Why is modern Indian literature obsessed with elements of mythology and history?

India is, for the most part, a conservative country.

The conservative impulse causes people to look at the world through the lens of our past. The liberal impulse is more future-oriented and fuels exploration and innovation.

Because India is past-oriented, even liberal narratives find themselves going through the past-lens in order to be heard and to find public acceptance. Politicians who want to rebuild a city have to talk about restoring the place’s ancient glory. Doctors talk about how the science of India was way more advanced than anything we have today. Even philosophers and freethinkers have to put on semi-religious labels in order to make sense.

Creators and writers do the same. Their message travels in the envelope made of old messages. It is easier for audiences that way. Novelty has mostly not worked in Indian markets.

Whether you want to put forth an empowering narrative about India, or chastise it for its social ills, most books of influence have done it by calling upon the past. I personally find it disappointing that almost the entire body of Indian speculative fiction is fantasy (mythological) and not science fiction.

I am not really dissing the way things are. Just saying we are like this only.

There is however, plenty of scope within mythological and historical narratives to present new stories and ideas. Indian storytellers have been doing it for a long time and failing less and less as time passes.

Maybe in the years to come, we will see genuinely new stories.

#history, #literature, #mythology, #storytelling