As soon as you see the title ‘Mandodari’, your subconscious may nudge you to Google who is Mandodari. Well, that’s quite okay with people who don’t get much into the Indian mythology, even the knowers will have difficult time in coming to terms with Mandodari. Is she a lesser-known personality from the epic Ramayana? Most probably, yes.
Since the school time, we have come across various versions of Ramayana in the form of movies, documentary, books, comics, and so on. And there you certainly find monotony – Rama is the hero of Ramayana. Well, what about villains, other cast of characters and women other than Sita. They too are covered but not in that impressive intensity. You need to rediscover and rethink about this timeless epic tale from a different point of view. A story can have various points of views and there can be differed narrations.
Coming to the other side of the Ramayana, you will find Ravana, his kingdom Lanka, his brothers, his sons, his wives and concubines in antapura, and there is this voice of Mandodari which you cannot ignore. Before marriage she was a princess of Mayarastra kingdom in Bhartavarsh. After marriage Mandodari was the first and favourite wife of Ravana, also known as the queen of Lanka.
To many this book may sound as another retelling of the Ramayana, well in reality Mandodari by Manini J. Anandani, a mythological fiction, is a poignant story of Ravana’s rise and fall in the presence of Mandodari.
As we all know Rama, we are also aware of Ravana. He was a Parambhakta of Shiva and because of that reason he bore great powers within himself. He gained expertise in military weapons and medicine and in many more fields. Other than all virtues and traits, he was way too ambitious and he proved this by discovering some medicinal herbs that he incised beneath his naval in order to become immortal. Post this operation, Mandodari noticed drastic changes in Dashaanan, another name of Ravana.
Initially the couple leads a good and meaningful life, all the time Mandodari thinks about love for his husband Dashaanan. But soon she gets her first shock when Ravana for the sake of political advancement begins marrying other women. As his territory increases, antapura sees the rise in female members. Dashaanan’s weakness for women worries Mandodari and soon it comes that, through various circumstances, Ravana’s kingdom will fall because of a woman.
She being a wife to an evil husband and daughter-in-law of the Rakshas dynasty consistently bears mental agony, sufferings, pain throughout the novel. Her ability to cope up with the circumstances bravely makes her character stand tall and strong in an otherwise notorious Lanka. Ravana’s arrogance and Mandodari’s pacifism weave a perfect tapestry of myth and imagination.
Ravana gets better treatment in the novel, it may sound offbeat to regular Ramayan fans, it wasn’t deliberately done but a necessity to perfect the character of Mandodari, as her one strict and salient characteristic was that she was in deep love with Ravana. Well, that's quite obvious for a wife devoted to her husband.
The story is not only about Mandodari and her husband. Well, there is a shocking mystery with reference to Sita. Whose reincarnation was she? Was she a daughter of Ravana and Mandodari? If so then why Ravana abducted her and longed to marry her. Why did he fail in Sita’s Swayambar?
With so many questions to be found inside this book, definitely this is an amazing book for mythological lovers. Laced with beautiful language and riveting narrative, Mandodari by Manini is a classic masterpiece. Here you get the whole Ramayana but from a different perspective i.e. Lanka.