Asura:Tale of the Vanquished. The Story of Ravana and His People. by Anand Neelakantan – A quick review

Book title : Asura: Tale of the Vanquished. The story of Ravana and his people

Author: Anand Neelakantan

Excerpt :

The epic tale of victory and defeat… The story of the Ramayana had been told innumerable times. The enthralling story of Rama, the incarnation of God, who slew Ravana, the evil demon of darkness, is known to every Indian. 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. But what if Ravana and his people had a different story to tell? 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. Until now, no Asura has dared to tell the tale. But perhaps the time has come for the dead and the defeated to speak. “For thousands of years, I have been vilified and my death is celebrated year after year in every corner of India. Why? Was it because I challenged the Gods for the sake of my daughter? Was it because I freed a race from the yoke of caste-based Deva rule? You have heard the victor’s tale, the Ramayana. Now hear the Ravanayana, for I am Ravana, the Asura, and my story is the tale of the vanquished.” “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 maybe 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 carves out 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.

Asura book review

My take:

A book that I started with great expectations but couldn’t enjoy much. This one was sadly one of them. Playing around mythological characters is not easy specially when you choose to write about the anti-hero.
Writer tried giving a fresh perception of age old story, but at times it’s exaggerated. Too much detailing. Protagonist’s self talk could had been shortened. Plot around Sita is a good read but again lengthy. The character Bhadra brings freshness, giving the view of a commoner but towards end I got confused by his choices.
Had it author did little more research and skipped unnecessary details, it would have been a better one.

Not a must read book.

Have you read this one? Do share your views.


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