BR #107 | The Curse of Gandhari | Aditi Banerjee | Bloomsbury | ★★★★★

Book - The Curse of Gandhari
Author - Aditi Banerjee
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Rating - ★★★★★

Author Bio: (from book) Aditi Banerjee is a practicing attorney at a Fortune 500 financial services company. She co-edited the book, Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America. She has published several essays on Hinduism and the Hindu-American experience in publications such as Outlook India and Swarajya. She earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School and received a B.A. in International Relations, magna cum laude, from Tufts University.

Book Review: "The Curse of Gandhari" by Aditi Banerjee is a mythological fiction based on the character of Gandhari from the Indian epic Mahabharata. The author's take on the fact that it is always the male heroes who are celebrated in an epic while women are always assigned supporting roles is what made her write this book. It is an interesting take into the lives and times of ancient India through the eyes of a woman deemed not so important apart from raising children and being a devoted wife.

The book is a retelling of the Mahabharata from Gandhari's point of view - how she was brought up strong, beautiful yet determined by her father, her sacred vow of picking up the blindfold when she learned about her marriage to the blind prince Dhritarashthra, her boon of a hundred sons, protecting her firstborn as a mother when the world declared him evil, her relationship with Kunti and the other elders of the Kuru clan, and finally the inevitable battle that changed everything for her! While the events are known to most people, what is unknown are the circumstances and inbred feelings that Gandhari went through when each of them happened. Her careful observations on life, people, and devas which made her take the right and wrong decisions both; the intricate details of the surrounding of the aftermath of the war as described by Gandhari, a learned scholar indeed, and finally the woman who cursed a God!

This book will appeal to mythology lovers who will gain insights from a different perspective after reading the story. The life of hardship that Gandhari went through, the betrayal by her maid, her sons turning evil, and the eventual redemption at the hands of Krishna who orchestrated everything, makes readers sympathize more with Gandhari than blame her. A woman who is torn between her parental family and the family of her in-laws just to find her true identity, to become the queen she always wanted to become through her strong willpower, finds her true self again on the brink of death, held in the arms of Krishna, who, she repeats, orchestrated everything!

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