Thursday, November 20, 2014

Asura Tale Of The Vanquished - Anand Neelakantan

History is made by the victors, the story of the losing side is never told. I picked up Anand Neelkantan's "Asura Tale Of The Vanquished" thinking it would be fun to read Ramayana from Ravana's point of view. But I was sorely disappointed by the book.

Asura Tale Of The Vanquished portrays Ravana as the son of a Brahmin father and Asura mother, unfairly treated by his uncle Kubera who ruled Sri lanka. Inspired by Mahabali, Ravana mobilizes  and inspires people around him to come together to claim the throne  of Sri Lanka.  His ambition, and ruthless warring at one point has his kingdom extending right up to the Himalayas. He, himself is portrayed as mighty and learned King who cared for his people and built a caste-less society. The book personifies Ravana, as a great human being, also is called ‘Dasamukha’ (the man with ten faces) for he had embraced the ten base emotions of life, namely - Anger, Pride, Jealousy, Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Selfishness, Passion, Ambition and Intellect. (Actually my favourite part of the whole book is how Ravana & Mahabali explains the 10 base emotion).

The other principal character of the book Bhadra shows Ravana's ambitious behaviour, uncaring attitude towards common people and debauchery. Bhadra, himself is shown as some one having grievously suffered and lost his entire family at the hands of the Devas supports Ravana in his efforts to establish a powerful Asura Empire. Bhadra is called again and again to do the dirty work which the kings and nobles can't do and when the job is done is promptly cast aside by them. 

The rest of the book follows the is well known mythology of India, Ramayana.  Sita,  is kidnapped (Sita is shown as Ravana's daughter who was removed from the kingdom due to a prophecy on her) Hanuman, burning lanka, the battle and final victory of Ram. 

The portrayal of Ram, Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma as mass leaders who achieved a kind of Godhood , thanks to the masses was something I liked. The book talks about the Aryans and Dravidians, calling them Devas and Asuras, and the various societal changes that happen when they overrun and attack each other's kingdoms. Its clearly shown that the Devas or Asuras as conquerors, are identical in the way they ravage the conquered, suffering of the common people and there is nothing Godly about the name "Deva."

Having said this, I want to say that I finished the book just cause I wanted to finish it. The book is too long and could have been edited better. But I would still recommend this book to all Indians with the message "Widen your horizons, don't get hung on religion or culture, how much ever proud our past is, present is what matters" Overall would give the book 2.5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment