‘Asura, The Tale of the vanquished’ by Anand Neelkantan is a magnificent story of Ravana and his people.

Ram the incarnation of God, the king of Ayodhya, the epitome of truth and dignity who waged war against Ravana, killed him and eliminated the evil forever. We have known Ramayana. But this is ‘Ravanayana’. It’s the tale of the defeated, the unheards and the unremembered. It’s a story of rising from the ashes, growing the wings, learning to fly in an open sky, even rising beyond the clouds and then crashing down to mingle with the dust.

Ravana, the passionate one, with glorious dreams, through fighting innumerable battles created an monumental empire for his people from scratch. He reached the zenith of success as a ruler when Lanka became the most opulent country with it’s plush building and lush gardens. But all perished within the blink of an eye. Why? Because he dared to challenge the gods for the sake of his daughter? Or because he freed his race from the yoke of caste based deva rule?

Ravana, discloses his past, his struggles, his sins, his vices, his insecurities, his passion, his vision. He confesses, takes the blame, repents, tell his own version of the story, reveals his notion of his ‘Dharma’. Furthermore, it’s the story of Bhadra an Asur of Ravana’s Lanka, a common man who with dreamy eyes followed the lead of Ravana in the hope of a better future but ends up disappointed. People like who suffers from both entity, Ravana or Ram.

It’s the collision between two different ideas. It’s the ego clash of two powerful men. It’s two different versions of one’s Dharma. It’s a tragedy where one who won turned out to be a clear hero whilst the vanquished met with a catastrophic end of a tragic hero. After all, Ravana the Shiv bhakt, the Mahagyani, the expert ruler and self analytical human couldn’t be a pure villain. This book makes you look beyond black and white. It’s the story of myriad hues of grey.

Anand Neelkantan’s writing style is thoroughly gripping. One must read it slow, relishing it’s variant flavours bit by bit and take intervals and contemplate on today’s society and the Ravana residing within us.

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