Queen of the Earth – Unearthing History or is it “HER”story

After the brilliant tale of Didda,  author and historian Devika Rangachari brings us the tale of Prithvimahadevi, the daughter of the powerful Somavamshi king of Kosala. Never heard of her? That is why her story needs to be told .

An intelligent , ambitious girl trapped in a life circumscribed by the rules that govern the existence of women of her royal family. Growing up in awe of her father, seeing her brother trying relentlessly to be a reflection of his father, the young girl knows she has ambitions and hopes that can never be fulfilled in her times.  Marriage to another powerful king seems to be her only allowed dream.

Those dreams too are crushed , as at the last minute, she is used  again, bargained  like a treasured object, married to her father’s enemy, the Bhaumakara ruler, Shubhakaradeva . As she enters into this new world, she finds many new lessons – austere lives devoid of show and excess,  strange gods, unexpected privileges of freedom and friendship that she had not known. Then suddenly, in twist of fate, she gets her chance, to fulfil her dreams of becoming a great queen- to truly use the political sagacity she had been silently garnering at her father’s court. Her father’s confidence and acknowledgement of her skills , her equations with her sibling , friendship, compassion, tough decisions, betrayals and sacrifice all are put to test, as this queen adroitly and kindly rises to this challenge.

Do not miss this fascinating tale, brilliantly reconstructed by itty bitty bits of what was available of this interesting, lost Queen.

GreyMattersDiscussionQ

#History with Gender bias

Unearthing their stories from the historical record has always  been a challenge, with the ordinary difficulties of preserving information across the generations.

How does the story we are told, what we consider “our history” get affected by bias and gendered expectations?  Imagine what you are missing when only half the story is being told.  

#Expectations conditioned through hidden stories

Look at the stories of women who we know in history – Rhani of jhansi (a mother who fought with her son tied on her back), women who guarded their thrones for their sons, women who sacrificed their lives in Johar, women whose beauty changed history .

Think why most of our women from history are virtuous maidens, self-effacing mothers, or a seductive villain?

Would n’t there be women who had murdered and manipulated their way to the top , just like men ? Thwarted daughters and sister, ambitious wives …why are their stories missing? What are the dangers of denying they ever existed?

Going beyond history…

#Dangers of a male prototype – the Henry Higgins Effect

Ignoring half the populations’ story has dangerous connotations, in fact deadly . An eye opening read ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men ‘ by Caroline Criado Perez  reveals the one-size-fits-men approach is disadvantaging  and endangering women everywhere and we don’t even know.

  • Octaves on a standard keyboard are 7.4 inches wide, and this keyboard disadvantages 87% of adult female pianists because of a smaller avaerage handspan.
  • Car crash tests done with a male dummy in the driver seat are not exactly representative of results for women
  • Designed for male PPE Kits, police vests , tools, artificial intelligence operating behind proprietary algorithms …so much around us…the gender data gap is both a cause and a consequence of the type of unthinking that conceives of humanity is almost exclusively male.

Other great books to check out for these discussions

  • The Women Who Ruled India, by Archana Garodia Gupta
  • 10 Indian Monarchs Whose Amazing Stories You May Not Know , tales of the men and women who shaped lives and kingdoms in their times. – same great historian author -Devika Rangachari
  •  Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women Before 1400, -(audiobook and pdf) by Professor Emerita of Humanistic Studies Joyce E. Salisbury,

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