The book “Urnabhih: Chanakya’s Scribe” by Sumedha V Ojha is historical fiction. It is the continuation of the book “Urnabhih”, the first book of the trilogy.
Misrakesi is Acharya Chanakya’s scribe at the Mauryan palace and part of the royal administration; Misrakesi, pregnant, carries the future Senapati of the Mauryans; and Misrakesi, the new bride, attempts to fit into one of the kingdom’s most powerful families while fighting both assassins and more intimate threats to her own happiness with Pushyamitra.
While Misrakesi finds himself vulnerable at the center of a policy chakravyuh, hHer child, her husband, her family, and her very existence all seem to be pawns in an unseen but deadly power game that swirls around her.
Read an excerpt from the book below.
Sugaang Prasaad was the same. It was she who had changed. Misrakesi was no stranger to the palace – not only had she been a frequent visitor in recent years, but she had also spent a few weeks living in the complex itself, as a newly minted spy, when she arrived from Ujjain.
The series of wooden structures glistened in the sunlight, the columns and facades covered in thin layers of gold, decorated with silver tendrils and tiny golden birds. Misrakesi looked at them, familiar but strange. The decorations of the palace were now almost complete; his glory shines.
They were on foot, she and Pushyamitra. She had absolutely refused to be transported to the palace in a palki, and Vaidya Ashwin had refused to sanction a ride on horseback even for the short distance to the palace. They had compromised on the walk, despite the heat and the hot wind from the toilets, which would soon blow over the plains of the Ganges. Of course, they had gone to the palace early in the morning to escape the heat. Urmil held an umbrella above Misrakesi, who was secretly happy, although she would never admit it!
The guards at the entrance to the administrative block stood to attention when they saw the two of them. The leader stepped forward with respectful pranaam.
‘Welcome, Devi Misrakesi. The Acharya had sent a message that you would come today. Arya Indusarman is waiting for you to take you to her karyalaya.
Arya Indusarman was a former palace official. Like the Sunga brothers, he had survived the Nanda administration as his father, a minister of King Nanda, had secretly defected to Acharya Chanakya’s side before the coup that replaced the Nandas with the Mauryas failed. has been carried out. The fact that he was also the husband of Amatya Katyayana’s niece no doubt helped.
He was a calm, self-contained man with a receding hairline and an almost apologetic demeanor. Misrakesi would have categorized him more as a sheep than a lion if she hadn’t glanced at those blazing eyes, which could barely contain their intensity.
He and Pushyamitra knew each other very well and exchanged greetings, after which Pushyamitra nodded to Misrakesi and left to his own office. Misrakesi would go to the antechamber behind the Sabha Griha where Acharya Chanakya had his headquarters.
Misrakesi suddenly felt helpless and sat up abruptly. What could possibly happen to him? She was not a new employee of Royal Mauryan. She had worked for the Samrat and the administration of many samvatsaras now. Where does this lack of confidence come from? She was here to work as a scribe, helping the Acharya and her right hand, Sharanrava. She was an expert in the art of writing. What was she afraid of?
Shaking herself mentally, she smiled at Indusarman and said, “Pranaam, Arya!”
His thin lips parted just a little as he returned his pranaam and turned to open the way to the Sabha Griha. There was no one in the antechamber, which surprised Indusarman.
“The Acharya must have been delayed in a meeting. He had wanted to meet us together for a joint briefing. It will have to happen later, because I can’t wait any longer,” he said. He left saying he would be back.
Misrakesi was unsure whether to sit or stand, or approach any of the asanas with low tables in front of them. Suppose she sat in place of Acharya Chanakya? A smiling Sharanrava rushed over, his dukula beating behind him, and pulled her out of her dilemma.
‘Ah, Devi Misrakesi! You are the. I’m happy to see you. Today is indeed a busy day and I will be very happy to have your help. Come come.’
He had a bundle of blank bhojpatras in one hand and what looked like an administrative order or shaasan in the other. Sharanrava vaguely motioned for her to sit down and she sat down on one of the asanas near the window.
“Here, take these blank bhojpatras and this shaasan, and copy it four times for the four viceroys, you know them! A copy in Magadhi too, please?
She knew two very well indeed. Akshay in Takshashila and Pushyagupta in Ujjain. But who were the other two?
“Now you can use writing instruments on the desktop, as fast as you can. I know you write beautifully, but how fast can you be? This case has been pending for a long time because I didn’t have time. And there are so many other shaasans to compose.
It seemed that she should plunge into the deepest river of work; no foreplay.
‘The Acharya will not be able to meet you today, but he has asked me to present your work to you. He had scheduled a briefing with you and Arya Indusarman for Shaasan’s new department, but for now it looks like things will have to continue as they are. I’ll just have to do my best, with your help, of course.
There seemed to be nothing more to say for the moment and Misrakesi got to work. Copying a shaasan from a bhojpatra was not difficult and she did her best, stopping only to ask for the names of the viceroys of Tosali and Suvamnagari. Sharanrava was quiet and busy at another desk. He was frowning at a shaasan he was composing, referring to some notes he had which obviously must have been dictated by Acharya Chanakya.
For Takshashila, a copy in the Kharoshti script would be needed; for Ujjain and Tosali, in their local scripts and dialects; for Suvamnagari, in Tamizh Brahmi. She had finished the Magadhi and Ujjaini copies, but what about the rest? She had learned a little Kharoshti during her visit to Kaikeya, but she was not learned enough to translate and inscribe. Misrakesi was silent, wondering whether to show her ignorance or not, when Sharangarava suddenly looked up and spoke.
“Ah, the translations! I forgot them. How are you, Devi?
“Well, I have some knowledge of Magadhi, so I translated Shaasan Sanskrit there,” Misrakesi ventured hesitantly.
“Let me see…it looks pretty good to me. Now, about the others -‘
His words were interrupted by the entrance of Pushyamitra and Siddharthak. The first looked displeased and the second interested, always ready to stick his nose in all possible matters of palace and administration. This part of the palace was not where he was usually welcome.
“Of course, my apologies! said Sharangarava. “I was so happy to be helped in my work that I thought of nothing else. I have been instructed by the Acharya to grant you adequate periods of rest. You should leave now. I’ll have the translation ready to copy when you come back.
Excerpted with permission from Urnabhih: Scribe of Chanakya, Sumedha V Ojha, Roli Books. Read more about the book here and buy it here.
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