Q: Sita is typically described as demure. How did your stick-wielding warrior princess take shape? Amish Tripathi (AT): The Sita we know is largely based on the character in the 1980s TV show, which was modelled on the 16th century Ramcharitmanas. The more ancient versions show her as a far stronger character. In the Adbhuta Ramayana, she’s a fighter, and in the Gond Ramayana, she’s the one who kills Ravana. My interpretation is an amalgamation of the ancient versions.
Q: What do you enjoy about mythology?
AT: The word ‘mythology’ comes from the Greek word ‘mythos’—a story that hides a philosophical truth. The story is just a wrapper for the core truth, to attract you to the philosophy which could be dry or a bit intense otherwise.
Q: Who is your favourite deity?
AT: Lord Shiva, because he’s a rebellious god. There’s so much to admire about him— he’s a rule breaker, a brilliant dancer, a musician, obsessively in love with his wife. Q: Are you religious? AT: Yes, certainly. I do the rituals that make sense to me. I wear a rudraksh mala, a kada on my wrist and so on. But I don’t pour milk on a Shivling. I’d rather give the milk to someone in need.