This festive season, readers who enjoy mythological fiction are in for a real treat – yes, the first book in the Yudhishthira Trilogy is out! Author Seemanti Chakraborty shares her journey as a writer, the factors that fascinated her curiosity about Yudhishthira and how it paved the way for her debut book ‘Rise of Dharma’ , which comes first in the trilogy that she is currently working on. Interestingly, on the popular Wattpad platform, Seemanti’s book ‘Dharma Priyaa’ was written from the perspective of Yudhishthira’s second wife ‘Devika’, and continues to garner the curiosity and interest of readers.
Q1. What drove you to write the Yudhishthira Trilogy? Can you tell us what fascinated you about the protagonist?
After Lord Krishna, Yudhishthira is my most favourite character in The Mahabharata. His honesty and kindness started fascinating me since my childhood. He was much more than what people generally think about him – a wise, kind, ideal ruler who was chosen by Krishna himself for establishing Dharma. He was a man who knew how to respect the women who belong to the enemy camp and defeated kings. He was a ruler who cared for his soldiers’ lives more than his personal vow of truthfulness. I feel that it is time to look back at those ideals. This trilogy is like a tribute to Yudhishthira as well as an effort to make people more aware of the ideals of Maharishi Vyasa.
Q2. When you wrote this book, what unique insights do you think that your narrative will provide the reader?
My narrative strives to present a true picture of Vyasa’s epic and dispel some of the popular myths. I hope my readers will enjoy the journey of Yudhishthira from an orphaned prince to Emperor of his country. My storyline also strives to present some insights on the political picture of that time and puts some light on the lesser known characters.
Overall, I expect my readers, especially the young generation, to grow a genuine interest in the Mahabharata after reading my book.
Q3. Readers will be curious to know – why Yudhishthira?
What made you decide to devote a trilogy on this?
I always wanted to write on underexplored epic characters rather than adding another book on the popular ones. In my study on the Mahabharata, I found that there is much more in Yudhishthira’s character which is still not much explored in popular retellings. We have seen the perspectives of many characters but have not yet seen his. I strongly felt that we need to explore the unknown sides of him and look at the well known story from his perspective too.
The idea of a Trilogy sprung from my wish to detail the narrative. The Mahabharata is a long story and I wanted to capture it in detailed form. I felt that three books would give me more space for this.
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Q4. What has your writing journey been like so far?
Tell us about it from the time you began writing till published – the overall experience.
I have begun writing on Ramayana and Mahabharata in India-Forums. My writing soon gained much appreciation and that gave me confidence to write ‘Rise of Dharma’, my debut novel.
Q5. What was hard for you when writing this book on Yudhishthira?
Were there specific areas that felt particularly challenging?
Being a woman, it was initially difficult for me to feel one with a male protagonist. But as my story progressed, I somehow came closer to Yudhishthira’s thoughts and feelings and began to see things from his eyes. Apart from that, shaping him as a fair ruler was challenging enough. We all know him as ‘Dharma Raja’. But how did he earn that title?
Exploring the King in Yudhishtira took considerable research. It took over five years to complete ‘Rise of Dharma’.
Q6. Given the level of detailing in a trilogy, did you construct a specific character-based timeline and chronology to map it out before you started writing? Or did the structure of the book flow easily?
I did plan for the first book, starting with the protagonist’s childhood that would end with the Rajasuya sacrifice. The detailing of plot and character was sometimes planned and sometimes I waited for the story to unfold itself.
Q7. What do you expect readers to take away from their reading of your book?
I hope they will understand the true essence of our greatest epic, discover Yudhishthira in a new form and understand him. Recently, we see a trend of vilifying the epic heroes and deifying the antagonists. We really need to search back for good rulers and noble Kings. I expect my story to keep these ideals alive so that it inspires the young generation to revive that safe world, that realm of Dharma.