“When we read the old myths, we slow down and contemplate our life and our purpose.”
Mythology has been a part of our rich culture, tradition, literature and life since time immemorial. Even in this modern era, the advent of science and technology didn’t decrease its popularity but rather enhanced it. Not only did the film industry put the modern techniques to use for projecting the mythological tales in a vibrant way, the modern writers too took up myths to retell them in their own unique fashion.
“Time is a wheel. A cycle that brings life into existence.” -The Little Light by Dipa Sanatani
And this brings us to the topic of our exclusive interview with author Dipa Sanatani where she not only reveals about her favourite mythological tale and character but also talks about the modern practice of reimaginating mythological characters and retelling myths as she does in her debut novel “The Little Light”. With an anecdote from her life, she also shares with us how mythology enriches our mind. Here is what author Dipa Sanatani shares about “Retelling Myths”
“I think the only way to keep the old myths alive is to revamp them for the modern era whilst retaining the heart of the story.”
Q: It’s a common assumption that mythology always has something to do with God. What’s your take on that?
A: It is a common thread that one sees across mythologies of all cultures. The idea that there is a Creator. As to what form, shape and values this Creator has – it varies based on the culture and context.
Q: Can you spot any similarities or differences between Indian mythology and that of other mythologies?
A: In the Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli, she writes, “The questions that people from different societies raise are often quite similar, but the answers they give and the relative importance they assign to these questions can be significantly different. And those answers define the human value of our societies. They are at once based on intellect, experience and emotion. And from them, we draw our ethics, rituals and our storytelling.”
Q: What is your favourite mythological tale and why?
A: The Mahabharata. Each time I read it I am reborn. Each time I read it, I learn something new. The wisdom embedded in those pages is timeless.
Q: What is your favourite mythological character and why?
A: I’m going to pick Saturn from my book “The Little Light”. I’ve always thought that he is a deeply misunderstood mythological figure. Many call him ‘the great malefic’ and describe his dasha (time period) and influence as causing misery in one’s life.
Saturn doesn’t have the traditional characters that a hero ought to have – courage, bravado and a big dream. Instead, he is slow, methodical and resilient. I think he should be respected, not feared.
All Saturn is doing is teaching you how to handle the cold hard truths of life. He’s telling you that to truly enjoy something you have to earn it and build it slowly brick by brick. No shortcuts. Saturn doesn’t let anyone get away without doing the hard work. Friend or foe – he comes down on everyone equally hard. His rewards come later in life, when one is mature enough to fully understand and appreciate them.
“Life can only be lived forwards and truly understood backwards.” -The Little Light by Dipa Sanatani
Q: Does the reimagination of mythological characters take away their original aura or enhance them more?
A: It’s kind of like hearing a remake of an old song that’s really famous. The best remakes are the ones where the artist has taken a familiar song and reinvented it in a way that fires the human imagination. If a singer were to do it the exact same way as the original – now that’s just a cover… an imitation of someone else’s work.
Q: Have you read any mythological fiction with a mythical retelling of the old tales? What did you like or dislike about it?
A: I’m a fan of the Canongate Myth Series. It’s a series of novellas published by an independent Scottish publisher. It features a diverse range of authors such as Margaret Atwood, Karen Armstrong, Jeanette Winterson and Natsuo Kirino amongst others. They’ve made ancient myths accessible to the modern reader.
I think the only way to keep the old myths alive is to revamp them for the modern era whilst retaining the heart of the story.
I hope I’ve managed to do that with “The Little Light”.
Q: Do you think mythology or mythological tales have a contemporary relevance?
A: Oh yes. In The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell he writes, “Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We need to tell our story and to understand our story.”
Q: How does mythology enrich one’s mind?
A: Yesterday, I was reading a book at work during my lunch hour and someone came up to me and said, “Oh! You have time to read books? I wish I did.” That person went on to turn on YouTube and zone out. I was startled by the irony of the moment.
When we read the old myths, we slow down and contemplate our life and our purpose. It’s a far better exercise than zoning out to some program that you’re escaping into to pass the time and distract yourself.
“To truly enjoy something you have to earn it and build it slowly brick by brick. No shortcuts.”
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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.