Anuja Chandramouli is a bestselling Indian author and New Age Indian Classicist. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, was named in a poll conducted by Amazon India as one of the top 5 books in the Indian Writing category for the year 2013. She also authored the bestselling novel, Kamadeva: The God of Desire. Her third book, Shakti: The Divine Feminine is the definitive work on the Mother Goddess. She graduated from Women’s Christian College, Chennai, and was the college topper in Abnormal Psychology. She also holds a Master’s degree in English. This happily married, mother of two little girls lives in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. She is a student of classical dance and has several shows and a performance in Chidambaram under her belt. Currently, she is hard at work on her next book. www.anujachandramouli.com
Kulpreet Yadav: Your books are said to humanize Gods. That’s perhaps necessary as it becomes easier for people to relate to stories with mythological themes. But don’t you think there is a more rooted-in-reality potion we need to look at & propagate through our writings? Where do you think this ever-increasing obsession of people towards mythology is coming from?
Anuja Chandramouli: According to the Bible (I studied in a Convent School run by Catholic nuns), God made man in his (or her) own image and so I always figured that the Gods are as much a reflection of us as we are of them, which is why they come across the way they do in my books. The point is to make them more accessible so that it becomes possible for the reader to draw closer to them and get to know them more intimately, which would not be easy if we are talking about the alpha and omega or the supreme consciousness.
As for propagating a rooted–in–reality potion through my writing it is not something, I feel compelled to do. Some of us learn life’s lessons by profound introspection seated cross–legged in a holy place while others get enlightened while squatting on the porcelain throne. Similarly, with books, we can glean gems of wisdom from all kinds of writing.
As to the current craze for mythology, I suppose for a lot of people it is an interesting way to get back to their roots even as we all strive towards a better India which has recaptured the glory of the past and capitalized on the promise shown by the present.
KY: What, according to you, is the role of religion in the evolvement of the human civilization in the present time and the future?
AC: For better or worse, religion always has and I daresay always will play a role in the evolvement or devolvement of human civilization. Religion is a potent tool and has the potential to do a lot of good or cause massive destruction, so what we make of it depends entirely on those who seek to wield it for self–serving or more altruistic motives.
KY: The acceptance of women as equal to men is a never-ending argument. Why not both remain unequal, neither better nor lesser than the other, and yet independent, unique & powerful in their own ways. Don’t you think the equal-to-men is a skewed argument?
AC: To say that men and women are equal does not do justice to either sex and is almost as bad as saying one or the other is the superior sex. Instead of dwelling so much on gender roles or the question of equality, we would do better if men and women simply focused on treating each other better.
KY: You write mythological fiction. What was your childhood like? Did your caste—and I’ve no clue of your caste & I don’t wish to know as well—play a role in your exposure to the influence of Hindu mythology? In short, does lineage makes us look at religion and mythology in a certain way?
AC: While lineage does make us look at religion and mythology in a certain way, I think it all boils down to personal interest. A story can light the flames of a lifelong passion in one while the exact same tale can bore another to tears.
As a child, I was the storyteller. The other kids used to beg me for stories and they never grew tired of my yarns and this was instrumental in shaping my identity. My mythology sagas were especial favorites which is probably why I do what I do. But then my horror stories were equally beloved. So who knows? There might be a spine– hilling tale of terror waiting to happen somewhere in my oeuvre.
KY: Your favourite Indian writers & why?
AC: I love Veda Vyasa, Kalki, and Aravind Adiga for obvious reasons. Baradwaj Rangan is another favorite of mine because he is consistently brilliant. I am also partial to the work of Devdutt Pattnaik and Krishna Shastri Devulapalli. The former is awesome and the latter is hilarious.
BUY Anuja Chandramouli’s latest book Shakti from Amazon here.