Sanskriti Singh is a self-published author of a book called “Ram’s Sister; True Scion of Raghu” and an avid reader. She is eighteen and has grown up reading and listening to the stories of Smrities, Shruties, Itihas, and Shastras. She writes articles in the regional daily “The Shillong Times”. she has won many national level essay writing competitions and her work has been admired by prominent mythologists of India. You can find some of her articles on Google with titles like “Kshatriya Princess” “History not Myth” “Reading the Dictators Mind” “Learn To Live Like A Child” and many more.
She is deeply interested in the subjects that can be explained not only through spirituality but also by logic and sciences, mythology being one of the subjects that can have logical and spiritual explanations if looked for with dedication and is her favourite.
She is a lover of art, mythology, and history. ‘The Flawed Good Man’ is her debut novel published by Leadstart publishing. You can connect to with her through social media platforms like Instagram (im_sanskritisingh) or through twitter(@Sanskriti2390) or visit her blog https://writersanskritisingh.com/.
TBE: Tell us about your book that isn’t in the blurb. What brought about the idea for ‘The Flawed Good Man’ and why did you want to write it?
Sanskriti Singh: Characters in a special way touch your soul, they remind you about yourself. Even as a reader I think we love characters that we can resonate with or subconsciously have them in our mind.
Karna’s character is “flawed” but the fact that all of us are flawed makes him special. A character all of us can resonate with, a character that is not annoyingly perfect and is able to converse with the reader. Karna is the common man’s voice, especially the ones you are deprived of basic opportunities or rights. He was born to an entitled mother but he has nothing, he has to struggle like we all do at a certain point in life.
The fact that he is not Arjun or Yudhistir helps us see the true face of unhappiness. He is an overburdened peculiar kid, with an ambition, need for recognition and respect, but the fact that he has no greed for power or wealth is wonderful. I liked Karna for this, his ambition was respect, recognition and equality not power. I found a little of myself in Karna, and the fact that I really respect how he handles pain with dignity made me want to write about him.
TBE: To start with, I liked ‘The Flawed Good Man’—the book itself and Karna as a character. And part of what I loved is how much you play with Karna’s voice throughout the book. He has a mortal-like voice. He’s quiet at the beginning, and fierce by the end. How does his voice play out in your story, both figuratively and literally?
Sanskriti Singh: The worst we can do with these characters is that put them on a pedestal and judge them. I don’t think the epic was meant for that! I feel these characters need to be understood like humans they were. Like Ram, he has to be understood like a human instead of a deity. Same is the situation with any other character from the two epics.
Giving Karna a mortal-like voice helped me make him believable to readers, that they could be empathic with the character. This empathy we often loose with a sacred figure. It was easier to explain that when you are living as a human, you make decisions according to whatever is happening around not by thinking of what might happen a hundred years later. His voice was like an instrument that helped highlight the basic human character and most importantly human psychology.
Like you noticed his silence as a child and that’s because it is a possible psychological reaction of a child who is in tremendous pressure or friendless, so you see it is easier to understand such complex characters if they are more human to us.
TBE: Moving along to content. One thing that struck me in the book was the unabashed look at Karna’s childhood and life choices. In particular, I and most people are agree with it, you are deliberate in saying that he was right man on the wrong side. What made you decide to take that stand?
Sanskriti Singh: The simplest answer to that will be that he did not fight for politics or power. He knew the truth that he would be the rightful heir of the throne even before the war began and still he fulfilled his promise to his friend can truly be the zest of his character as well. From the beginning of the war he knew he was fighting a lost war, and still he honored his duty. He was given Anga and he became a wonderful king to his subjects but gave away all his wealth as alms. He lied to Parshuram but for knowledge, he wanted to learn and there was no other way for him.
I still wonder how wonderful his life would have been if he was lucky enough to have a normal childhood, like the Pandavs of the Kaurava’s did! He was better than all of those 105 and he then might be the best not after death but while he lived. He was the one common and good thing that connected the Pandavas and Kauravas and his death was actually the end of the war for me. Karna’s was a righteous man, his qualities are proof but he was stuck with people he could not agree with.
TBE: Sticking to the story, let’s talk about the incredible conversation between Karna and Kunti, the one that happens just before the Mahabharata war, where Karna learns about his mother and brothers. This was one of my favorite scenes from Mahabharata. Hands down. What do you think was the emotional state of Karna at that time when he came to know that he’s fighting against his brothers?
Sanskriti Singh: I really cried so many times while I wrote the book; this was one of the scene that was beautiful for me too. The moment Karna might have realized that he finally knew why he was different would have been such a relief! How peaceful it might have been even for one nanosecond to know that his search was not stupidity but the reality of his existence and then the anger that might have followed knowing that he was an abandoned child that his mother did not want him, that his brothers hated him to their core and he was going to fight a war where his death was inevitable. I think at one point he wanted to give up and just leave and since he couldn’t he might have felt strangled and an unbearable pain that felt not mental but physical!
Blood is not the truth of our existence but I often wonder if Karna might have felt the absence of not having it even though it was an un-acknowledged thing in his life. A brother who understood his passion or a mother who knew his ability, how sad it would have been to finally find all that (if he ever felt the need for them) right before he was going to die.
We can never imagine emotional pain, it is an exclusive thing and the one suffering through it knows the true face of it. I can only put myself in his place and try to understand, I cannot fully but yes What I said earlier is what I could conclude.
TBE: In your novel, we meet Karna’s second wife Supriya, and learn much more about her life than in the Mahabharata. How did you develop Supriya’s personality and background?
Sanskriti Singh: Supriya is a Kshatriya princess, she is much more aware of what a war means than Varushali, considering the society then. The thing is that when you are born with a past that has witnessed war you know it fierce nature. The thing is that even till date Kshatriya’s are instilled with the fact that even in death you have to brave, that’s firsthand experience truly. We are taught that, death is the ultimate truth!
In the past this was like a training, you are a Kshatriya you must know how to send your men to war without shedding a single tear. Supriya being a princess grew up with it too. I try to bring out details in a character that go right with the society, that work in harmony to the contrasts and cultures that existed then. I try to understand the details of the environment that the character might have lived in, their circle of friends and family and their style of upbringing. It is very important to place ethnic parallels to build a character in mythology at every point.
TBE: How often did you consult original sources or write from what you already knew and imagined? And, was your goal to honor the myth or create a new myth? How much research, how much leeway did you allow your own imagination to fill in that kind of story?
Sanskriti Singh: Before I started writing, like even articles or essays, I learned that the original sources are much more important than any books or imagination. I first read the entire Mahabharat, the one from Gita Press Gorakhpur. The six volumes give enough data to work with and set up a book that could be balanced with my interpretations as well.
I always want to honor the myth, as it is great to know what facts are and those can be rather later simplified for better characterization.
I did not let my imagination take over the book of course because the essence of the epic is so important; it has the depth that cannot be ignored.
About the research, I would say it took a lot of time. I remember writing just 3 chapters in the whole year and then completing the first draft last June when my 12th boards got cancelled. The writing time was much less than the time I spent in reading, the epic many time, articles about characters and whatever other resources I could find.
TBE: Not everyone embraced mythology readings in school. What makes ‘The Flawed Good Man’ a story that will delight mythology fans and help others rediscover and like it?
Sanskriti Singh: ‘The Flawed Good Man’ is the story of a character that is not only about a warrior but it voices the opinion of a common man, it talks about the difficulties of childhood and teenage years. It sheds light on the distorted facts that has been fed to us for generations now about our culture. Quiet serious topics, and certainly a little intense but if one is curious enough then it might interest a person to know a character that has had a kind of “love-hate” relation with the masses for a long time now.
Being a Mythology fan myself I would love to know about individual characters, I have tried my best to bring out one such character for people to read. I hope they do like it.
TBE: What themes in ‘The Flawed Good Man’ would we find meaningful in the 21st century?
Sanskriti Singh: Parental support when a child needs it, social equality, understanding the true culture of the past instead of the distorted later version that was used as a means of exploitation, recognition for talent, equal opportunity for every single person, the need for emotional support these are few things that give meaning to the book and character as well. As we see that throughout his life, Karna kept suffering because of the lack of some of these or he kept fighting against the unfair treatment.
TBE: Do you think mythology has had such a lasting impact on readers’ imaginations? Why?
Sanskriti Singh: Mythology has an emotional connection to the roots of this nation, these are not just stories but a medium to express a lot. Mythology has everything; love, values, war, lust, passion, tragedy etc. It has a story for everything, every emotion and that stirs the heart of the people. That I think is the strongest thing about our literature, it can be moving and leave room for endless discussions and contradictions. Anything that you can talk about, discuss makes impact, somehow somewhere it leaves an impression.
TBE: How was your publishing experience with Leadstart?
Sanskriti Singh: It was wonderful! Everyone is so responsive and so helpful. Whenever I do not understand something I know that I will get the answer once I send through a mail. Everyone at Leadstart has truly made the book work, suffered through my endless queries and with so much patience. It was great to work with everyone.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Sanskriti Singh: I am working on my third book right now; it is about a feminist character from mythology including many interactions with lesser known as well as famous women in mythology. I hope it will interest readers to find about the feminist man and the wonderful women in mythology.