Thursday, 12 December 2019

A Win Of Good Over Bad

Updated: August 25, 2012 10:45 am

The book ASURA: Tale Of The Vanquished elaborates on all the edges of the great epic lore. The story of the Ramayana has been told many a time. The story of Rama, too inspiring, the incarnation of God, who killed Ravana, the evil demon of darkness, is known to every Indian. The voice of the vanquished remains lost in silence. The story of the Ravanayana had never been told. Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed outcastes of India for 3000 years. Till date, no Asura, a demon, has dared to tell the tale. But perhaps the time has come for the dead and the defeated to speak. Anand has authored a new dimension in this must read where he unfolds the truths and bare realities. He picks the point as for thousands of years, the demon has been vilified and his death is celebrated year after year in every corner of India. The demon demands to know if this all happened because he challenged the gods. Furthermore, Neelakantan unravels the victor’s tale, the Ramayana and he emphasises the Ravanayana, is the story of Ravana, the Asura, and his story is the tale of the vanquished. The book talks about the Asura cutting a piece of dialogue that goes as “I am a non-entity invisible, powerless and negligible. No epics will ever be written about me. I have suffered both Ravana and Rama the hero and the villain or the villain and the hero. When the stories of great men are told, my voice may be too feeble to be heard. Yet, spare me a moment and hear my story, for I am Bhadra, the Asura, and my life is the tale of the loser.”

The ancient Asura empire lay shattered into many warring petty kingdoms reeling under the heel of the Devas. In desperation, the Asuras look up to a young saviour Ravana. Believing that a better world awaits them under Ravana, common men like Bhadra decide to follow the young leader. With a will of iron and a fiery ambition to succeed, Ravana leads his people from victory to victory and architects a vast empire from the Devas. But even when Ravana succeeds spectacularly, the poor Asuras find that nothing much has changed for them. It is when that Ravana, by one action, changes the history of the world.

The author had long been curious to know about the magic and magical world of Ravana and his people, the Asuras. His fascination grew more profound that gripped the author’s fancy and for years he remained haunted and rather obsessed, which led him to write his version of the story that is Asurayana, the story of the Asuras, the story of the vanquished.

Anand Neelakantan treads the murky waters of telling the tale of Ravana, here neither Rama nor Ravana is the hero, Ravana is the protagonist. The book is a fiction based on the stock characters from Ramayana. The tale is narrated through Ravana and Bhadra, an asura who is positioned as the darker side of Ravana. Ravana is a wannabe idealistic hero, but in Anand’s tale he is neither the personification of evil as picturised by Tulsidas nor is he the well-educated non-Aryan leader of the Jain and Buddhist tales.

The story is lucidly narrated. The yarn is elaborately knit. In a word it’s worth reading.

By Syed Wajid Ali

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