Wednesday, 29 November 2017

ASURA: TALE OF THE VANQUISHED

Author: Anand Neelakantan

Genre: Fiction, Mythological Thriller

Publisher: Leadstart Publishing, India

Reviewed by: C Sreedevan

TRE Rating: ✪✪✪✪✰

Book Review: India has been a land of immigrants, influenced by cultures from different parts of the world. We had the Aryans, the Iranians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Turks, the Mongols and most recently the modern era Europeans leaving an impact on our lifestyles and our genealogy. The most notable and the oldest of them being the Aryans or the 'Devas' as mentioned in this story. History has largely been repetitive as the wars fought have been favorable towards the migrants in most of the cases. The peace loving 'settled' Indigenous people were prone to martially disciplined, barbaric and ruthless nomadic tribes and ambitious kingdoms. The tropical subcontinent of India being climatically favorable was always the centre of attraction for various migrant tribes, expanding kingdoms and colonial conquests.

These invaders brought with them their alien tales,beliefs and cultures resulting in a mixed race and cultural vividness much of which forms the present day India. The famous epic of the land - The Ramayana  is one such story which is symbolic of the Indian people and plays a major role in forming their day to day cultural activities. A part of the social engineering which took place thousands of years ago when the indigenous Dravidian tribes referred to as 'Asuras' in the book were defeated and pushed back to the south of India and further down towards the island and country which even to this day is known as Sri Lanka.

Well the book tells us about one of the known three hundred versions which is not heard of in the northern and many other parts of the country. As the author clearly puts it as the 'loser's story', this book gives us a more humane and historically and racially relevant version of the epic. A subversive take on a migrant culture which demonised the native ones and formed a racial superiority which is still prevalent in present India through social evils like the untouchability, misogyny and ostracization of the masses through caste system.

The author has done a very good work of co-relating the past with the present day and has blended this mythology very well with History. The book opens up the diversity of India and does its best to explain the presence of innumerable races in the country, their beliefs, their customs and how they have impacted the shaping up of a vast and almost non-comprehensive 'Indian culture' that we know today. As I would like to sum up in my one liner for the book:
'The winner takes it all but the loser always has the better story!'