ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yugal Kishore Joshi is an alumnus of IIT Delhi and the National University of Singapore.
He is the co-author of the internationally-acclaimed book The Singapore Water Story, which has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Hindi and Mongolian. Joshi also co-authored Creating Shared Value.
In India, Joshi is particularly well-known for books like Ram: The Soul of Time, Boons and Curses: Legends of the Mythological Mother, and Women Warriors in Indian History.
Written in Hindi, his short story collection, Yayavari, is available on his website. Yugal also runs a podcast, Katha Purani, Kahani Nai, on mythological stories and folklore.
He is a native of Uttarakhand and is currently serving the Government of India as the Director of IEC and Capacity Building in the Swachh Bharat Mission.
He is a recipient of numerous awards for his contributions to public services.
SYNOPSIS (CONTAINS SPOILERS)
Boons and Curses: Legends of the Mythological Mother is a collection of the stories of strong women who appeared in India’s two greatest epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The book features Lord Krishna as the storyteller to his aunt, Kunti. The book is essentially a dialog between the two, wherein Krishna tells Kunti about the other ‘mothers’ who underwent the same trials and tribulations as her, all for the sake of their children. As a result, the plot keeps alternating between different timelines.
The book is divided into five sections – Ambition, Protection, Independence, Love & Retaliation, and Sacrifice. Each section sees Krishna tell Kunti the stories of what other mothers have done to ensure the well-being of their children, or at least what they thought was in their children’s best interests.
Some of the characters covered are Kunti, Queen Kaikeyi, Shurpanakha, Queen Tara, and Chaya. Many of these women have been portrayed in a negative light in mainstream mythology. Krishna, however, has logically explained why they took certain decisions. For example, the author skillfully reminds the readers that Shurpanakha was just a grieving wife who wanted to avenge her husband’s cold-blooded murder.
Boons and Curses beautifully describes how the sacrifices, decisions and ambitions of a mother, wife and sister have bought both war and peace.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT BOONS AND CURSES
The author has provided a fresh outlook on some of the powerful women of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Time and society have subjected some of these ladies to harsh criticism; their personae have had to weather prejudices and biases for thousands of years. Some of these women were overshadowed by the charismatic personalities of their sons and husbands to eventually fade into oblivion.
To his credit, Joshi has done meticulous research on the subject, putting out a different perspective on these age-old characters. The fact that the author seamlessly transitions from one story to another without deviating from the central theme of the segment is what makes Boons and Curses such a special read.
WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT BOONS AND CURSES
Despite the fresh concept and a vibrant plot, certain elements of the character development of Kunti and Queen Kaikeyi feel repetitive. That said, the author deserves credit for letting some lesser-known characters hog the limelight by bringing their stories to the forefront.
“Aunt, an audience with truth is amazing,” Krishna told Kunti. “It liberates you. Kaikeyee was correct when she said that truth is the pivot of dharma. She was revealing the truth. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, but many times, hard paths lead to the discovery of the purpose of life.”
“Krishna, when her children are young, a mother devotes most of her time to tend them. You may not realize it, but it affects her other roles,” Kunti said.
Providence plays bizarre games with creatures. The death of Vidyutjihva had changed Soorpanakha. The young and emotional princess died that day in Ashma, and what came out of that tragedy was a different woman.
Boons and Curses is an entertaining read for readers of all age groups. Both its plot and characters are in sync with each other, which makes this a worthwhile asset for any bookshelf.
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