Lanka’s princess – A vengeful vamp or a misunderstood princess

Title of Book – Lanka’s Princess
Author – Kavita Kane
Publishers – Rupa Publication
Genre – Fiction/Mythology

‘The fault lies not in our stars, but in ours’ – Shakespeare


On international woman’s day, we accolade, salute and admire the feminine spirit of woman race. For a girl, various mythological figures like Sita, Durga, Urmila, Sati, Anusuya and Savitri are role models. Would a girl consider Surphanka as her role model? No, never. She is the lesser known and most hated character from Ramayana. She was Ravana’s sister, the dreaded demon king of Lanka. For those who feel that Surphanka was really a hateful character should read the novel – Lanka’s princess to know the tragic story of Surphanka who was once known as Meenakshi, the dusky princess of Lanka. Born with long sharp nails, she was partly demon, party human. Her mother, Kaikesi was a demon while her father Vishrava was a rishi (sage).

Right from her birth, Meenakshi was always unwanted for her parents because her mother showered affections towards Ravan and Kumbhakaran while her father was more caring towards Vibhishan. Deprived of parental love, she found the affection in her grandmother Taaraka. Through this novel, author Kavita Kane has highlighted the mediocre mindset of parents to yearn for a male child. Even today, a girl child is considered inferior in rural areas and is sometimes often left abandoned or killed. Surphanka too goes through this same plight. She is considered evil, timid and ferocious by her mother. Meenakshi and Ravana can’t see eye to eye. It is Ravana who kills an innocent pet of Meenakshi. Meenakshi’s hatred for Ravana grows up with time and flares up when Ravana kills Meenakshi’s husband. Even Meenakshi’s son gets killed mysteriously. And thus begins the transformation of Meenakshi into villainous Surphanka. She turns into a ferocious vamp to see Ravana destroyed. She masterminds conspiracies to trigger a war between Ram and Ravana. But in the vengeful vendetta, she realizes that she hasn’t gain anything in this senseless bloodshed.

In Ramayana, there is very less mention about Surphanka. We only know that Surphanka made lecherous advances towards lord Ram and Lakshman. It was Lakshman who humiliated her by disfiguring her face. What happened before Ravan abducted Sita and what happened later after the death of Ravana is mentioned well to detail in Kavita Kane’s book – Lanka’s princess.

Be it Helen of Troy or Draupadi, women were indirectly the reason behind great wars. In Ramayana, it was Surphanka who triggered the war by manipulating events and provoking Ravana to kidnap Sita. The novel – Lanka’s princess is not just about Surphanka, it is also the story of the ambitious Ravana who becomes a pawn in hands of Surphanka. I really accolade author Kavita Kane for giving a voice to the character Surphanka through the book. In the first few pages the reader will feel sympathy for the poor Meenakshi. In the later pages, as Meenakshi’s happy family gets devastated, she takes no time to show her grey, vamp shades. I won’t divulge too much detail about this novel and let the reader discover the true nature of Surphanka.

The USP of this novel is the prologue where Lord Krishna meets an ugly, deformed hunchback woman named Kubja and tells her about previous birth when she was a demon princess and how her villainous deeds brought her destruction. The story moves to flashback and the story of Surphanka begins. According to my views, Surphanka was not a born evil vamp. It was the circumstance that shaped her destiny and transformed her into an ugly vamp. Had Surphanka’s parents brought her with same love and affection as they showered on Ravana, Surpankha wouldn’t have destroyed Ravana.

Since I have enjoyed this read, I am looking forward to read Anand Neelkantan’s book – Asura to know more about Ravana.

I rate Lanka’s princess – 10/10. After reading this novel, readers will definitely change their views about the demon princess Surphanka who was once a dusky, beautiful princess named Meenakshi.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Zoeb says:

    This intriguing write-up, Prashant, throws a most welcome spotlight into one of the most troublesome facets of our old tales and myths. That is the aspect of the women- of whether they were given their due or not. In many a myth, it is only men who are lauded as heroes and women only get secondary roles to play. However, it is high time since we stood up and recognized the contribution of women as well.

    Kavita Kane’s novel promises to do that and more. It also explores what makes a femme fatale really a femme fatale. Often, we are quick to blame the character of a femme fatale from a film or book as being too licentious, promiscuous and manipulative. But have we ever understood why did these women become like that? The story of Surphanka, compelled by the harsh circumstances of her birth and the ruthless callousness of her upbringing, is one such tale that shows that be it man or woman, a human being can sink to depths of evil only when true evil has been done to him or her.

    Brilliant stuff, Prashant…

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