The Pregnant king- Review

Book : The Pregnant King
Author : Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fiction;Mythology

A magician once beheaded a newly wed couple.He then put the man’s head on the woman’s body and the woman’s head on the man’s body.Who is the husband now? and who is the wife?.

What is an aberration and what isn’t?.Just because a human mind cant comprehend certain things,does it mean that it is unnatural ?

Who decides what is dharma and what isn’t?.Why is it that a woman,even if she is the rightful queen not allowed to rule and merely considered a figurehead just because she is a woman.

Is the affection that the mother lavish on a child sweeter than that shown by the father?.

So many esoteric questions Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Pregnant King raises. Devdutt has used Hinduism’s complex mythology to to weave this tale about Yuvanashva,the king who gave birth to a son.Yuvanashva,Prince of Vallabhi who is blocked from becoming a king by his mother,Shilavati because he is unable to become a father.3 wives later,the king still doesnt’ have heirs.Ancestors in the form of crows torture Shilavati and the king urging the procreation of their lineage.When nothing else works, the king turns to other means (like yagnas) for getting children.The King,then accidentally drinks a potion meant for his wives and ends up getting pregnant himself. Yuvanashva’s confusion about his maternal feelings for his son and gender identities form the rest of this extraordinary story.

Devdutt,however doesn’t just stop with Yuvanashva’s tale.He tells us about Shikhandi,the woman who was brought up as a man ,so that her father King Draupada could have a son to avenge his humiliation at the hands of the Kurus.Shikhandi later became a man and fathered a child with borrowed male genitals. Then there is the story of Somvat,who gives up his manhood to become the wife of his best friend and of Arjuna(as enuch in the 13th year of his exile) and Krishna as the wife of a man.

Lines between men and women;father and mother ;husbands and wives are blurred and starts wondering about the strange manifestations of nature.Devdutt finally talks about how neither is the man or the woman more superior and there is both Shiva and Shakthi in everyone.And that is the universal truth most people find it difficult to grapple with.

The book is sensual,potent and absolutely un-putdownable.One issue i found with the book is that the love-making scenes were too drawn-out and the descriptions seemed excessive after a point. Maybe this subject warranted this treatment. It is a treat for people who love Indian mythology, eventhough Devdutt has taken a few liberties in tweaking the time periods and has made Yuvansahva the contemprorary of the Kuru clan.

4/5 for this awesome book.