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Asura:Tale of the Vanquished: The Story of Ravana and His People Paperback – 1 January 2012
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I started reading this heavy book with little hesitancy as it was written by a debut writer. However, once I started the book, it didn't look like a book written by a new author. It is very fascinating book with good narration and correct usage of words. Mythology might not interest the current generation; however, the way this story was presented would definitely attract people of all generations. In the past a lot of people have attempted to write stories on Ravana, the villain of Ramayana, the great epic of Hindus. However, all of them have attempted to portray Ravana as a real hero … --Krishnakumar T K Jun 3, 2012
I find it surprising that the reviews before this have not been positive about this book. Maybe it is because it challenges the accepted norms about Rama and Ravana, which is difficult for someone who has heard one version of the story from childhood to accept. Some complained that the character of Ravana did not have a consistent characterization. I think this is deliberate and what makes the book more real. Everyone is a shade of grey....and every human is a mixture of inconsistencies. A true characterization of Ravana cannot paint him consistently evil but it has to be more an internal conflict between noble intentions and wrong choices which the author has portrayed successfully. Having said that, here is my review. "Asura" is a very unique take on the Indian epic "Ramayana". While Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama's triumph over the evil demon Ravana, this book is the story from Ravana's perspective; the king who lost the war. Like every legend that grows over thousands of years, Ramayana is full of fantastic events and unrealistic occurrences (Ravana's ten heads, Hanuman's jump over the ocean etc.). However, it is obvious that these exaggerations must have had some real and fundamental truth to them which then evolved into the fantastic story that we now know as Ramayana. Anand Neelakantan does an excellent job of weaving together a very realistic picture of what might have been the actual events which now have turned into legends and myths. Ravana was a great ruler; flawed but great. Even the Ramayana acknowledges the fact that Ravana was a very learned and able ruler. The empire eventually crumbled due to infighting, betrayal and Ravana's ego, culminating in a great war precipitated by Ravana's abduction of Rama's wife, Sita --By Siby Mathew
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- Item Weight : 440 g
- Paperback : 504 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9789381576052
- ISBN-13 : 978-9381576052
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 3.2 x 21.59 cm
- Publisher : Leadtsart Publishing; 1st edition (1 January 2012)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 938157605X
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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And this particular narration of the Ramayana is just one of those. Ramayana has been told and retold but never from the perspective of the vanquished. And we all are aware of the fact that history is always biased, singing paeans of the victor and demonizing/denigrating the losers. So while Lord Rama is worshiped as the epitome of manhood, Ravana is degraded to the status of the evil villain who kidnapped the former's wife. Thankfully, the author has put a fresh spin on it and after reading this book, one will never look at the Ramayana is the same way as one did earlier. Meet Ravana, the complete man with his ten emotions (baser ones included) instead of the demon with ten heads .
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One fine day Krishna and all Pandavs with Draupadi were walking in jungle.. They saw a dog which is about to die.. Its limbs were out, guts were swollen.. Its smell was very unpleasant... Pandvas and Draupadi notice all the bad things in it but Krishna was intently watching the glittering white teeth of dog..
When or if you read this book you should only notice white teeth not unpleasant things...
This book is good if it is concentrating on last 500 to 1000 years of time but in context of Ramayana it is rubbish.. Yeah it evoke the emotions of readers for lower caste and tells readers that why we should take help them.. But if you add this story in Ramayana by manipulating facts then it's not gonna work out..
And in the end this book wants you to feel about poor and lower cast people which everyone should feel.. But also leave bad taste in your mouth.. And also this book is fully biased.. We all know that Deva and Asura are children of same father one don't want to share anything and other don't know how to control their hunger after acquiring everything.. So if you are telling me that Asura is native Indians and Deva is foreign invaders by applying rubbish Aryan invasion theory then many people can't digest it like me.. So all in one this book is not for everyone and if you read it don't take every info as a fact.. And sir Ramayan time Brahmans are not that bad.. And if you want to throw stones at Brahmans then plz come with some real facts and non biased attitude.
Writing is a good hobby, but don't use your writing skills to spread unsubstantiated falsehoods.
Even though we might actually be misguided to feel that, the author was trying to glorify Ravana, it is quite evident that the author is actually sympathizing with Ravana. At the same time he is also portraying ugly side of the characters of the so called good men like Rama, Lakshmana, Vibhishana, Sugreeva etc in a different context. It is certain that the interpretation of Ramayana will not be the same after reading this book. The main attraction is the certain comments/ dialogues expressed between Ravana and other characters (especially the one between him and Mahabali, before both part ways).
The certain drawbacks of the book are the follows. 1) The author tries to infuse his political ideology surreptitiously (through the main protagonist, who is not actually Ravana) and fails to cover his tracks in doing so. 2) The time line between various events are fuzzy like mythology.
Top reviews from other countries
The book isn’t just told from Ravana’s point of view. His chapters are interspersed with those of Bhadra’s story. Bhadra and Ravana share the same humble beginnings, but their lives follow different trajectories. Ravana’s successes—and his eventual downfall—are all thanks to Bhadra, who often ends up beaten and lying in the gutter after doing Ravana a good turn. He’s a survivor and knows when to stand up for himself and when to swallow his pride and kowtow. Bhadra’s life beneath the shadow of the emperor's palace gives him a unique perspective that complements Ravana’s and makes for rich storytelling.
There are no heroes in Asura. Ravana and Bhadra are often despicable, especially in their treatment of women. And Rama—told through Bhadra’s eyes—has his own shortcomings. There are, however, moments of kindness, moments where greatness brushes a fingertip and times where the characters strive to be more despite themselves. Their shortcomings make them human and accessible although not entirely forgivable.
If you’re interested in Indian mythology and epics, I recommend Asura.
I cant fault the logical assumptions in the stories.. especially Mahabali..