24th August 2013
Today’s post is about the latest book I finished reading: Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished, by Anand Neelakantan.
Usually, I do not review books on my blog, but this one blew my heart away, and thus this post.
I am a fan of modernly retold epics, and I have quite a few. But this one is takes the prize. (till now)
As a child, I never missed a single episode of the Ramayana: the epic of Rama. Infact, that was the reason we bought a TV! So, when I came across this book, I couldn’t stay away from it.
The story has been told from the other side of the table: Ravana. The book portrays what Sanghadasa’s Jaina version of Ramayana speaks about: that Sita is the daughter of Ravana.
But unfortunately due to superstitions, Ravana, the Asura king gave away his daughter to death. Incidentally, she graciously gets adopted by Janak. Years later, Ravana realises that he did wrong and wants his daughter back, but by then she is married to Rama. And thus, began the epic war of Ramayana.
It is a different version from what we all have heard and known: that Ramayana was the saga of war which arose because of Ravana’s carnal desire for Sita.
But this is not what stands out in the book. What is beautifully depicted is the human being Ravana was (and not the Asura). It shows how the Asura empires were different from the Deva empires. How caste system originates from the Devas and then continued by the Hindus, which is a fact even today.
The book is supported by the character of Bhadra, who is from the lowest of the society’s cadre (a Shudra). Highly irrelevant person from point of view of the kings but as much as the story is being told from Ravana’s mouth, it is being told from Bhadra’s words too. That is what makes the book seem real to life and can be related with.
All in all: Amazing book. My rating 5/5