautifully illustrates Sita as an independent single mother. Devdutt has also mentioned several lesser-known facts about Ramayana and the characters. You can find the book here.

2. Prince of Ayodhya: Ramayan Series by Ashok K. Banker 

Prince of Ayodhya

Ashok K. Banker has come up with a complete series of this modern retelling of Ramayana that mainly focuses on the mainland of Lord Rama. Lord Rama must do something to protect his home with the precognition of this foretell that Ayodhya will soon turn into a wasteland of ashes and blood. You can find the book here.

3. Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni

Sita's Ramayana

This one is a children’s graphic novel about Sita’s side of the Ramayana, which in all honesty is appropriate for all ages despite what the age range of this book tells you. After her marriage with Rama, Sita has to undergo many things - from being banished to the forest, to getting abducted by Ravana, getting rescued just only to later be sent back to the woods again for the test of purity. 

It’s a brilliant way of introducing a feminist perspective to Indian Mythology for children (and adults) to understand the many ways this story can be interpreted. You can find the book here.

4. Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish Tripathi

Scion of Ikshvaku

If you want to try a new, repainted version of Lord Rama, which is primarily fictitious and not based off of the actual mythological texts, then you should pick up this one. 

Amish has a way of personalizing and artistically manipulating the story. This one talks on the same fantastical lines of the Prince of Ayodhya, having the homeland, Ayodhya, divided whole after a terrible war. The Sapt Sindhu people have descended to poverty, but they don’t appreciate that someone among them can stand as the leader-Prince Ram. You can find the book here.

5. The Liberation of Sita by Volga

Liberation of Sita

If you are tired of the older versions of Ramayana where Goddess Sita is always shown as more minor than Ram and if you agree that what she went through was unjust, this book will be your next best friend. 

Written on the similar lines of the children’s graphic novel, Sita’s Ramayana, this is another take of Ramayana told from the point of view of Sita and focuses mainly on the sequences of the story after she is banished again to the forest in participation of her purity test, otherwise known as Agnipariksha. 

Other than Sita, this story also highlights the stories of infamous women of her time like Supranakha, Ahalya, Renuka, Urmila, etc. This one is undoubtedly a must-read for not just women but everyone in general. You can find the book here.

6. The Ramayana for Children by Bulbul Sharma

Ramayana for Children

This is a picture-book retelling of Valmiki’s Ramayana especially crafted to intrigue small children and introduce them to the great epics of Hindu religion and mythology while also showcasing the feminist side of the story when Sita gets banished to take the test of purity. 

It is told in contemporary narrative with explanations that answer the arising questions of the readers with a new freshness while still keeping the story’s originality and the ancient drama untouched. You can find the book here.

7. Valmiki's Women by Anand Neelakantan

Valmiki's Women

Valmiki’s Women is a collection of feminist stories on women based on Valmiki’s literature that will leave you questioning everything that society approves and does not approve of. In addition, these stories provide a fresh take on the tales of Manthara and Taraka. 

This text tries to humanize the otherwise shown demon women of the epics in a total of five short stories and forces the reader to acknowledge the morally grey and biased opinions of the society that overlooks the constructs of women being expressive and dominant.

Thus, peeling back the layers of the patriarchal narrative of the epic that we’ve all grown to learn. Reading this collection of stories would teach kids to appreciate the difference in views and society’s understanding of moral and immoral acts. You can find the book here.

8. Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

Asura

We have heard about Lord Ram and his epic innumerable times, but how would Ravana tell this story? What reason would he give to have gone with the war? 

This is told from Ravana’s perspective and highlights the country's oppressed caste issues while mainly focusing on the ‘History is written by Victors’ ideology. 

It talks about many Asuras like Bhadra, Kumbhakarna, Vibhishina, Meghanada, Rudraksha, Prahastha that come alive with Anand Neelakantan’s writings. This narration also goes against the conventional Brahmanical ideology of the society. You can find the book here.

9. Hanuman: The Epitome of Devotion and Courage by Anant Pai

Hanuman

It is one of the many graphic-sequential collections of stories about devotion, loyalty, and courage that will surely make you understand Hanuman’s life in Sugreeva’s court until the final defeat of the demon king, Ravana. 

It is primarily a kid-friendly story with simplified narration and omission of some of the parts that may be intense for children. Nevertheless, this would be the best way to get started with Indian mythology if you don’t know a great deal and want to start off with a more diverse perspective than the usual narrations of Lord Rama and Sita’s. You can find the book here.

10. Sita's Ascent by Vayu Naidu

Sita's Ascent

This modern retelling hops on from one person’s head to another as the story progresses ahead. It is the story of Sita’s exile after Ram’s command to never come back, Ram’s guilt and sadness when he hears gossip about his beloved wife, and Lakshaman’s regret about not being able to keep Sita safe.

Vayu Naidu’s works represent dualities and paradoxical characters with free use of irony and lyrical word usage. The author gives a divine as well as a human frame to all the personas of the story. If you like reading books with layered, rounded characters that thicken each other’s personal goals and character arc, then this book would be perfect for you with a twist of mythology. You can find the book here.

11. The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Forest of Enchantments

A spell-binding retelling about women’s perception in society and how often they are misunderstood and pushed to the edges of marginality, like Kaikeyi, Suprakhana, Mandodari. Sita is shown with the power of healing and posing like a warrior who never gets talked about in general conversations of Ramayana and draws up the flaws behind the curtains of the glorification of Ram Rajya. 

This story is another quest of women towards independence and power while forcing the duplicity between what is suitable for a kingdom and an act of justice to individuals. You can find the book here.

12. Sitayana by Amit Majmudar

Sitayana

Another interpretation and addition to the already exhausting list of modern retellings of Ramayana are Sitayana that is rich for its multiple perspectives with modernized language. It not only focuses on the main characters of the story but also considers the minor characters' vision; the squirrel that helps build the bridge has its own account, and Kumbakaran has his separate one. 

Again, Amit Majmundar creatively pushes his imagination to the extreme, giving a voice to each and every event and painting it as another significant scene that is often overlooked. You can find the book here.

13. Shabri Ke Ram by Tulika Singh

Shabri Ke Ram

Shabri was the old woman who offered her half-eaten fruits to Lord Rama. It’s a short story mainly focused on sharing your love for animals and nature; during her waiting years before everything. This is a story about a young girl who runs away from everything to get to know herself better and meets her Guru, who helps her explore her inner conflicts and tells her that she will meet a very capable and kind prince called Rama.

She’s a minor character who is usually ignored when talking about Ramayana, but she takes the spotlight in this book. It’s a story you might have never heard before, and what better time to read this epic in a new light than now? You can find the book here.

14. Jatayu: Saviour From the Skies by Anu Kumar

Jatayu

Jatayu is one of the many installments of the Mythquest series written by Anu Kumar. This is the story of the king of birds residing in the forest where Lord Rama was banished and talks descriptively about the magical land where animals can speak with fantasy elements of transforming and shapeshifting. This story illustrates mainly the victories and failures of the Jatayu. You can find the book here.

15. Sita's Sister by Kavita Kané

Sita's Sister

Sita’s sister and Lakshaman’s wife, Urmila, had refused to accompany Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshaman to the forest. She’s one of the most ignored characters in Ramayana that gets a voice in this story and how she felt when people she loved were banished and the reason why she chooses to stay behind, followed by the grief she feels right after they leave. 

It also talks about the whole perspective over what happened in Ayodhya while the three of them were gone and how Urmila fought the odds of her situation. You can find the book here.


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