Aranyaka: Book of the Forest Paperback – 20 Oct 2019
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‘Richly illustrated with engaging ideas, the book is at once simple, but also laden with meaning and multiple interpretations.’ – The Hindu
‘From the interstices of its elegant frames and punchy lines, a thicket of meanings and metaphors begin to cast a web, making the book essential reading for our times, when opinions are increasingly etched in black and white, and shouted out to drown dissenting voices.’– Mint
‘Aranyaka is a gorgeous book.’– Open
About the Author
AMRUTA PATIL writer-painter, is India’s first female graphic novelist. She is the author of Kari and the Mahabharata-based Parva duology (Adi Parva & Sauptik). She is a Nari Shakti Puraskar awardee.
DEVDUTT PATTANAIK is the author of fifty books and over a thousand columns on mythology and its relevance to modern times. He also lectures, illustrates, and has his own television and radio shows.
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I had read that the book is based on the Puranic story of a sage , his wife & two female disciples. But I am not familiar with that story. So, I start reading the book with a clean slate. The narrative quickly takes grip and I am unable to keep the book down. I had thought that , being a graphic novel with less text and more pictures, I will finish it in no time. But almost every page has a sentence which holds your attention and forces you to absorb its relevance to the illustration. There is just no rushing through this book.
Author has drawn on everyday observations of flora & fauna around us and finds deep meanings relevant to the present age. We are brought up to revere the so called "learned" sages who renounce worldly pleasures. But in Aranyaka , we have a plump housewife, Katyayani, who just manages the ashram kitchen , ultimately proved as a person far superior to the sage. We discover that the other two intellectually superior women in the narrative, identified in the story simply as " the weaver" & " the fig", ultimately find better life lessons to be learnt from Katyayani and her kitchen than the sage , known in the story by a cryptic name Y.
I had read Amruta's earlier graphic novel " Parv " and also some of Devdutt Pattanaik's popular books on Indian mythology. Both have their own unique style. I was curious how and why these two authors decided to collaborate. Last few pages of the book , therefore, made interesting reading to satisfy my curiosity. I would say the collaboration has worked well to give us a thought-provoking interesting reading experience.
Graphic novels are not just images or illustrations with words or dialogue bubbles, they are stories and layered plots which can go deep into character development by using the visual aids to its utmost potentials.
Aranyaka had potential, you have Katyayani the Large, Maitreyi the Fig and Gargi the Weaver, they tried to explore basic human attributes like, hunger for food, hunger for knowledge, fear, and sense of debt. Despite of the strong base, the story development falls a little short at places for me, now this is where a graphic mode really helps you but it didn't match the potential. The art style is too raw for the kind of story it lifts, the colour usage is great at places but doesn't support in later half of the story.
It's not really a children recommended read(although it looks like one), some content is more appropriate for adults. If you are a collector, i wouldn't recommend this one to go up your collections.
The art is also good...the colours are a character in the book 🙂
I have,therefore, decided to read a few authoritative books on the subject for gaining a better insight.