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Author: Shanta Sinha Bhalla
Publisher: Blue Leaf
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8187902590
Rain Dance – A Story of Romance & Adventure in Ancient India revisits Emperor Ashoka’s Magadh, deeply penetrated as it was with the philosophy of Buddhism. Amidst this historically and spiritually enriched backdrop unfolds the story of Chitralekha, the only child of Rajadatta, a merchant prince of Magadh and Ashoka’s chief trade adviser. A young woman of beauty and intelligence, she is irresistibly drawn to Vijitasena, a powerful Buddhist monk and Ashoka’s spiritual adviser.
Their delicate love story is complemented by the story of the gentle Ambika of Koshala, a famous courtesan who does Ashoka a great service. In the tradition of the times, he seeks to reward her, in the process, falling passionately in love with her. He eventually marries her and she is crowned Queen Karuvaki, the queen of his declining years.
Virtuous, whimsical, conniving, weak and strong-the elegantly etched characters transport the reader to a world long gone, but where human feelings and failing defy time and era. The gracious living, spiritual striving, philosophical inquiry and worldly sophistication of Ashoka’s enlightened reign bring back the Golden Age of India not as a quaint relic of the past –but as a touchstone for the modern state.
Chitralekha looked down at her hands. She was suddenly shy and her heart bet very fast. Vijitasena looked at her and, despite his self-discipline, was overwhelmed with a longing to hold her close to him, to comfort her, to bring her peace. He suppressed this urge and said gently, My lady, I give thanks that you are safely back in your father’s house. It must have been a profoundly shocking experience for you.
Yes. It was very frightening. She swallowed hard on the lump that had suddenly filled her throat at his gentleness. But it is only now that I’m back that the full impact of the experience has struck me. She fell silent and surreptitiously wiped away the tears that began to roll down her cheeks.
Lady, don’t be ashamed to weep. You have been through much; when you had to be, you were courageous. Now you are in the safety of your father’s house and here your tears do not dishonour you.
The worst of it was that I thought I would never see you again. Chitra said softly, and the tears flowed faster down her cheeks. She wiped them away with her stole.