Sita’s Sister – Kavita Kane – Book Review


SitaSSisterCoverGoodreads blurb: As Sita prepares to go into exile, her younger sisters stay back at the doomed palace of Ayodhya, their smiles, hope and joy wiped away in a single stroke. And through the tears and the tragedy one woman of immense strength and conviction stands apart—Urmila, whose husband, Lakshman, has chosen to accompany his brother Ram to the forest rather than stay with his bride. She could have insisted on joining Lakshman, as did Sita with Ram. But she did not. Why did she agree to be left behind in the palace, waiting for her husband for fourteen painfully long years?

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At the outset, let me clarify that one word to brieftly describe this book would be ‘mindblowing’.

While most regular readers of my blog would know that I am quite a big fan of Indian mythology and it therefore follows that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata remain two of my all time favorite books for multiple reasons. Of late, what has piqued my interest are the various retellings of these great epics by various Indian authors ranging from the extremely multi-faceted and knowledgeable Devdutt Pattanaik to personal favorites like Sharath Komarraju with The Winds of Hastinapur (read my review here). Almost all of these books, the good ones at least have always managed to rekindle my interest in the originals yet again and I tend to redouble my efforts to go back and revisit them. Sita’s Sister by Kavita Kane is truly a notable addition to this growing list of retellings and novels derived from these great epics.

Using Urmila, Sita’s sister and the wife of Lakshmana as her central protagonist, the author manages to convey the story of one of the most overlooked and probably the most under-appreciated characters of the Ramayana. Using information available in the Ramayana itself and also her creative liberty and imagination in trying to imagine the situations that Urmila found herself in, Kavita Kane manages to quietly but surely pull us all into her version of the palace of Ayodhya in the middle of the turbulent days immediately following Urmila’s marriage to Lakshman and takes us on what might have been her personal journey of fourteen years when her husband was on exile with Rama and Sita.

What endeared this book to me so much was the fact that the author has asked all those questions from Rama, Dasharatha and all the other elders of the Ishkvaku clan that probably all fans of this great epic have debated over the course of very many years; that of the fate of the women of the palace that Rama left behind when he went on exile, his mother Kausalya, Lakshmana’s mother Sumitra, Lakshmana’s wife Urmila, Bharata’s wife Mandavi when he decided to live the life of a recluse hermit in Nandigram for those fourteen years. Using Urmila as the medium to ask these questions, the author manages to put forth extremely pertinent points as to how the women of this epic suffered quite a bit due to the insistence of the men of the family to follow their dharma and perform their duties to their parents and kingdoms even at the cost of their mothers and wives. While these portions of the book deal with topics that could easily have been treated with a heavy hand of feminism, the fact that the author chose to deliver her questions and points extremely logically without resorting to ‘rabble rousing’ speaks volumes for her levels of even mindedness with which she understands and has handled these sensitive questions.

What also struck me about this book was the treatment of the main protagonist, Urmila. While most of us who have read the Ramayana earlier would probably have assumed a weak, moping wife who would have resigned to her fate and her dharma as Lakshmana’s wife, Urmila strikes us a strong, confident, independent woman from the very outset. Her loyalty to her sister Sita, even though she was adopted, her parents’ preferential treatment to Sita from a very young age, and her unflinching love for Lakshmana through the fourteen years of exile, are all brought out extremely poignantly and beautifully throughout the book.

In my opinion, no review can do true justice to this wonderful book and you should immediately click on one of these links to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

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Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy of this book by the publishers in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

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5 thoughts on “Sita’s Sister – Kavita Kane – Book Review

    • @Vishal, thanks for the kind words regarding my posts about the Ramayana. I admit I have been a little lazy writing any posts related to mythology and intend to correct that situation soon 🙂

  1. Mr. Mahabore .I brief intro about me I belong to a family where Ramayana and Mahabharata are greatly respected and regarded and are read by my parents with great love for it but i often would ask them questions regarding urmila role in Ramayana why she wasn’t give dam good importance to her . We all Rama loved his brother but why couldn’t Rama tell his brother Lakshman to be with his wife as he was always behind Rama to protect .Though Rama was Mariyada what justice he did in the regard of his wife and especially Urmilla but they aren’t able answer my question . But I guess this book would give of hind aspects of the Ramayana and answer my above questions . I haven’t read any books on re written epics by the talented young generation authors as I am averse to it But this reviews of yours proved me wrong AS I not only am attracted towards the way the cover photo of the book is designed but also the way you have described the book that is wonderful to read .MY soul is constantly prompted me to purchase the book So Thanks for wonderful and mind blowing review .

    I know my comment is like a long answer but I am sorry for that as these topic interest me . Can’t help 🙂

    • @Ashwini, given that you are interested in Indian mythology, am more than sure you will find the following portion of my blog quite interesting where I have posted about some of the lesser known stories from the great epics and other places. Do check out https://mahabore.wordpress.com/category/mythology-2/ which I am more than sure you will enjoy quite a bit.

      And thanks for the lovely comment. For sure, Sita’s Sister does great justice to the book while attempting to answer most of your questions about Urmila though it must be admitted that the author has confessed to using quite a bit of her imagination and creative license when providing some of these answers 🙂 But you must read this book for sure.

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