“Myths are timeless tales that can never die. No one owns these stories but they belong to all of us.”
Mythology with all its mysteries has always struck a cord with readers of all age with the mythical tales being passed down generations after generation. With the modern era being strewn with many retelling of the old tales, re-imagination of the mythological characters and recreations of the mythical aura, mythology still holds a special place in the heart of readers.
The novel “The Little Light” by Dipa Sanatani is one such tale that imbues high doses of mythology along with the themes of spirituality, folklore, astrology, fairytales and metaphysics. Unique as it sounds, the book showcases the power of creative imagination which is sure to make the readers put their reading glasses on.
In this exclusive interview, Dipa Sanatani shares her journey with mythology, what drew her towards the genre and how the idea of Little Light was born in her mind. She talks about the mythological fictions of the modern era as well. Here is what author Dipa Sanatani reveals about “Modern Myths: The Making of The Little Light!”
“I realised I had to re-invent the myths if I really want to make them my own.”
Q. Your book “The Little Light” has high doses of mythology in it. Tell us about your journey with mythology.
A: The idea for “The Little Light” came to me when I was lying in bed alone in my apartment in Japan. I was contemplating the vast nature of the universe when I suddenly thought, “How nice it would be if I could invite the planets over for a discussion on life, love and the larger purpose for our existence.”
I promptly opened up my notebook and drew a sketch of what the mythological Nine Celestial Beings would look like if they were ‘updated’ for the modern era. The idea ruminated in my head for four years before I finally sat down to write the story.
Before modern society developed into what it is today, I believe we humans gazed up at the night skies for our entertainment. Before astronomy, there was astrology. Every culture I’ve encountered has myths, tales and legends about the cosmos.
The planets have been gazing down at mankind since time as we know it began. I’m sure they’d have great stories to tell about the history of the earth. That very thought is what inspired The Little Light’s journey out of the Cosmic Womb and into the world.
Q. Mythology is a vast concept. How did you research through it before penning down your novel?
A: Myths are stories that offer valuable insight into the human condition. We can retell them and reimagine them – as I have done with The Little Light.
I extensively studied both Indian and Western astrological myths to come up with a story that would resonate with readers regardless of their cultural background. It was quite the task – finding the common threads across cultures and at the same time honouring what makes each culture unique.
I discovered that whilst the mythological themes themselves are universal, they do not always mean the same thing to every culture. Western astrology has concepts that do not exist in Vedic astrology and vice versa.
I realised I had to re-invent the myths if I really want to make them my own.
Q. What drew you towards mythology?
A: Myths are timeless tales that can never die. No one owns these stories but they belong to all of us. They contain truths about the universal nature of the human experience.
Humanity has advanced technologically, but we haven’t stopped asking the age old questions – why are we here, where do we come from and what’s the point of it all.
When we retell the old myths, we remember that we are not alone in the universe. Our stories are as old as time.
Q. Do you believe that mythology is related to other fields as well, like psychology, spirituality and even to science?
A: In his book Evolutions, Oren Harman wrote:
“In the eyes of the philosopher, myths are allegories for philosophical truths; in the eyes of the historian, they are perversions of historical truths. To the psychologist, myths reflect our deepest fears; to the moralist they provide a compass, and to the poet, inspiration.”
Science, on the other hand, is the systematic study of structure and behaviour of the world through observation and experiment. If we happen to find nuggets of information in the myths that we can verify through science, then great. But if not, I’m not sure that the two have much in common.
“Some stories just don’t get old.”
Q. What is your take on mythologies for the modern era?
A: From the onset, I was certain that I wanted to write a book that would make ancient myths relevant for the modern reader while still staying true to the ‘heart’ of the myth. The last thing I wanted to write was a book that only a select few learned readers in classics could appreciate and understand.
In Vedic Mythology, the Celestial Beings are personified as a family that have a relationship with each other – some complementary, others highly dysfunctional. What I’ve done with The Little Light is reinterpreted and reimagined those myths for the modern era.
The Little Light is the first book in The Guardians of the Lore series. I’m currently working on the sequel. If you’d like to know what happens to The Little Light once it’s born on planet earth… stay tuned.
Q. What’s your thoughts on the mythological fiction genre which is gaining popularity now?
A: I don’t believe myths ever actually lost their popularity. Myths are timeless tales. They are, they were and they always will be.
Q. Don’t you think mythological fiction as a theme has been over-exploited in the recent times?
A: Not at all. We’ve been telling and retelling stories like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata for thousands of years now. From books, to films, to plays to puppet shows to… well, you get my drift.
Some stories just don’t get old.
We still don’t really know exactly where these stories came from and how in the world they have managed to survive so many generations on.
Q. With so many books being written on the mythology genre, readers are left rather confused. What are your views on this matter?
A: We have to make our own meaning out of the myths. That’s why the myths change with the retelling and yet somehow manage to stay the same. A good storyteller understands the human condition well enough to tell the tale and let readers find their own meaning.
“Myths are timeless tales. They are, they were and they always will be. “
We wish Dipa Sanatani all the best for her book “The Little Light” and all her future books to come that would open new path taking the readers on an exciting voyage to the mythical world of mythological tales.
“When we retell the old myths, we remember that we are not alone in the universe. Our stories are as old as time.”
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About the Author:
Hailing from the city of joy, Kolkata, Sanchari Das is currently pursuing her masters in English just for the love of the subject after successfully completing her creative writing course and also doing a job as a part-time content writer. She has contributed to multiple anthologies besides publishing her book of poetry, “Leisure”, along with her debut novel, “Not Just a Love Story”. She aspires to become a great author someday and inspire millions of readers through her writing. Presently, she is a part of a writing community named “Scribbled Feels”. She loves writing articles, book reviews, travelogues and interviews on her blog. Apart from reading and writing, she also loves to paint, dance and travel, and feels an intimate connection with music.