Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik

Category: Illustrated Contemporary Mythology
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Publisher (Children’s Edition): Puffin Books (forthcoming)
Publisher (Hindi): Penguin Random House India
Publisher (Marathi): Manjul Publishing House
Publisher (Tamil): Sixthsense Publishing (forthcoming)
Rights: European and Indian language rights available (excluding translation rights for Hindi, Marathi, Tamil)

The chariot stopped far from the city in the middle of the forest. Sita alighted, eager to walk amongst the trees. The charioteer, Lakshman, remained seated. Sensing he had something to say, Sita paused. Lakshman finally spoke, eyes to the ground, “Your husband, my elder brother, Ram, king of Ayodhya, wants you to know that the streets are full of gossip. Your reputation is in question. The rules are clear on this: a king’s wife should be above all doubt. The scion of the Raghu clan therefore has ordered you to stay away from his person and his palace and his city. You are free to go wherever else you please. But you may not reveal to anyone you were once Ram’s queen.”

Sita watched Lakshman’s nostrils flare. She felt his embarrassment and his rage. She wanted to reach out and reassure him, but she restrained herself.

“You feel your Ram has abandoned his Sita, don’t you?” she asked gently.
“But he has not,” she stated confidently. “He cannot.
He is God; he abandons no one.
And I am Goddess; I cannot be abandoned by anyone.”

A mystified Lakshman returned to Ayodhya, while Sita smiled in the forest, and unbound her hair.

This retelling of the Ramayan approaches Ram by speculating on Sita: her childhood with her father, Janak; her stay in the forest with her husband who had to be a celibate ascetic while she was in the prime of her youth; her interactions with the women of Lanka, recipes she exchanged, emotions they shared; her connection with the earth, her mother; her role as the Goddess, the untamed Kali as well as the demure Gauri, in transforming the stoic prince of Ayodhya into God.