Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 01:10am
Speaker: Arshia Sattar
Of the seven books that comprise the Valmiki Ramayana, the Uttara Kanda is the final and perhaps the most problematic: Rama banishes his beloved Sita into the forest; Rama kills Shambuka, a low caste man practising austerities that are above his station; Rama is reunited with his sons during a sacrifice at which he loses his wife forever; Rama watches over the death of his devoted brother Lakshmana who knowingly submits to a curse that will take his life.
In Uttara, Arshia Sattar exquisitely captures the heady delights of the original text in all its sensuous, colourful detail—frenzied battles, simmering intrigue, lustful demons and the final and tragic act in Rama and Sita's love story. But the Uttara Kanda raises more questions than it answers and Sattar skillfully explores the shattering consequences of Rama’s actions even as they unravel the complex moral universe of the Ramayana.
Arshia Sattar is a translator, director, and author. Her abridged translations of the epic Sanskrit texts, Kathasaritsagara and Valmiki's Ramayana were published by Penguin Books. Her most recent books include the children's book Adventures with Hanuman (Rupa, 2013), Uttara: The Book of Answers (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018), and The Children's Ramayana (Restless Books, 2018). She previously taught Indian Studies at the Mahindra United World College of India and was programming director at OpenSpace. Her book reviews and articles appear regularly in The Times of India, The Illustrated Weekly of India and the Indian Review of Books.