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When Hindu Dharma Meets Fiction – Best Fictional Hindu books

While the subject of Gods, Jiva, Atma, and Paramatma seem too heavy for some people to contemplate and follow, some people find it easier to grasp the essence of Hindu dharma by fictionalizing and humanizing the mighty Gods. As long as it serves as an instrument of the propagator of the core essence and the lesson to be learned from the characters- what is the harm? Here are some of the best fictional books which are a great read and depict a near accurate version of the real events in no particular order:

Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism: Turning Believers Into Non-Believers and Non-Believers Into Believers

Writer: Swami Achuthananda

What is it about:

Swami Achuthananda cracks open the opium poppy pods(here opium is religion), analyzes the causes for euphoria, and comes away with a deeper understanding of the people and their religion. This is a comprehensive book on Hinduism. It tells you why Hindus do the things they do – and don’t. Written in a casual style, the book guides you through the fundamentals of the religion.

Shiva trilogy (The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas & The Oath of the Vayuputras)

Writer: Amish Tripathi

What is it about:

This book fictionalizes Shiva in an interesting manner, incorporating Sati, Nagas, Ganesha and their adventures to bring forward the lesson that perhaps the actions, the deeds, and karma are the only deciding factors in transforming an ordinary man to Mahadev. An interesting and exciting read.It also interweaves the concept of Saptarishis, Vasudevs, Soma, Manasarovar and resonates with the epic “Har Har Mahadev”

Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata (The Great Indian Epics Retold)

Writer: Devdutt Pattanaik

What is it about:

In this enthralling retelling of India’s greatest epic, the Mahabharata as Jaya, Devdutt Pattanaik seamlessly weaves into a single narrative plot from the Sanskrit classic as well as its many folks and regional variants, including the Pandavani of Chhattisgarh, Gondhal of Maharashtra, Terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu and Yakshagana of Karnataka.

Richly illustrated with over 250 line drawings by the author, the 108 chapters abound with little-known details such as the names of the hundred Kauravas, the worship of Draupadi as a goddess in Tamil Nadu, the stories of Astika, Madhavi, Jaimini, Aravan and Barbareek, the Mahabharata version of the Shakuntalam and the Ramayana, and the dating of the war based on astronomical data.

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Goodreads

The Chronicle of Sapta Sindhu

Writer: Aporva Kala

What is it about:

India’s first proto-historical novel and tells us the tale of the people of Indus Valley and its adjoining cities.It tells us a story of how the people of Sapta Sindhu, unite to face the challenges of natural disasters and the Greek invasion, in the year 950BC.

Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished

Writer: Anand Neelakantan

What is it about:

The tale of Mahabharata has often been narrated from the good vs evil angle. Here is an attempt to understand the Dashanana, Ravana who despite being such a learned man and great warrior meets his pitfall.

The Palace of Illusions

Writer: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

What is it about:

The retelling of the epic Mahabharata but this time through Draupadi. The princess who was born to avenge her father’s insult and endures a lifetime of hardships and invectives of her own to witness the end of all she loved. This is a story of a strong willed princess whose actions would change the History forever.

Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition

Writer: David R. Kinsley

What is it about: 

The first chapter provides an overview of goddesses in Vedic literature, then there are chapters focusing on the more well-known Indian goddesses: Sri-Laksmi, Parvati, Sarasvati, Sita, Radha, Durga, Kali, and the Mahadevi. Kinsley also examines groups of goddesses – the Matrkas and the Mahavidyas. The final two chapters examine, respectively, the Goddesses and their relation to Sacred Geography, and “local” or Village GoddessesGoodreads

Siddhartha

Writer: Hermann Hesse, Hilda Rosner (Translator)

What is it about:

In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life—the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom. Sound familiar? A take on Gautam Buddha’s life.

Aghora: At the Left Hand of God

Writer: Robert E. Svoboda

What is it about:

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Written almost entirely in Vimalananda’s own words, it presents events from his life, tenets of his philosophy, and highlights from his spiritual practices. Designed partly to shock and partly to comfort, but wholly as an offering to his Beloved, Aghora is as clear a picture as possible of a man who was a riddle wrapped up in an enigma.- Good reads

if you are ready to take your knowledge and understanding to a deeper level, give this, and the entire Aghora series, a try. Robert Svoboda does a great job telling the story of his guru while imparting invaluable knowledge.

Am I a Hindu?: The Hinduism Primer

Writer: Ed Viswanathan

What is it about:

An Introduction to Hinduism. A good read for young adults, written as a conversation between a father and a son.

The Gita Way- Secret Recipe to achieve the purpose of life

Writer: Shweta Chandra, Santosh Srivastava

What is it about:

An irreligious take on the tenets of the Bhagavad Gita. Without delving into either mythological or God-centric discourse, the book attempts to understand and explain various insights from the Gita through, in the author’s words, derived theory and application. The Gita Way attempts to shed light on matters of self-realisation, and identifying and following the path to achieve the purpose of life.

The Pregnant King

Writer: Devdutt Pattanaik

What is it about:

Among the many hundreds of characters who inhabit the Mahabharata, perhaps the world’s greatest epic and certainly one of the oldest, is Yuvanashva, a childless king, who accidentally drinks a magic potion meant to make his queens pregnant and gives birth to a son. This extraordinary novel is his story. It is also the story of his mother Shilavati, who cannot be king because she is a woman; of young Somvat, who surrenders his genitals to become a wife; of Shikhandi, a daughter brought up as a son, who fathers a child with a borrowed penis; of Arjuna, the great warrior with many wives, who is forced to masquerade as a woman after being castrated by a nymph; of Ileshwara, a god on full-moon days and a goddess on new-moon nights; and of Adi-Natha, the teacher of teachers, worshipped as a hermit by some and as an enchantress by others.

Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen

Writer: Kavita Kané

What is it about:

The story of Uruvi and Karna unfolds against the backdrop of the struggle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. As events build up leading to the great war of the Mahabharata, Uruvi is a witness to the twists and turns of Karna’s fate; and how it is inextricably linked to divine design.

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The Gandharva

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Writer: Bhavana Murali, Nikesh Murali

What is it about: The Gandharva are fallen warriors of the light battling an ancient enemy, the Asuras. Banished to Earth, the Gandharva move among humans undetected, but the battle and the enemy have followed them down. Unaware of her ominous destiny, Maya is an ordinary college girl who has fallen for the mysterious and devastating Dev. When their love ignites, it brings an innocent girl into the midst of a war to reclaim the heavens. Dev must now fight with his brothers for his own survival, and hers.

Thundergod – The Ascendance of Indra

Writer: Rajiv G. Menon

What is it about:

Born of a prophetic union between the Earth Goddess Gaia and Daeyus, chief of the Devas, comes the story of a child recounted by history to have become a king and retold by legend to have transcended into a god. Indra, Destiny’s orphan, finds himself growing up in a vortex of treachery and tribal incumbency. Shielded from the usurpers of his birthright only by the watchful eye of the warrior sage Mitra, he first sets out to conquer the hearts of his tribesmen, and then the kingdoms of the unmapped world by uniting with his brothers.

Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana (The Great Indian Epics Retold)

Writer: Devdutt Pattanaik

What is it about:

This book approaches Ram by speculating on Sita: her childhood with her father, Janaka, who hosted sages mentioned in the Upanishads; her stay in the forest with her husband, who had to be a celibate ascetic while she was in the prime of her youth; her interactions with the women of Lanka, recipes she exchanged, emotions they shared; her connection with the earth, her mother, and with the trees, her sisters; her role as the Goddess, the untamed Kali as well as the demure Gauri, in transforming the stoic prince of Ayodhya into God.

We will bring more of the list soon. Until then- Happy Reading


/t: Goodreads