Living The Legend’s Life – Of Love, Lust and Letting

Review of The Legend of Amrapali-An Enchanting SagaBuried Within The Sands of Time;

Anurag Anand; Shrishti Publishers and Distributors 2012; Rs200; pp 213


The bold golden lettering of the word ‘Amrapali’ and thedanseuse herself (in this case, the picture of Mallika Sarabai) stares out atyou. The character of Amrapali in the book is drawn out strongly. Anurag Anandbrings in the historical angle with a twist – Amrapali is the chosen Nagarvadhualright, but she has her own terms, and the characters involved in the tale arenew, too, to a certain extent.


This is Anurag’s third book, and does him well. The Legendof Amrapali starts with an author’s note, introducing the topic of nagarvadhu,how Anurag came to write this story and his inspirations. Amrapali’s parentswere childless and the discovery of this tiny baby beneath the Mango tree’sshade only added to their joy. She grows up to be brilliant, smart and muchmore intellectually developed than girls her age. Pali was good at dance andmusic and also in subjects such as Mathematics, battle strategies and archery –topics that only the males dwelt upon, in that era.


Growing up to be a beautiful maiden, she sets heartbeatsracing across her villages. People from near and far heard about her. Despiteseveral marriage proposals, her father doesn’t give her away. Having lost hiswife earlier, Pali was the last possession he had. But as fate would have it,the devious king of Vaishali lusts after her, stopping at nothing to get toher. He resorts to evil methods to make her his own. And just when Pali isabout to be married off to her childhood love, the king announces Pali’sinduction as the city’s courtesan, a title which grants access to her at alltimes. She is forced to accept it, but not without her conditions.


Life isn’t the same, but she strives on. With a trustedfriend and loyal guards, she sets out to mete out justice to herself and to thecity of Vaishali. The ending is a worthy tribute to one the greatest legends ofIndian history. Anurag’s prose is notable.


Amrapali’s expertise in various arts, especially dance, isfortified in the sentences, but I wish Anurag had explained her danceperformances with a little more vigour. Right now the reader is left to imagineafter a couple of lines of praise and adoration by the author for the danseuse.Let your words lead the reader to imagine further, not right from the beginningof the portrayal of a particular event.