Read Rise of Kali: Duryodhana's Mahabharata by Anand Neelakantan Online


THE MAHABHARATA ENDURES AS THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA. While Jaya is the story of the Pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of Kurukshetra, Ajaya is the tale of the Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man. From the pen of the author who gave voice to Ravana in the national bestseller, ASURA, comes the riveting narrative which compels us to question the truthTHE MAHABHARATA ENDURES AS THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA. While Jaya is the story of the Pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of Kurukshetra, Ajaya is the tale of the Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man. From the pen of the author who gave voice to Ravana in the national bestseller, ASURA, comes the riveting narrative which compels us to question the truth behind the Mahabharata. THE DARK AGE OF KALI IS RISING and every man and woman must choose between duty and conscience, honour and shame, life and death… The Pandavas, banished to the forest following the disastrous games of dice, return to Hastinapura. Draupadi has vowed not to bind her hair till she washes it in the blood of the Kauravas. Karna must choose between loyalty and gratitude, friend and Guru. Aswathama undertakes a perilous mission to the mountains of Gandhara, in search of the Evil One. Kunti must decide between her firstborn and her other sons. Guru Drona has to stand with either his favourite disciple or his beloved son. Balarama, having failed to convince his brother about the adharma of violence, walks the streets of Bharatavarsha, spreading the message of peace. Ekalavya is called to make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold a woman’s honour. Jara, the beggar, sings of Krishna’s love while his blind dog, Dharma, follows. Shakuni can almost see the realization of his dream to destroy India. As the Pandavas stake their claim to the Hastinapura throne, the Kaurava Crown Prince, Suyodhana, rises to challenge Krishna. As great minds debate dharma and adharma, power hungry men prepare for an apocalyptic war. The women, highborn and humble, helplessly watch the unfolding disaster with deep foreboding. And greedy merchants and unscrupulous priests lie in wait like vultures. Both sides know that beyond the agony and carnage the winner will take all. But even as gods conspire and men’s destinies unfold, a far greater truth awaits...

Title : Rise of Kali: Duryodhana's Mahabharata
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789381576045
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 530 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Rise of Kali: Duryodhana's Mahabharata Reviews

  • Vishnu Chevli
    2019-01-12 17:46

    Awesome job by Anand Neelakantan "Ajaya - Roll of The Dice (Part 1) & Rise of Kali (Part 2)" is an epic written by Anand Neelakantan which shows Mahabharata from Duryodhana's point of view. I was unjust and hasty when I have written review of part-1, but I will correct my review as I have completed both the parts. I will re-write review for complete series "Ajaya".From our childhood, either we heard or watched (On Doordarshan) stories the Mahabharata. We accepted Pandavas and Krishna as hero. We accepted all loopholes in stories that came to our mind as divine intervention. Except Karna, We always imagined Suyodhana, Sushashana, Ashwathama as wrong doers. We never thought what could be the reason behind Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Narayani Sena and other nobles support for Suyodhana in his struggle against Pandavas. We accepted available Mahabharata as recited by Ved Vyasa in front of Vaisampayana, but what if it was altered by the time it reached to us; what if Mahabharata as we know today is completely different from what it was actualy. It is winner who chooses what will go down to history. Neither Duryodhana nor his supporters won to continue his side of story. Anand has wonderfully portrayed how Duryodhana would be if his struggle for kingship was righteous.Detailed Review Link -

  • Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws
    2019-01-14 18:37

    I have said it before, and I will say it again. It is always a refreshing experience to read Anand Neelakantan’s books. I have been waiting for this book for around 8 months now and the author has made this book worth the wait.The second instalment starts with Draupadi being summoned after the Pandavas have lost her in a game of dice. Right from the first chapter the story continues its ‘tandav’ throughout the book. Do not misunderstand me when I say ‘tandav’ I mean it as a compliment. It is indeed havoc that is created through mere words on pages when Anand writes them. He forces people to acknowledge that there are always two sides to a coin. From the beginning of Roll of Dice, the author ensured that we let go of all that we think we know about Mahabharata and start afresh to see the side of the story that no one tells – the story of the Kauravas.While the stage was set and things started taking off in the first instalment, ‘Rise of Kali’ gives us an in-depth look into all the characters that play a role. Two people particularly stood out for me. One of them was Karna – while he did stand out in the original version with his diligence and loyalty, here we get to see everything that he had gone through. After reading his whole story, his loyalty to Duryodhana and his resilience takes on a new level. I admired Karna like no other in the story. The other was that of Balarama. While Krishna is widely known for his role in the Mahabharata, Balarama felt more humane and admirable in this version. Also, getting a look into Yuyutsu, the only surviving Kaurava was an added attraction in the book.The author maintains his comprehensive style of narration for most part. I personally felt that there could be more to the ending, but then I am someone who is always looking for more in a book. The language continues to be striking, complementing the author’s unique perspective on every character and relationship. It was interesting, engaging and entertaining.

  • Trupti Raswalkar
    2019-01-11 21:32

    I have always believed in the policy – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!So when I did not quite like Amish’s Scion of Ikshvaku,I decided not to put down my reaction in words. But Rise of Kali has actually disappointed me to a level that I am going to write a detailed review of it! Firstly I would like to make it clear, I am aware that I am nowhere near Amish’s or Anand Neelakantan’s level of excellence to actually review their work! They both are great authors! But this review is more of a reader’s reaction than a critical evaluation of the book.So here I go! Firstly I want to make a request to these authors, please don’t try to fit your books in a set formula! The similarity I found in both these books is that they used the same formula! Reflect social and political situation of current India in the Bharatkhanda of that time, bring out the issue of rapes, talk about the caste system etc etc. Both have tried too hard to connect situations prevalent today with ancient India!Now talking about Rise of Kali in specific – when I started reading Ajaya 1, I was mighty impressed till the first half of the book was over. I was almost sure this book would be one of my favourite books. But the second half actually shattered my hopes. The plot which seemed very clever, with all characters having different views on the same subject (none of them being evil), suddenly took a U- turn and resorted to the good vs bad cliche. It no longer remained to be the intelligent clash of ideologies but just about the good Duryodhan, bad Pandavas and the vicious Krishna!! Yes, now coming to the parts that hurt (yes hurt!) me the most! Let’s talk about the beginning itself. The vastraharan of Draupadi! The author has skipped through the incident as though it’s some trivial irrelevant incident! Many people (including me) actually believe it to be one of the main reasons behind the Mahabharat war! He has not even been clear about what exactly happens! Is she saved or not. If yes, by whom? (It made me appreciate more the wonderful interpretation in Chitra Banerjee’s book – Palace of Illusions). But in this book, author has conveniently skipped through the incident.Next is the portrayal of Krishna! Like any normal Indian kid, I have grown up listening to stories of Krishna! As I grew up and started reading mythology, I perceived him not as God, but as an extraordinary human being none the less! So I am completely fine with accepting that Krishna may not have been a God! But putting him out to be some kind of dhongi baba! There I have a problem! You can’t ridicule such an important character of Mahabharata just like that! Also, though the author has given references to Krishna’s divine / fake magical powers, he has nowhere explained how Krishna managed to showcase them. The author could have just lifted the veil of divinity and portrayed him as a normal person with vice and virtues! But he has used Krishna’s divine status instead to show him in bad light! Really great men (not necessarily good) till today are elevated to the level of God though they are not! They don’t necessarily have to be God or dhongi babas. They can just be extra ordinary human beings! Also Krishna is shown to be hell bent on bringing Duryodhan down. But if he really wanted that, he would have never tried to settle for five villages. But I have to say, at least in Rise of Kali he has reduced the intensity with which he wished to portray Krishna when he first introduced his character in Ajaya 1. Now let’s leave aside the emotions and talk about facts – First the story of Samba (Krishna’s son) being a rapist and raping Duryodhana’s daughter Lakshmana! I have never come across any reference to this incident. To write this review I have done some research as well. The findings reaffirm my knowledge and state that Samba wanted to marry Lakshmana , but she refused. So he kidnapped her and got caught. Later Balaram and not Krishna comes to rescue him. And as no one is ready to marry Lakshmana (she being abducted once), she is married to Samba! I could nowhere find reference to any rape of Lakhsmana by Samba or murder of Eklavya by Krishna because of that! And p.s: I completely sympathise with the unfair treatment with which Eklavya was met. I deduct one point from team Pandava for that (though I will not conveniently give that point to team Kaurava). Also if Duryodhan was such a fair and nice person, how did he give his daughter away to a rapist! Next, the story of Iravan. Mahabharat states Iravan died in the Kurikshetra war. Was rather killed in an unfair manner when fighting Shakuni. Also if one tries to refer the South folklore, it states Iravan voluntarily sacrificed himself!(I prefer to believe original version than folklores!). Moving ahead, as the author has given references to Geeta verses in the book, I also would like to quote one, which summarises the reason behind the Mahabharat war for me – “If you don’t fight for what you want, then don’t cry for what you lost!” And what is clear is that the throne of Hastinapur was something both Pandavas and Kauravas “desired”. It was nobody’s right by birth except Bhishma. Dhritharashtra was as illegitimate a child as the Pandavas! That makes Duryodhan also an illegitimate son of the Kuru clan! Next the character of Dhaumya. As far as I recollect his reference in Mahabharat, he met the pandavas during their exile when they were on their way to attend Draupadi’s swayamvar. He was referred to the Pandavas as their Kul guru by some Gandharva. I would like to know the author’s background reference that made him portray Dhaumya as the chief villain! Next is the character of Yuyutsu! As far as Mahabharat goes, Yuyutsu’s character is somewhat similar to Vibhishana from Ramayan. Frustrated with the humiliation and unfair treatment at the hands of his brothers (Kauravas), he provides intelligence information to Pandavas for the war. It has been very clear in the epic that Kauravas treated him badly due to his mother being a low caste. This makes me wonder, Duryodhana who respected and loved Karna, the sutaputra, how could he neglect and disrespect his own step brother? Was his friendship towards Karna, only because of his superiority against Pandavas? Also it brings into question the entire ideaology which Duryodhana is shown to have in this book. The ideaolgy that defines and defends him in this book. I would also like to point out that when Pandavas along with Draupadi decided to leave for the Himalayas, they left Yuyutsu as the guardian of Parikhshit, despite him being Dhritharashtra’s son and technically a kaurava plus a low caste. He was also made the king of Indraprastha! If they really believed in caste hierarchy and propagated animosity, why would they leave their grandson and Kingdom with Yuyutsu!Moving ahead I would like to point out the convenient assumptions made in the book like Shalya was not tricked but voluntarily supported Kauravas, Narayani sena was not asked for by Duryodhana but they themselves supported him and not their commander (which is unheard of as Kshatriyas prided themselves of the virtue of loyalty!) etc etc. Also wherever the epic mentions Duryodhana’s misdeeds, the author has conveniently ignored it and passed on the blame to someone else (palace of lac, attempt to murder Bheem etc etc). Also I would like to point out that the angle of patriotism which Duryodhana and his friends have shown in the book towards “India” has logical problems. India that time was not Bharat a single country, it was Bharatkhanda - A collection of many countries.Also the dark evil way with which scenes are narrated in the book gives me creeps. Eg - Shikhandi making lewd remarks towards Bhishma during the war, he dancing around Drona after he falls etc etc. Such style of narration makes the reader's opinion biased unnecessarily as it is not connected to the main incident, but just adds thorns to it. It is so especially for the readers who are not aware about the original epic in detail.I can go on and on about the technicalities. But all I want to say is that I was all ears for the story of the vanquished but sadly I was not convinced a single bit! I was looking forward to an unbiased practical version, where both sides have been show in grey shades, with their own rights and wrongs. But all I got to read was just a flipped version of the epic!

  • Divya Sarma
    2019-01-03 19:26

    I have desperately waited for more than a year to read the concluding part of Ajaya. The author himself was extremely tight lipped about the release date, and it has finally come almost a year after it was originally slated for release. Considering all this anticipation, there was no way the book actually would live up to what I wanted it to. And it doesnt. But it is still a really good, honest effort. The book succeeds best when it gives voice to Suyodhana, and sometimes even to the people in his camp like Ashwathama and Shakuni. Karna of course gets his time in the sun, but the interesting part of this book is that the focus is not always so much on Karna, and considering the number of books which have already valorized Karna, it is good to let some other voices speak.What the book really does well is paint a believable picture of the right on Suyodhana's side. And unlike the earlier book, it does it while also giving a passionate Suyodhana. Suyodhana aruging with Krishna about the right of his cause is one of the best scenes in the book. Bhishma's speech when he announces he is going to support Suyodhana is again great and genuinely highlights the hero's passion and conviction. At times it feels as if the author has closely followed the Star Bharat series which was aired last year and is deliberately trying to invert the story. This is not really a flaw in this book, because the series was so one sided that the story needed to be told from the other perspective. For instance, in popular discourse (even in Karna centered narratives), when Karna gets to know the truth about his birth, he urges Krishna to keep it secret because he feels that should they know the truth, Yudhishtra will give up his claim on the kingdom which he rightfully deserves. It is actually a bit ludicrous to see a hot headed, angry man like Karna suddenly turn affectionate towards the Pandavas, because he realizes they are his brothers and wants to support their claim. Here, Karna fully supports Suyodhana's claim to the throne. He also realizes that Kunti and Krishna suddenly acknowledging him is a political ploy to somehow ensure Pandava advantage over Suyodhana. And he wants none of it. This seems far more psychologically possible keeping in mind Karna's personality. Karna's rejection of Kunti and his almost reluctant adherence to a promise not to kill the Pandavas allows us to be sympathetic to him, even though in the larger context of Suyodhana's life, Karna has betrayed him. Karna's death scene, in the arms of Suyodhana, even as he thinks that it is better to die this way, as Radheya, than win against Arjuna and become another Kaunteya (a puppet in Krishna's arms) allows us to feel sympathetic for both men. And particularly after seeing the travesty of Karna's death scene in Star Mahabharat, this description is particularly satisfying. At times the book seems to give excessive importance to Shakuni and pushes his role even in episodes where he was probably not involved. But the book succeeds in still presenting Shakuni as a human person, who loves his country and resents India for what was done to his own country. Placing Shakuni and Krishna as antagonists seems to have again drawn from the Star version of Mahabharat. But it is nicely done, with Krishna himself, at times becoming a pawn in Shakuni's plans. When the book does invoke any of the Pandava perspectives, it falls a bit flat. Yudhishtra genuinely preferring not to be a king, Bhima wondering why his tribal wife and son are not important in the scheme of things, Arjuna questioning the Gita's wisdom after he has killed Bhishma and Karna, maybe each of it deserves a book in itself. Doubtless, Neelakantan has borrowed some ideas from existing narratives (which is perfectly fine), but given the seriousness of the issues being raised, they are treated very very briefly. In fact the last chapters are very rushed, with about 36 years of narrative being compressed almost to read as though the Pandavas renounced their kingdom a few months after the victory. Krishna's development in this book is quite interesting. In the previous book, he was developing as the villain, but perhaps Neelakantan chose to steer clear of controversy by making Krishna a heartless villain. Or maybe he genuinely wanted to give the character more depth. The Krishna of this book is more likeable if a bit inconsistent. His almost inhuman detachment from the world, as he preaches a system of social order makes him almost an avtar. Yet his anguish over his wayword son and his pathetic attempts to protect him make him all too human. Unfortunately, since Krishna does not bear the burden of villainy in this book, Neelakantan had to find alternate villains, and Dhaumya emerging as a villain supreme seems a bit ludicrous, considering he has very little role in any of the mainstream versions of Mahabharata. Yuyutsu's antagonistic role is a bit more well done. And positioning Yuyutsu's ascendancy as Dhirtharashtra's ultimate revenge against the Pandavas is a delicious twist of irony. All in all, this is definitely a honest and good book. It definitely scores over the other recent mythological release The Scion of Ikshvaku. It is unfortunate that Neelakantan lacks Tripathi's savviness in marketing, because that book (which reads like absolute trash) is definitely going to trump this in book sales.

  • Pallabi Dutta {Devourer of Books and Tea}
    2018-12-28 21:40

    *****I received a signed copy of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. The views expressed here are my own and unbiased.3 stars.The blurb sounded so promising.The author has turned such a great epic into a horrid Retelling.The story started with Draupadi being dragged from her chambers to the sabha where the unspeakable cheerharan takes place. And the events directly leading after that. Minor characters like Ashwathama are given importance. We get to see Gandhar and their culture which has escaped from the real mahabharata mythology. Dear old Karna always held a soft spot in my heart. Though reading Duryodhana's Mahabharata didn't do justice to him as a character. I know that Mahabharata is about taking the right path. A battle between Dharma and Adharma. But reading the story it was getting a bit drag that the word Dharma kept popping up every tenth sentence. I am a huge fan of Indian Mythology but this book was just wasn't for me. A BIG FAT NO. NO.I am sorry. I really really really tried loving, liking.... after a while bearing this book but naah I couldn't come to love it. I felt the author was in hurry to finish the story because the ending didn't sit well with me. And the line "Ekalavya is called to make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold a woman’s honour in the summary- I think is quite misleading. And another thing which caught my eye was I felt every women shown in this retelling is either oppressed or hysterical or just mentally subdued or shown as power hungry. I mean c'mon the whole time reading this book all I felt was 'Man, Draupadi sounds like a mad hysterical women'. Not a pretty picture. That is all I could think right now. And probably I will recommend this book to only those people who are new to reading and have lot of time in their hand to actually get into the plot introduced by the author because sure as hell the author wasn't able to entice me into this story.

  • Manish Ahuja
    2019-01-11 20:49

    This book begins from the most infamous, and the most poignant chapter of Mahabharata. The dice game in which Pandavas' lose their entire wealth, kingdom and eventually they end up losing their wife, by gambling over a dice game orchestrated by Shakuni (who was playing on behalf of the Kauravas). If this situation would have been handled in a respectable manner by the Kauravas, probably the entire Kurukshetra war could have been avoided.The prime highlight of this book has to be the situations in which characters find themselves and how do they react to those situations. Their decisions are based on their past, influence, manoeuvring and manipulation by other characters. Vulnerability and indecisiveness of characters and the sinister plans of some of the characters is exposed to the reader with great panache and skill. Read a detailed post about this book on my blog:

  • Balaji Sundarrajan
    2019-01-13 20:26

    i had already read ajaya I and was waiting for part II for a long time. it does not fail to disappoint. the book is gripping. unputdownable read. only thing is that, the story appears to travel very fast. the author could have opted for two more volumes. on the whole, i am very impressed with anand neelakantan's reinterpretation of the ithihasa. my knowledge of the mahabharata is quite good and i can say that anand's version is not only plausible but also strongly possible. loved the last chapter where the author discusses about dharma. on the whole, i can say that anand has managed to make me rethink about so many things that we had doubts about, but were afraid to ask, in our epics. as he himself puts it, he has made me 'read between the lines'. for this, i sincerely thank the author.

  • Kapil Shukla
    2018-12-25 19:35

    Mahabharat is an epic and to write concisely about your opinions, thoughts, after thoughts, views/actions is always be challenging for most. What i liked about this book is the chapters are focussed and short. What all people would know about would be after watching BR Chopras Mahabharat serial on tv. So this book i feel is important to view the other side on what possibly could have happened. There are plethora of questions raised on what is right and wrong and frankly no one today could answer those. But if you have only read/seen one part of the story then you would be influenced to think in a particular manner. This book introduces to other side and force you to think appropriately.

  • Shabnam
    2019-01-16 17:47

    Ajaya: Roll of the Dice, the first part of this book had left me speechless. It was for the first time that I read the epic "Mahabharata" with such clarity. All Gods & sons of Gods became regular men and women. Mostly, the other side of the story got a say through Anand's words. There is thus no need to point that the second part of the book carried a lot of expectations. When I read the first few chapters of this book, I thought this book will be disaster. It seemed that the author was losing his chain of thought and the book felt lifeless. But I am glad I held on to my patience as the first few chapters were merely linking the first book to this one... Anand's words put in so much truth to the narrative that it was more like living a tale. I smiled at Krishna's jumbled words, fell in love with Karna's ideals, adored Bhanumati's devotion to Suyodhana, felt Suyodhana's passion & conflict of emotions, and most importantly understood how it would have been to walk in the shoes of men like Bhishma, Vidhura, Pandava/ Kaurava brothers who after all were all humans in the gamble called life. There was no right or wrong. Every one of them did what they thought was their definition of right. Each of them was human and it was time & history that made them all divine or monsters. Anand captures every emotion, every feeling with such sincerity that I wanted to live it a little more every time I read it... taking me a real long time to finish it!!All I would say is that Anand Neelkanthan does not disappoint you with his second offering to the vanquished and I look forward to his next epic!

  • John Corlos
    2018-12-22 18:25

    The gripping tale of the epic Mahabharatha in a never told before way unveiled when I got to read the new book on the series of the Ajaya. The new book is titled RISE OF KALI : DURODHANA’S MAHABHARATHA and to its name it is been said in the perspective of Duryohana. I have heard Mahabharatha in Krishna’s perspective, Arjuna’s perspective but I wonder why no one chose to say the tale on the sides of the Kauravas.                              Rise of KaliThe author has always tried his ways on establishing the tales on the lineso f the anti heroes from his earlier books. His Asura : The Tale of the Vanquished was about Ravana’s perspective of the epic Ramanaya and the first book on the series Ajaya : The Roll of the dice was on the Kaurava’s perspective. This single aspect is sure to catch the readers and assure us that we are on for a fun filled epic read.The author tells about the dharma and adharma in this gripping novel. This tale included some of the best works that I have read in his books and became my favourite one among his novels. He has written in a non boring fashion and the readers are sure to keep the book till the end without closing it. The very different perspective ushers us to read nad know more about it and we are not disappointed anytime. The story begins with the  Panchali Cheerharan and continuees go on. The part where Suyodhana explains on why he chose his path to be right is excellent and a delight to read.I would recommend this to all mythology lovers. This would sure usher the readers to read more about the mthology. A brilliant read is sure assured.

  • Manpreet Kaur
    2019-01-10 21:27

    After reading the first book, I was highly impressed by the kind of plot and idea the author came up with. And I think I cannot express how eager I was to get into the second book in the series.However, I must say this book was like a roller coaster ride for me. Some parts of the book are so exceptionally well presented. I loved... oh! Is there some other word for expressing how excited and happy I was while reading some portions of this book.But there were some portions which didn't impress me much. I couldn't agree over how author built up some incidents. He could have done much better.This cannot be a reason to not like this book. I would still say I really really liked this book and all the readers who loved the first book would definitely enjoy this book also.I would suggest you not to skip reading the first book. Of course, you can easily catch up with the story for mahabharata is a well know epic and almost everyone knows about the war and all. But this different is very very different than the usual Mahabharata and thus you need to read the first book to get completely engrossed in the story and like the second book. In case you want a more detailed review of this book, check this link:

  • Bhakti Motta
    2018-12-24 19:45

    Rise of Kali is book two of Ajaya – Epic of the Kaurava Clan series. If you have read Asura/Roll of the Dice and liked it then wait no more, go grab your copy of Rise of Kali. If you haven’t read Anand Neelakantan’s work before, then start with this book. Rise of Kali can be read as an independent book too.Rise of Kali starts with the famous or should I sayInfamous Panchali Cheerharan. Suyodhana (Duryodhana) and his brothers along with Karna, Aswathama and Shakuni have won the Dice game and whole of Indrapastha, making Pandavas their slaves. Suyodhana in his urge to satisfy his ego insults Panchali in front of whole sabha, thus shaming the whole Kaurava Clan.Pandavas leave their abode for Vanvas and Kauravas start resurrecting their status. Aswathama goes in search of Shakuni to Gandhara and Karna is forced to leave Hastinapur by Bheeshma. Suyodhana feels disabled without Karna and Aswathama in Hastinapur.There are few events in this book which I have never heard or read before, thus making this book more interesting. We know Mahabharata from Krishna ‘s point of view, Arjun’ s point of view and Panchali’s point of view too, but what about The Kauravas? What about Duryodhana?What I liked about this book is the way Suyodhana ‘s character, suyodhana’ s relationships with his friends and wife are essayed.

  • Nitin
    2018-12-20 20:26

    Anand Neelakantank is a master story teller who sticks to the traditional style of narrating a mythological master piece. His natrative style is apt for Indian mythology and you're left feeling you've found pages that went missing from the original classical epic by Veda Vyasa.Anand turns the Mahabhartha on it's head.Rise of Kali raises questions that you've always asked yourselves and then forces you to ask even harder questions. Every page makes you stop and ponder ... which is what the original epic was meant to do in the first place.At times Rise of Kali makes you question the very fundamental beliefs ... so by no means is it an easy read ... it hits you hard and then shakes you again.Many authors have intepreted the Mahabhartha and given us versions from Draupadi's point of view, Arjuna's point of view, Karna's point of view. The great MT Vasudevan Nair has given us Bhima's point of view.Anand has dared to do what no one has ... he has attempted and succeeded in narrating Duryodhana's Mahabharatha ... he has given you the villain's point of view.Beautifully crafted and wonderfully narrated ... Rise of Kali is a must read

  • Natasha Borah Khan
    2019-01-08 23:34

    It is really interesting to see how the author narrates the mythological aspects like boons and magical weapons in a believable and possible way. Like the part where Arjuna is supposed to meet Shiva and ask for his bow, Duryodhana being beaten by Bhima when striked on his thighs and so on. It is an advantage if you know the conventional Mahabharata or at least some stories of it. That way the story becomes more amusing as well as interesting.Read full review at Natasha'z Words

  • Ankita Dasgupta
    2018-12-28 19:39

    Finest writing EVER! If I loved Jaya, I love the Ajaya series even more.

  • Madhu Bairy
    2019-01-11 22:32

    A review of Ajaya - A two-part series by Anand Neelkantan.India is a land of rich stories that celebrate the victory of good over bad, truth over lies and Dharma over Adharma. We have grown up imbibing the essence of Truth alone Triumphs, in spite of many hardships that challenge its persistence. The two great Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata also echo this 'universal' truth that has stood the test of time since centuries. Indian mythology has undergone a lot of change through literature, arts and interpretations. We have come across many retellings of these two epics in different languages.There have been many retellings of these two epics by various noted authors in different languages. In spite of the cultural differences and a bit of literary liberty, efforts to keep the core essence have been commendable.The recent addition to my library is the two-book series called Ajaya, which is a retelling of the events of Mahabharata through the perspectives of those who were the vanquished before and after the war of Dharma.This book is authored by Anand Neelkantan, the author of two renowned books, Asura and Rise of Sivagami. While Asura is another fine retelling of the Ramayana through the eyes of Ravana, the latter is a fictional account of the events preceding the recent magnum opus of silver screen, Bahūbali - the Beginning.Now, coming back to Ajaya, the protagonist of the book is the first born son of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, succeeded by 99 brothers and a sister. Having said that, he is one of the many prominent characters in the book who have one thing in common - their voices were never heard.The importance of Dharma is questioned time and again, making the concept worth pondering. On one side, there are the Pandavas and Lord Krishna, reiterating the value of rules to create a stable society. But, they fail to look at the bigger picture where casteism is forced upon people, thereby creating a rift in the 'stability'.The opposite end of this is what makes the book an interesting read. The constant but futile rebellion by Prince Suyodhana and his friends make them seem to be the evil for a society created on the foundation of virtues. It is here that they begin to voice their intent, sometimes making it clear and binding. But, with the stalwarts in the country like, Bhishma, the Grand Regent of Kurus and Drona, the Guru of Kurus who impose rules all the way, make the rebellion nothing but an act of ridicule. It is due to this rigidity that Ekalavya, the tribal boy sacrifices his ability to overpower even the likes of Arjuna, in the name of Gurudakshina.The rules of Dharma and Kulanyaya makes Ashwathama, the talented but unlucky son of Guru Drona look nothing but a spurned rebel.Mahabharata is not an epic that showcases the victory of good over evil. In fact, there are no protagonists or antagonists in the saga. Everyone has a motive to nurture and strengthen, everyone has a notion that seems to be the apparent truth and everyone has a reason to contribute to the great war. The parallel narrative talks about the seemingly malicious intent of the mastermind, Shakuni who is the brother of Queen Gandhari and an uncle to the crown Prince, Suyodhana. The reader cannot help but dwindle with the feelings of hatred and compassion towards the Gandharan Prince.The two part series of Ajaya is worth reading in every aspect. The chain of events combined, is but one of the many reasons that ignite the catastrophic fire between the royal dynasty who are in the pursuit of the 'right' Dharma. Questions will be raised, doubts will prevail and it is for the readers to decide who is really the keeper of Dharma and what in reality makes a society stable in every aspect.Footnotes:The progenies of the Kuru dynasty were born with names that begin with Su, which means good. Suyodhana means the one who is proficient in arms and warfare. It is but his rebellious acts, unapproved by the authorities that make him Duryodhana.The Nagas are a rebel group who live deep in the forests of Khandiva and share the interests of Suyodhana to some extent. Yet, they possess an agenda of their own which leads them to their ultimate extinction.Special mention to the author for having made the interpretation of Dharma so pragmatic in either ways. You may want to keep both the views together but, ironically the 'stable' system does not seem to approve of the same.

  • Sujata Ravi
    2019-01-17 17:37

    'Rise of Kali: Duryodhana's Mahabharata' is the second book in the Ajaya series. Aptly titled 'Ajaya' the series is Anand Neelakantan's counterpoint to the traditional rendition of the Mahabharata or Jaya which casts the Pandavas in a victorious as well as righteous light.In Ajaya, Neelakantan establishes the reasons why the Kauravas, and Suyodhana (Duryodhana) in particular, believe they are engaged in a righteous war and rightly points out some of the shortcomings of the Pandava claim on the throne, and their activities in the war. I think Indian readers were ripe for a reinterpretation of the Mahabharata from Duryodhana's perspective and Anand Neelakantan takes up the cause of the Kauravas and elaborates their thoughts in an impressive manner. He describes in moving detail how Duryodhana and his ideologies are not evil, like we've always been told, but how do you say .. disruptive.. to the social structure of the time. Krishna, who is the prime mover of the entire war, is not as much in dismay of the wrongdoings of the Kauravas, but rather worried about how Duryodhana's ideas of allowing his citizens to break the rules of the caste heirarchy might allow the descent of society into chaos. As per the author's description, Duryodhana is unaffected by the strict rules of caste and creed and believes only the the merit of the doer. To him, it's of no significance that Karna is a charioteer born of a caste not meant to draw weapons.He sees that Karna is a proficient warrior, his skills surpassing even Arjuna's and makes him the King of Anga, giving him honorary status as a warrior. Duryodhana is described as being sympathetic to the plight of the Nagas and other lower castes, and he maintains that it is to prevent the further marginalisation of these oppressed castes that he wants to defeat the Pandavas, so that he can establish a society where everyone may be treated fairly. What I appreciated most about the book is that the author is ready to acknowledge the Kaurava's most blatant wrong in the epic, the unrighteous stance they take during the Draupadi Cheerharan. In the book, Duryodhana, Karna and Ashwatthama all acknowledge their failings when it comes to that lapse in reason,and dharma. I have long felt that the Pandava claim on the throne is non-existent or tenuous at best, because Duryodhana IS the eldest son of the king of Hastinapura. We have all traditionally settled for a righteous Pandava claim on the throne due to the wicked portrayal of Duryodhana. But even historically, it is known that Krishna and the Pandavas engineered several dubious circumstances during the war to get rid of Kaurava warriors of greater skill. The author touches on this treachery especially in the case of the death of Karna, Drona and Bhishma quite movingly. Lastly, Ajaya is a great portrayal of friendship, loyalty and unswerving belief in one's own cause. I really enjoyed Rise of Kali. Read it for an alternative perspective on by far the most interesting Indian story we know because for all you know, this is how it truly happened.

  • Abhyudaya Shrivastava
    2019-01-03 18:48

    Expectations were huge from this book too as it is the continuation of the epic Mahabharata from another perspective and of course, the readers are curious to know more about the other side, or so to speak, of the fence. Well, the book begins with an author's note where he explains how he has learned the art of viewing things critically from Gita itself. He also has included Gita in his book but here the dialogue is between Krishna who is with Arjuna and is inclined toward war and Balrama who sympathizes with Suyodhana. Balaram is questioning Krishna and Krishna is justifying his acts in the name of Dharma. Author has also addressed the issue of showing Krishna in an unflattering light in his books.About the authorThis is Anand Neelkantan's third book after Asura and Ajaya (Part I). In his own words, he was born in a village with more than necessary number of temples. His tryst with mythology and religion started early on in his life and he has been fascinated ever since.About the bookThe cover has an ominous picture of a vulture flying in the face of solar eclipse. Just like the earlier book, this one also has been beautifully designed. The pages have a crisp feel to them. The typeset is of international standards. The blurb at the back reveals nothing but the basic premise of the book which is essentially- 'Mahabharata retold'. Praise from reputed newspapers and magazines like The Week and DNA are enough for one to be sold to the idea of the book.The language is simple with short sentences and fast narrative. The book is divided into 85 chapter for easy readability. A preview to the happenings in the previous book make the book a good purchase as a stand-alone product too.About the plotThe book picks up the story from the scene of Game of Dice where Draupadi is mercifully pawned. Of course in this book, there is no magical Krishna to extend the saree of Draupadi as 'Dushasana' pulls on it. It is a less dramatic, but more believable version of the situation. The dialogues in the book are not low on drama though. Every line compels you to put yourself in the character's situation and feel his dilemma.The writing is divided in shorter paragraphs which are easy on the eye and the plot moves very smoothly. The book is a brilliant example of how to engage the reader through merely the use of dialogues and interesting situations. The author has used his imagination in most situations and although they might not be the real history of those times, they are definitely more realistic than the actual texts.

  • Pradeep S
    2019-01-08 21:46

    The Rise of Kali- raises the question, why the history never considered the virtues of the vanquished? Suryodhana was the voice of a castles society, which weighed the individual with merits. He accepted Karna- the son of a charioteer and offered him his eternal friendship. He did not ask Yudhishtira to pawn his wife on the dice games. He didn't do anything against Dharma in the war. Still he is the chief antagonist.Rise of Kali is the search through the mind of the greatest villain ever portrayed in our Epics. The war which was forced upon men by the tactful manipulation of Dharma and Adharma. When Bhishma was unarmed, he was killed by Arjuna. Guru Drona was cheated and killed. When Karna was unarmed, he was killed by Arjuna. Suyodhana himself was killed against the rules of the war by Bhima. And I wonder, who was on the path of Dharma!It was a mesmerising feeling when I read the conversation between Balarama and Krishna where Balarama is trying to convince his younger brother about the futility of war.Krisha Says to his elder brother that the wise do not grieve for the dead, nor love the living. The souls is immortal and pervades the entire universe. The soul has no death and birth and that the soul discards the body as we throw away soiled clothes and so on''To this, Balarama replies that to a mother who has lost a child. What you say is merely an intellectual exercise. It does not solve anything but acts as an excuse for violence'.There are so wordily duals like this throughout the book. It is as if the writer is asking these questions to himself and trying to fathom the justifications.The virtues of Suyodhana and Karna were lost in transition somewhere down the lines and now this work compel the reader to think deeper and raise questions in the reader's mind. Even the Dharma and Adharma is relative in their senses.A must read, to see the other side, where everyone forgot the virtues of the so called villains.Bhanumati, wife of Suyodhan says him that he will be painted as the greatest villain who ever lived, if he loses the war to which he answers calmly that 'fear of posterity cannot prevent me from doing what I know to be right'. Yes. He meant it.

  • Rupalim
    2018-12-26 21:52

    Rise of Kali gives a fitting farewell to the story Anand Neelakantan had started with his first book Ajaya of the duology that he chooses to call "Duryodhana's Mahabharata". In the previous book we see Suryodhana transforming to Duryodhana as he orders to drag his sister in law Draupadi to the Kuru court. We all know how the story of the epic Mahabharata unfolds, but it still was heartbreaking for me to imagine that the prince Suryodhana I had started to idealize would probably turn into the well known villain in " Rise of Kali". Maybe that was the reason, I had been putting off reading it months after I had bought the book for myself. I couldn't have been more wrong. The story was executed beautifully. The characters are so skillfully portrayed, you won't be able to pick a favorite even if you try. I especially liked the battle scenes. All those vyuh's that have been described, I could almost see them in action in battlefield. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this book has made me questioning the stories of Mahabharata as I had known them all my life. I guess this is the kind of power a master storyteller has over his readers, he can make them believe everything. You know its only a work of fiction but in the end, you will still have this nagging doubt in your mind what if the real thing, had been told from a different point of view? In this context the following quote from the book comes in handy,"The next time you read Vyasa's great epic, read with your eyes open. I shall be there with you whenever the story is told. I will be standing near you, whispering to your conscience to read between the lines. When you watch plays glorifying the Pandavas and their dharma, you will feel the gnawing of doubt in your mind. Know that I am doubt. When you pray, you will see the lamp flicker; I am the breeze that makes it dance. Do not say I have not warned you. As long as the great epic is read, Aswathama will live, the Brahmin cursed with immortality will be there, looking over your shoulder. You will not see me, but I will possess your mind. I am everlasting doubt as well as the eternal logic of the reasoning mind. I am Aswathama, the cursed. " -"Rise of Kali, Duryodhan's Mahabharata " , Anand Neelakantan

  • Rakhi Jayashankar
    2018-12-29 18:45

    After reading Ajaya1 , I could not hold myself from reading Ajaya2, out of curiosity to know how the author leads the story line further from Suyodhana's point of view. Unlike the first book, where there seemed to have a conscious effort to portray Suyodhana as righteous and Pandavas as evil, Ajaya 2 successfully reinforces that every one possess purely human feelings of jealousy, hatred,love, passion and dejection.Author portrayed the story with so much conviction that I felt if that it was exactly the real Mahabharatha.The story line involving Lakhsmana, Samba and Ekalavya and that of Iravan's fate is a new revelation. May be because of my lack of knowledge of the scripture, I haven't ever heard of the story, which surprised me.The interpretation of Geetha as a communication between Krishna and Balarama is a brilliant venture and the author succeeded in conveying the vast message in a few pages.The effort of compressing the scripture into two books is really praiseworthy.The confusion of the characters about the real Dharma and Adharma is the reflection and representation of a huge mass who gets caught up between the right and wrong.Another praiseworthy thing is that, even if, story is Duryodhana's Mahabharata, author reinforces that the protagonist was wrong in what the did to Draupadi.Only fact that disturbed me was that Krishna was portrayed in a bad light. At some points, I felt that Krishna was portrayed as the other side of Shakuni. Being an ardent Krishna devotee, it was disturbing. But towards the end there seems to have a clarity about Krishna's intentions and the author himself has given an explanation for the same.Kudos to Anand Neelakantan for spreading the message of peace and non violence as well as unity and equality from a book which is all about the greatest war in the history.A few typos took the cherry from the cake.All in all Ajaya 2 is a step ahead of its prequel.The biggest question is if kurukshetra saw victory of good over evil, then why does Kali rise

  • Vatsala
    2019-01-15 00:41

    It has been awhile since a release of a sequel filled me with this impatient sense of excitement mingled with curiosity (nostalgic about good old HP days:)).As I close (almost reluctantly) the last pages of Rise of Kali (RoK), I am surprised by this feeling of relief realizing that RoK was at par with the Roll of the Dice (RoD), if not better, for I have read too many sequels which have unwittingly wiped off the excitement and expectation created by the earlier book.It is refreshing to read about Mahabharata (MBH) from the eyes of all those persons who stood a little away from the blurred lines of (a)dharma. It is a misnomer to tag RoK as Duryodhana’s Mahabharatha, the strength of this book lies in the fact that it opens the reader to view the epic from the panes of divergent characters like Suyodhana, Ashwattama, Dhaumya, Yuyutsu, Eklavya and Yudhishtra while popular renderings have always been from the eyes of other noble souls like Karna, Krishna, Arjuna, Draupadi and Bhima. RoK is well written and neatly executed; the author has carefully interwoven interesting events and characters of MBH which are often ignored in popular retellings of the epic. If I have to choose one event from RoK to always remember I will choose that moment when Suyodhana, Karna and Ashwattama share a toddy from an untouchable woman. I enjoyed reading RoK and RoD and learnt some incredible facts about characters like Eklavya (I never knew anything about him other than his famed gurudakshina) and Yuyutsu (amazing – the only son of Dhirthirastra to have survived the war!). The more and more books and texts I read about MBH the more fascinating the epic is becoming.Recommended to all those who believe that MBH was all about good versus evil. Kudos to the author for doing his bit to ensure that the voices of the ‘other side’ of MBH get a stage, albeit under the covers of a fictional rendering.

  • Vivek Tejuja
    2019-01-10 21:39

    Mythology according to me should strictly be pure. I don’t know, I may be wrong, but I do not like everyone’s point of view when it comes to mythology. Ajaya as is said is the story of the Mahabharata told from the perspective of the Kauravas. I was quite hesitant to read this. I had not read the first book Roll of the Dice so I read that one and then I lapped this one up quite immediately. I must say though I enjoyed “Rise of Kali” a lot more than “Roll of the Dice”. “Rise of Kali” is about Duryodhana and his story and role to play in the epic. It is about dharma and adharma. The book is well-structured and most of it is well-written. It is also quite interesting, but somehow I thought it was just way too long to finish in one sitting. Having said that, “Rise of Kali” gives you an over-all perspective on the Mahabharata. May be that is the reason I enjoyed it as well. “Rise of Kali” is all about Suyodhana (Duryodhana) and about his conflict of emotions between right and wrong and why he does what he does. That struck me as something which I had never thought of, because of my prejudices. The book tests your patience as well. It is difficult to get into it initially but once the reader has, it is a different ball game altogether. I thought that Karna’s character was detailed quite well in the book and that is something which I really enjoyed. Anand Neelakantan draws on the characters quite well and that is something which is quite difficult to do and maintain in a book like this, given the scope of it all. I must also say that all in all, I enjoyed the book a lot. I think it will appeal to everyone who wants to see mythology differently.

  • Khyati Tewari
    2018-12-25 22:37

    Having read Roll of the Dice (Ajaya I), I was waiting for part II with much anticipation and author really took his time to release the second part.I have given the book a rating of 5 stars considering it as an individual book. But if I was to rate the book with respect to the first book, I would have given it 4 stars - for I liked the first part better. Why I say this is because, when I read the first part, the whole concept of the story being of the defeated side was new and thus proved most interesting. But then 2nd part at times felt dragged with saying the same things over and over again as were said in the 1st book. Though I feel, if the second book had come out sooner or better still if I had read both the books in one go, maybe this difference wouldn't have been apparent.Coming to book 2 in particular, what was most interesting was the voice given to people like Ashwathama and Shakuni. Loved how Mr. Neelakantan has portrayed Karna. Also what was interesting to read was the speech given by Bhishma pitamah explaining his reasons for backing Kauravas and how Dronacharya ji decided which side he would fight on.The whole concept of dharma and adharma was also well explained. And I especially loved how both sides justified that they were on the side of dharma. The tactics used by pandavas to win the war have been known forever so there was nothing new in there but what was new was the discussions that went on in the Kaurava camp each night.The book was fast paced and provided a fitting end to the story. A page turner and an epic read - if read with an open mind. Enjoyed reading the book a lot.

  • Ashwin Shetty
    2018-12-27 21:48

    The author rightly says, “There is nothing in India that has sparked more debate than the concept of dharma” and thus gives rise to his version of Mahabharata. I also would like to quote one, which summarizes the reason behind the Mahabharata war for me – “If you don’t fight for what you want, then don’t cry for what you lost!” Hence, when an author takes on the mantle of putting things in a different perspective and adding newer dimensions to the prism of dharma, the effort becomes quite commendable. At times Rise of Kali makes you question the very fundamental beliefs, so by no means is it an easy read. It hits you hard and then shakes you again. Rise of Kali raises questions that you've always asked yourselves and then forces you to ask even harder questions. Every page makes you stop and ponder which is what the original epic was meant to do in the first place. Only negative thing is that, the story appears to travel very fast. The author could have opted for two more volumes. on the whole, I am very impressed with Anand Neelakantan's reinterpretation of the ithihasa. My knowledge of the Mahabharata is quite good and I can say that Anand's version is not only plausible but also strongly possible. I can say that Anand has managed to make me rethink about so many things that we had doubts about, but were afraid to ask, in our epics as he himself puts it, he has made me 'read between the lines.

  • Venkat S Lolla
    2019-01-14 22:43

    Having had been a huge fan of Anand's writings, reading this book turns out to be phenomenal experience. Though the book indicates itself as "Duryodhana's Mahabharata", to me all the minute important facts that were a part of the great Mahabharata Epic were presented in a frank & upright way. I have been reading comics and books around Mahabharata ever since a child but none of the books till date gave me more insights on the characters of Ekalavya, Balarama, Karna and Ashwathama. Anand succeeds immensely in bringing these characters to light and gives them a voice to express themselves. The conversations between Balarama & Krishna, Krishna & Arjuna regarding "Dharma" are explained in a very subtle way that makes even a first time reader end up with Intriguing thoughts. Few of these questions perhaps came in to our minds when we read Mahabharata earlier but we never ever bothered to ponder upon and look forward for an answer. Anand through "Rise of Kali" succeeds immensely in racking up the questions on "Dharma" and for sure gives all of us enough food for thought. The afterword for the book is amazing. I could finish reading the book in flat 3 days thanks to the excellent & simple prose put in. Overall, a delightful read and a "must" recommended book for all. I look forward for such exciting works from Anand in the coming days !

  • Vikalp Trivedi
    2019-01-14 20:27

    I egerly waited for this book as I loved 'Roll Of The Diece' , and the wait for this book is worth it . This book is a gem . The title of the book suggests the book as 'Duryodhana's Mahabharata' but it is not only his Mahabharata . It is the story about an age and it's people who stucked in a fight of rights and wrongs of their own perspectives . Anand has brilliantly voiced many of the unknown stories of the epic . Anand proves it brilliantly that there is no black or white , there is always a grey area in which everyone acts . Retelling such a great epic without being biased to either side is a mark of a great writer . Every character is strongly built with its own virtues , vices and vulnerabilities and every character is somewhere at war with its own conscience . I loved especially those chapters where Gita is questioned by the author once via Balrama and later by Arjuna . And the later chapters where the so called victors realise what they had done . It is a more human version of the Mahabharata rather than a 'devine' story of victory of good over evil . The afterword is awesome . Absolute Brilliance By Anand Neelakantan .

  • Prem
    2019-01-07 21:46

    "History is written by the victors" - Popular quote goes like that. Anand has tried to rewrite the epic from the losers PoV & very well succeeded in his retelling. The way he has interjected the known stories & his own imagination is a very commendable act. There are many characters I have heard in this story for the first time & they were played in very important roles in the story like Yuyutsu. Every character has a good enough role in this book & they have their own reasons. The one thing I noticed is that how this book related to the current Indian society. The untouchability issue, discrimination, women molestation, rape situation & political game plays for power, wealth - everything is so true, holds good even now. Lots of inspirations from the events happened in India between Ajaya I are being part of this book. There are many characters I liked especially Ekalaiva, Karna, Lashmana & the prime character of Suyodhana & his confusions, convictions about his stand on dharma, friendships are very well narrated. This is a more than a worthy successor to the previous part. I thoroughly enjoyed this book & its underlying viewpoints.

  • Gomati
    2019-01-09 20:38

    Must read. It lived up to the expectation. Reading the great epic from a totally unexplored and ignored perspective of the Kauravas was refreshing. What I loved the most was how each of the character was drawn up in flesh and blood, like real life personalities and not the mythological characters that we are blindly biased about. Even Krishna was no longer the divine presence who could do nothing wrong. The frailties and whims of the human mind. The strengths and weaknesses of our egos. The illusionary aura and magnetism of power. And the worst, the price of power and politics, often played by the powers-to-be and paid by the common man. I would have preferred a slightly slower narrative of the post war events. A chapter could have been dedicated on the Bhagvad Gita, which is the most important part of the Mahabharata. It could have helped build up the case better to explain the actions of the Pandavas post war. But on the whole, no complaints. Loved every minute with it.

  • Rajath Jagadeesh
    2018-12-26 22:46

    This book is the second installment in the 'Epic of the Kaurava clan' series . At first I was pretty sceptical about whether this book would have the same spell binding effect as the first book in this series . But Mr Anand Neelakantan delivers and he does it with style .This book looks at the epic Mahabharatha from Duryodhana's perspective. The book offers in depth recreation of various characters involved in the epic who we previously thought to be nefarious . It invokes myriad of emotions from the reader ranging from pity to raw hatred and sometimes pure disgust .The book turns a villian into a hero and makes you root for the Kauravas and Duryodhana's cause even though you probably know how the story ends . The saddest thing to watch is a hero being turned into a villian because of the cruelty of some vile and venal people .It will leave you with a lot a questions regarding the morality and motivation behind the 2 sides of the epic Kurukshetra war .