The famous epic, Ramayana, has beentold and retold over generations now and it is always told from lord Ram’sPoint of view. The story always speaks about what a purushottam (the supreme ofall men) lord Ram was and how he ruled over the country with love and warmth!Lord Ram is actually considered as God Vishnu’s incarnation on earth. There aretemples all over India and people praying to him till date.
This book is, Ramayana told from Ravana’s point of view. For those who have no clue what I am talking about, Ramayan is all about Lord Ram (Hero), Princess Sita (the wife) and Ravana(Villain). Ravana gets influenced by his sister (female villain) and kidnaps Sita. He meets his end at the hands of Ram who comes to rescue his wife.
So, Ravana, who has been considered as the demon (Asura) for as long as I can remember, is portrayed as nothing but a mere human in this book. He was a king and a damn good one at that. He ruled like a human and he took decisions like a human. The book also portrays Princess Sita as Ravana’s daughter. This is actually something that is believed to be true by a selected few communities of people in South India.
Asura is not about making the villain, Ravana, look good or look like a hero. It hasn’t changed the epic in any way. It is just being narrated from King Ravana’s point of view, giving more importance to his family, lineage, life, achievements, and failures. If you search for the term “Ravana” on Google, you will see hundreds of pictures of some mythical human with ten heads instead of one. An image absolutely fit for a demon! But in reality, it is believed that Ravana was so intelligent and had complete knowledge of all the Vedas and Shastras that it seemed like he had 10 brains instead of one. This concept which was used to actually praise Ravana was somehow twisted and turned into an ugly picture of a man with ten heads!
Excerpts from the book
“I had lived as Ravana and I would die as Ravana. I did not intend to become Rama, the perfect man and God. There was no dearth of gods in my country. It only lacked men.”Anand Neelakantan, Asura: Tale of the Vanquished
“Love makes you weak. Love has unseen bondages that take you into the abyss of failure at that crucial moment when victory and failure get balanced. Beware of love.”Anand Neelakantan, Asura: Tale of the Vanquished
“Most humble men are either hypocrites or dont have much to be humble about. Success breeds pride and vanity. And pride is the only rewardAnand Neelakantan, Asura: Tale of the Vanquished
I was especially caught up with the part where Ravana’s Guru would advise him things like, never feel pride over your victories, never get attached to materialistic things, never fall prey for humanly bondages etc. and Ravana would proudly defy his own guru and say that these emotions are just as humanly as hunger, tiredness, sleepiness etc. If it is not a sin to feel those feelings then what is the sin in feeling pride, love, envy etc.? Even at the end, Ravana died proudly as Ravana, someone who lived and died like a mere Human being, nothing more or nothing less!