An IFS Officer penning down a mythological novel might sound discreet, but in case of Sangeeta Bahadur it is a satisfying experience. Posted in London, she wrote her mytho-comics Jaal, which combines laws of matter, the Hindu story of creation, mythology, Vedic philosophy and metaphysics to weave the epic of Aushij, the Lord of Maya (illusion) and Arihant, a young warrior with divine powers. Arihant is both a Taraak (saviour) and a Vinashak (destroyer).
“It is an adventure story. I have created my own mythology. It is completely invented,” Bahadur, director of the Nehru Centre in London, told IANS during the book’s launch here over the weekend.
“I have not borrowed from mythology. There have been authors who are doing these kinds of mythology and re-interpretations. But we (my husband and I) did not want to deliberately project the Indianness. We wanted to tell a powerful story,” she said.
The novel was released by Selja, the Union Minister for Culture and Urban Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
In Britain, “Jaal” earned the rare honour of being released in the House of Lords by filmmaker Shyam Benegal May 15.
Published by Pan Macmillan, the novel is the first book in the epic Kaal trilogy comprising “Vikraal” and “Mahakaal”.
Bahadur gives her husband Yuresh, her collaborator, his due share of credit.
“The concept and depth were his. I put it together in words over the last nine years with breaks,” she said.
An Indian Foreign Service officer, Bahadur has in the last 25 years been posted in Spain, Bulgaria, Mexico and Belgium, besides having served in the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
She was born to a family of civil servants in Kolkata.
“This is not my regular kind of writing. It (“Jaal”) is an epic, more like the “Lord of the Rings”, rooted in the Vedic concepts of how the world was created. Einstein once wanted to know how did God make the world and from it we made a story,” Bahadur said.
She then created the villain, Aushij, who spread ignorance and illusion.
“He is the Lord of Maya but he gets caught in his own web. He begins to believe in his myths. Arihant, his counter force, transcends the illusion. He is sent by the creator as an avatar. He has to fight like a god. There are ‘siddhis’ (powers) in him which are his strength,” she said.
“He is an Indian metaphysical superhero,” she said.
One hears the echoes of the myth of Kalki– the avatar of Vishnu sent to deliver the world from dark age of Kaliyug to Satya Yug, the age of truth.
But Bahadur’s characters and locales veer from the original myth just when the reader begins to rake his memory searching for the source.
The story uses “a primordial war between the four children of Adi Purush and Adi Shakti – Aushij and his three siblings – in the 51st year of creation” as backdrop.
Bahadur said her book would allow young readers to relate to history. “Our grandparents told us stories,” she said.