Asura- A review
B.R.Ambedkar had been one of the initial critics of the caste system in our country post Independence. He had reworked stories such as that of Parshuram into a perspective from those down below. There have been many who have joined his crusade since.
Anand Neelakantan's book Asura not only addresses the caste issue but also highlights the literatures and civilizations that have been sidelined from mainstream Indian purview. We see not just a critique of the northern Brahmins but also of the leaders of a culture who forget to see their world with a bird's view but adapt a veiled stance.
This is also a story that humanizes the God and the demon. Ram is only a petty Brahmin prince and Ravan , a man who embraces his many passions.
As a reader I was made to see the story from the point of view of Ravan who is better than a Brahmin leader but he is at the end a self serving but egalitarian leader whereas Ram is a conniving , deceitful prince of a small kingdom who has no honor. The Mahabharata, a sanskrit epic has been reworked in this English adaption to a story of Tamil pride.
The story is also seen from the point of view of Bhadra, the downtrodden lower class of the Asura kingdom. From his perspective we see Ravan's greatness in a realistic, contextualized background. He is not the great leader but a paranoid megalomaniac.
The book is written in simple flowing language and is written in first person which helps the reader to relate to each of the characters when the point of view shifts.
If I had to rate the book I would give it a 4/5 because the sheer length of the book makes it hard to finish it since the story is well known to Anand's readers who are vastly Indian. The length of the plot and the overwhelming monologues are the only setback of the book.
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