BUT Perfection has a price.
He paid that price.
Let’s flashback to 2013 when The Oath of the Vayuputras was out. I had my boards going on then and just as luck would have it I saw the sweet smelling brand new book snatched out of my hands a second after it was delivered. I tearfully saw it go into my Dad’s cupboard and that was the last I would see of it for another month. The day the exams got over I stayed up all night and finished gripping ending to an epic in its own right! Though I was a little disappointed by how things turned out, I was damn excited for the possible sequels that Amish hinted and couldn’t wait for his next release…
Coming to the book, when Amish revealed his next big book, I like many others were surprised because I was half expecting a Mahabharata series with all the teasers in the Trilogy. But when I gave it another thought it kind of made sense that first we have to fill the holes in the predating stories. And so after a year or so of waiting the new book is finally delivered at my door…
I had a lot of expectations and interest in this book. Particularly about the birth of Indrajit because Nagas apparently can’t sire children and Raavan was told to be a Naga. But sadly the issue has not been addressed to in this volume. Another thing that intrigued me was to see how Amish would take an already perfect story and give it shape. Because unlike the Trilogy here the author has to follow the same basic outline of the story that Valmiki had given form to ages ago. And retelling it with a touch of originality was a dangerous path indeed!
My first reaction when I started reading the book was befuddlement. The author had taken the freedom to notably twist or sometimes entirely delete some key incidents of the original manuscripts. I’m not going to reveal much for the fear of disclosing spoilers but important out-of-the-ordinary episodes like the Golden Deer Incident (It comes in the first chapter so I’m going to let it slide) were completely removed. And wait till you get to Tadaka and Subahu! Relatively well known things like the Ayodhyans following Ram and the grieving death of Dashrath were not extensively detailed much to the advantage of the reader as he could look for better things.
The bold advances taken by the author leaves a reader familiar with the epic in a state of utter bewilderment and sets the ground for the author to deliver blow after blow of sheer ingenuity and brilliance. The infantile seeds of the masculine Suryavanshi way of life and the dream of Meluha – the ideal state are sown and gives the reader a nostalgic aftertaste of the trilogy.
Other appreciative changes the author has taken care to do was the re-making of Sita into a warrior princess of a minor kingdom, Ram into a troubled and disliked firstborn, and Manthara into a shrewd and wealthy businesswoman and others, many of which beguile the reader, but gives them room to get to learn these characters on a more personal and intimate level.
We see Ram as a perfect man struggling to keep his perfection. Achieving something is easy; what’s a challenge is keeping it!
We basically retain the skeleton of the original epic that being – A Queen was kidnapped. The king and his army saved her. But with more of a Amish-ic flesh and bones to it!
The end was a cliffhanger as with the Trilogy with the introduction of the Naga Hanuman. And since the Vanaras are yet to be introduced in Amish’s universe it makes me curious as to what will Ram’s army consist of; how he crosses the sea and the Sanjeevini episode. But only time and patience can give us that answer.
In conclusion, it is a fast-paced gripping story with redundancies reduced to a minimum though at times unnecessary elaborations on philosophy and the Indian terminology seem superfluous. The addition, deletion and moderation/manipulation of characters and incidents alike are a treat and the end leaves you begging for more.
Lots of seeds are sown and we expect a bumper harvest in the next volume and I’m sure Amish won’t disappoint!
Shiv and Vish; Sati and Sita - Essentially anagrams of each other represent the same thing. The two parts of a whole. The two faces of a coin. And the author’s attempt to find answers compel us to question ourselves and join him in his quest.
Jai Shri Ram! Har Har Mahadev!