India is a land of Gods. Recently we have seen a surge in mythological writings from our favorite authors.
The most recent one that we got a chance to read is Satyarth Nayak’s Mahagatha – 100 Tales from the Puranas. We all know about our Vedic scriptures and the history of Lord Shiva! The writer behind the successful biography of the veteran actor, Sridevi, is back with his mythological epitome.
We are delighted to share that Mahagatha recently went into reprint and it’s an overwhelming experience for the readers and the author.
We wanted to understand the research and writing process followed by the author in meticulously curating and aligning the stories in a chronological format.
Importance of Puranas for the Youth
With the modern, scientific world taking over our logical brains, we have been asking questions about the validity of the Puranas, and our history on the whole. But does raising questions eliminate the facts? No!
Satyarth says, “It’s really important because the Puranas is an ocean of wisdom that today’s generation can really benefit from. I have always wondered about the representation of women in our ancient texts and it was wonderful to see how the Puranas celebrate gender parity.”
Citing an example of Lord Shiva, he continues, “Shiva assumes the glorious form of Ardhanarishwara to show Brahma that creation is impossible without the female form.”
Indeed, if we see the Puranas and hear the stories, for every male figure there was a female, be it a protagonist or an antagonist!
I have always had a fascination for mythology. It’s a world that fills one with awe and calls out to the inner child in all of us. And yet it enlightens us to be better adults. Better human beings.– Satyarth Nayak
“Stories of Tara and Sangya see them abandoning their husbands for physical reasons and the Puranas never judge them but instead the husbands are made to realize their faults. What also amazed me was how the Puranas celebrate the plurality of thought which is so essential today when we are being forced in the country to adhere to a single grand narrative,” Satyarth concludes.
The Book – Idea, Aesthetics, and the Writing Process
Reading about the stories from the Puranas is a delight! We got to know some unknown facets and stories, and some of them even changed our perspective. The artist behind the illustrations is Onkar Fondekar who created the illustrations for 20 stories in the book.
Satyarth says, “One of them, the Shiva Sati story, now graces the cover. When I gaze at the illustrations today, I love how they capture the very perfume of these tales. I am delighted that all the wonderful reviews that Mahagatha is garnering are also highly praising the aesthetics of the book.
For inspiration, Satyarth still remembers the Puranic tales his grandfather used to narrate to him as a child and that left him curious to explore this universe even further!
He says, “I have always had a fascination for mythology. It’s a world that fills one with awe and calls out to the inner child in all of us. And yet it enlightens us to be better adults. Better human beings.”
Compiling such a book could take years and years of research, needs an ocean of patience, and that burning desire to explore the previously explored or even the untouched territories. Satyarth took about 5 years to complete the book. We asked about the parameters on which he selected these stories.
He replied with a smile, “As per the selection of these 100 tales, it was a three-point criterion – How interesting was the story, who were the principal figures involved, and if it was a lesser known story that truly deserved a wider audience.”
The Uniqueness of Mahagatha – Its Chronological Format
Storytelling is an art. Every scene of the story is related to the previous events that might have happened. Its quintessential aspect is to not break the flow! Satyarth has impeccably done this in Mahagatha. The stories have been written in a chronological format that makes them undeniably unputdownable. Here’s what he says about it –
“That’s one of the unique things about Mahagatha that it’s not a random collection of tales but a chronological narrative of stories connected to each other that take you through the four yugas from Satya Yuga to Kali Yuga. In such a reading you realize that these stories are not isolated events but each of them has a past and a future, a cause & effect.”
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He digs down deeper, “Using many available Puranic markers like the avatars of Vishnu, the seven manavantaras, and the lineage of gods, demons, and kings, I was able to create the narrative which begins with the creation of Brahmanda in Satya Yuga and ends with the advent of Kali Yuga.”
It’s an overwhelming experience for any author when the book goes into reprint. Mahagatha has gone into reprint in less than two months’ time. Satyarth is excited about it! “I am absolutely overwhelmed. I knew mythology was an extremely popular genre today and that MAHAGATHA has shaped up into a beautiful epic of 100 tales from the Puranas.
But the fact that the first print-run of five thousand copies has sold out in less than two months and the book has gone into reprint is something else. I am grateful to readers everywhere for embracing MAHAGATHA. The kind of reviews we are getting for this book is beyond words. I must also thank my HarperCollins family for all their love and support.
Know Your Author
Writing can definitely change one’s thinking, enhance one’s creativity, and can change the personality even! For Satyarth, writing has given him the gift of patience. “Writing involves sitting for hours and creating a world and its characters painstakingly. A writer cannot afford to be impatient and I do see that change within me,” he says.
For Mahagatha, it’s a treat for mytho lovers and promises a lot – entertainment and enlightening experience for all its readers. So, if you love mythology and stories of gods, demons, sages, and kings, do get your copy of Mahagatha. It will both entertain and enlighten you and make you connect the dots of Hindu mythology like never before.