Thursday, March 1, 2018

Blog Tour: PREM PURANA by Usha Narayanan

If you are a fan of contemporary romances set in India

Blog Tour by The Book Club of PREM PURANA by Usha Narayanan

Usha Narayanan

Blog Tour by The Book Club of PREM PURANA by Usha Narayanan

My Review

When I saw the book cover for the first time on Facebook, I wanted to grab a copy immediately. The cover is simply beautiful and glossy and in a beautiful shade of turquoise background with a pair of lovers from puranic timesperfect for the latest book by Usha Narayanan, I must say.

There are three love stories—the first one about an all-time-favourite God, the second about a rakshasa and the third about a human being. I don’t know if it had been planned this way, but it is a perfect combo of tales from the puranas.

The first tale is about Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God. The introduction is a well-known tale. What surprised me is the take on Ganesha as a romantic hero. Hailing from South India, where Ganapathi is worshipped as a bachelor, this was an extremely alien angle to me and I was hooked. The author has managed to spin this God’s love story with not just one, not two, but three damsels. Intriguing indeed!

The second one is between Ravana, the Lord of Lanka and Mandodari. I especially enjoyed the sequence when the two of them set eyes on each other for the first time. The description has been very well written. What I didn’t much care for was the prolonged story of Ravana kidnapping Sita and Rama declaring war on the demon king, till he finally destroys him. There’s even a backstory to Ravana’s birth as a rakshasa. This book being one of love stories, I somehow felt that the second half didn’t fit in here.

The third one is about Nala and Damayanti. This tale was well told, though it was exactly how my grandparents had narrated the story to me. I didn’t find anything new to take away from it.

All in all, it’s an awesome effort that the author had put into creating these romances from mythology.

VERDICT: If you are a fan of mythology and enjoy reading romances, then this is a must read.


Stories of love and extraordinary devotion 

No one is untouched by love, not even devas and asuras, kings and nymphs. And when they face life’s unexpected tribulations, their love also undergoes trials. Read how Ganesha took myriad forms to please Riddhi, Siddhi and Buddhi, how Ravana shared an unbreakable bond with his true love, Mandodari and how Nala and Damayanti’s relationship was tested till almost nothing remained. 

Tormented by passion, wracked by betrayal, torn by the agony of separation, love in its many splendored forms is the origin of these incredibly endearing stories of Prem Purana. 

Ganesha stood with Brahma’s daughter Siddhi on the sacred soil of Kailasa, offering worship to the linga that Parvati had installed. He glanced at his companion’s proud face, knowing that he had embarked on a rough path in attempting to win her over. For now, however, he had to focus on his confrontation with Parasurama whom Shiva had blessed with his great axe.
Siddhi watched from a safe distance as Ganesha bowed to the warrior and requested him to wait until Shiva granted him permission to enter. But Parasurama angrily pushed him aside and strode towards the cave. Ganesha intercepted him, causing the angry warrior to raise his axe to threaten him.
Finding that his antagonist would not listen to mere words, Shiva’s son extended his trunk by many lengths and wound it around Parasurama 100 times. He then raised the warrior into the skies so that he could see the seven mountains, the seven oceans and the seven islands of the earth below him. Then he whirled him around and showed him all the lokas including Vaikunta, where Lord Vishnu presided on his lotus throne with Devi Lakshmi. With his yogic power, Shiva’s son granted Parasurama a vision of Goloka, the purest of realms, where blue-hued Krishna resided with Radha and his gopis.
After showing Parasurama how insignificant he was when compared to the primordial universe spanning endless time and space, Gajamukha dropped him gently on the ground outside Shiva’s cave. He smiled at Siddhi who stood dazed, clinging to a tree for support, as she too had been granted the supernal vision by Ganesha’s grace. She realized now that her cheerful friend was called Vakratunda not because of his crooked trunk, but because he was the one who straightened out the crooked.
Parasurama recovered from his stupor and saw that he was lying on the ground at Ganesha’s feet. Incensed by this humiliation, he sprang to his feet and took up his mighty axe. The parasu hurtled towards Ganesha with a deafening roar. Siddhi trembled, certain that her friend would not survive the dire power of his father’s weapon.
Strangely enough, Gajamukha made no attempt to counter Parasurama’s axe. Instead, he joined his hands in worship to the parasu and stood calmly as if reconciled to his death.
Siddhi heard a horrific crack as the parasu struck one of Ganesha’s tusks and severed it completely. It fell to the ground with a crash, smeared in blood, looking like a crystal mountain covered in red chalk. Shiva rushed out of the cave, followed by Parvati, who turned into fiery Durga when she saw that her son had been wounded. She discerned what had happened and raged at the warrior who stood before her with the axe that had returned to his hand.
‘O Parasurama!’ she said. ‘You may be learned and wise and the son of a great sage, yet you have allowed wrath to overcome you. You received your parasu from your guru, Shiva, but abused your gift by using it to wound his son. Ganesha, on the other hand, allowed the axe to sever his tusk due to his respect for his father’s weapon. What next will you do, Parasurama? Will you assail mighty Shiva himself? Presumptuous warrior! I curse you this day that though you are an avatara of my beloved Vishnu, no one on earth or heaven will ever worship you!’
Parasurama cowered before the angry goddess whose fury grew by the moment. ‘It is only due to Ganesha’s forbearance that you are still alive, for he can kill a hundred thousand Parasuramas in the blink of an eye,’ she said. ‘But I am unwilling to be so tolerant and will end your life today!’
Durga rushed towards him, with her trident aimed at his head. Parasurama stood unarmed and unresisting. He closed his eyes, joined his hands together and surrendered to Krishna.
‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya!’ Parasurama chanted, invoking his god with his last breath.
At once, Krishna appeared before him, lustrous and omnipotent, granting him protection with one raised hand. Durga stopped mid-stride and gazed at Krishna. Her wrath vanished, dissolving like mist in the light of the sun. A beatific smile adorned her face. She offered him a reverential welcome along with Shiva.
Krishna addressed them gently, a calm smile on his face. ‘I have come here to rescue my devotee,’ he said. ‘Though Parasurama has committed a grievous sin, I request you to forgive him, Parvati. He is your son too, for you are the divine mother, the refuge of all creation. As for you, Parasurama, you have to undertake a severe tapasya to attain forgiveness. Worship the Devi who animates the three realms in the form of the gentle Gauri and the fierce Durga. Seek the blessings of Ganesha who is now Ekadanta, the lord with one tusk.’
Having offered his counsel, the lord returned to Goloka. Parasurama prostrated himself before the gods and laid his axe at Ganesha’s feet in tribute. He then retreated to a distant mountain to begin his worship. Parvati took her son into her mansion, to coddle him after his fierce encounter.  

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About the Author

Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time author. Her bestselling novels span multiple genres: ‘The Madras Mangler’, a suspense thriller; ‘Love, Lies and Layoffs’ (Harlequin) and ’Doctor Stalker Spy’ (Juggernaut), lighthearted romances; ‘Pradyumna: Son of Krishna’, ‘The Secret of God’s Son’ and her latest ‘Prem Purana’ (all from Penguin) that have been praised as ‘Indian mythology at its fiercest and finest.’ Two new books are in the offing. When she is not travelling, writing or editing, Usha reads everything from thrillers and romances to the puranas.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author...

Praise for Usha’s books:

'Like the best of our mythological tales, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna too is a multilayered one...There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception.’

The Secret of God’s Son is a compelling read on mythological tales.’ – The Sentinel

Prem Purana is so good! I am impressed at how Usha can write about Ganesha with so much personality while at the same time showing him as a cosmic divine being. ’ Dr Laura Gibbs, Professor, Indian Epics, University of Oklahoma 

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  1. Nice review Sundari. I loved the stories too. While you saw one aspect of the love story from God/Rakshasha/Human, I saw it as three aspects of love - sweet, passion and pain. Yes, Usha has done a wonderful job no?

    1. Oh yes! Thank you Rubina for stopping by and posting a comment :D