ASURA : THE TALE OF THE VANQUISHED – THE STORY OF RAVANA AND HIS PEOPLE BY ANANTH NEELAKANDAN

ASURAS – the evil ones! This is what we had heard all along our lives. That too, in Ramayana, we had been conditioned to worship Rama and abuse Ravana. Here’s a book that would change the way you look at both Rama and Ravana, and even your life. Get a hat and throw it off. Ananth Neelakandan deserves it for bringing this audacious, bold and an exceptional perspective about the Ramayana we’ve always heard. Here comes the Ravanayana that has to be heard too.asura-ravana

Right from earlier days, only the positives of the victors and the negatives of the vanquished had been heard. No one is bothered about the positive side of the so-called evils and the negative steps taken by the Devas to vanquish the evil (only in the context of reference).Thanks to Ananth for having the guts to write about the other side of the coin. I have always believed that myths had biased views. In case of Ramayana, I’ve always felt that. This book has quenched my thirst to find answers about it.

This book hadn’t depicted Ravana as a monster with 10 heads or Rama as a perfect man, who is the incarnation of god. They both are depicted as normal human beings with their own flaws and perfections. As the title goes, it focuses on the lifestyle of the Asuras and the history of the one who is burnt down every year, so that Rama remains a god always- Ravana.“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.”  This is how Ravana is introduced. He’s one of the protagonists of the story (the other being Bhadra). This makes the story very special since this itself provides a two way perspective of the story. One is of that of Ravana, who is elite king and a fierce warrior. Bhadra’s view is more a common man’s view that makes us connect with the story so much.

The ancient empire of Asuras are shattered by the dominant Devas who do anything to acquire the empire from them. The Asuras hated caste-ridden, dominant and unjust Devas and waited for a champion to save them from the wrath of Devas. There appeared a fierce and ambitious young man  Ravana, who rescued lands and empires that belonged to the Asuras.Though Ravana did everything possible to set things right for the Asuras, something kept on missing. That’s when the events took a sudden twist, making Ravana, one of the most powerful kings of the world.

The story is a roller coaster ride of emotions with unbelievable turn of perspectives. For readers like me, who ought to think that mythological stories are just a glorifying poetry to the winners,this book was a life changing entity. It made me think, analyse, empathize and understand the other side. While writing about Asuras, the author hasn’t only glorified Asuras, but had given us a balanced view of both positives and negatives of both the sides.As Ravana had clearly said in his last minutes, we burn a man, casting him to be evil just to glorify the one we want to be titled GOD. This is high time we  think about burning down Ravana every year. Please read this book to experience the never before heard emotions and life of the underrated and under glorified clan of warriors who abolished caste and remained faithful to the ones they trusted!