Reading this book is like traveling into the realms of very loving, genuine and thrilling experience of a living goddess. This book is a bridge that links the world of innocence with the world of experience. It also shows a unique and rare combination of innocence and power as reflected through the narratives of Rashmila Shakya as told to Scott Berry.
From Goddess to Mortal is a biography of Rashmila Shakya who was fortunate enough to live two different lives in one lifespan. It’s the story of a girl who was first a Goddess and latter a mortal. The book is a sum of her experience initially as a goddess and later of mere mortal. Rashmila was four years old when she was chosen to become the Royal Kumari. Her world was to change as she was now being promoted to Goddess. She was now Dyah Meiju, the living goddess and had to move into a new house the Kumari Che, She was the Royal Kumari from 1984-91.
There are many interesting things that happen to her during her stay at Kumari Che one of the things being little Rashmila never cries during her term as Kumari. She just knew that she was not supposed to. And at the same time that of a girl who waited the whole day for her friends to finish school so that she could play with them and carved to have dinner with the rest of the caretaker family over her solitary meals.
It’s also the story of a child whose life was divided between being a goddess during the festivals and at the time of puja and at times playing with her dolls like ordinary girls her age.
The part where she reveals her fondness for the festivals as those are the only times she gets to go out of her palace is rather touching. Makes one wonder if we have to keep the small child confined to her palace to give the impression of the goddess when everyone knows that the goddess is but a small child.
Rashmila’s difficulties over coming to terms with the simple ways of life is rather touching as until then she had believed that nothing would happen to her the goddess who had the power to help others get over their suffering.
Rashmila’s description of her difficulties while adapting her mortal life and the problems she had while moving back to her own family is another interesting part , others being her learning to live like the mortals starting by learning to walk, going to a class full of children half her age. There’s a passage in the book where she describes how she gathers courage on fine day and buys herself a sweet.
It’s the story of a hardworking girl who did not give up in despair and worked harder than most people her age with the help of her family to learn not just her textbooks but also the ways of life. As she wanted to do something productive with her life.
Rashmila a quite, reserved, honest hard working girl has managed to become the first Kumari to have completed her higher education.
But the book doesn’t just end with her journey; Rashmila had another purpose for writing the book. Rashmila was the victim of a lot of misunderstanding about the life of Kumari. She feels that people have been fascinated by the myths surrounding the Virgin Goddess and that no effort what so ever has been taken to correct it. So she hopes that by revealing her experience she will be able to set a few things right. Like the myth that Kumari’s have to prove their courage by spending a night in a room full of 108freshly severed goat and buffalos. Nor did she undergo a particularly rigorous physical examination.
Infact Rashmila feels that the tradition of the living goddess should to continue with a little ramification. Like providing proper education, as she believes Kumaris will not have any problem with adapting to the ways of real world if they are provided proper education
The latter part of the book consists of answers Rashmila was asked a number of times by people from all over the world. She completes the book by saying that she has no regret about being a kumari rather says that she enjoyed her life.
She feels she was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to help preserve the tradition of the nation .
It’s an enlightening book on the life of a Kumari, the rituals associated with it, the days she spent at her palace and the also about her life after the stint as a goddess was over. The book goes at length to prove that girls at the Kumari Che are happy and can live a normal life if they are provided education. It’s a book that advocates on the tradition of Kumari, says that this tradition should be continued, as Kumaris are national symbols as well as a symbol of the lack of enmity between different religions.
Above all it’s the story of a lady who is proud to have been able to serve her country wants others to know about it.