“Nerdection Must Read”
The slogan “behind every great man, there’s a greater woman” was perpetuated throughout the feminist movement of the 60’s and 70’s. The stories of Radha and Dara, set out in Hidden Women: Dara’s Tree and Cosmic and Eternal Love perpetuates this notion that great men of traditional Hindu and Buddhist stories owe their strength, success, and religious enlightenment to great women, who were the unquestionable embodiments of virtues such as devotion, sacrifice, patience, emotional endurance, and faith.
The stories of Radha and Dara, laid out in Hidden Women, gives a fresh and female perspective to two different traditional stories. The influence these two women had over the paths of Krishna and Siddhartha respectively through their virtues and love, changed the trajectory of these religious traditions. For without these great women, those men would not have been nearly as great as we see them now.
Spoiler-free Plot of Hidden Women: Dara’s Tree and Cosmic and Eternal Love
This audiobook is a double header! To prevent confusion, both stories have been separated and evaluated individually for your enjoyment.
Dara’s Tree follows the life of Dara, short for Yasodhara, from her humble beginnings on a farm to the heartbreak of losing her inner peace, to falling in love with Siddhartha and inspiring him to become enlightened.
Dara’s story is bookended by a great beautiful tree that symbolizes her inner peace and joy. The loss of it bringing about devastation, and the re-finding of it delivering the end of her suffering. It is a major theme throughout her story and is a major clue throughout Siddhartha’s journey to enlightenment too.
Cosmic and Eternal Love
Cosmic and Eternal Love is a retelling of Radha Krishna – the ultimate Hindu love story. However, this story is told exclusively from the perspective of Radha, beginning with her life as a child in her parents’ bookshop before taking us on a journey negotiating marriage as a familial duty and obligation; growing out a friendship, only to later re-discover it later; finding out what love truly means; losing true love and the sickness and desperation that comes with it, before finally achieving enlightenment.
Radha’s story is saturated with art, both in the form of her talented bookbinding and poetry, but also in the music that Krishna creates and plays for her to keep her inspired. What Radha and Krishna are too afraid to tell each other is made clear to us through their respective art forms.
My Take on Hidden Women: Dara’s Tree and Cosmic and Eternal Love
Whilst researching the traditional story of Siddhartha becoming the first Buddha, there seemed to be a gap in the story. It is alleged that Siddhartha found himself leaving the palace, the night his son was born, for some vague and arguably selfish reason. (Seriously, what kind of man abandons his wife immediately post-partum?!). Dara’s perspective outlined in Dara’s Tree helps to give motivation to Siddhartha’s sudden departure on a quest: he was driven by love, one of the most powerful forces on Earth, and he was rewarded for his faith, and Dara’s patience and sacrifice, by becoming enlightened.
There were lulls in the story. It is a slow-paced story that doesn’t have much of an emphasis on detailed character development. The characters are objectively discussed, and the dialogue doesn’t lend much to their evolution. The listener doesn’t develop much investment in the characters due to their lack of complexity. Satisfaction in the story is achieved by the neat, bookended summation of the story with a large, beautiful tree.
Cosmic and Eternal Love
The story of Cosmic and Eternal Love provides a romanticised explanation of how the truest of loves can sneak up on you; how it can be cerebral and creative; and how true love, like that of Radha and Krishna, doesn’t always end in marriage, but instead infuses into the elements of the world. Radha and Krishna achieve ethereal enlightenment and existence through the love they share for each other, and it transcends their time on Earth.
Whilst this was a great retelling of an iconic love story, the pace of the storytelling was inconsistent. Character development for Radha and Krishna early in the story was thorough and well thought through, but after Krishna goes off to war and Radha falls into despair the story begins to feel rushed. New characters are introduced, like the old woman in the forest, but then breezed over – the old woman simply came into the story, saved Radha, reinstalled her will to live, and then, *shrug*, she dies. The old woman is obviously essential to Radha’s journey to enlightenment, but she doesn’t get the stage time she deserves.
Audiobook Narrator Review
The pace of the narration of these audiobooks was slower, but mindfully so. The pace of the reading was such that the narrator was able to enunciate clearly and execute the dialogue without confusing the listener. Occasionally, the narration had strange timing and pauses, but this seemed to mostly be due to the music track that accompanied the narration.
The music track and additional sound effects was one of the great creative additions to the storytelling. The music reflected the emotions of the characters and elevated the action of the stories. The additional details that were built into the story through sound effects, like birds twittering, crickets chirping, or children laughing and playing in the background, gave excellent context to the various locations in which the events of the stories were taking place.
This is a must read (or rather, listen) for all ages, particularly those with an interest in religious and international history. There is no mature content, but previous knowledge of the stories of Buddha and Radha Krishna would be advantageous.
“Hidden Women: Dara’s Tree and Cosmic and Eternal Love offers a unique and insightful perspective on traditional tales, showcasing the profound influence of extraordinary women on the paths of legendary men, all skillfully narrated with a thoughtful blend of music and sound effects.”
About The Author Of Hidden Women: Dara’s Tree and Cosmic and Eternal Love
Amrita Sen is an artist, musician, and storyteller. Her parents immigrated from Calcutta, India, when she was 4 years old. With a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the Wharton School of Business, Amrita got her start on Wall Street before transitioning into the arts. Throughout her career, Amrita has sung with the famous Indian composer A.R. Rahman at the 2009 Oscars and with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. She also had a major art exhibit at Art Basel and has distributed a bag line in department stores nationwide, including Nordstrom’s, Dillards, and Barnes and Noble. Now, Amrita is using her creative storytelling skills to narrate and produce the captivating audiobook series “Hidden Women.”