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BOOK REVIEW
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 338

The Pregnant King


Clinical Assistance, Dr. Balabhai Nanavati Hospital (BNH - HCG), S. V. Road, Vile Parle (W), Mumbai-400056, India

Date of Web Publication13-Jun-2013

Correspondence Address:
Mukul Roy
Clinical Assistance, Dr. Balabhai Nanavati Hospital (BNH - HCG), S. V. Road, Vile Parle (W), Mumbai-400056
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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How to cite this article:
Roy M. The Pregnant King. J Can Res Ther 2013;9:338

How to cite this URL:
Roy M. The Pregnant King. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2013 [cited 2019 Sep 19];9:338. Available from: http://www.cancerjournal.net/text.asp?2013/9/2/338/113430




Author: Devdutt Pattanaik

Publisher: Penguin Books India.

Year: 2008







"He wept for his father, the pregnant king, for the imperfection of the human condition, and for our stubborn refusal to make room for all those in between…" …..Yes, the title sounds weird and confusing, but the book is a wonderful journey into Indian mythology and the oddities that it contains. Devdutt Pattanaik has used Hinduism's complex mythology to weave this tale about Yuvanashva, the king who gave birth to a son. Yuvanashva, Prince of Vallabhi who is forbidden to become a king by his mother, Shilavati because he is unable to become a father. Three wives later, the king still doesn't 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.

The book is based on the back drop of Mahabharata, an epic based on Hindu Mythology. Most of the characters in the book are similar to that in Mahabharata but the timelines and few characters are fictitious. Lines between men and women; father and mother; husbands and wives are blurred and one starts wondering about the strange manifestations of nature. It is also tells about few characters , that of a child born as a female but raised as a male; of a man who chose to disguise as a woman; of a Brahman boy forced to become a girl; a lady who has the mind of a King and yet cannot rule . It stimulates one towards lateral thinking. The author tells about Illeshwara and Illeshwari changing their gender with waxing and waning of the moon. There is mention of the goddess , Bahugami worshipped by the eunuchs and Lajja-gauri, the goddess of fertility.

The author stresses upon the importance of the social norms that are to be followed for a well balanced society and the price we have to pay many a times in the due course. He has depicted the constant turmoil one faces between the heart and the mind, the fundamental conflict between what one desires and what is duty-bound to be done, and the compromise one has to make to do what is so called "right". He puts light on the Varna dharma system of Hinduism. The inequality between men and women is classically portrayed by the fact that Shilavati being the perfect ruler cannot become a King just because she is a female. The author finally talks about how neither is the man or the woman more superior and there is both Shiva and Shakti in everyone. Throughout the book , the author has exhibited and debated the concept of Dharma, gender roles in the society and the thin line between parental duties and kingship.

Few of the conversation and debates in the book are an absolute delight to read. Like the one between Arjuna (The greatest Warrior in Mahabharata) and Yuvanashva.

The concept of Dharma, Kama and Yama is well encrypted in the book.




 

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