Menaka’s Choice – Kavita Kane – Book Review

MenakasChoiceGoodreads blurb: We make love and leave. That is our motto. Live by it, Menaka or you shall suffer untold, unnecessary grief.

Born during the churning of the ocean, Menaka is the most beautiful of all the apsaras in the world, with quick intelligence and innate talent. However, she craves for the one thing she can never have – family. Elsewhere, after severe austerities, a man, now blessed with the name Vishwamitra, challenges the gods and dares to create another heaven. Fearing his growing powers, Indra, the king of gods, decides to put a stop to his ambitions by making Menaka seduce him.

What will happen when Menaka and Vishwamitra meet each other? Will Menaka finally find what she really wished for? Or will she again be forced to surrender to her destiny? Find out in this fascinating portrait of one of the most enduring mythological figures.


Most of us know Menaka and Vishwamitra’s story only at a superficial level and I am sure all of you would agree when I say that the most we can come up would be the one line where we say that Menaka was sent down by Indra to seduce and disturb Vishwamitra’s penance when he had ambitions to become a Brahmarishi.  I confess that this was pretty much the extent that I knew of this story before I read this book. Blame popular media, blame my lack of insight into reading this particular story despite my interest in Indian mythology, blame whatever, but the fact remains that this one liner was what I knew about Menaka all these days. But this book changed all that and much more for me as far as this character in particular and apsaras in general are concerned.

As is the norm with all her books author Kavita Kane takes a slither of a story, a fairly unknown character, a lady perennially in the shadows, an actress in the wings, in Menaka and brings her to the centre stage and makes her the heroine of her story. And honestly, she does make for a good heroine as well, no two ways about that. Beautiful, smart, talented, warm, caring, elegant, intuitive, the list of positive attributes about her keeps going on and on. And as is the case with people who are blessed with such good things, the story of her life doesn’t quite mirror them. Being stuck in Indra’s court as an apsaras would be a fate that you wouldn’t wish upon even your worst enemy (at least as far as this book is concerned). And to be honest I found Indra’s depiction a little disturbing and distressing, more so given that this is the second book in recent times where his character has been written in a similar vein. I am guessing he is the favorite ‘bashing boy’ of all authors of Indian mytho-fiction books.

Coming to Vishwamitra whose story this book narrates as much as it does Menaka’s, I knew a little more about the man courtesy an old eponymous Doordarshan serial and his appearance in the Ramayana when Rama is a teenager. That being said I didn’t quite know his antecedents and his rivalry with Rishi Vasishta which spurs on the action in this book. Suffice to say he comes across as a man one could admire quite easily despite his obvious flaws. It isn’t quite hard to see why Menaka does what she does during the course of this story.

Although the genre chosen by the author for Menaka’s Choice would probably ‘officially’ be classified as mytho-fiction, I would probably be more inclined to put it squarely into the ‘romance’ or even ‘chick-lit’ genre (and I don’t use either of these words in a derogatory sense). My reasons for saying so would be the fact that at the heart of it, this book is the story of love, betrayal, redemption and so on and it just so happens that the action happens in a mythological setting. With Menaka and Vishwamitra, you have two protagonists who readers would ardently root for and you have an antagonist in the form of Indra who readers would love to hate.

In a nutshell, as was the case with her earlier books, this one too is a must-read for anybody who loves a good yarn with a strong woman as the main protagonist.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Kurma Avatar – Part 1 – Durvasa’s anger

The Kurma (tortoise/turtle) avatar of Lord Vishnu is inextricably tied to the churning of the sea (samudra manthan) story from the Puranas. And the fact is that this story has so many things happening of which the Kurma avatar forms only a small part of. I have therefore started this story with events which lead up to the samudra manthan and go on beyond the avatar to present a logical conclusion to the story. This effectively means that this avatar will be covered in approximately three posts. I therefore request all readers to kindly bear with me and read through all three parts of this story with patience.



Sage Durvasa was a son of Atri and Anusuya and was considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself. He had taken a vow of insanity due to which his short temper was legendary. Even the gods and kings of the age were extremely fearful of his legendary temper and his terrible curses. In this state of insanity, even wise men were considered ‘devils’ by everybody.

Once when he was wandering the earth in his frenzied state, he suddenly saw a beautiful garland in the hands of a nymph. This garland was made with flowers from the trees of heaven and emanated an extremely fragrant smell which spread through the entire forest and enamored everybody in the surrounding vicinity with the sweetness of its fragrance.

durvasa_garlandDurvasa immediately demanded that the nymph hand over the garland to him which she reverentially did without any hesitation. He then garlanded himself and set upon continuing his journey, when he happened to come across Indra, the ruler of the three worlds (the heavens, the earth and the nether world), who was seated on an infuriated Airavata (the elephant which was his steed) and attended to by the other gods. In his angry state, the sage gave the garland to Indra, who promptly garlanded Airavata with the same. As it is, the elephant was already in an angry state of mind, and the garland served to irritate it further and it promptly took it and flung it upon the ground.

Highly incensed at this disrespectful treatment of his gift, Durvasa addressed Indra thus

“You are completely intoxicated with your power as the ruler of the three worlds and have therefore insulted this special garland which was the dwelling of Fortune (Sri). Instead of acknowledging the wonderful gift and placing it around your neck, you have misused it.

Since you have not treated this wondrous gift with the respect it deserved, your sovereignty over the three worlds shall end. You have treated me on par with other normal Brahmins and for this arrogance, you shall pay. Just like you threw the garland I gave you to the ground, your dominion over this universe also shall be destroyed.

You have offended me, Durvasa, whose temper and rage is dreaded by all created things and even me, you vile proud creature.”

Hearing these words Indra hastily descended from his elephant and immediately fell at the sage’s feet begging for his forgiveness. But despite all his excuses and prostrations Durvasa refused to withdraw his curse.

“I do not have a compassionate heart nor does forgiveness exist in my nature. Other sages and Brahmarishis may relent to your excuses and prostrations, but know this; I am Durvasa and am a stranger to remorse. I will not forget this insult nor will I forgive your transgression” he said and walked away.

<<Part 2 of the story>>

A blessing in disguise

Image courtesy : Wikipedia

Once when Urvashi was attracted to Arjuna, she approaches him in his chambers. Arjuna however rejects her advances stating that she was the muse of his ancestor Pururava, which made her almost like a mother to him.

Enraged by this rejection, Urvashi curses Arjuna – “Since you have disregarded a woman who has come to you of her own accord and at the command of your father, you shall have to pass your time among females unregarded, as a eunuch.

Little did Arjuna know then that this curse was going to be a blessing in disguise.


This post has been written for Write Tribe’s 100 words on a Saturday – 11 prompt where the post had to be about “a blessing in disguise” which has been provided by the awesome Shilpa Garg who blogs at ‘A Rose is a Rose is a Rose’.

I will publish a follow-up post with the entire story of this curse and how it turns out to be a blessing in disguise for Arjuna.

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe