Recommended Books on Indian Mythology

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Team P3 curates a list of the recommended books on Indian mythology which should be on your TBR!

Searching for the best works on Indian mythology? You’ve come to the perfect place! Through its myths and legends, Indian mythology not only offers a peek into a mystical past but also serves as a mirror reflecting our collective hopes, fears, and aspirations. From cosmic battles to sacred love stories, these stories of Indian mythology brim with wisdom, symbolism, and a deep understanding of the human condition.

Regardless of whether you’re well-versed with the pathways of Indian mythology or treading this space for the first time, I hope you’ll find something new here, a new story to take away and escape into. With that, let’s begin our expedition.

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Krishna: The Man And His Philosophy

Title: Krishna: The Man And His Philosophy

Author: Osho

Publisher: Krishna The Man His Philosophy

Price: 319

Pages: 696


Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy by Osho is an exploration of the alluring personality that is Lord Krishna. Osho’s prose and insights present a deep understanding of Krishna’s teachings, offering timeless lessons that are relevant to a modern reader too. Combining spirituality and Indian mythology with a modern perspective, Osho presents Krishna as a guide for seekers in today’s world. The book challenges conventional notions, forcing you to pause and reflect on existential questions. Osho’s approach makes Krishna a delightful read, encouraging us to imbibe Krishna’s teachings as a transformative influence in our lives.

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Title: Mahabharata

Author: C. Rajagopalachari

Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Price: 278

Pages: 483


Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari is a gripping rendition of the timeless epic of Indian mythology that has enchanted generations of readers. Rajagopalachari’s book beautifully encapsulates the grandeur and complexity of the Mahabharata, bringing forth the intricate web of characters, their motivations, and the philosophical dilemmas they face with clarity and depth. With a concise, and yet an impactful narrative style, he maintains the essence of the original story while making it accessible to a wider audience, which explains its enduring popularity. The book imbues and highlights the moral and ethical nuances of the epic beautifully, making this book an unmissable work for anyone seeking to explore the rich storytelling of Indian mythology.

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The Great Indian Novel

Title: The Great Indian Novel

Author: Shashi Tharoor

Publisher: Penguin

Price: 349

Pages: 648


This is a retelling of Mahabharata as well, but in the least unexpected way! The book intertwines history, mythology, and politics to create a biting novel that’s as hilarious as it is inventive. The characters, cleverly named in homage to their mythological counterparts, breathe new life into the epic while serving as allegories for pivotal political figures and events in Indian history.

Tharoor’s work is both entertaining and enlightening. He blends humor, wit, and incisive social commentary to construct a novel that is a delight from start to finish. His astute observations and trenchant political insights make it a story beyond a mere retelling of the Mahabharata.

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The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version Of The Indian Epic

Title: The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version Of The Indian Epic

Author: R. K. Narayan

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Price: 384

Pages: 192


While staying true to the essence of the Ramayana, RK Narayan adds his own touches of wit, humor, and introspection. Each character, well known in Indian mythology, is beautifully fleshed out and it’s Narayan’s storytelling prowess that shines the brightest through this book. Regardless of whether you’ve grown up hearing and reading about Ramayana or are coming across it for the first time, Narayan’s version deserves a read for its lyricality and composition. The epic, of course, is an exploration of timeless themes such as love, duty, honor, and the eternal battle between good and evil. This book beautifully brings out all the nuances and dilemmas present in the story.

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The Palace of Illusions

Title: The Palace of Illusions

Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Publisher: Anchor

Price: 339

Pages: 384


Through this mythological retelling, another Mahabharata retelling in our list, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni gives voice to Panchaali, the fire-born heroine of the Mahabharata. Married to five royal husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom, Panchaali helps their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war. But at the same time, she cannot deny her complicated friendship with the charming Krishna—or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands’ most dangerous enemy—as she is caught up in the ever-manipulating hands of fate.

By showing us the epic from the perspective of one of the most complex and interesting characters and one of the few women characters of the epic, Divakaruni brings the old story, but in a completely new avatar. If you’re a fan of mythological retellings, or simply crave a well-told story that will transport you to another time and place, then this book is a must-read.

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The Immortals of Meluha

Title: The Immortals of Meluha

Author: Amish

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Price: 277

Pages: 415


In this near-perfect empire created by the revered Lord Ram, the Suryavanshis, the ruling clan, find themselves facing multiple threats. The once mighty Saraswati River is gradually drying up, posing a severe danger to the empire’s existence. In addition, the Chandravanshis from the east, aided by the mysterious Nagas, launch devastating terrorist attacks, pushing the Suryavanshis to the brink.

Amidst these perils, a prophetic legend emerges: a hero will rise when evil reaches its peak, offering a glimmer of hope for the Suryavanshis. Enter Shiva, a rugged Tibetan immigrant, who is thrust into a destiny he never imagined. As he grapples with his newfound role, Shiva must confront his own doubts and desires, questioning whether he truly wants the mantle of heroism.

As the first book in a trilogy, The Immortals of Meluha sets the stage for a grand story of Indian mythology that promises even greater adventures and revelations to come.

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Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology

Title: Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology

Author: Devdutt Pattanaik

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 260

Pages: 227


Through this book, Pattanaik dismantles the complexities of Indian mythology, deciphering Hindu symbols, traditions, and rituals, and explaining their significance in a way that is accessible to someone completely a stranger to Hinduism and its rituals. He also answers some interesting and fundamental questions, such as the existence of 330 million gods in Hinduism and their relationship to the concept of one supreme god.

His ability to present complex ideas with clarity and simplicity is what makes this book so popular. He demystifies concepts surrounding the human soul, life, death, and the power of myth, guiding you through the philosophical underpinnings of Hinduism in a simple manner. He weaves together captivating stories, anecdotes, and beautifully drawn illustrations, making this book a visually appealing journey through Indian mythology.

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Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished: The Story of Ravana and His People

Title: Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished: The Story of Ravana and His People

Author: Anand Neelakantan

Publisher: Leadtsart Publishing

Price: 339

Pages: 504


In this bestselling retelling, Neelakantan sheds light on the untold tale of the Asuras, a story that has been celebrated by the oppressed outcastes of India for centuries. Breaking away from the conventional versions of Indian mythology passed down by the victors, he delves into the depths of Ravana’s motivations, struggles, and triumphs, presenting him as a multifaceted character with his own aspirations and vulnerabilities.

Neelakantan explores the complexities of caste-based Deva rule and the aspirations of the Asura people. Through the eyes of Bhadra, a common man swept up in turbulent events, we witness the shattered Asura empire and the hope for a better future under Ravana’s leadership. The book captures the iron will and fiery ambition that drive Ravana, leading him to carve out a vast empire and challenge the gods themselves.

But even great triumphs do not necessarily bring lasting change. As Ravana rises to success, the common Asuras find that their lives remain largely unchanged. Through the story, Neelakantan explores the themes of power, identity, and the inherent flaws of human nature, painting a portrait of a complex and misunderstood character.

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The Liberation of Sita

Title: The Liberation of Sita

Author: Written by Volga, translated by T. Vijay Kumar, C. Vijayasree

Publisher: HarperPerennial

Price: 250

Pages: 136


In Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama is celebrated as the king who always does right by his subjects. However, Volga takes a different approach, focusing on Sita’s perspective after being abandoned by Purushottam Rama. She embarks on a challenging and introspective journey, encountering extraordinary women along the way who have broken free from societal constraints and expectations.


Through encounters with Surpanakha, Renuka, Urmila, and Ahalya, Sita is guided towards an unexpected resolution, discovering her own agency and challenging the patriarchal norms that have constrained her. Volga’s feminist perspective toward these oft-ignored women characters offers a fresh lens in Indian mythology through which women can review their lives and experiences. It opens up new spaces within the traditional discourse, inviting readers to question and reconsider the established narratives.

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The Poem of the Killing of Meghnad

Title: The Poem of the Killing of Meghnad

Author: Written by Michael Madhusudan Dutt, translated by William Radice

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 569

Pages: 552


At the heart of this epic lies the tragic hero Meghnad, also known as Indrajit, the warrior son of Ravana. While the Ramayana portrays Meghnad’s demise at the hands of Lakshman as a result of a battle, Dutt takes a daring departure from the Kshatriya warrior code, portraying Meghnad’s death in a temple where he is defenceless, carrying out a puja to Agni. This bold twist transforms Meghnad into a tragic hero and serves as the most subversive and original aspect of Madhusudan’s epic.


The Poem of the Killing of Meghnad can be likened to a captivating Indian equivalent of Milton’s Paradise Lost. It reflects not only Madhusudan’s own mind but also the spirit of the Bengal Renaissance and the broader emergence of Indian modernity during that era. The poem pulsates with enthusiasm, exuberance, and rebellious flamboyance, illustrating Madhusudan’s inventive literary voice.

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Until the Lions

Title: Until the Lions

Author: Karthika Nair

Publisher: HarperCollins India Publishers Pvt Ltd

Price: 447

Pages: 288


Through the use of concrete verse and surreptitious rhyme, Nair pens stories that challenge our preconceived notions of the Mahabharata. With each poem, replicating the original form of the epic, we are invited to explore the inner worlds of nameless soldiers, outcast warriors, handmaidens, abducted princesses, tribal queens, and even a gender-shifting god. These peripheral figures and silent catalysts, who have long been relegated to the sidelines, take centre stage, revealing the hidden layers and untold stories buried beneath the grand narratives of gods, heroes, and victory.


Until the Lions is not only a retelling of the Mahabharata but also a powerful meditation on the human experience. It looks into the complexities of myth and history, exposing the price paid for the creation of grand narratives and the erasure of marginalized voices. Nair’s work serves as a reminder that there are countless stories waiting to be heard, stories that offer a different perspective and challenge our understanding of the world.

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Chandrabati's Ramayan

Title: Chandrabati's Ramayan

Author: Written by Chandra, translated by Nabaneeta Dev Sen

Publisher: Zubaan

Price: 250

Pages: 104


Chandra, the first woman poet in Bangla, from the 16th century, presented this retelling of the Ramayana from Sita’s point of view. In a society that idolized Sita as a paragon of marital obedience and chastity, Chandrabati’s rendition proposes a new and insightful exploration of Sita’s story and an important stone in Indian mythology.


This was originally written to be sung before a non-courtly audience, primarily composed of women in rural Bengal. Its portrayal of Sita’s journey, struggles, and resilience strikes a chord with readers who find solace, inspiration, and empowerment in the narrative. Chandrabati’s Ramayan becomes a living story, carried forward through generations, as it speaks directly to the hearts of those who have long found themselves represented in its verses.

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Namaha: Stories From The Land Of Gods And Goddesses

Title: Namaha: Stories From The Land Of Gods And Goddesses

Author: Abhishek Singh

Publisher: Wonder House Books

Price: 899

Pages: 120


Singh’s artwork breathes new colour into familiar characters and settings of Indian mythology, drawing its readers into the fantastical worlds of gods and goddesses. The combination of vivid visuals and engaging storytelling creates a reading experience that is certain to appeal to readers of all ages.


The stories within the book delve into profound philosophical themes, inviting readers to contemplate the deeper meaning of life, existence, and spirituality. It fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich heritage and mythology of India, letting the readers connect with the country’s cultural roots on a more profound level.

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Yayati: A Classic Tale of Lust

Title: Yayati: A Classic Tale of Lust

Author: Written by V S Khandekar, translated by Y P Kulkarni

Publisher: Orient Paperbacks

Price: 341

Pages: 254


This timeless story of Indian mythology, also a Marathi classic, revolves around Yayati, a great scholar and one of the noblest rulers of ancient times. With deep devotion to the welfare of his subjects and a reputation held high even by the King of Gods, Indra, Yayati seems to embody virtue and righteousness. However, beneath the surface lies a relentless quest for pleasure that knows no bounds.


Married to the seductively beautiful Devyani and harbouring a passionate love for her maid Sharmishtha, Yayati finds himself torn between desire and duty. Despite his worldly accomplishments and revered status, Yayati remains consumed by carnal desires, unabashedly seeking fulfilment. Khandekar perfectly portrays the inner conflicts and complexities of Yayati’s character, through which you get to analyse the depths of human nature and the consequences of unchecked desires. Through Yayati’s actions, he raises profound questions about the pursuit of pleasure, the limits of self-control, and the consequences of selfishness.

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The Daughter from a Wishing Tree: Unusual Tales About Women in Mythology

Title: The Daughter from a Wishing Tree: Unusual Tales About Women in Mythology

Author: Sudha Murty

Publisher: Puffin

Price: 167

Pages: 192


In this journey through forgotten tales, Sudha Murty introduces us to a diverse range of women in Indian mythology: women who embody strength, mystery, and resilience. It is a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of India and a tribute to the powerful women who have played an important role in its mythology. 


From the goddess Parvati to Ashokasundari, from Bhamati to Mandodari, these women have left an indelible mark on Indian mythology. They are not only depicted as slayers of demons but also as protectors and fierce warriors who led wars on behalf of the gods. They were the backbone of their families, the pillars of strength, and the makers of their own destinies. Sudha Murty’s writing is filled with warmth, compassion, and an understanding of human nature, making the stories relatable for readers of all ages.

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Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean

Title: Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean

Author: Amruta Patil

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Price: 584

Pages: 276


Drawing from the classic Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, and the Vishnu Purana, Patil knits a narrative through the perspective of the celestial river Ganga, who narrates the events from the beginning of time. The novel delves into iconic events such as the churning of the sea, the snake sacrifice of Janmejaya, and the poignant moment when Queen Gandhari wears a blindfold for the first time. These moments, etched in the collective consciousness of Indian readers, are brought to life with gorgeous visuals.


This graphic novel is a grand canvas with gods, sages, queens, seers, hermits, seductresses, kings, and warriors, all converging in a bewitching retelling of Indian mythology. The book has been created with breathtaking artistry, as the striking illustrations aptly complement the storytelling, creating a visual feast for its readers.

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Parva: A Tale of War, Peace, Love, Death, God, and Man

Title: Parva: A Tale of War, Peace, Love, Death, God, and Man

Author: Written by S. L. Bhyrappa, translated by K.Raghavendra Rao

Publisher: Sahitya Akademi

Price: 619

Pages: 950


Regarded as S. L. Bhyrappa’s magnum opus, Parva has garnered acclaim not only within the Kannada-speaking community but also among non-Kannadigas who have had the privilege of experiencing it through Hindi, Marathi, and other translations. This masterpiece of Indian mythology and modern literature transforms an ancient legend into a contemporary novel, imbuing it with rational credibility and a human perspective.


At its core, Parva explores the themes of loyalty, morality, and the clash between righteousness and personal desires. The Bharata War, which serves as the central incident, becomes a symbolic representation of the birth pangs of a new world order. Through the eyes of the partisan participants and the objective understanding of Krishna, the novel provides a multifaceted examination of the events and their implications.

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The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma

Title: The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma

Author: Gurcharan Das

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 409

Pages: 488


With his characteristic flair and erudition, Gurcharan Das brings the ancient wisdom of Indian mythology alive here. The Mahabharata’s exploration of dharma is intricate and multifaceted. Unlike Greek epics, where a hero’s wrongdoing is often swiftly overlooked, the characters in the Mahabharata pause to reflect, inviting various perspectives on dharma. 


Each major character embodies a distinct moral virtue or failing, their struggles mirroring our own familiar emotions and dilemmas. Das combines insights from the Mahabharata with contemporary examples, drawing parallels between the characters’ journeys and the experiences of individuals in fields such as economics, business, and politics. Through these comparisons, he discloses valuable lessons and guidance for navigating the ethical complexities of our modern world.

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Charioteer Of Rays (Rashmirathi)

Title: Charioteer Of Rays (Rashmirathi)

Author: Written by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, translated by Dr B N Mishra

Publisher: VL Media Solutions

Price: 400

Pages: 176


Rashmirathi narrates the story of the legendary warrior Karna in Indian mythology, a central character in the Indian epic Mahabharata. The poem delves into Karna’s struggles, dilemmas, and unwavering loyalty towards his friend Duryodhana. Rashmirathi explores themes of honour, fate, and the complexities of human nature. 


The poem is celebrated for its powerful and evocative language, as well as its portrayal of Karna as a tragic hero. Rashmirathi not only illustrates the epic battles and the grandeur of the Mahabharata but also delves into the depths of human emotions and moral quandaries. Rashmirathi is not merely a poetic retelling of the Mahabharata; it is a lyrical ode to the human spirit.

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जयद्रथ वध

Title: जयद्रथ वध

Author: मैथिलीशरण गुप्त

Publisher: साहित्य सदन

Price: 40

Pages: 100


Maithili Sharan Gupt wrote Jayadrath Vadh as part of his collection of epic poems called Saket. The poem charts the events leading up to Jayadratha’s death and provides an in-depth exploration of his character and motivations. In the book, Gupt writes of Jayadratha’s role in the Kurukshetra war, his ill-fated encounter with Arjuna, and the subsequent vengeance sought by Arjuna to avenge his son’s death.

The poem captures the intensity of the battle, the emotional turmoil of the characters, and the moral dilemmas they face. Jayadrath Vadh is a revered work in Hindi literature and Indian mythology, known for its lyrical language, powerful imagery, and poignant exploration of themes such as fate, duty, and the consequences of one’s actions.

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Title: Initiation

Author: Written by Narendra Kohli, translated by Somdev Kohli

Publisher: Creative Books

Price: 308

Pages: 83


Initiation by Narendra Kohli is an investigation into the popular versions of the Ramayana in Indian mythology, specifically focusing on the lack of earthly logic and human rationality in the plot construction of the epic. The book looks at the background events that led to the birth of Lord Rama, offering a critical examination of their relevance to our daily lives and their potential for rational explanations. 


Kohli’s intention is not just to provide reasoning for the divine incarnation but to also question the injustices portrayed within the story. Kohli’s attention is particularly drawn to the Sidhashrama episode of Vishwamitra, which he finds lacking clarity in the popular versions of the Ramayana. He poses intriguing questions: Why were the rakshasas near Sidhashrama? In what ways did they commit atrocities and attempt to kill Vishwamitra? Could Vishwamitra have handled the rakshasas alone? And why did he choose Rama, and only Rama, to slay the rakshasas? 


These inquiries provoke a deeper questioning of the events surrounding Rama’s agreement to help Vishwamitra and the qualifications that Rama possessed to undertake this important task.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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