Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review #23: Asura - The Tale of the Vanquished By Anand Neelakantan

As I started reading this book, I was in a hope to understand the Ravana's side of the Ramayana. As the author himself proclaims at the end of the book "And in the pages of history, as always, it is the version told by the victors, that lives on. The voice of the vanquished remains lost in silence." I was thrilled to read this line and I was all ears to hear the Ravana's version of the Ramayana. What the mightiest Ravana has to offer us, the mere mortals, about his version of events that unfolded in the name of Ramayana.

Well, the book picks up really good, opening up with the soul of Ravana gazing upon the remnants of what is called as an epic battle and was thinking in his mind about what all the events that led to his downfall, the downfall of the mightiest king that India or was it the Lanka ?? has ever produced?.

Later what is I expected of the book all went in vain. I judged this book by the cover of it, literally. This is not Ramayana. Instead, it is Ravana-yana.Let's give the benefit of doubt to the author, who said, this is a work of fiction. So, expected a little damage to the original mythological epic that was revered with at most respect and kept at high regards among Indians ,well, Hindus.

As the book unfolds in subsequent chapters, I realized, wait..., this is not I am expected to read, right ??. I continued, Author had no clue what he was telling in every chapter, with an urgency to finish of this book, author had done great damage to the original version of Ramayana and went a step ahead to give a character certificate to Lord Rama.

Let me get some of the points I thought it is disgusting:

The Writing Style and Editing:
Author had not realized the numerous spelling mistakes and errors in sentences formation. When an author is capable of writing such a huge volume, It is expected to make some grammatical errors. But, not in this case, he doesn't even know the difference between "STRUCK" and "STUCK", "ADVISE" and "ADVICE". This is repeated in various section, and I had to bear the entire novel, correcting the grammar myself and continue to read. I don't even know what sort of proof-reading has been applied for the novel. You would read it anyways. Enough said for this grammatical aspects.

Writing Style:

This must and should be mentioned without fail. As I read through the novel, Author depicted Ravana as a fickle minded person, who is not sure of what was going around him. And, author let Ravana continue in that stage throughout the novel. Poor Ravana, I thought, he is schizophrenic. Later, realized, it is the author, who is not capable of maintaining the order while writing the events. At times Ravana seems to be happy and content, and in split seconds, he is sad or angry. In one of the chapters, Ravana is holding his Prime Minister Prahasta's dead body and utters something "I always loved you and want to scream to the world that, you are one of the nicest persons I have ever met" and in next sentence "But, I didn't liked the advices you were bestowing upon me, hence, I would hate you for that". From love to hatred in just 4 sentences???!!!. What the f***??. Common man, I do not have time for this fickle trail of words from you.

The story unfolds between 2 main protagonists. Bhadra, the self proclaimed, close aide of Ravana, who sprung into action from nowhere. And, the main protagonist Ravana.

Bhadra a close aide of Ravana, or, that's what he thinks. He comes from nowhere in the novel and declares his unconditional support to Ravana. He declares, Ravana as the king he was looking for all these years and he can vouch for Ravana, who can battle the "BAD" Devas and restores the "GOOD" Asura rule throughout the India.

I never seen a disgusting character as Bhadra's. He is a spineless, jobless, character less, drunkard who always finds himself in ditch. Any story narrated by him has the final ending of seeing him in a nearby ditch. But, why ??. Author had to explain to us. Bhadra's version of story is truly disappointing, he always finds himself in mess, his thoughts runs like a gutter water, he has no clue what was going around him, neither author helps him to regain his lost glory. Bhadra has a wife and daughter, who never appears in the novel, rather he wanders wagging his tails before ravana, he do not have a purpose in life, he was used as a mere pawn by Ravana or he gets this opportunity himself ??. Sometimes he loves Ravana, he does anything to gain Ravana's trust, he kills Ravana's sister Soorpanakhi's lover, he poisons Kubera's entire army, but still he was not recognized by Ravana, why??, Towards the end, he outrages against Ravana, he kicks ravana's dead body and he leaves lanka and settles in Ayodhya??. I mean what the f*** again??. Why we have to bear so much confusion is one single character ??.

Ravana is as confused as Bhadra or rather more. He has no clue what was happening and why was happening. All he wanted was to becomes the king of Asura empire. Author had miraculously wiped off all the values that many people have kept on several mythological characters. Brahma becomes the Asura teacher, Shiva becomes the Asura god and Vishnu is a bad ass. Why??, you won't even find a clue in the book. All his life, Ravana thought Devas as bad, Brahmins are bad. He thought, Brahmins and other North Indians hated the black people. Author's constant use of words "BROWN", "BLACK" and "WHITE" while describing people shows how much hatred that author is imbibing into people's mind. It is better not to mention Ravana's character much, as people will lose all the respect that Ravana has gained all these centuries. It is pointless.

Ravana realized that Sita will not be happy with Rama (with just an assumption!!). Hence, he abducts her. What the f*** again??. Author goes on supporting this claim that, all these white skinned aryans, and brahmins are not good. They will not take of their wives.

Some points worth to be noted:

As per the author,

  • Lord Rama commits suicide by realizing that he has done grave injustice to Sita mata.
  • Sita mata commits suicide by jumping off to the Sarayu River, when her chastity being questioned by the citizens of Ayodhya. This is such a bad interpretation, I am sick about the author.
  • Lakshmana will be executed by the orders of Lord Rama, because people accused Lakshmana for not taking care of Sita mata in the forests.
  • Maricha's the close aide of Ravana, disguised himself as a golden deer by wearing a deer skin and jumping around like a mad deer infront of sita!!. OMG!!!
  • Sita Mata, is none other than the daughter of Ravana, who had a sexual relationship with Vedavati when he was in a battle against Devas.
  • Lord Rama was beheading all the people (of low caste) who was reciting vedas.
  • According to the author, entire India spoke Tamil, so if someone seen speaking in Sanskrit, has instantly became an alien language.
  • Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, will be abducted and raped by Hanuman, Angada and his troops. (Sick)
  • Kumbhakarna is a big time drunkard, who was always high.
  • Brahmins always hated the Black skinned people.
  • Vibhishana, Varuna are portrayed as a mere traitors, because they joined Rama's army.

At the end of the novel, Author had given some 3 chapters of how the caste system has evolved. He writes that, Rama has pronounced Vibhishana as the king of Lanka. And, Vibhishana has abolished all the asura practices and introduced all the vedic practices. He writes that, vedas are the root cause of Jati and Varna system in the country. He narrates through Bhadra that, all the vedic rituals led the people of lanka to migrate to different parts of the world.

I am so flabbergasted while writing the review of this book. So much to vent out, but not sure where to begin and end. I am sure my central amygdala has gone haywire. Credits to the author.!! :). I can sum up the entire alternate version of the story in few lines:

Ravana: "Hey you, all my supporters, what's up dawgs ??. Well, as you can see, there was nothing under my control, and all happened in quick sessions. I do not even have time to protect y'all. All I wanted is to become just a king. I am not responsible for all your miseries and difficulties. I should've realized this long ago. May be instead of becoming a king, I should've chosen music or teaching or something"

What I liked about the book ??


My Rating: 1/5

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