Using Ramayana to navigate life’s challenges

For centuries, humans have told stories to impart moral values and guide society’s behavior. Ramayana does this exquisitely. The ancient Indian epic, filled with tales to teach people about the importance of morality, ethics, and proper conduct, still resonates with us today.

Rama, the ideal son, loving husband, and virtuous king, has served as a moral compass for generations. While none of us mortals can reach his moral height, he has continued to inspire us to do better.

Sita, his loyal wife, sacrificed her comfort to follow Rama into the forest. She displayed quiet courage while Ravana kidnapped her against her will and held her in captivity. Sita resisted his advances and refused his demands, no matter the threat. And she faced all her adversity with grace and dignity. Her remarkable ability to forgive can teach us to let go of our resentments.

I love these stories, and you will read references to this epic sprinkled throughout my books.

As the birth of Rama and his brothers were announced to the king of Ayodhya, the performers broke into a joyful dance.

Heir to Malla by Anna Bushi

Filial piety shown in Ramayana has a subtle distinction from a son merely respecting his father’s wishes. King Dushyant had granted his wife, Kaikeyi, two boons for helping him during a battle. This is of significance because this portrays a culture where female warriors were present. That should come as no surprise because some of the fiercest dieties are warrior Goddess like Durga. Back to the story, Kaikeyi wants her son Bharatha to rule Ayodhya, though Rama, son of Kausalya, is the firstborn son of Dasaratha. Kaikeyi asks Dasaratha to grant her the two boons, crown her son and send Rama to the forest for fourteen years. When Rama hears of the boon, he agrees to keep his father’s word, though Dasaratha begs Rama to stay and rule the kingdom. In my view, the story conveys Rama’s value for the dharma and his commitment to upholding the principles of righteousness. Rama fulfills his father’s promise to his stepmother, though it comes at a tremendous personal cost. Despite Dasaratha’s pleas and offers to make amends, Rama firmly upholds his father’s promise and accepts his fate with grace and equanimity.

You can see the same distinction in respect for elders. Lakshmana, Rama’s younger brother, is a loyal and dutiful sibling and rarely goes against his older brother’s wishes. Rama, with his virtuous ways, is an easier brother to respect and obey. Vibhishana, Ravana’s younger brother, on the other hand, opposes his older brother’s devious acts. The tale of these two brothers illustrate that the lesson here is not blind obedience to one’s elders but rather adherence to dharma.

Our modern sensibilities might dislike Rama’s test of Sita’s virtue after he rescues her from Ravana. But the different adaptations of this offer us a clue to the culture and norms of those times. Some historians have stated that in the original Valmiki Ramayana, Rama does not explicitly doubt Sita’s virtue or subject her to a trial by fire. However, in some later versions and adaptations of the Ramayana, Rama does express a desire for Sita to prove her virtue and subjects her to a trial by fire to prove her purity. This trial by fire is known as the agnipariksha, in which Sita walks through a blazing fire to prove her innocence. These subsequent changes provide us a clue that the importance placed on a woman’s honor changed over time.

Ramayana is a beautiful window into our past and our present. The way we tell the story today offers an insight into what we hold valuable now. For instance, in modern adaptations, a lot of emphasis is placed on portraying Sita as an equal partner to Rama, rather than a subservient wife. That is a reflection of the place of modern Indian women.

I hope this epic continues to delight and guide young readers.

I met some brilliant authors

Awestruck at his Ingenious mind

I was spellbound when Anthony Doerr described his childhood with a science teacher mother and how his creativity and curiosity were nurtured. Even now, he seems to approach the world with this mixture of wonder and awe. If you have read the Seymour chapter in “Cloud Cuckoo Land”, where he goes into the wilderness behind his house and discovers this peaceful land that connects him with something larger than himself, that is how I felt listening to Anthony. Afterward, a long line of readers waited to get their books signed, and he took the time to talk to each of us. Friendly, down-to-earth, and gifted. Grateful to have met him.

Inspired and empowered

Bonnie Garmus is a trailblazer. To write a debut blockbuster novel in her sixties is simply amazing. She sounded a lot like Zott, her protagonist from Lessons in Chemistry. Her no-nonsense attitude is liberating to see in a woman because society expects us to conform to its view of our role. What was also inspiring was seeing so many women in the audience who shared stories of this book affected them personally. That is every author’s dream. I hope I touch my readers’ hearts as these two authors did.

Want to become a better writer?

While I have always loved to read, I started writing later in life without the benefit of an education in literature. Since I began my career as an author, I have been devouring books to improve my craft.

Here are some of the books I have read and recommend to my fellow authors:

Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should 

By David Gaughran

For any author on the self-publishing journey, this book introduces you to the basics. It is a great starter book that simplifies the journey and highlights the most important aspects.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

By Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott welcomes you into her life and bares her mind to you in this book. This is no easy task for most of us. It is almost like shedding one’s clothes and allowing the world to see you vulnerable.

Anne shows a budding writer how to do this with humor and self-deprecation. There is nothing earth-shattering revealed in this book about writing. Most of the advice offered here would be familiar to any aspiring writer or an experienced writer wanting to improve their craft.

Still, I found it useful to read this book, if only to know my struggles as a writer are not unique to me.

Recommend: For aspiring and experienced writers who want to hone their craft. 

Characters and Viewpoint 

By Orson Scott Card

As an author, I like to read books that help me improve my craft. This book is written in an easy-to-read style while imparting a lot of knowledge. I enjoyed the writing samples sprinkled throughout the book that conveyed information more readily.
For my Land of Magadha series, I choose first-person POV because a few fantasies I had read used it. This book discussed all the POV and its merits. I might use third-person limited POV for my next series based on what I learned here.
I recommend this book for aspiring writers and current writers.

Writing the Blockbuster Novel

By Albert Zuckerman

As an author, I am constantly looking to improve my craft. This book gave me a lot to think about.

Daily Meditations: Writer Tips For 100 Days

By David Garland

This book is available for free on the author’s website. I read it slowly, about a chapter or two a day. Lots of nuggets for writers on how to become better. Highly recommend for novice writers.

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

By Orson Scott Card

I write historical fiction currently. I plan to write a historical fantasy series soon, so I decided to read this book. While the marketing sections are outdated, the craft of writing SF/Fantasy is still very relevant and has many useful tidbits about world-building.

Recommend for new authors or new to SFF authors.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

By Stephen King

f you read one book on writing, make it this. An authentic voice is such an elusive thing. Stephen King does it so effortlessly. 

To imagine him facing near-death halfway through the text and still producing such a great book speaks to his skills as an author.

I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it to all my author friends.

Wired for Story

By Lisa Cron

Stories have been with us since we lived in caves. We crave them and know instinctively as a reader what makes a good story. But this skill does not translate so easily when we are writing. 

I realized this when I wrote the first draft of Heir to Malla. I knew the story, characters, and plot very well. I could imagine each scene vividly. But when I wrote it down, I left key parts out. My mind filled the blanks. Unfortunately, since my readers cannot read my mind, they were left in the dark. Thankfully, with the help of my editor, I fixed this in subsequent drafts. 

This book spells it all out for us authors—how to craft a story that resonates with our readers—along with common pitfalls to avoid—plus an insight into the human brain.

I recommend this book to all my fellow authors who want to better their craft. 

Story Genius

By Lisa Cron

Nothing in this book is earth-shattering. As readers, we instinctively recognize a great story. But that same instinct does not serve us well while writing our first (or fourth) novel. Writing seems to require a different set of thinking neurons. 

Author Lisa Cron gives readers a step-by-step blueprint to write a layered, nuanced, and engaging novel.

As we write more books, we will develop our own shortcuts. In the meantime, the techniques mentioned in this book, especially asking Why, will serve authors well.

Recommend for aspiring authors and for ones interested in improving their craft.

Newsletter Ninja

By Tammi Labrecque

Recommend this book to all authors who want to start a newsletter and to authors struggling to engage readers in their current newsletter.

In easy-to-understand terms, Tammi shows us how to engage and keep our fans happy. And unlike other social media, newsletters use one of our existing talents as writers, our ability to create magic with words.

This book is a keeper on my bookshelves.

How To Market A Book

By Joanna Penn

While several of the tactics mentioned in the book are outdated, the overall strategies are still very valid for marketing fiction and non-fiction books. The other neat thing is this book highlights the other books, websites, podcasts, and blogs so an author like me can continue improving our craft.

Would you read this tale?

I have written over 50,000 words in my new tale of love. The series is based on an ancient Indian custom called svayamvara. In a svayamvara, a princess chooses a suitable groom from among the gathered suitors. Here is a sneak peek:

Princess Lalitha searches for her father, who fought in a battle against King Dushyant. When Lalitha is injured, a metalsmith rescues her. He accompanies her on the journey back to her kingdom, and there is nothing convenient about the feelings Lalitha develops for him. Her father had promised to hold a svayamvara, a groom-choosing ceremony, for her. With no male heirs, Lalitha cannot succumb to temptations if she wants to rule her kingdom.

King Dushyant was fighting to avenge his father’s death. He did not anticipate saving Princess Lalitha or escorting her to her kingdom. While he had hidden his identity from the spirited princess, his icy resolve to keep his heart untouched began to melt.

Neither can afford to surrender to the current of attraction sweeping them. But the author has different ideas for them.

If you are interested in reading my other historical fiction books, start here.

Are you a fan of Happily Ever After?

I love reading books with happily ever after endings. The ten romance novels I have read this year pay testimony to that. Reading a well-written romance novel can feel like drinking a cup of hot coffee while watching the sunrise. No one does it better than Jane Austen. Capital L love her books. Who is your favorite romance author?

However, writing a happily ever after story requires a different mastery. Unlike the Land of Magadha series, where death came without an announcement, the protagonists in my historical romance novel have to survive to the end to declare their passion. I have written over 50,000 words in this tale of love without killing my star characters, though I came close a few times.

The series is based on an ancient Indian custom called svayamvara. In a svayamvara, a princess chooses a suitable groom from among the gathered suitors. Sometimes, there might be a contest, and the prize for the winner is a wedding. In Ramayana, Rama strings a bow to win Sita’s hands.

The slender maiden glanced at him; she glanced
And uttered not a word, nor heeded how
The grass-twined blossoms of her garland danced
When she dismissed him with a formal bow.

The Dynasty of Raghu, by Kalidasa

Looking forward to sharing updates about my work in progress in the coming weeks.

A sneak peak

I want to share an update about my work in progress. I am writing a historical romance novel set in medieval India. She is impulsive, and he is calm, except where it concerns her.

Princess Lalitha rode along the narrow forest path, her heart hammering against her ribs. The wind rustled against the branches as she and her tired mare advanced slowly in the descending darkness. She had left her Aunt Chitra’s house two days ago and had journeyed nearly non-stop since then. Only finding the fate of her father kept her moving.

Sneak Peak of Anna Bushi’s WIP

Can you a write a story in six words?

I did for a contest and was humbled to win first place.

I am immensely grateful for local organizations that support artists, including writers. Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation is one such local organization that hosts the Write On Oceanside event.

They conducted a six-word story contest. I have never participated in a contest before, and I write 80k to 90k words novels. There is always a first time for everything, and I decided to craft a story in six words.

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway bet his literary friends that he could write an entire story in six words. The group put $10.00 each into the pot, then Hemingway wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

(Source: Write On Oceanside website)

I am in awe of his talent. I have years of practice ahead of me to reach his level. As the first step in that journey, my short won first place at the contest.

He collapsed, and death united them.

Anna Bushi

Well, what do you think? I would love to hear from you. One day, I hope to write his backstory. While not short, my complete trilogy is available in Kindle Unlimited for binge reading.

I am writing a historical romance series

Yes, you read that correctly.

This series of historical romances will center on the ancient Indian Svayamvara traditions. Svayamvara offered the bride a chance to choose her mate. I have sprinkled references to this ceremony in the Land of Magadha trilogy. Some svayamvara’s involved a challenge, and the bride would garland the winner. In Ramayana, Rama strung the bow to win the hand of Sita.

Each book would tell the story of a royal couple. Romance with a healthy dose of royal court intrigue is what you will find in the pages.

These novels will feature a happily ever after ending, but the road traveled will be bumpy.

How is my writing coming along? I am writing the first book in the series and falling in love with my characters. I have written ten thousand words, and they are starting to feel real to me. I will share their names soon.

While waiting for this book, read my free novella to get a taste of medieval India.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mothers and mother figures play a prominent role in my Land of Magadha trilogy.


In Heir to Malla, you meet Queen Charu, stepmother of Meera and Jay. Is she an evil queen? Not quite. I featured her in a blog post.

Tears welled in my eyes anyway for the mother I lost, and my stepmother who got her wish to wear the crown but knew no real happiness.

Princess Meera


Grandmothers and the tales they spin can be magical. Meera’s grandmother plants seeds in her mind of what her life will be like as a queen. I wrote about how my grandmother inspired my writing journey.

Even my beloved Padi may not be worthy of my beautiful and brave granddaughter.

Queen Mother Priya


The wonderful sibling relationship between Meera and Jay features prominently in my trilogy.

“The one our mother taught us?”

“I don’t remember her, let alone her voice. I only remember you singing to me.”



Of course, many aunts act as mother figures in the story.

He cried out for his mother last night. I watched as Aranya comforted him tenderly and calmed his demons.


A mother’s love is complex, and I enjoyed exploring the different layers of it in my story.

Anger surged in me like a fire that was fed new wood. I needed to protect my child.


What is your favorite portrayal of mother in fiction?

Cover Reveal

Burden of the Crown

This book concludes the story of Meera and Jay and is a culmination of my eight years writing journey. 

We first meet 19-year-old Meera and her 16-year-old brother, Jay, in Heir to Malla. In the first chapter, our protagonist dreams about marriage and love. The chapter ends with her learning that her brother has gone missing in enemy land. 

What follows is a tale of love, adventure, and royal intrigue set in medieval India. From the gods worshipped to the food served at the feast, the book offers a taste of 9th to 11th century India. I enjoyed writing this coming-of-age story, especially Meera’s. At the start of the book, Meera is a traditional princess, content to let her father and brother manage the affairs of the court. Then things change for the worse, and she is forced to take charge of her destiny.    
Meera and Jay return to face the consequences of their actions in War of the Three Kings, set a decade after book one. This book starts with another Meera chapter, showcasing her domestic bliss, with a peek at her heart in conflict, and plunges into chaos with a death of a beloved monarch. I loved the many storylines in this book, some happy, others tragic. One, in particular, tore my heart. My characters are not playing with blunt swords anymore. So the outcomes are unpredictable. 

Burden of the Crown will wrap up Meera and Jay’s tales. This series has been a magical ride for me. Some of the arcs started in book one conclude in this book. It has been an absolute joy writing about this land, where I could let my imagination run wild. I will share an excerpt soon.