Indian mythology is a treasure trove of stories that have been passed down through generations. These stories, filled with heroes and villains, gods and demons, and intricate plotlines, offer a window into the past, while also providing valuable life lessons that are still relevant today. Author Anuja Chandramouli is one such writer who has mastered the art of re-introducing these mythological characters to modern-day readers.
In a recent interview with Storizen, Anuja Chandramouli discussed her passion for Indian mythology and the inspiration behind her latest book, Abhimanyu: A Tale of Reincarnation, Bravery, and Sacrifice.
Anuja’s Love of Indian Mythology
Anuja revealed that she has always been passionate about Indian mythology. “These characters from the Itihasas and Puranas are part of my earliest memories,” she said. “It may sound sappy, but the truth is I love them to the moon and back.”
Anuja’s latest book, Abhimanyu, is a retelling of the Mahabharata from the perspective of Abhimanyu, one of its most beloved characters. Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, and Subhadra, Krishna’s sister. He was blessed with all the strengths of his father, Krishna, and the other Pandavas, yet possessed none of their weaknesses. He was a rare hero who was every bit as good and kind as he was great.
The Writing Process
To write Abhimanyu, Anuja researched extensively and went back to the epic she had loved all her life. She put herself in Abhimanyu’s place, unearthing lesser-known nuggets of information about him and sharing the story of the Mahabharata entirely from his perspective. “It was a heartening, often harrowing experience,” she said. “But in the end, it was entirely worth it.”
Anuja believes that it is important for young readers to understand and read about Indian mythology. “There are so many life lessons to be mined from the material which is timeless for a reason and has practical applications to this very day,” she said. “And even more importantly, it is so entertaining!”
Anuja’s books not only entertain but also educate. They are a great way for young readers to learn about Indian mythology and the valuable lessons it has to offer. However, she believes that parents should encourage an interest not just in mythology but in storytelling in general and reading in particular.
When asked about her favorite book, Anuja Chandramouli said she loves all her books, but Arjuna and Abhimanyu might be loved just a shade more because the father is the love of her life and the son is eternally beloved. However, she believes that her books in the historical fiction genre, such as Prithviraj Chauhan, Padmavati, and Tughlaq, could have been written better. “They would have benefitted if I had managed to travel to the places where the actual events unfolded so that the local flavors could have been incorporated better,” she said.
Chandramouli’s favorite mythological character besides the characters she wrote is Krishna. “He was my childhood imaginary friend,” she said. “I adore Krishna and I feel he has been a constant companion in my writing journey.”
“Writing keeps me sane. I am actually happy when the words are doing their mystical dance on the laptop screen. Reading and writing are my conduits to a magical realm ruled by beauty, truth, fantasy, and imagination.”– Anuja Chandramouli
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Anuja admits that she experiences writer’s block like many writers. When asked about how she copes with it, she shares, “I don’t have a decent coping technique. Mostly, I overdose on sugar if I am feeling more morose than usual about my misgivings about my own limitations.” While indulging in sweets may be a temporary solution, Anuja also mentions that she practices yoga and dancing, watches movies, goes out for coffee with friends, and does whatever makes her feel good to get out of the slump.
The Different Hats of Anuja
Anuja wears different hats in her life – she is a mother, daughter, wife, and author. When asked about how she manages to balance these roles, she responds that each role has its own quirks, but she tries her best to juggle them. She also acknowledges that each role has its own personality, saying, “They all have the same tendency to be idiotic and obsessive to varying levels but each has their redeeming qualities. Or so I like to think!”
What Inspires Anuja to Write
When asked about what inspires her to write, Anuja explains, “Writing keeps me sane. I am actually happy when the words are doing their mystical dance on the laptop screen. Reading and writing are my conduits to a magical realm ruled by beauty, truth, fantasy, and imagination.” For Anuja, writing is a way to transport herself and her readers to a world of magic and wonder.
The Transformative Power of Writing
Anuja believes that writing has the power to transform and affirm life. Each book she has written and read has helped her navigate different chapters of her life, offering courage and grace. As she says, “Every single book that I have written and read has helped me navigate a particular chapter of my life, helping me traipse across the good and challenging times with a modicum of courage and grace. For that, they will always have my gratitude!”
Anuja also mentions that writing has taught her to learn and unlearn things continuously, making it a part of growth and change. Her biggest takeaway is to let go of control and learn to trust the process, surrendering to the mysteries of life. As she says, “My main takeaway is to not strive so hard for control and to learn to trust and surrender to a higher process, the mysteries of which I can comprehend only in patches.”
“Every single book that I have written and read has helped me navigate a particular chapter of my life, helping me traipse across the good and challenging times with a modicum of courage and grace. For that, they will always have my gratitude!”– Anuja Chandramouli
Anuja Chandramouli’s writing journey is one that inspires and encourages aspiring writers to pursue their passion for writing. Her ability to create magic through her words is remarkable and has earned her a place in the hearts of her readers. Her writing has not only transformed her life but also offered a window for readers to escape into a magical world. As Anuja says, “Getting into the zone is hard, but staying put in there, is the hardest thing to do of all. Someday, maybe I will pull it off!”
Read more stories and book reviews in our March 2023 Issue featuring Anuja Chandramouli