Bisnaga’s story begins with beheading and burning.
This is the century and the short-lived Kingdom of Kampili was conquered by the Delhi Sultanate. The deposed King Kampila Raya was beheaded, his head stuffed with straw, and sent to Delhi for the Sultan’s entertainment. Then the survivors of the fallen kingdom, the women whose sons and husbands died in battle, made a move to change India’s destiny. Heads held high, they walk into the bonfire and sacrifice themselves unanimously and firmly in jauhar or mass self-immolation. Only nine-year-old Pampa Kampana remained. As she watched her mother burn before her, life as she knew it was coming to an end. Still, there’s a newborn ferocity in her young heart: she’s determined never to make the same mistakes as her mother. She would not sacrifice her body just to follow the dead into the underworld. She will refuse to die young, and instead live an incredible life and grow old bravely. Perhaps it was this rebellion that attracted the attention of her namesake goddess Pampa, or Goddess Parvati, who in that moment took possession of the young girl. From that moment on, Pampa Kampana became half woman, half goddess and created the nation that would eventually be known as the Bisnaga Empire. Salman Rushdie to Vijayanagar Empire Victory City .
Pampa Kampana Thus began the epic, fabulous reimagining of Rise and Fall. She is almost always referred to by her full name, perhaps out of respect, but more likely because of the pleasing combination of the two words — the desire to establish a kingdom of equality between men and women. As she whispers to the newly created citizens of Bisnaga, she ensures that women, like men, have the right to freely roam the streets, study, work, conduct business, and openly express their love for whomever they please. For modern readers, her kingdom is a feminist haven—but even the powers of the all-powerful goddess Parvati prove no match for the natural inclinations of humans. Greed and corruption overwhelm the populace, and religious intolerance poisons governance. In a metaphorical allegory of real-world politics, all the good life that Pampa Kampana brought is destroyed – but we still promise that the wealth of the people will rise again.