‘Rise of Dharma’ – My Experience of Writing the Book
Myself Semanti Chakraborty, author of the newly launched Samrat Yudhishthira Trilogy. My debut novel, the first book of the series, 'Rise of Dharma' has been published in September and is getting a lot of positive feedbacks from readers just within a couple of months. While working on the second book of the series, I would like to share some experiences of my writing journey with you all.
I am a physics teacher by profession, and an epic lover by passion. My father, Late Narayan Chakraborty, made me fall in love with The Ramayana and The Mahabharata from childhood. The story of Lord Krishna along with the Pandavas fascinated me from that early age itself. At high school, when I got to read the Bengali summarized version of Mahabharata written by Rajshekhar Basu, the person I admired the most was Dharmaraja Yudhishthira. His honesty, kindness and wisdom made him my favorite character, almost next to Lord Krishna.
But as I grew up, I gradually found out that the character of Yudhishthira does not have a great reputation to many people. Even in most of the popular renderings of the epic, his mistakes are often much more highlighted while his goodness is overlooked. But in reality, he was much more than what we generally think of him - a wise, kind, ideal ruler who was chosen by Krishna himself for establishing Dharma in the land. He was a man who knew how to give respect even to the women of his enemies and defeated kings. He was a ruler who cared for his soldiers' lives more than his own personal vow of truthfulness. I thought that time has come when readers should know his side of the story too.
Besides this, as a lover of The Mahabharata, I also wanted to present the true story of Maharishi Vyasa in front of the modern readers, to make them aware of the moral lessons of ancient India. For this, I felt, it was necessary to explore Yudhishthira and his ideals as a righteous ruler that once built an empire of Dharma in our country.
With this aim, I started my research with a detailed and dedicated study of the unabridged version of Mahabharata. As I read, I discovered a new Yudhishthira, who was still unexplored. I decided to give him the voice he deserves.
Researching, writing, and rewriting took me more than five years. Exploring the various aspects in Yudhishthira's character took me deep thoughts and study at times. Still, the journey was pleasant to spend time with Mahabharata characters, sharing their joy and sorrow. Writer's block came at times, but thanks to my mother, Mrs. Jharna Chakraborty who always kept faith in my creative skills and encouraged me to pass the non-creative phases.
After years of struggle, the first draft was finished. But what next? Being an aspiring writer who had published her previous works only in some online portals like India-Forums, I knew nothing about the publishing procedure. Then, I believe by Lord Krishna's grace, I met the best-selling author Saiswaroopa Iyer who was already a well-known storyteller in her genre. When she agreed to edit my manuscript, I felt it was my first step of success. After this, I did not have to look back anymore.
Saiswaroopa edited and polished my manuscript and guided me through every single step of publishing process. I also contacted a cover designer who made my protagonist alive in the beautiful cover page. Then I uploaded my edited manuscript on Amazon Kindle as an ebook. The second step of my author's journey began from here.
From day one itself, Rise of Dharma received lots of good responses. It was a pleasant experience when my first reader, a knowledgeable and devotee friend, finished the book just within two days and shared a long, detailed review. An excerpt from the review was thus:
"While there are other books written on one central character among the Pandavas, where the central hero is hailed but one or more of the Pandavas are abused; in this book, a neutral reader would not find any other character being ridiculed. Though much wider space is given to the central protagonist, yet the worth of the other heroes is also acknowledged. .... Majorly, the story remains same as the epic, but wherever the original scripture didn't detail things out, this author has filled the gaps to bring the story to the same meaningful stage where the original scripture lands us without telling the intermediate story. ... Last but not the least, the author has not just written the character of Yudhishthira, for the sake of writing; rather, she has lived the character of the protagonist."
This was just the beginning. After this, lots of reviews came, generously praising my effort to write the perspective of an underexplored character. Readers liked my writing style and the amount of research I have done to portray Yudhishthira in the lights of epic. Some of the reviews also mentioned that their impression on Yudhishthira's character was changed after they read 'Rise of Dharma'. Clearly, this is something that every author dream of.
My future writing plan first includes the next two books of the Samrat Yudhishthira trilogy. I am currently working on the second book titled 'Trials of Dharma' which is expected to be published soon. Currently I am also an active writer of popular online writing platform Wattpad. My book 'Dharmapriyaa', written from the perspective of Yudhishthira's second wife Devika, is garnering genuine interest from the readers. Such lesser known characters from both the epics interest me a lot and I want to write on them also in future.
With my passionate retelling of the epic characters' lives, I hope to make my readers fall in love with them. I also hope them to realize and admire the noble traits of our ancient heroes like Lord Rama and Samrat Yudhishthira that once made our country a better place. I believe that my hard work will be successful only when this realization will lead again to the glorious establishment of a righteous realm in India.
Semanti Chakraborty is a leading Indian novel writer in English from Bengal. She is an ardent admirer of our culture, Sanatana Dharma and is interested in exploring various characters of the Great Indian Epics, Ramayana and The Mahabharata. She did her bachelor's degree in Physics from Bethune College, Kolkata.