I had first heard of Devdutt Pattanaik while watching Business Sutra on CNBC India. I googled up his name and bumped a across quite a few of his works. Of them The Pregnant King somehow caught my fancy.
This is a story based on a character from Mahabharata Yuvanashva who accidentally drinks a magic potion meant for his wives and conceives a child. What follows is the debate over what is he? A man? Or a woman? A mother? Or father? If he is a mother does he have a right to the throne? And does his child have a right to the throne? On the intangible level there is the debate over what sounds sweeter ? -mother or father (He also 'fathers' a child) As he meanders through this conundrum the reader is brought face to face with many instances where the lines are blurred.
- Krishna being Mohini for a day and experiencing marriage and widowhood
- Ila being man and woman by the waxing and waning of moon due to a curse of Shiva
- Uruvashi who has two fathers and no mother
- Shikhandi who is born a woman but made to behave like a man because of his father
- The goddess Bahugami who must be seved by men who feel like women
- Shilavati who is an able and just regent but cannot become king just because she is woman
These all seem so topical now given the raising awareness about homosexuality and transgender. The book opens a whole realm about how these contentions exist in the Hindu mythology as well. Some of the questions thrown are very perplexing where even the line between Shiva and Shakti is blurred. God himself is pulled in this eternal strife.
The book is an interesting read. The layers in Mahabharata never fail to amaze me. In the book too as the knots in the rope of cause and effect are unravelled it makes for very enjoyable experience. The only thing that leaves an unpleasant taste is the language :( it is very basic so much so there are minor grammatical mistakes as well. It is a very very big negative for me :(
Otherwise full marks for handling a very current issue with such dexterity!