Read Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan Online


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 whaThe 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 has never been told. Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed castes 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 from them. It is then that Ravana, by one action, changes the history of the world....

Title : Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789381576052
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 504 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished Reviews

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-05-21 22:16

    How to Define Dangerous BooksSometimes the only force that can take you through tabductso the end of a book this bad is the sweet thought of revenge: of how you are so going to maul the author in your review once the book is done and dusted.This is a book that is so painfully badly written (500+ pages of tripe!) that ordinarily it should not merit much thought, but the fact that it tells a story that so many would want to hear, and might believe too easily, makes it dangerous nevertheless, and worth discrediting.Also, the idea of giving voice to the victims, of inverting the historical bias of “history is written by the victors” is quite interesting. This was the reason I could not resist picking up the book.The Tale Of The Vanquished: The story of the Ravanayana has never been told. Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed castes 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.Written through a distorted prism of historical victimization, this book is simplistic beyond imagination, is replete with misprisions, and makes no attempt either to capture the poetry of the original epic or show any sort of fidelity to its philosophy. Instead it mangles every aspect of it.The author is clearly a Dravidian fanatic and tries every angle to work his fever-pitch hatred into the epic and its ‘historical atrocities’.In effect, the author wants to fan the North-South Divide (the Aryan Vs Dravidian political flame) and the caste divide, and is extremely vitriolic in his language throughout. The hatred is obvious in every page.The two main threads running through this atrocious and fanatical novel are:1. Hate the North Indians, they brought all evils into society.2. Our only weakness is our lack of unity, let us band together, Brothers, we are the original rulers of India before these intruders came into our lands.The basic thesis is this:India was originally ruled by the Asura kings and Tamil was their language and it was high culture and complete equality and what not - a la Mahabali’s paradise - celebrated through the Onam festival of Kerala - the book assumes that fable to be the default condition of India. In a classic nostalgic narrative, this Mahabali’s India is evoked throughout as the Golden Age of India. According to the author, then the ‘Aryan Invaders', a bunch of uncouth barbarians came and overthrew the Asura kings (all due to their own lack of unity) and established an uncultured primitive society throughout India. Yes, the barbarians not only won every war but they conquered the whole of the sub-continent - and this is in spite of the fact that the Asuras were so advanced in technology that they even had flying chariots (the Pushpaka Vimana) and stuff. Go figure.Then the main narrative takes over - Ravana, an ambitious youth, rebuilds some semblance of the original glory of the Asura’s and eventually starts capturing back the mainland from his base off it - in Sri Lanka. During one of his conquests, he fathers a girl child who was abandoned and then adopted by the king of Mithila - yep, Sita is Ravana’s daughter in this narrative - can’t have the good guy indulging in random abductions, can we?Then Ravan watches with great sadness as Sita marries Rama later in life and decides one day that her life with Rama will never be really cool and abducts her - in her own best interests, mind you - because the Aryan society mistreats women and Ravana doesn’t want that for his daughter. So in keeping with the high moral principles of the Asuras, he kidnaps her and keeps her captive against her will - way to treat them equal, eh?Rama launches an attack and as usual (but not before Lakshman disfigures and rapes Ravana’s sister, provoking the now pacifist Asura king), the lack of unity is the undoing of the Asuras - Ravana’s own brother plots to dethrone him.Eventually Rama triumphs and then institutes the caste system, Sati system and every known evil - all dictated by the Brahmans. India degenerates into all sorts of chaos and loses her position as a moral force and a political force in the world. The dark ages descend and Rama was the initiator, Ravana was the last hope for the Tamils - the golden age was lost forever.Now the funny thing is that the whole novel is written at a time when the whole Aryan Invasion theory has been thrown out of the window, more or less. It was part of the ‘divide & rule’ policy and this author wants to bring back those heydays of old. It is politically motivated twisting of facts. There is hardly any justification for the inventions that the author has indulged himself in.Facts:1. Ravana’s father was Visravas - Ravana was an aryan himself in all likelihood. (+ He is known to have followed the Vedic rituals that are so derided in this book - and technically that was the criteria for Aryanhood, just as Vibhishan in this book does)2. Ravana was a North Indian himself too, before traveling down south and capturing the kingdom that belonged to Kubera (who is himself supposed to be Ravana’s brother - an earlier wave then?). So if anything, he must have been one branch of the Aryan Invasion that spread across India (as per that theory)3. Dark skin is not a characteristic of Non-Aryan, nor is white skin a characteristic of Aryan:- Rama was himself dark-skinned.- So was Krishna, later (and Arjuna, for good measure).- So was Vishnu himself, the supposed god of the ‘white-skinned’ Aryan race (btw, Shivites Vs Vishnavites is another virulent theme of this book - Vishnu worshipers are shown as the uncouth Aryan stock while Shiva worshippers are the Dravidian stock, according to the author.)4. Sita is Ravana’s daughter purely because she is dark-skinned? By that logic, Rama too could have been an Asura prince? What, if any, racial conflict is the Ramayana supposed to portray then?5. Plenty of Rakshasas were fair skinned and hence cannot be a simplistic racial characterization.6. Dravidians are not always dark-skinned - stereotypes are for idiots, surely?7. Recent genetic studies have shown the racial stocks to be hopelessly intermingled throughout India and gives no evidence of any distinct racial divide between North and the South.8. Except for the language, not much divides the so called Aryan and Dravidian culturally, genetically, religiously or historically. Even the linguistic divide shows the potential for being bridged as a common ancestor for proto-Tamil and Sanskrit is investigated.9. One more thing, the book boasts of being 'Ravanayana.' The name 'Ramayana' is formed from 'Rama' and 'ayana', translating to "Rama's Journey," not "Rama's Story." Shows the level of knowledge that was brought into this 'rewriting' of Ravana's (and his people's) story.A Note to the ReadersDear Readers, the author is clearly misguided and the book is clearly a fanatic’s attempt to rekindle old hatreds. Please do not take it literally. Take it as an inventive, if extremely badly written, exercise in reversing the so called historical bias of victors, and leave it at that. It merits no historical discussion, and is definitely of no political relevance.This book is a blatant attempt to fan anti-brahminism, North-Indian hatred, and basically blame every ill of society on this ‘historical injustice’. It does have a call for caste-solidarity, but even that is not a noble call, considering that it is caste and not class that is being called to unite.For me, the scary thing about this is that such sentiments are already high in many cities. So many North Indian friends of mine complain about the increasing xenophobia towards them in South India, even in metropolitan cities like Bangalore. Speaking in Hindi in Chennai is a sure fire way of being discriminated against. Similarly, the North Indian cities too are treating the South Indians in a derogatory manner and treating them as encroachers.The stereotypes that are popular about ‘Tam-Brahms’, ‘Mallu accent’, ‘the gali-speaking Delhiite’, ‘chinkis’, ‘Yuck, South Indian idli-dosa??’, ‘the uncouth Bihari’ etc., are all manifestations of this. Not to mention the crudeness of delusional movies like Chennai Express: Ayyo, Rama, what’s aappening?This mutual alienation is very dangerous and could easily be the cause for major riots in our densely packed cities. This sort of fanatical historical narratives only add fuel to this fire and should not be encouraged. Instead of banning books that ‘offend’ religious and racial sentiments, we should be more careful of such works which provoke those sentiments and tries to convert them into blind hatred. Those are the dangerous ones.Links:Come south, young man, but here be dragonsThe Great North-South debate ragesLabels and stereotypes - Do the roots of racism lie in the stereotypes we create?Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines - would be a nice corrective (as a modern, opposing conspiracy theory, but perhaps closer to the mark).

  • Supratim
    2019-06-12 20:36

    Before I start my review please allow me to tell you about the Ramayana. It will help you get the context.Let me also clarify that I only have a superficial knowledge about Ramayana. Mostly gleaned from a children’s abridged edition they taught us in school, what my elders told me and popular culture. The Ramayana meaning Journey of Ram is an ancient India epic about Lord Ram. He is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu (one of the principal Hindu Gods) and regarded as Maryada Purushottam – the perfect man/being. The epic states that Ravana, the mighty king of Lanka would abduct Shri Ram’s wife Sita & Ram would invade the island, kill Ravana and rescue Sita. Scholars will tell you that the characters in the epic are metaphors for various qualities: Ram represents the soul, Ravana stands for ego and so on. The epic is more than a narrative of war & revenge but is about ancient Indian philosophy told as a story.In mainstream (for lack of a better word) versions of the epic – Ram is the hero while Ravana is the villain. Ram is worshipped as a God while Ravana is often vilified as a demon king. In Ramayana, Ravana though a villain was also portrayed as a courageous warrior, a great king, a learned scholar & a great Shiva (one of the principal Hindu Gods) devotee. However, there are a few versions where Ram & Ravana exchange their status. Anand Neelakantan’s Asura Tale of the Vanquished portrays Ravana as a misunderstood hero, Ram as a righteous man strait- jacketed by the scheming Brahmins and all the virtuous characters in the mainstream Ramayana now have shades of grey.Ravana in popular culture is often depicted as having ten heads. I was told that ten heads signified ten brains – high intellect & knowledge. In this book, the author clarifies that Ravana is depicted as a ten-faced character as along with intellect he also embraced thenine base emotionsof anger, pride, jealousy, happiness, sadness, fear, selfishness, passion & ambition. He did not want to be a God; Ravana wanted to be a complete man.The author also portrays the Asuras and Devas were two distinct races of people: Asuras were the original natives of India while the Devas came from outside. Ravana was an Asura while Ram was a Deva.Anyways, let us come to the book. The narrative alternates between Ravana & Bhadra.Ravana is shown as the poor boy with the dreams of building a great Asura Empire. I enjoyed the adventures of Ravana & how he would ultimately become the mighty king of Lanka. But the burden of kingship would start taking its toll and the character would change over time. Just like an ordinary human Ravana would start misbehaving & suspecting his senior advisors, be cruel towards his subjects and even humiliate his mother & siblings in public. Ravana himself was aware of how he had changed and in the end he would realize how he had placed his trust in the wrong people.The most tragic character of the story is Bhadra: a common man whose family had been brutalized by the Devas. He would believe in Ravana’s dream of building a great Asura Empire where laws would be just and every individual would have the opportunity to rise above his station in life by hard work and a bit of luck. Bhadra would faithfully serve Ravana as a soldier – risking his life multiple times. In fact he would make it possible for Ravana to be a king, do all the dirty work for him. But, Bhadra would be rewarded with suspicion and contempt. Ravana’s folly and the ensuing war with Ram’s forces would ultimately lead to the destruction of everything he had fought for. He represents the exploited, humiliated masses who have been down-trodden for millennia.The biggest villain in the book is the Deva Brahmin. The Brahmins are the ones who devised a rigid social order where a person’s birth decided his/her entire life, the women were suppressed and treated as commodities and the Brahmins manipulated everyone including Ram to do their bidding.I agree that the rigid caste system was a social evil indeed. But, the constant vilification of the Brahmins was a bit too much at times.I had started the book with very high expectations. The premise was interesting and given the success of the book I was expecting something fantastic. However, what I got somewhat fell short of my expectations. I am not saying that it was bad but somewhere I felt it lacked the wow factor.

  • Rituraj Verma
    2019-06-10 19:31

    Half way through, the book seems like a scientific explanation of a myth, with a strong anti North and anti Brahmin slant. But that maybe because I am reading the unmodified, raw version that is too hard hitting to be printed because it could get banned or at least get shouted at. By the end of the book however, two things become clear. One, that all myths are machinations of ancient politicians and people came to believe what they found convenient. Two, that while there is no concept of a codified list of sins in Hinduism, almost anything that seems like a deviation from the norm can be construed as evil in our land. The author does a good job at presenting the grey areas in our belief systems, which are largely shaped by what we believe were black and white since time immemorial. While criticisms of Maryada Purshottam Rama have been around since the Valmiki Ramayan, this one is different because it combines class struggle from Bhadra's perspective with the story of a war supposedly fought for righteousness. The power of the first person narrative works wonders for the book, as both Ravana and Bhadra speak from their hearts. On the flip side of the coin, there is no character with any human kindness or any positive virtues in the book. This makes for a very pessimistic outlook of humankind and Hindu religious texts. For all the anarchistic suggestions in the book, none of the characters seem to be likeable or inspiring or funny. The sarcasm is caustic and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. I found myself speed reading and wanting to forget what I had read.

  • Rohini
    2019-06-07 00:27

    Very disappointing book. The premise was very interesting - writing Ravana's version of events. But the writing was simply terrible. To start with, the editor on this book did a pretty shoddy job. There were multiple errors of spelling and grammar. Also, this is supposedly a historical/ mythological piece so it should reflect the period. I found many of the phrases and analogies were quite anachronistic. For an example, terms like 'an efficient time manager' and 'useless jargon and mumbo jumbo' are very 21st century phrases and it jarred me to hear them in a book set in the ancient times, especially since the narrators were characters and not the author himself. It greatly detracted from the authenticity of the book.The literary style itself was very slow and repetitive. I lost count, early on in the book, of the number of the times the same arguments about the caste system were hashed and rehashed.Character development was also an issue. I expected to end this book either hating or loving Ravana as represented on the pages. All I felt was indifference and supreme relief at having finished the ordeal of reading this book. Even events like the death of children that typically tug at the heartsrings were written in a manner that excited no emotion in me.I also found the voice of Ravana bordering on schizophrenic. Within the space of a paragraph, he would contradict himself. An example: "I wanted to hug Prahastha's still body and tell him that, more than anyone else, I had respected and loved him. I also wanted to tell him that he had always got on my nerves with his unwarranted advise* and talk about Asura dharma. Suddenly I hated him from deep within." (Pg. 396) - From love to hate in three sentences! To me this book represents the fact that a good idea is not enough and how bad writing can demolish even the best of ideas. I would not recommend this book to any reader with some discretion * erroneously spelled in the book

  • Viji
    2019-05-22 21:18

    The book didn't seem as author s debut. Truly astounding flow with powerful language.Author seems to be a very capable writer.But it was very disappointing to see such a capable person twisting the original Ramayana and have compromised too much on the facts. This may be about Ravana's perspective, but it doesn't demand the twisting of Ramayana facts. For instance Rama's life as per Ramayana is 11000 years. But the author has portrayed the incidents sprawling across a period of 70+ years.Now, if the question is around if human life can be that long , then more research should be done on what evolution could have done rather than changing the timeline to some believable number the author pleases. The war scene is highly compromised to put Rama in bad light and Ravana in good.Many other facts are comfortably ignored to put Ravana in good light.This reaches a wider audience than the original Valmiki's scripture. There is a good chance of people believing the author's "pure imagination" as fact just because it is more believable than the original scripture or this is more reachable than the original scripture.Many myths can be twisted as we like,but Ramayana is not a myth. It is a scripted epic which has too many myths surrounding. Even considering, the epic to be just a fiction and not a real happening , still we don't have the right to twist the tale as we please.If the author had a fair eye to understand the script of Valmiki as it is, and then made the story with Ravana's perspective-it would have been the truly Asura story.With that kind of expectation, I picked the book, but was disappointed.I don't think talking from Ravana's perspective is wrong, but twisting the facts as we would like to hear so there are some anti-brahmin , anti-ramayana arguments is not acceptable.Such a capable author could have more moral responsibility of researching more before taking his story to the world.But this inspires me to understand 24000 slokas of Ramayana in more detail before judging more about the book.Nevertheless, the language and story telling is truly enjoyable.

  • Vibha Jain
    2019-05-26 19:17

    ASURA-TALE OF THE VANQUISHED BY ANAND NEELAKANTAN.Rating of this book after testing on five backgrounds.1. The Content. Hats off to the research work. Every minute detail is casted with utmost dedication.  I’ll rate this 4.5 out of 5 as for the reason nothing more could have been written.2. The Narration.It wasn’t that appealing as for the two reasons. Lengthiness of the conversations. (that compelled me to complete the novel in three days which I could have done in a night if it wasn’t that distracting) If the topic was ancient, I think the language used should be justifying that.( though there were only less words so it can be ignored) I’ll rate this test 3 out of 5.3. Editing Analysis. Editing was up to the mark but yes of course, “Best Is Yet To Come”. Reduction of the frequency of the repetitive words could have fetch more concentration.( but again, it wasn’t that big issue that couldn’t be ignored)  I’ll rate 4.5 out of 5.4. Hard work or home work. Impeccable Going into the depth of some content and re-writing it is itself a tall order. But author did his job stupendously.  Glossary in the end helped me a lot I’ll rate this section 4.9 out of 5.5. Overall book. I’ll give 3.8 out of 5 to the final product. We have known about the ancient times from the Rama perspective, but knowing the same from Ravana perspective was a great journey. You must grab the book if you want to know the life Ravana lived and how he treated his people.Vibha Bothra (Jain)

  • Rudra Kapalin
    2019-05-30 19:20

    An amazing stories that shows Anand Neelakantan's genius. Its not just about the book but the way he looked at History, Religion, Mythology and then uses his own mind to write an awesome piece of Fiction.The thing I admire about the author is that in this country infested by religions, he thinks rationally and pours out his heart which breaths life into his Novel.This novel by Anand makes more sense to me than Ramayana.

  • SivaAnanth Muthuveeranan
    2019-05-30 16:25

    Hmmm.... Quite a book, enjoyed reading every line.I was thrilled from the first page to the last one, although knew the storyline. Ravan and his servant Bhadra's version of the epic kicks our imagination to view from the loser's side. Till date we have heard only the victor's side. History is written by those who have hanged heroes.The experience of reading Ravan's version is enthralling.Loser and the victor has a story a tell and this is the loser's tale. When Ravan gets betrayed by his own brother, minister and navy admiral. I could not resist my mind thinking about Gadaffi and Saddam.Ravan calls Hanuman the terrorist, who killed the asura babies and women showing no sympathy. The thought of even calling Hanuman-The terrorist never even crossed my mind so far. Ravan has a point though.Ravan cries foul when Rama, Lakshmana and Vanara troops does not conduct war according to the code of conduct. But swiftly reacts with a statement, what to expect from Deva barbarians. Again Ravan has a point.Reason behind abducting Sita - I would leave it to the readers to find out.He does not call himself as god or being pure, as the Lord Rama did.But the infighting of his ten faces of emotions blended with the incidents sometimes makes me feel that every one has to pass through this.One word..... it's Ravanayana.............

  • Socrates Chinniah
    2019-06-14 16:30

    Fantabulous I picked up the book because of my recent interest in Indian mythology; The Author makes a valiant effort of producing the mythology from the point of view of Ravana and a common man Bhadra who lived alongside Ravana. Right from the start the narration kept me engaged, I was pretty pessimistic about the enjoyability of the read due to its bulky size but the author’s narration skills triumphed over my pessimistic view. There are so many places where author reflects the human emotions and the human nature which leads to various consequences that can be mapped very much to the current day scenario.What I liked: the ability of the author to embed miniscule details in the story enabling the viewers to create the situation right before the eyes; It is like a movie that plays right before you. The language used is neither complex nor plain and simple , It is the right mixture that would keep oneself interested in the book. Logicality deployed by the author to interpret the instances in the epic are a good effort and the author deserves a pat. What I thought could be better: The Authors portrayal of Rama in a few places seemed more cruel than necessary, may be to justify Ravana as a better person the same might have been done but the book would have still done justice to the readers. Though the logic seem to fit the story portrayed, few of those may be exaggerated that seems inspired by the current political scenario .There are very few if’s and but’s , overall the book deserves to be the best seller and would be one of the best written book by an Indian author.

  • Gomati
    2019-06-03 16:17

    left totally speechless..fantastic book..given a totally new and fresh perspective to the whole story..loved it absolutely..compared to ashok bankar's ravana which is so grossly dark and grotesque, here i felt for ravana and felt bad for him in the end..would recommend to all..i liked the way each and every myth surrounding the ramayana has been explained using logic and reason..some of the events look so plausible, even the pushpak viman..he has explained well how the caste structure got ingrained in the society, especially in the north..the importance given to education, status of women in society, everything is so clearly explained..

  • Subramanyam K.V.
    2019-06-13 19:26

    Before proceeding any further with review let me tell the reader that Ramayana has always been an inspiration for me and I indeed worship and look up to Lord Shri Ram and his ayana ( ayana means moving, we can say walking in one sense, so Ramasya ayana is Ramayana. ShrimadRamayana for all of us). Having read the blurb and my inclination towards ShrimadRamayana it is up to you to read further or leave it here. After reading the blurb I honestly felt that this book is going to give us a different perspective of Ravana and we could see the things as visualized by him. However, after reading the first few pages I started searching for appendix and references if there were any, for the start of the book itself was completely different from the Ramayana I read. Leaving Ravana’s body to Jackals and other animals to prey is a blatant lie and was not told any where before. I realized that this is pure fiction when I read the author’s note and realized that the author is taking his own liberties.Ravana and Bhadra narrate the story in the book and they speak about themselves and the way they see the world. Ravana speaks for himself while and his actions while Bhadra is the guy who loathes Ravana, Devas ,Rama ,Brahmins etc . While there is enough rant against Lord Rama, Ravana is also vilified quite a bit. In his no holes barred attack, the author vilifies Lakshmana, Vibhishana, Hanuman….. name a character that looks positive in Ramayana and you see him/her getting vilified here. Then the potshots on Dharma, vedic rituals and Brahmins are also there. Well if he comes up with the depictions in mythology and argued on the basis of things presented there , it would have been good. Hurling baseless accusations is not correct from any standpoint.I think the author subscribes to the Aryan-Dravidian conflict theory , which was a very intelligent ploy of the west to divide India. Many historians have junked the theory already; however there are a few who still subscribe to the idea and create further divisions in the already divided lot of the nation. Coming back to the book, the author brings this theory up in a different way where he says that devas on horsebacks came and destroyed what was supposed to be a grand Asura empire that was widely spread all over India. Then the book also has a very strong anti-brahmin rant. I was feeling disgusted after a certain point of time and was wondering like…. “what makes the author loath Brahmins so much ? ” Any Brahmin reading the book would feel bad about the depiction of Brahmins in the book . Anything that comes from north and has got to do with Brahmins is scorned at. The author has taken a lot of liberties in churning out his ideologies, eulogizing Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipa, calling Prahlada a weak king, then making Ravan a pupil of Mahabali, calling Sita ma as the daughter of Ravana. Calling Shiva as the Asura God and Brahma the Asura teacher and then calling Vishnu the commander-in-chief of Deva army. My goodness, any one with any knowledge on mythology would desist this extremely outlandish stuff. One need not go to the extremes to prove a point. The author is gifted with great capabilities of writing good fiction. His description of the emotions in the early parts of the book was nice. He gives vivid descriptions of the scenes and tries to recreate the scene as much as possible and helps the reader visualize it. However, I believe that this is not the good way of using the rare talent God has bestowed on him. Blaming both Rama and Ravana and then showing that Ravana was slightly better than Rama as Rama was too adherent to the brahminical laws might be good placate the egos of the Hindu-haters, however, I donot know if this would do any good to the society.Ramayana gives us a message that even if one has a Golden City like Lanka, one is bound to perish if he misbehaves with a woman. It tells us like how being wedded Truth and Dharma will elevate a human being and bestows him/her with eternal glory. In this book I find a total distortion of facts and a blatant attempt at vilifying everything that was considered good by generations and generations of Hindus. Well its fictitious stuff as per the author himself, so what can we say.Of late, vilifying Sri Rama and showing hindu faith in poor light is a fad in this nation, some feminists did it, some communists did it, some people who call themselves the protectors of the oppressed sections of the society did it( in fact some of them do it even now) and now this book also does it. However, Lord Sri Rama still continues to inspire millions and millions of people all over the world. To conclude, I did not find much but vilification of people in the book. Then a lot of lies and misguided zeal to prove a point. I am totally disappointed. “If the author had to write a fictitious account, then why play with Ramayana and hurt the sentiments of millions of people in the nation ???” He has the capabilities to produce good fiction and if he can use it to produce something that teaches people a virtue or two , that would be great. For, Lord Sri Rama lived His life on this earth and He does not need a character certificate from people like us. It is upto us, if we can learn a thing or two from His life, it will help us . If not, we are all free to choose our own paths. As for me Lord Sri Rama is the truth, Lord Sri Rama is the ligh

  • Sujata
    2019-06-10 17:34

    Never having been a "fan" of Ram, when a friend's hubby told me about Asura, I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle wanting to read it after the current one I was reading. I expected a fairly good novel – the Ramayana retold it in the words and from the perspective of Ravan. What I didn't expect was a story that completely took me over and in its entirety – with its rage and rawness and all emotions…It starts with Ravan lying on the battle fields – his life slowly oozing away – his blood drenching the grounds he lies on.It tells the story of the Ramayana through the eyes of Ravana and Bhadra – both surprising characters. Ravana's childhood as a half-asura, yet on the harsh roads with his Asura mother and siblings while his Brahmin father lives a fulfilling life away from sorrow and poverty. Young Ravana's anger that lies dormant and his insecurity being a half-bred is poignantly told. We learn how the Asuras mastered the arts and architecture and the sciences. Maya is an Asura – the chief constructor – the best that our Indian mythology knows (he also built the legendary palace of illusions for the Pandavas in Hastinapur). On the other side, completely irrelevant as it first seems, we read how the Devas rampage Asura villages, rape, kill and destroy. Among them is Bhadra – who sees his baby daughter killed and his wife molested and then killed and can do nothing to stop this calamity while he too is left to die.It is a story of these two men, who build a contrast, that couldn't be greater. The protagonists meet every now and then - Bhadra, a cowering piece of flesh, Ravana, a King. As the book enfolds, the emotions are varied and extreme. It depicts Ravana as a learned man. He tries to bring his fellow Asuras together and to lead them. It is the story of a leader whose pride gets in the way of listening to those who are loyal to him. It is also the memoirs of a leader whose love for the family makes him take regrettable decisions. And yet, it is also the story of Sita, who brings about a chain of events that then lead to the mighty and unfair war between Ram and Ravana. Only at the end do we realise the importance of Bhadra, who till then is a mere onlooker, like a disturbing wart who is always on the side of Ravana – somehow always is in the picture… It is difficult not to hate and pity Bhadra and it is equally difficult not to sympathise with Ravana's thoughts when he attempts to be a good leader.It is a beautiful book in all its brutality. It is poignant in its relationships. The language used has its own melody and poetry. A very good and gripping read for those who care to look a little further into the whys and hows of the Hindu mythological psyche.

  • Sumeetha Manikandan
    2019-05-18 00:17

    Anand Neelkantan’s Asura is an untold tale of Ravana. I don’t think it has been attempted so far. I have read many interpretations of Ramayana from Sita’s and Hanuman’s point of view. They were archaically following the same template laid down by Valmiki, Tulsidas and Kambar. Asura was a revelation. It makes you gasp and think. In this humanized version there are no gods, demons with magical powers. Devas and Asuras become clans as do Vanaras. Ravana is not an exalted personage with ten heads but an ambitious, hot-blooded warrior who wants to rule.I loved the speech that Ravana gives to Mahabali. If you did not read the book, you might just read that speech and everything about this book would make sense. Now that there are no Gods, Vishnu and Shiva just become long-gone great kings whose deeds gave them the God-status. The tale of Vishnu vanquishing Mahabali is probably one of the best human-like explanations that can be given to an impossible event. Ravana is as human as anybody can be. Brash, arrogant, egoistic, yet a lone voice comes up in his mind, questioning his motives and actions. If that was not enough, you have Bhadra, a soldier, confidante, and a common man who is at hand during all momentous events of the story to give his point of view. He is with Ravana through all the high and low moments of his life, yet his life does not improve a wee bit. This brings home the fact that no matter what happens to the kings, good or bad, the situation of an ordinary common man remains the same. He is still looted, ignored, and exploited.I went through the book at a snail’s pace during the first four or five chapters. The pace of the story picks up once Ravana captures his step-brother’s kingdom Lanka. Ravana’s passion for Vedavathi, become a fool’s love for a widowed Brahmin girl and her subsequent suicide almost believable, so much so that you really feel sorry for Ravana and wish that she had accepted him!Kumbakarna becomes a drug addict so that accounts for his sleep! I won’t reveal Ravana’s reasons for kidnapping Sita it might just spoil the surprise. But I can however say that the book is so well researched that no tale, no myth nor any version of Ramayana has been left unread by the author. Many have been put off by the anti-Brahmin sentiments of this book. But on the hindsight, it is no surprise that a character like Bhadra or even Ravana would be anti-Brahmin, given the fact that we have been top of the caste order for centuries for now. A very well-written book, but could have been trimmed down a bit with some crisp editing. Nonetheless, it is worth buying.

  • Ankit Mahato
    2019-06-02 18:34

    I just finished the final chapter and took a deep breath.For past few weeks I had been spending some time reading Asura - Tale of the Vanquished.It took me weeks because the whole concept of the book was so deep that after every chapter I used to wonder for hours questioning myself, what I have been told since my childhood, was it the truth ?It is the story of a simple boy, who faced poverty, hunger and various other hardships.It is the story of a man , who was brave and ambitious;who loved his country and his people; and who defined his rights in his own way.Death Note amused us not because of the struggle between L and Kira,but the fact that they were both right in their own ways.When Pain took down Naruto, deep down in our heart we all knew, even if Pain was wrong, his philosophy was right somewhere down the line.So in this book I met this simple boy who turned into an ambitious warrior named Ravana.The author never glorified him, still he was the star in the eyes of his people.Many a times he was wrong like any ordinary man, still his subjects respected him.The story behind the origin of dashamukha was presented in such a fashion,I wondered if we all have a Ravan rooted somewhere inside us.But, the most striking thing was the parallel story of a common man named Bhadra. The way in which he evolved definitely left mark. We all hear about kings and their values, but what about a common man who even at that time had to struggle for a piece of meal and who would willingly die even for a glass of wine. I was mesmerized by this ordinary man who did some extraordinary feats in this journey of the rise and fall of the Asuras.A must read :If you are rational,If you want to hear the other side of the story,and if you have the ability to question yourself - Who is wrong and who is right !

  • Amit Tyagi
    2019-05-23 19:12

    Another brilliantly written Alternate Mythology Book. Though there are bound to be instant comparisons to the Shiva trilogy, but that would be grossly unfair to the author. While, no doubt, the Shiva trilogy, has a gripping plot, but Asura shines in its approach towards the plot, the narrative and most importantly the central character - 'Ravana' . It is not just meant to be a scintillating read, but also one to reflect. It is not just an alternate re-telling of the Ramayana, but an alternate (if not the first) biography of the Asura King Ravana. It is brilliant in the way it captures the man, his emotions, his struggles (and those of his people). The narrative is exemplary in the way it has a Forrest Gump-y quality to it, an insignificant character present at (and influencing) key turning points in history. It goes on to show that just because these events and people are separated from us by a huge amount of time, doesn't mean that they were orchestrated by some grand plan or something. They were shaped by similar people and their similar motivations. And ofcourse the book does become a commentary on our society at more times than one, but some of the political overtones towards the end are too prominent; like the reference to the earthquake following the falling of a giant tree, or the residents of western india bearing ill-will against both north and south indians.The lines below demonstrate not just the premise of the book, but the very structure of our society" is the nature of the world, the good deeds of the victor would be exaggerated and the bad deeds obliterated from memory. And if the doings of the victor could not be justified by the prevailing moral codes of society, he would be elevated to godhood, for who could question a God? "

  • Sreejoni Nag
    2019-06-11 17:21

    Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished is the retelling of Ramayana from the perspective of the so-called-villain – Raavana.The book starts from the End, where the defeated Raavana lays on the ground where the battle with Rama came to an end with Raavana’s fall. In the first chapter, we see through Raavana eyes’, how his body remains on the ground and is being feasted upon by rats and jackals. While counting his last moments, the protagonist expresses his fear of leaving Lanka in the hands of strangers. He fears that now his Lanka will be looted, the hospitals would be burnt and how the monkey-men would create havoc in order to celebrate the victory. He also expresses a desire of living the same life again and committing the same mistakes and refuses to take the place in heaven, that Rama had booked for him, for he wants nothing but mother Earth.The book logically deconstructs myth, the famous Ramayana and presents a new version for the readers. The book does bring out the loopholes and mistakes committed by Raavana. The author never fails to mention to also talk about atrocities faced by the poor ones in Raavana’s reign from the voice of Bhadra, a poor man in the Asura Raj, for whom there’s no difference between Ram and Raavana. He believes that the poor have no place to go, for none of the two kings took good care of them. This shows that every kingdom has its share of mistakes and glories. One cannot just say that Ayodhya was perfect and Lanka was a land of the demons. This book is a must for all the readers out there! Once you pick up the book, you’ll be glued to it and take my word, you won’t be able to leave it till you finish the last alphabet!

  • Jahnavi Jha
    2019-05-20 00:36

    True, we only here the tale that the heroes tell. Now, with education spreading like wildfire, we know that good and evil are but two sides of the same coin. We now know, that every human being has rights and deserves respect. But when it comes to our well-loved epics, we judge good and evil. Anand NeelakantanAsura- Tale of The VanquishedHere is a book that does not judge. This book takes into account the situation in which Ram become a God and Ravana become a demon. This book takes you deep into the little known history of the Asuras and how our north Indian culture, along with the social evil- the caste system, infiltrated into the south. Read this without any sentiments or biases. Listen to what Anandji has to say, what Ravana has to say, what Bhadra has to say. As educated, logical people; we owe them all a patient hearing. This book is one of the few books that moved me to tears. My heart went out especially to Bhadra as he went from a free man to a 'pariah'. The last page was especially beautiful, when he dreams of his next births when he will see free men again. Truly touching. We have what they struggled for, freedom. How grateful I am for it.

  • Arti Honrao
    2019-05-19 21:27

    I had just finished reading The Shiva Trilogy when I received Asura - Tale of The Vanquished by courier. The synopsis seemed intriguing and hence I started reading immediately, that's where I went wrong. Since I had just finished reading a book of somewhat similar genre, few names and places reminded me of the previously read book. In short, Asura was overshadowed by what I remembered from reading The Shiva Trilogy. I did not want to do any injustice to the book I was reading and hence I kept it aside and decided to read it after a short break during which time I read a few books of different genre.I really admire the efforts of the author behind the writing of this book. Not everybody attempts writing the supposed other side of the coin! At the same time I would like to mention that even though the language used in the book is simple, the book is not for light reading. When you read this book, the Ramayana as we know floats around in your head and makes the reading somewhat difficult (this depends on the individual though and cannot really blame the author for this.) If you have read The Shiva Trilogy, you might as well enjoy this book (but do not make the mistake I made).

  • Geetanjali Tara Joshi
    2019-06-11 20:31

    I just got it as a gift..! (happy dance)

  • Jaise Joseph
    2019-06-06 20:30

    When I started reading this book I thought the story is around the Deshamukha, praising his Glory. But later I felt that the author have some personal vengeance with Ravana. Then I thought he would be more interested in Rama, but then again I was wrong. This book is a pure critic to Rama and Ravana, though Ravana was praised more than Rama. “Asura” is the voice of the common man. The nine emotions (anger; pride; jealousy; happiness; sadness; fear; selfishness; passion; ambition ) were pictured through the eyes of a King. His speech about the 10 faces is marvelous. This 9, other than Intellect, open the way to the downfall of the greatest emperor who loved to live and follow his own way, who likes to think different. The way the Author, Ananad Neelakantan, explained the whole story was with a humanly touch mixed with the emotions of a common man makes it very interesting. This will surely force us to think twice about some characters , who are said, pictured and revered as God by the epic. The History is written by those who won the race and so the voice of the people who couldn't reach to the top got vanquished and ruled out. They are considered as evil, out caste and monster. "Asura" is the voice of those people. A successful try to show the other side of moon.See the detailed one:

  • Purba Chakraborty
    2019-05-29 16:14

    Finally I completed reading Asura. I am amazed at the amount of research the author had undertaken to pen down the book. The character of Ravana is very well-sketched with proper shades of his anger, fear, pride and love. Though Ravana is the most popular villain in our Indian mythology, the author has portrayed him as a character who seems more humane than a villain. We empathize with him in certain circumstances rather than hating him. The line in page no 15 uttered in Ravana's voice: "I didn't know then, but I had been born to fulfill someone else's destiny. To allow someone else to become God." fills us up with a curiosity to explore the forthcoming pages. The character of Bhadra is a little exaggerated but the sharp plot compensated for the few monotonous areas. It is indeed very difficult to hold the plot without dropping the firmness of it for a whole 500 pages and the author has more or less succeeded in doing so. Asura is a totally different experience, very unlike from the way we have perceived Ravana from the Ramayana. The ten facets of Ravana described by the author which made him a complete human being and the way his journey from nurturing his ambitions to being a conqueror and lastly to lose everything, is described in the book is indeed praiseworthy.

  • Vani
    2019-05-23 22:20

    I loved reading Asura and would recommend it to anybody who's interested in reading Hindu mythology. The story of Ramayana is literally in my blood, I have grown up hearing it, seen it enacted on television and sung paeans to Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Lord Hanuman. And yet, for once, this book tickles your imagination and makes you think about the antagonist in the tale, that is, Ravana. The book has been written from Ravana's perspective and there's another fictitious character called, Bhadra which the author has created. There are two parallel stories that keeps the reader consumed through the entire book and the way these stories have been blended towards the end is just wonderful. From the start to the finish, this book is an absolute page turner. I'm so impressed by the author that I left no time in buying a sequel to this book, Ajaya.

  • Ramya
    2019-05-17 19:28

    Excellent! Amazing how thinking about the same story from a different point of view gives that twist. I liked the fact that there was no magic used and hence the story feels very genuine and real. A must-read for seekers.

  • Dion Yulianto
    2019-05-28 00:12

    Dapatkan dua novel RAHWANA gratis di, hanya sampai 11 Juni 2017Sejarah selalu menjadi milik sang pemenang. Ia akan mendapatkan semuanya, termasuk menjadi kebenaran. Namanya dilantunkan penuh puja-puji para pujangga, dan selama ribuan tahun setelahnya, sosoknya bahkan berkembang sedemikian rupa sehingga bahkan disembah sebagai perwujudan dewata. Pernahkah kita bertanya-tanya, bagaimana kisah Ramayana ini ketika dipandang dari sudut pandang Rahwana? Bagaimana jika versi Ramayana yang sekarang adalah versi dari sang pemenang? Bagaimana jika alasan sebenarnya Rahwana menculik Sinta adalah karena wanita itu ternyata adalah putrinya? Bagaimana jika peradaban bangsa Asura yang dihancurkan Rama ternyata jauh lebih maju daripada peradaban Ayodhya? Mengapa selama ini kita tidak memandang Rama dan pasukan wanaranya sebagai agresor yang telah membakar dan meruntuhkan sebuah kebudayaan besar bangsa Asura?Dalam beragam kisah Ramayana, kita dicekoki dengan kisah kepahlawanan Rama dan Laksmana sebagai dua pangeran yang menyelamatkan Sinta dan mengalahkan si raksasa Rahwana sang penguasa angkara. Tetapi bagaimana dengan pihak yang kalah? Jangan-jangan, si kalah juga tidak sepenuhnya bersalah. Buku ini adalah kisah Ramayana dari sudut pandang Rahwana. Dikisahkan dengan sudut pandang orang pertama, bergantian antara Rahwana dan abdi setianya, Bhadra. Pembaca diajak mengenal lebih dekat pribadi Rahwana, bagaimana pandangannya akan dunia, juga sepak terjangnya dalam menaklukan musuh-musuhnya. Dari sudut pandang ini, kita bisa memaklumi bahkan mengagumi sosoknya sebagai manusia biasa. Saya malah hampir tak percaya kalau kalimat indah ini meluncur dari ucapan Rahwana, sang penguasa Alengka:"Menurutku itu tak sopan. Apakah mempelai wanita hadiah sayembara? Aku bahkan pernah mendengar lelaki bangsa dewa yang menjual istrinya untuk dijadikan budak, menggadaikannya, atau mempergunakannya sebagai taruhan. sungguh menyedihkan, tetapi apa yang bisa diharapkan dari bangsa pengembara yang belum sepenuhnya beradab itu."Sebagaimana Rama, Rahwana adalah manusia biasa juga. Hanya saja, keduanya berbeda ras. Rahwana berasal dari ras Asura yang berkulit hitam, pendek, dengan rambut ikal. Mereka adalah bangsa asli India. Sementara Rama dari ras Dewa yang berkulit lebih terang (kemungkinan dari ras Arya yang berasal dari India barat daya). Ras Dewa kemudian menginvasi Jambudwipa dan membasmi bangsa Asura dengan semena-mena. Kota-kota megah dan kuil-kuil indah diruntuhkan, dan yang lebih parah, prinsip kesetaraan dihapuskan dan diganti dengan sistem kasta sesuai ajaran para brahman dari ras Dewa. Ketika penyerangan brutal ini terjadi, Rahwana masih seorang remaja belasan tahun yang tinggal di tebing terpencil pulau Alengka (sekarang Srilanka). Kisah tentang keganasan suku liar bangsa Dewa yang memporak-porandakan daratan utama turut memicu amarah dalam diri Rahwana muda. Inilah saat takdirnya dimulai. Sebuah perjalanan dan penaklukan panjang telah membentang di hadapannya demi mengembalikan kejayaan peradaban bangsa Asura."Tapi aku tak berniat membunuh Rama. putriku membaktikan dirinya untuk Rama dan aku tak ingin membuatnya menderita. Aku hanya berencana menahan Sinta di Alengka sampai pengasingan dengan Rama selesai. Sinta bisa kembali bersama dengannya saat dia menjadi raja di kerajaan kecilnya." (Rahwana, hlm. 395)Sebagai remaja, Rahwana dianugerahi dengan keberanian dan tubuh perkasa. Dia kemudian ditempa dengan pendidikan dan latihan dibawah bimbingan guru Mahabali dan Brahma yang kaya akan pengalaman dan kebijaksanaan. Pada usia 24 tahun, Rahwana telah menjelma seorang pemimpin yang berkharisma dan dikagumi rakyatnya. Di bawah komandonya, bangsa Asura dipersatukan sehingga mereka mampu menyerang balik Jambudwipa yang dikuasai bangsa Dewa. Berkat kepemimpinan Rahwana, hampir separuh daratan India kembali ke pangkuan bangsa Asura. Pembangunan kota-kota megah kembali marak, banyak kuil Siwa nan indah dibangun, pertanian maju pesat, dan Alengka sebagai pusat pemerintahan Asura berkembang menjadi wilayah paling maju dan kaya pada masa itu. Kesetaraan dijunjung tinggi, bangsa Asura sama sekali tidak mengenal sistem kasta. Semua orang bisa naik menduduki jawaban lebih tinggi selama dia mau berusaha dan bekerja keras meraihnya. Ini berbeda dengab bangsa Dewa yang membeda-bedakan pekerjaan dan penduduk berdasarkan sistem kasta. Ilmu pengetahuan juga maju di bawah pimpinan Rahwana. Bahkan, mereka berhasil merakit sebuah mesin terbang bernama puspaka yang menyerupai helikopter di era modern."Tak berbeda dengan mereka, kita mulai membeda-bedakan manusia. bahwa ada manusia yang murni dan ada yang tidak. bukan karena perbuatan atau pikiran mereka, melainkan karena garis keturunan." (hlm. 451)Berbeda dengan banyak kisah Ramayana yang menyebut bangsa Asura ditindas Rahwana, di buku ini dikisahkan India atau Jambudwipa maju pesat selama di bawah kekuasaan Rahwana. Apa yang selama ini kita dengar dan baca tentang bobroknya bangsa Asura ternyata adalah hasil penulisan sejarah dari sisi sang pemenang, yakni bangsa Dewa. Dalam banyak hal, meskipun Rahwana juga bukan seorang pemimpin yang baik, tetapi bangsa Asura bisa meraih kedamaian dan hidup yang lumayan tenang di bawah pimpinannya. Mungkin, memang masih ada sedikit huru-hara dan pertumpahan darah, tetapi pertambahan usia turut mendewasakan sang Maharaja Rahwana sehingga dia mulai mengurangi perang dan fokus pada pembangunan. Buku ini akan menghadirkan sisi manusiawi Rahwana untuk kita. Saya mbrebes mili membacanya. Pandangan saya akan Rahwana berubah total saat menyaksikan perjuangannya sebagai manusia biasa, sebagai raja yang hanya ingin menolong rakyatnya dari penindasan bangsa penjajah dengan sistem kastanya, sebagai seorang ayah yang hanya ingin menyelamatkan putri tersayangnya."Rahwana tidak akan pernah dipuja dan dituhankan. Dia terlalu manusiawi untuk menjadi Tuhan." (hlm. 500)Rahwana dan Rama dalam buku ini seutuhnya adalah para manusia yang tidak bisa lepas dari jerat takdir. Berbeda dengan kisah-kisah Ramayana yang dipenuhi dengan dewa-dewi yang turut campur tangan langsung dalam jalannya cerita, dewa-dewi dalam Rahwana cenderung lebih pasif. Apa yang menjadikan Rahwana seperti Rahwana dan Rama seperti Rama adalah tindakan dan pilihan mereka sendiri. Bahwa takdir setiap manusia mungkin telah digariskan, tetapi masih ada kehendak bebas yang akan menentukan perjalanan hidupnya. Seperti kata penulis novel tebal ini, Rahwana menjadi Rahwana bukan karena dia jahat, tetapi lebih karena dia adalah korban dari keadaan. Tidak ada pahlawan dan penjahat sejati di buku ini, mereka semua adalah manusia-manusia yang terperangkap dalam jaring masyarakat dan waktu. Satu poin plus lagi, terjemahan serta suntingan buku ini bagus sekali. Saya sama sekali tidak merasa sedang membaca sebuah karya terjemahan. Diksi-diksi yang digunakan pun tepat dan menggena sekali. Novel ini mungkin tebal dan lama dibacanya, tetapi tidak akan rugi mereka yang menyempatkan untuk membaca Rahwana. "Akan tetapi aku selalu percaya bahwa masyarakat yang disebut beradab ketika memperlakukan wanita dan kaum tertindasnya dengan baik. Tatanan kasta sungguh kaku dan tidak adil. Aku tak mampu membayangkan keadaan orang-orang yang berada di anak tangga terbawah." (Rahwana, hlm. 375)

  • Chandan Sharma
    2019-06-05 18:16

    THE STORY: He is an intellect, brave, strong and a great dancer. This story tells you the views of ‘Ravana’. And the author has twisted the original Ramayana to some extent, in order to present the perspective of ‘Asuras’. So, if you are a hardcore fan of Rama, then you may not like it very much. However, as a story, writer does justice with its characters.Yet another story starts in flashback. It seems that today’s writers like starting stories in flashback. So, the first scene is that ‘Ravana’ is dying, result of the courtesy shown by Rama, and he thinks about his life and past. The story revolves around ‘Ravana’ and how he collects all the tribes of Asuras and makes Lanka. Gods are conquering race and they are affected by cast-culture, gender biases and are arrogance; whereas, Asuras believe in equality and liberalization. The Rama is unkind and he is not a believer of giving a fair chance to everybody. He is someone who could not stand with his own wife and someone who kills warriors from behind. All these may sound anti-Rama but eventually all of these are truth. We know him as one who is bound to his duty and responsibilities towards people but as all of us know that victorious has always tampered with history. The whole story is almost like Ramayana but the protagonist and antagonist have been swapped.The story is however, slow when it comes to battles and guerilla fights. It could have been edited well but unfortunately it remains less attractive. The charisma of Ravana has been reduced and many facts have been twisted. Sadness prevails in the story after the first half and people may get misguided by few of the negative views in it. Despite of all the facts, the story is interesting and pleasant. I urge people, not to take it as anti-Brahmin, anti-Hinduism or anti-Ramayana. It is a ‘story’ which has been wonderfully written.THE WRITING: The story is very easy to read. Though, not completely dictionary free but the writer utilized good words and phrases throughout the tale. As Ramayana has been written and re-written, may be trillion times, hence people tend to compare the language. The writer has tried his best to keep up the speed in his writing, which he does in most of the chapters, but some of the chapters are really slow and it takes an extra effort to cross them. He has done a very good effort to curse the caste-system in India, but I think, it could have been more impactful. I honestly wish that editor of this book could have worked harder to make it relentless, when it comes to criticizing a system. The only thing which I can say after reading ‘Asura’ and analyzing the writing potential of the writer is that, I am definitely going to read his next. CONCLUSION: We may talk about how negative it is and how the facts of ‘Ramayana’ have been twisted to support the protagonist but the fact is that it’s a good read. Be rational and broad-minded. We should think about it as a story, not as a history book. A common boy who fights his way out to become a king, he is courageous, bright, visionary, silly, arrogant and at times selfish. He makes many decisions in his life, few of them are correct and few of them go wrong. His fiasco is not Ravana’s failure but a common man’s. A common man who dares to compete with privileged ones.I am not sure about Rama but I think we all have a ‘Ravana’ inside us. This book may give a wrong message to faint believers but for most of us, it is a must read and refreshing

  • Daniel
    2019-06-10 19:17

    Anand Neelkantan’s Asura, published by Leadstart Publishing is Ravana’s untold story with regards to the Ramayana which hasn’t been attempted so far. This book tells the story from the minds of two major Protagonists, Ravana, the hot blooded ambitious ruler of Lanka and Bhadra, a commoner and servant to the Ten Headed King, as we know him. The book start with the death of Ravana where his life is flashing in front of his eyes, before he is just a corpse to be wasted away to the Earth. Anand beautifully talks about rise of Ravana from a mangy dog of Trikona, Capital of Lanka, to finally becoming the ruler of the land and losing the whole plot to Rama. The other protagonist Bhadra is a commoner that most of us will relate to and grow fond of as the chapters continue to unfold. Unlike the ten head mammoth structure that is etched in our minds, Ravana was actually a normal human who embraced nine basic emotions (or thinking head) of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, pride, jealousy, selfishness, passion and ambition. The tenth head being intellect was the one that he used to control his other nine making him a strong, respected and feared ruler.The narrative style of writing that the Author uses is simple and the characterization of Ravana and Bhadra have been portrayed remarkably. This book shows Anand’s talent in storytelling and narration that leaves the reader engrossed in the tale with rapt attention. Once you start reading Asura, putting the book down will be an impossible challenge.

  • Sneha Nair
    2019-05-21 16:33

    A Total new twist to all our Indian tales & folk lores. Having read it around the time of Dussehra, I will truly feel strong, different emotions towards burning the Ravana statue during the fest. It changed my entire perception towards lot of things, not my belief in god but the belief as to how stories can travel, be diluted, be twisted & broken to fit the mould certain people make to ensure their part is well said. Even before reading the book I was never in favour of the idea that Rama has abandoned his pregnant wife Sita, just cos of a doubt by a simple village man, this books spells out my same concerns in a splendid way.A well scripted story explaining the scientific part of a mythological story we have been hearing since time unmemorable. Hats off to the brave effort of Anand Neelkanthan, a remarkable piece worth reading & referring to any one who wants to read something different.But just wondering how come no religious crack pot has come across it & raised a cry?All religious worries apart, a splendid piece worth reading, re-reading & a tale worth telling any one ready to listen with patience.

  • Sathya Jayapaul
    2019-05-26 18:13

    Just completed 'Asura' by Anand Neelankantan. One of the best books I've read so far! Gives a completely new and refreshing perspective to the Ramayana. Its the same story told in Ravana's viewpoint. Tears apart everything a lot of people hold sacred... in this 'Ravanayana', Rama is a cruel and cowardly king who doesn't bat an eyelid in beheading kids, shoots people with arrows from behind and who does not stand up for his wife during a time of need. The book talks about how the dreadful caste system evolved in India, how civilised and modern the Asura kingdom was as compared to the almost barbaric Ayodhya... a fascinating tale and a must read for anyone who feels that the perspective of the vanquished in a war is as important to know as that of the victor in a war! Hats off to the author for telling this tale in such a mesmerising way, and very surprised that no fundamentalist organisation has asked for a ban of the book yet! Grab your copy before the lunatics want this one too banned!

  • Doctor
    2019-06-05 21:18

    Ever since I read Asura (The Ravanayana, Tale of the Vanquished, The Story of Ravana and His People, and The Story of Bhadra, etc.; a strange coincidence, like the many names of the villain / hero / heroine of the world famous epic the Ramayan, such as Ravan, Dasanan, Lankapati etc. /Ram, Raghupati, Purushottam etc. / Sita, Janaki, Vaidehi etc., and how unlike the characters it portrays in comparison to those of the Ravanayana!), I was baffled at the uncharacteristic calm of the self-appointed guardians of Hinduism whose zealous reactions to the many instances of slight tampering with the version of their sacred belief cannot be forgotten. The most recent case in point is the nomenclature of a film by Sanjayaleela Bansali – Ram-Leela, not to speak of the fate of the illustrious M. F. Hussain’s mythological paintings (and of his own!).For obvious reasons, I avoid naming the potential flash points in Asura, triggers which not only did not generate enough heat to ignite; they dulled the ground to cucumber coolness. The most prominent among the explanations why it cannot be placed beside Bansli’s picture or Hussain’s painting is that it is limited in its reach; it is neither displayed for public scrutiny nor screened across the country for the common man’s consumption, and instigates a mass hysteria. In spite of its commercial success, its reach is limited; its firepower remains ashen, glued to the closed pages until an enthusiast digs into them. Thus, its one-at-a-time means of travel is no match to the mass-appeal mediums of propagation of a film or a painting. English language makes its appeal further limited to the elite only who usually go by reason rather than by faith. Though, this does not fore-close the option of mass appeal for books in general and Asura in particular, provided that it does not exhaust itself in the process.Having enumerated the extraneous factors, let’s turn our eyes inward to see if there is anything in the Book itself which could be its strength, or for that matter its weakness, responsible for the restrained reaction of the otherwise sensitive masses. It will be an interesting case study to see Asura’s strength and weaknesses, contradictories obviously as they are, produce the same effect on the reader. I would credit the writer for his tact and aestheticetiquettes in holding himself at a comparatively reasonable distance from the Lakshman rekha of the faithful and their high voltage sensibilities. This is as it should be; for, Asura is overturning a three-thousand-year-old story and its characters who are worshipped as incarnations of god by millions across countries. This tempered treat is its strength; itsaves Asura from being vituperative (excepting in case of one soft target!).An empiricist’s casual look into the back cover blurb shows the words epic and history used twice each. At least in one instance they are corroborative. At one point, it claims “Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people,..” (Second para, second line). At another, it says “It is then that Ravan, by one action, changes the history of the world.” (Last para, last line). I may be excused to paraphrase both the sentences only to examine how they– epic and history- corroborate each other. When paraphrased, it would read something like ‘Ravan, the hero of Asura, the epic tale of the vanquished, by one action, changes the history of the world.’ However, the balancing act of using both the words in the back cover blurb is completely absent once the reader turns the pages. In the whole of a healthy five hundred pages of Asura, though epic is nowhere to be seen, history has been mentioned many times, at least more than twelve times, empirically speaking.While an epic could be as sublimely imaginative as Milton’s Paradise Lost or as gloriously historical as Homer’s Iliad, the latter alone has an element of history in it of which the former cannot boast.Thus, when epic and history corroborate in the descriptions of a Book, its scopes are limited to that of a historical epic, which Asura should be (or is it?).If it is, what does the following disclaimer in the second page of the Book disclaim?It is a work of pure fiction. All the characters depicted are fictitious and any resemblance toreal persons living or dead, is purely coincidental.And this Ravan, the epic hero of Asura, who has changed the history of the world by one action, is certainly not a coincidental resemblance to the villain of the three-thousand-year-old world famous epic – the Ramayan, or for that matter to any anonymous Ravan.Thus, the Book has been rendered toothless by its inability to resolve its inherent contradiction between fiction and history, Art Epic and Growth Epic; the semblance of Asura being a Growth Epic is lost. Consequently, it posed little threat to the faithful as a challenger to uproot the deep-rooted values inculcated by the age-old Ramayan whose prominent characters are well ensconced as incarnations in the heart and mind of its readers. Hence, the want of a reactive ripple.It’s time, we dwelt on the over all atmosphere of Asura, the Story: crowded, war-weary, post-war crimes, giant clash of egos, love and sex, cultural clashes, and the hostile wild and turbulent seas. Nefarious designs, deceit, surreptitious attacks, and desperate daredevilry, the consequences of which are chancy and left to nature’s mercy. It may conveniently be argued that every story of this kind would have these pictures, this atmosphere. But verystory does not overturn an epic of the Ramayan’s magnitude, stature. A flip side story needs appropriate tools and techniques as its armour for assault. And to examine this, for a moment, let’s replace all the names associated with the great Epic, whose flip side is Asura’s concern, with post-independent Indian names. Or, let’s replace those names by X and Y as in the following passage and examine what it looks like.…..I suspected that the upper middle class of merchants or government officers, considered the present regime boorish.The poor and lower middle class seemed to hope that X would bring about change for the better. Many identified with the poor boy who had risen from poverty. They were sure he would not just concentrate on trade and traders as Y has done, but dole out goodies to the poor as well. Many of the older people remained skeptical as they seen many regimes and palace coups. They claimed that things would get worse. Usually, there were several fights between the pro-X men and the pro-Y gang. But there was eager anticipation about the new government’s policies…( from page-132, last para)I leave it to every reader to decide for themselves, if the quoted passage does not relate to our own times, our own concerns, our own regimes or those of our neighbors. To me it does. If it fits into our times, concerns and our regimes and those in our neighborhood, how can it be a suitable tool and technique to be appropriate for an epic tale narrating a heroic story in the past as old as three thousand years? And could it be an apt flip side of the great and glorious Ramayan?With this tool-versus-content contradiction ingrained in the Ravanayan, it is hardly the candidate to dislodge the faithful from their unwavering loyalty to the Ramayan.

  • Ramya Narayanan
    2019-05-16 22:26

    I recently read the book, "Asura – The Tale of the Vanquished", which speaks of Ramayana from Ravana's point of view. Basically, it is Ravanayana. So the book talks about the life of Ravana, his birth, his journey to being the 'King of Lanka', his learning on the way, the decision of kidnapping Sita, the war that ensues, and finally his death. An interesting dimension is the narration of events from the eyes of a common man "Bhadra", although it does not add much value at all. It ends up complicating the whole plot by delving into the nitty-gritties of the life of a common man, the cruel ways of the society etc. May be this was meant to create a diversion from the main plot, but it fails on so many levels. Ravana is very much the protagonist here and his story is at the heart of the book.We all know what the Ramayana is about. Rama – the hero, Ravana – the villain. The book is not written with intent to reverse the roles each played, but merely to retell the story from the loser's standpoint. After all, history has always been written by the victors. Who talks of the losers? Who sings their praises? Who immortalizes them in stories? Nobody.But does that mean that they do not have a story to be told? Does that imply that their every move was evil or silly just because they ended up on the losing side? I have heard a lot of talk about how controversial the book is, how it depicts the entire caste system and how it trifles with the sentiments of traditional, idealistic kind of people. All this talk basically deviates from the whole crux of the book, which is merely to narrate what could be the other side of the story. This contradicts everything that we have been told hundreds of times right since our birth. This contradicts the truth, as we know it. Hence, the resistance to accept that there could be another angle to the same story. An angle, that could actually change the way we think of something we have long since held on to as truth. Another important lesson the author is trying to convey is how over ambitiousness can bring destruction to man, especially when one does not understand its limit. There comes a point where the line has to be drawn. How much can one let go of to attain something? Till what extent will you push to fulfill your greed? I believe that the universe always finds a way to balance things out. So if you push to get your way, there will be things pulled from you. How else will there be balance? It is easy for us to push, but when somethings are taken from us, that's when the learning happens. May be next time, you know that there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. You will learn to be happy with what you get within the boundaries of that line. In a way, isn't this how Karma works? What goes around comes around! Without getting into finer details of the plot and the characters, my suggestion to the reader would be to look at it on the macro level. If one dwells upon the micro elements, there are 2 things that happen – a) it gets really boring, b) you might miss the point, since the overall tone of the book is quite sad and negative.