In the last decade Indian mythology has crossed the boundary from being limited to intelligentsia, to being a part of popular fiction reads. This revolution has been brought on by a spate of authors who have made mythology interesting for the masses. While we do not argue on the merits and demerits of doing so (which is a more technical discussion), we do look at some of these harbingers of change and their stories.
Known popularly as the author of the acclaimed Shiva Trilogy, Amish Tripathi is one of the most sought-after writers of Indian mythology. The Shiva Trilogy comprises of The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras, all three gained immense popularity and cult readership. His fourth book was the first of the Ramachandra series, titled The Scion of Ikshvaku. Author Amish has now come up with his latest offering, the second installment of the Ramchandra series – Sita: Warrior of Mithila.
Born in Mumbai on 18th October 1974, Amish grew up near Rourkela in Odisha. He is an alumnus of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. Amish took to writing after serving for fourteen years in the financial services. He has been ranked among the top 100 Indian celebrities four times in a row by Forbes India and was also selected as an Eisenhower Fellow. A recipient of multiple awards, including Raymond Crossword Popular Fiction Award for The Scion of Ikshvaku and Society Young Achievers Award in 2013, he was also noted as India’s First Literary Popstar in the year 2015.
Widely acclaimed by many in the field of Indian mythology for his research, simplification and his correlation of traditional ideas with modern aspects of personal as well as professional life, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is a household name. Formerly a physician, he later turned into a leadership consultant, author, mythologist and communicator. He has authored over 600 articles and 30 books on myth, religion, mythology and management. He writes regularly for various dailies and magazines, including Mid Day, Daily O and Speaking Tree.
Dr. Pattanaik was born on 11th December 1970 in Mumbai and graduated in Medicine from Mumbai’s Grant Medical College. He also studied Comparative Mythology from Mumbai University. Dr. Devdutt worked in the pharma and healthcare industry before moving on to full-time writing. He has delivered various lectures and presented papers on ideas related to mythology and their relevance to management principles. Concepts and ideas presented in his articles and books are written in a simple language. Illustrations are as important as the stories themselves, in his books. The illustrations are deeply rooted in Indian folk art, including pattachitra and chitrakathi and make his books a visual delight.
His shows on television – Business Sutra and Shastraarth on CNBC channel – focus on drawing out business ideas and concepts from great Indian epics. Other popular shows include Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik. He is also an active story consultant and culture consultant for Star TV, Epic and Reliance Industries Limited.
Anand Neelakantan is popular for his works – Asura: Tale of the Vanquished, Ajaya: Roll of the Dice and Ajaya: Rise of Kali. The first of three is the narrative of Ramayana through the perspective of Ravana, the king of Lanka and his aide, Bhadra. The next two books are re-tellings of Mahabharata through the narrative of Duryodhana. Anand Neelakantan’s latest book titled, The Rise of Sivagami is the first book of the Bahubali installment. Anand brings myriad characters to life through his book, taking readers to the fabled land of Mahishmathi and the events that led to the story depicted in India’s magnum opus movie, Bahubali – The Beginning.
Anand Neelakantan was born on 5th December 1973 in Kerala, and is an alumnus of Government Engineering College, Trichur in Kerala. Apart from being a writer in Malayalam as well, he is also a popular cartoonist for Malayalam magazines. He is also a much-acclaimed writer for various television series. He was chosen as the most promising and sought after authors on many occasions by the Indian Express, DNA and Financial Express in 2012. Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished and Ajaya: Roll of the Dice were shortlisted for Crossword Popular Awards in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
- Read the Book review of Ajaya: Roll of the Dice
Kavita Kané is known for her stories revolving around the forgotten, but powerful women in Indian mythology. She has written four books so far, each one retelling the Indian epics through the perspectives of her women protagonists. All four of her books, Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen, Sita’s Sister, Menaka’s Choice and her latest book, Lanka’s Princess are the popular choices for readers looking out for a unique narrative through women characters of the great epics.
Kavita Kané was born on 5th August 1966 in Mumbai. An alumnus of Fergusson College, Pune, she holds a Post Graduation in English literature and Mass Communication from Pune University. She worked in the field of journalism for over 20 years before getting into writing books.
He is one of India’s best-selling conspiracy-fiction writers, basing his stories on Indian mythology and history. His most popular works on mythological fiction include The Rozabal Line and The Krishna Key. Apart from the mythological genre, his other works Chanakya’s Chant and Sialkot Saga are on the lines of contemporary fiction, history and theology.
Ashwin Sanghi was born in Mumbai on 25th January 1969. He is an alumnus of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and later did his MBA from Yale University. Apart from being a popular writer, he is also a successful businessman. The Rozabal Line was first published under his pseudonym, Shawn Haigins (which is also an anagram of his name). Apart from his own books, he has also co-authored the ‘Private’ series with the popular American author, James Patterson.
Ashwin Sanghi has been appreciated and praised a lot for his works for intense plot research and importance paid to details. He has often been hailed as the Dan Brown of India. He has also authored a non-fiction book titled, 13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck. He won the Vodafone-Crossword Popular Choice Award in 2010 for his novel, Chanakya’s Chant, and it also bagged the highest recorded sales in the same year.
Chitra B Divakaruni is a Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Houston under Creative Writing Program apart from being a successful writer and poet. She has published works in various genres that include mythological and historical fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Her novel, The Palace of Illusions is a unique retelling of the Mahabharata from the perspective of Draupadi. The narrative is fresh and different, giving readers a never-seen-before insight into the great epic.
Chitra was born on 29th July 1956 in Kolkata. She holds a master degree from Wright State University and also received her Ph.D in English from the University of California in the year 1985. She is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including The American Book Award, Pushcart Prize and much more.
While we have listed just 6 authors here, there are many more – Namita Gokhale, Shivaji Sawant, Amruta Patil, S L Bhyrappa, Roopa Pai, Sharath Komarraju, etc. who have contributed significantly to the popularity of mythological fiction in the late 20th century.
Are there any other authors you feel should have made it to this list. Leave a comment below the article.