Where Can I Find Books On Indian Mythology? – 14 Best Indian Mythology Titles

We all have a spiritual side, but some like to take their studies further than others.

There is no more spiritual culture than India, which is steeped in many incredible traditions and ways of being. But what are the best books on Indian Mythology?

Where Can I Find Books On Indian Mythology

Well, there are thousands that you can choose from, such as the Mahabharata which spans generations, whereas others are more up-to-date teachings on Indian mythology.

But there is so much to be gained both in terms of story and also lessons for how to approach your life.

So what are the best books on Indian mythology? Where can you find these titles? Which books modernize Indian mythology and which ones go back to the roots?

Well, a great place to start would be my top 14 Indian mythology books that you can order online right away.

14 Best Indian Mythology Books

When it comes to finding the quintessential Indian mythology books, there are thousands to choose from, as you’re dealing with the literature of a whole country.

However, I’ve managed to painstakingly sort through lots of them to get to just the very best.

The Mahabharata

The Mahabharata (Penguin Classics)

If you are doing even the shallowest investigation on Indian mythology, you’ll find it hard to avoid the Mahabharata, which is the seminal text of Indian mythology that has actually spawned whole religions.

This is basically one large soap opera with philosophy peppered within.

This is one of the longest poems that has ever been printed, written anonymously somewhere between 400 BC and 400 AD.

There are some major themes going on in this book such as the necessity of war and the loyalty that occurs between families.

The centerpiece of the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad Gita, which is the primary religious text of the Hare Krishnas.

This section of the Mahabharata tells the story of Arjuna, who is angsting about going into battle against his own family when he receives a visitation from God himself, namely Krishna.

This portion of the book is more instructional than narrative, giving people direct rules to manage their life by, including dietary advice.

There are many different translations and versions of this book, but I would recommend that you get the whole unabridged text.


  • The authoritative text on Hinduism and other Indian religions.
  • A long-running saga that spans generations.
  • Ancient wisdom mixed in with the narrative.
  • Discusses subjects such as duty, loyalty, and pleasure.


  • It is extremely long, so might only appeal to die-hard students of Indian mythology.

The Ramayana

The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics)

This next book is a shortened version of a classic Indian prose poem, which tells the story of the exiled Prince Rama and Princess Sita, charting their 14-year journey across the Indian continent which involves kidnapping and betrayal.

There are many different versions of this poem, but the original is one of the longest poems ever published, containing a staggering 24,000 verses.

This poem has had a profound impact on Indian culture, from Hinduism to Buddhism and the Hare Krishnas.

This poem, much like the Mahabharata, does include instructions about how to live your life and how to attain a spiritual existence.

It does this by depicting idealized versions of various roles that people play in society, including husband, father, brother, and king.

As with the Mahabharata, there are many different versions of this poem, including those that have been adopted by Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.

There are also different versions that depend on different regions, so the Ramayana in Laos will be far removed from the version in the Philippines.


  • This is another crucial text in the development of Indian culture.
  • A snapshot of the history of India at the time of composition.
  • Plenty of different versions to explore.
  • A great introduction to the philosophy of India.


  • Another very long work that will take weeks to read.

The Liberation Of Sita

The Liberation of Sita

This book is a much more modern reframing of the Ramayana, giving voice and context to some of the female characters that appear in the original text.

Volga is the pen name of the writer and poet Popuri Lalita Kumari, who has been known for her feminist perspective on canonized Indian texts.

This is a great novel if you are looking for further development of a female character like Sita who features in the Ramayana.

This is a great book to get a young woman who is studying the Ramayana and might find the rendering of female characters very one-dimensional and dull.

This book takes the form of a few short stories which give context and deeper meaning to the main characters.

This is an extremely compelling and well-written book that has garnered hundreds of great reviews on Amazon and other places.

It is recommended that you have at least some knowledge of the Ramayana before you start reading this one, although you don’t have to read the whole thing, a summary will do.

If you want something that modernizes but does not change an old text, this is the one for you.


  • This changes and reframes how you might see a traditional Indian text.
  • A great feminist spin on an old novel.
  • Tells as much about Indian culture today as it did yesteryear.
  • A captivating and exciting work in itself.


  • Will need some knowledge of the original Ramayana.

Mandodari: The Queen Of Lanka

Mandodari: Queen of Lanka

This is another book that expands and revises the original Ramayana text. It highlights the role of Mandodari, who is portrayed as the evil mother in the Ramayana.

This book, written by Manini J. Anandani, seeks to question that assumption and see how her decisions might have been strategic, rather than malicious.

If you are a fan of feminist renderings of these ancient texts, then this is another great one for you to delve into.

It really turns the idea of evil female characters on its head and recontextualizes the whole of Indian mythology in the process.

This novel asks some interesting questions that might not have been addressed by some contemporary scholars.

Questions such as whether King Ravana really did turn into a villain when he was defeated in the 13-day war.

It also discusses Mandadori’s role in his life and how she faced many insecurities in the marriage.

This is a very easy read and might be the perfect companion piece for anyone seriously studying the Ramayana.

You could start by reading this book and then checking the reference points in the original work.

This is a great starting point for young female readers interested in Indian mythology.


  • Great feminist interpretation of the Ramayana.
  • Reinterprets a lot of commonly held beliefs.
  • A great introduction to Indian culture.
  • A light and quick read.


  • Might require some knowledge of the Ramayana beforehand.

Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished

ASURA Tale of the Vanquished: The Story of Ravana and His People

This is another reinterpretation of the Ramayana, this time told from the point of view of Ravana and the Lankans, who are often portrayed as evil in the original text and are believed as such by the millions of readers of the Ramayana over time.

This is a very provocative work (written by Anand Neelakantan in 2012), as it is a very overt criticism of the caste system that existed in India both now and thousands of years ago.

This tells the story of Ravana and how he came to hate the class system into which he was born.

This is a story of how Ravana grew up poor and struggled during the early years of his life.

The novel does this by jumping back and forth in time, building the narrative to an electrifying climax.

This explores the anger that he felt toward non-Asuras, which fuelled a lot of his resentment and ultimately led to his defeat.

This book has received lots of positive reviews, both inside and outside the Indian community.

It is great for anyone who wants an alternative telling of some of the popular myths around the Ramayana (think John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’).

It is a great starting point for younger readers who might not be familiar with the Ramayana.


  • A great starting point for younger readers.
  • A gateway into the world of Indian mythology.
  • Well-written and researched.
  • Well-reviewed on Amazon.


  • A controversial work that might not appeal to traditionalists.

Keikeyi: A Novel

Kaikeyi: A Novel

This is another feminist retelling of the Ramayana poem, this time focusing on Kaikeyi, the queen who is determined to shape the world that is dominated by men and gods.

In this novel, Kaikeyi sets out to change history in defiance of so many adversarial forces.

Kaikeyi is raised in a world where women are treated poorly, especially by her father who often looks down on the female sex.

However, Kaikeyi defies her father and the rest of the male-dominated society, learning archetypically ‘masculine’ behavior such as chariot-riding and spear-throwing.

However, this is not a story that pulls its punches when it comes to emotion.

Every page is more gripping than the last and you can be sure that you will shed a tear or two before you come to the end.

This is why the novel has garnered so much praise from readers and reviewers.

This comes with nearly a thousand ratings on Amazon, all of which result in a broadly positive consensus.

This novel also shot to the top of the bestseller list, with many critics praising it as an evocative and poetic novel that is extremely powerful.


  • A powerful novel that will appeal to young and old readers.
  • Great intro to more traditional texts.
  • A feminist reimagining of a popular myth.
  • Gripping and engaging.


  • Might not be a good book for traditionalists.

The Palace Of Illusions

The Palace of Illusions: A Novel

Now we move onto a novel that reinterprets the traditional text The Mahabharata.

This is a novel that recasts one of the female villains of the Mahabharata, Panchaali, as a strong female character who was a victim of an extremely patriarchal caste system.

In this reframing of Panchaali’s life, we see how she is subject to so many forces beyond her control: from her attraction to one of her husband’s sworn enemies to her relationship with the god Krishna himself.

This novel is one that is extremely compelling and comes with plenty of twists and turns that will leave the reader wanting more.

This isn’t just a formal history of the Mahabharata; it is a dynamic novel and a great introduction to Indian mythology.

As sprawling and multi-faceted as the original Indian mythology, you can see why this has gained thousands of amazing reviews on Amazon.

This is a great novel for adults who might be familiar with the original text yet are craving a new perspective.


  • Modernizes the original Mahabharata.
  • A feminist reinterpretation.
  • A good entry point for young readers.
  • Full of traditional Indian mythology.


  • This might not be one for traditionalists.

The Pregnant King

Pregnant King

This is a novel that puts a magnifying glass over one of the lesser-known aspects of the Mahabharata, which is gender fluidity.

This novel covers many stories of gender swapping in The Mahabharata, such as the story of Yuvanashva, the king who accidentally drinks a potion that was intended for his wife.

This potion was designed to make his wives pregnant, but when he drinks it himself, he gives birth to his own son.

This throws into question so many assumptions about gender in Indian history and culture and the exploration of this and many other examples makes for fascinating reading.

This is a work of fiction that draws on many truths, including the story of Arjuna, who gets castrated and has to masquerade as a woman, Somvat, who must give up his manhood to become a wife and Ileshwara, who is a god or a goddess depending on how the moon appears at night.

This is a great example of how contemporary attitudes to gender have a precedent in history.

This kind of novel really bridges the gap between the past and the modern-day. This is a great introductory summary of left-field aspects of Indian mythology.


  • Great for younger readers.
  • A new perspective of Indian myths told in a fresh voice.
  • Good for those craving a retelling of the Mahabharata.
  • A provocative study of gender in Indian culture.


  • Not great for a straight retelling of Indian myths.

Upon A Burning Throne

Upon A Burning Throne (The Burnt Empire)

This is the first in a series of books that form a saga, almost an alternative saga to the Mahabharata.

This is a reinterpretation of that Indian myth, focusing on the story of Adri and Shvate, who are fighting to rule the last of the Burnt Empire after their father has died.

This is a realm where demons and gods walk amongst the mortals and interact with them.

It involves the struggle for power, especially when the introduction of a young girl from a different kingdom threatens the claim to the throne of both Adri and Shvate.

This is a very sprawling narrative with many different voices and perspectives, sometimes clamoring too much for attention.

If you are someone who is a fan of avant-garde storytelling, then this is the book for you.

This comes with a handful of very good reviews and might certainly appeal to anyone who has been put off by the arcane prose and poetry in the Mahabharata and is craving something more modern and exciting.

This is a great place to start for young adults who want to learn about Indian mythology.


  • A series of books that blend history with fiction.
  • Exciting and very easy to get into.
  • A good place to start for younger readers.
  • Plenty of characters.


  • Hard to keep track of the narrative sometimes.

The Krishna Key

The Krishna Key, Bharat Series 3

Now we have a novel that will really pull you into the world of the Mahabharata, reframing the whole thing as a rip-roaring thriller novel.

This will certainly appeal to anyone who is a fan of religious conspiracy fiction such as Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’, except in the context of Indian mythology.

The main character of this novel is Professor Ravi Mohan Saini, who is on the trail of a serial killer who believes that he is doing the will of Lord Vishnu by killing people.

Despite being a thriller, this is peppered with plenty of history taken directly from the Mahabharata.

This is a great springboard for delving further into the philosophy of Indian religion and culture.

The fact that this has been so well-reviewed shows how successful the author Ashwin Sanghi is at blending these elements of popular fiction with Indian mythology.

This is great for all ages of readers and you don’t necessarily have to be well-versed in Indian mythology to really appreciate the twists and turns of this story.

It will be a great place to start for younger readers who find it difficult to get into some of the old-fashioned poetry and stereotypes of the Mahabharata.


  • An invigoration of Indian myths.
  • Blends the thriller genre with characters from the Mahabharata.
  • A rollercoaster of a novel.
  • A great place to start for younger readers.


  • Not exactly a historical study of Indian mythology.

Adi Parva: Churning Of The Ocean

Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean

This is a book that tells the classic tale of the River Ganga from its very creation by the Vedas all the way through to the climax of the Mahabharata with the Kurukshetra war.

However, the difference with this story is that it’s told in the form of a graphic novel.

This is great if you want to avoid the thousands of words of text in the original script, which can turn off a lot of readers, then you can enjoy the same tales through beautifully rendered pictures.

This covers all the major events of the Mahabharata, including the original churning of the sea and the snake sacrifice of Janmejaya.

This is a great entry point into Indian mythology for children and young teenagers.

The pictures are very vivid and unique, drawing attention to some of the most important aspects of these traditional myths and legends from Indian history.

This is the first in a two-book series, both of which have garnered plenty of praise for their unique take on an old story.


  • A great entry point into the Mahabharata.
  • Graphic novel showing in pictures and words.
  • An appealing introduction for teenagers.
  • The first book in a two-book duologue.


  • This does not go into the same depth as some of the adaptations listed above.

The Immortals Of Meluha

The Immortals of Meluha (The Shiva Trilogy)

This is the first book in what is called the Shiva Trilogy, which features one of the principal characters in a lot of Indian fables and philosophy.

This book images a world where the gods of the Hindu world were once humans with their own goals and desires.

This book features plenty of people in the caste system, including the Chandravanshis who are a warrior dynasty that is often mentioned in Indian mythology.

Shiva is introduced into the story as a simple Tibetan immigrant who arrives at the Meluha tribe and soon becomes what they believe is their savior against all evil.

This book started off humbly as a self-published novel, but it soon went on to achieve massive success in India and the rest of the world.

This is one of the fastest-selling books in the history of Indian publishing, with over 2.5 million copies being printed.


  • This is an exciting introduction to the world of Indian mythology.
  • A bestselling action and adventure novel.
  • A radical retelling of the Mahabharata.
  • Uses lots of characters from Indian legend.


  • A Hollywood version of old Indian myths that take liberties with the original texts.

Adhaata Asao’s Liege

Adhaata Asao's Liege

This novel is a new appropriation of traditional myths, featuring Vishnu as one of his various avatars.

This features some of the touchstones of Indian mythology, but there are so many twists and turns in this novel, then you should expect the unexpected.

It starts with a handful of merchants that are making their home after a long trip. However, when a violent rainstorm hinders their path, they decide to change course and go up Mt. Hemil, from which no traveler has returned.

Will they be able to save the city of Kushlam from the monster unleashed from the mountains?


  • A riveting blend of history and fiction.
  • Features characters that appear elsewhere in Indian folklore.
  • A great place for first-time readers of Indian culture.
  • Lots of 5-star reviews on Amazon.


  • Will not appeal to anyone who wants something more historic.

Daughter From A Wishing Tree

The Daughter from a Wishing Tree: Unusual Tales About Women from Mythology (Unusual Tales from Indian Mythology)

This final book is a study of the women that have shaped Indian mythology.

This reframes them in a similar way to a lot of the stories that we have mentioned above, with brave women defeating demons and leading vast armies to victory in battle.

This is a great book not only for people who want to study the flip side of books such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana but are naturally inclined to question gender roles in general.

The covers the first female-created clone as well as goddesses defeating armies of men.


  • A great academic study of women in Indian mythology.
  • Good book for young female readers.
  • Thousands of great ratings on Amazon.
  • A page-turner from start to finish.


  • More factual than narrative.

Buyer’s Guide

If you are looking to study Indian mythology, there are certain tropes that you won’t be able to avoid, whether it is a narrative reworking or an academic study.

Here are the things to look out for in books on Indian mythology:


Most of the books that we have listed above contain popular characters from Indian mythology, and most of them are reinterpretations of characters from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

Indian Culture

Whether old or new, a lot of the books that we have listed above touch on Indian culture, from traditions and rituals to dietary restrictions.


I hope that the best 14 Indian mythology books I have provided are a good starting point for either the casual or academic student of Indian mythology.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Good Starting Text On Indian Mythology?

The main historical text on Indian mythology is the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Most contemporary Indian mythology books are based on these.

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Anna Davis