Author: Krishna Dharabasi
Summarized by: Wilson Shrestha
The novel differs from the traditional Krishna fable in two significant ways: first, it is told from the perspective of a woman; and second, the story is moved out of the realm of myth and into a more realistic context. The Mahabharat, an ancient epic text, provides much of the source material for Radha. Readers who are unfamiliar with Radha and Krishna’s love tale may find it difficult to get into the flow of the novel after a few pages. Even those who are unfamiliar with the myth will be lured into the story thanks to Mr. Paudyal’s informative introduction and gripping translation.
An ancient manuscript is discovered at the start of the book. The story of Radha and Krishna begins after some time spent looking for someone who can understand the manuscript. Krishna’s story is a classic Hindu myth, and many readers will be familiar with the fundamental plot. Nonetheless, Radha’s journal swiftly departs from the myth’s depiction of Krishna as a celestial figure. He and Radha live in a world that is as real as possible while remaining true to the myth’s overarching structure. The relationships and the narrative itself take on a whole new meaning with Radha as a guide through this universe. Radha highlights out how society treats women unfairly throughout her writings, and how women are often involved in the treatment they and other women experience. Moreover, despite her affection for Krishna since they were toddlers, she points out his flaws and criticizes the way he is brought up as the potential ruler. She commiserates with his wives, whom he abuses badly at times. Krishna, as seen through Radha’s eyes, becomes human, and his divinity fades away. While Krishna keeps breaking promises to return to Radha, she emerges as a strong woman capable of carving out a life for herself.
Mr. Paudyal feels that Radha belongs to “a Nepali school of critical thinking” that “says life is a leela – a theatre of illusions – as is the life of Krishna himself.” Mr. Paudyal is referring to the deconstruction of the Krishna myth in the book. While adhering to many of the traditional Krishna stories, the work gently questions those stories by its feminine perspective, sly language, and upending of the myth’s traditions. Those who are familiar with the Mahabharat will identify much of this subtle deception right away, while those who are new to the world may need to familiarize themselves with the original narrative.
Radha is a difficult work that will test readers on many levels. People who are familiar with the Krishna tale are encouraged to reconsider their perspectives. People who are unfamiliar with the Krishna narrative are invited to join a realm that may appear to be foreign to them. Dedicated readers, on the other hand, will discover a universality to the story that transcends the specific, as well as a narrative that questions the distinction between reality and illusion.