Are you a mythology buff who loves reading fictional and rewritten versions of it? Classic Indian myths are given a new form in these intriguing books. Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, The Song of Achilles, and the like, books based on Indian mythology are all the rage lately. More and more Indian authors are drawing from the rich literary traditions of Indian mythology and epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana to create fresh narratives for modern readers.
Best Books Inspired by Hindu Mythology
Some of these books are entirely fictional, while some are loose retellings of mythology made easy for modern readers. If you grew up listening to these stories from your grandparents, you’re sure to love these as well. Every author on this list has tons of other books based on mythology as well, so make sure to check those out too!
1. The Immortals of Meluha and The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi
When “The Immortals of Meluha”‘ hit bookstores in 2010, it was an instant hit. It received both critical praise and commercial success. The story’s protagonist is a fictional version of Shiva and his journey from being an ordinary man to becoming a God. In his journey, we meet a colorful cast full of familiar names such as Nandi, Veerabhadra, Sati, Kali, Ganesh, and more. The Shiva trilogy is a fantasy adventure story with political intrigue. While you can find references to real places or events in Indian mythology, keep in mind that there is plenty here that is entirely fictional.
If you are looking for a book that will teach you more about Indian mythology, check out other suggestions in this list. The Immortals of Meluha is the first book in Amish’s celebrated Shiva trilogy. The Immortals of Meluha cannot be read as a stand-alone novel, however, since the ending has a cliffhanger for the next book. Not only that, Shiva’s character arc slowly develops throughout the three books. We highly recommend reading all three books in this series to get the full experience. Amish is also the author of the ‘Ram Chandra series based on the Ramayana. You can get the book here! 📖
Have you ever wondered what Ravan’s point of view was during the Ramayana? We are used to seeing him as the cruel king of the demons, but Anand Neelakantan showcases the tale of the Asuras in a brand-new light. Inspired by folklore from marginalized communities in South India that worship Ravana, ‘Asura’ recasts him as a noble king who was wronged by Rama and his army.
Written in simple lucid language, Asura is a great sunday read that prods you to think deeper. By inversing the hero and the villain in a myth as well known as the Ramayana, Asura also addresses issues of race and caste in South India. By drawing on the saying ‘History is written by the victors’, Asura tries to give voice to the vanquished and explores the side of the story that has often been left unsaid. You can get the book here! 📖
Following a retelling of Ramayana, the next on our list is a retelling of the Mahabharatha from Draupadi’s perspective. Have you ever wondered how the Queen of the Pandavas felt about her role in the epic or what it was like being married to the five Pandava brothers? Or, have you been curious about her origins and her childhood? Contrary to the portrait of Drapuadi (or Panchaali as she’s referred to in the book) as a devoted wife, ‘The Palace of Illusions’ paints a complicated portrait of her. Unlike the original myth, this Panchaali is motivated by her thirst for revenge, and beseeches her husbands to achieve this in her place.
Rather than accepting exile gracefully, she is filled with anger about having her home taken away from her. Panchaali even harbors a secret crush that she can’t act upon – at least not in this life. Much like Divakaruni’s previous work, ‘The Forest of Enchantments,’ which reimagines the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective, ‘The Palace of Illusions’ is a half myth, half history, and fully magical. These books allow us to walk in the footsteps of these famous heroines who have served as ideals for the perfect woman and let us see that they, too, are human after all. You can get the book here! 📖
4. My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik
Although most of us know of the existence of the Bhagavad Gita, it’s a very difficult task to actually read it. The epic exchange between Lord Krishna and Arjuna during the Great War in the Mahabharata is full of timeless advice as well as offers nuggets of history. If you’ve ever wanted to know what the Gita actually says but never had the time to read the full version, My Gita is the perfect book for you.
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Devdutt Pattanaik discusses all the major themes in the Gita in easy-to-read sections. Rather than verse-by-verse translation, Pattanaik delivers the biggest takeaways from the Gita in a much shorter length. Filled with helpful charts and diagrams that explain concepts from ancient Hindu philosophy, My Gita is the perfect book to become more in touch with your spirituality – without the hassle of having to understand it all by yourself. You can get the book here! 📖
5. The Queen of Jasmine Country by Sharanya Manivannan
Andal is a Tamil saint who was well-known as a Vaishnavite devotee and the author of works such as Thirupaavai and Nachiyaar Thirumozhi. However, Andal was also one of the Bakthi poets who were redefining their relationship with religion and spirituality. A part of the twelve Alvars in Tamil literature, and the only woman in the group, Andal’s life is shrouded in mystery.
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Sharanya Manivannan’s fictionalized version of Andal’s early life, from being adopted by an old Brahmin couple to her journey towards becoming a poet, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in Sangam poetry or Bakthi poetry. If you’re someone who enjoys historical fiction, this book is a great way to catch a glimpse of ancient Tamil Nadu. You can get the book here! 📖
Let us know your favorite books based on Indian / Hindu mythology in the comments below! Happy Reading! 📖
A final year law student from Chennai with an interest in policy, debate, and dogs.