this book is not about some tales jotted from singing bards,... this is a true perspective, of how a battle is fought between 2 and only the conqueror seems to tell the stories... Asura is definitely something you must read just to find out what the other side seems to offer. But surely its again no Whining of the loser...neither a repentance call... but a pure Journey of the greatest Villains of all time ... his reputation precedes him upto dat magnitude dat mankind wishes to eliminate him every year... "Raavan" ... no doubt we were told he was so many things we ought not be...… --Sumit Pandey Dec 31, 2012
I started reading this heavy book with little hesitancy as it was written by a debut writer. However, once I started the book, it didn't look like a book written by a new author. It is very fascinating book with good narration and correct usage of words. Mythology might not interest the current generation; however, the way this story was presented would definitely attract people of all generations. In the past a lot of people have attempted to write stories on Ravana, the villain of Ramayana, the great epic of Hindus. However, all of them have attempted to portray Ravana as a real hero … --Krishnakumar T K Jun 3, 2012
I find it surprising that the reviews before this have not been positive about this book. Maybe it is because it challenges the accepted norms about Rama and Ravana, which is difficult for someone who has heard one version of the story from childhood to accept. Some complained that the character of Ravana did not have a consistent characterization. I think this is deliberate and what makes the book more real. Everyone is a shade of grey....and every human is a mixture of inconsistencies. A true characterization of Ravana cannot paint him consistently evil but it has to be more an internal conflict between noble intentions and wrong choices which the author has portrayed successfully. Having said that, here is my review. "Asura" is a very unique take on the Indian epic "Ramayana". While Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama's triumph over the evil demon Ravana, this book is the story from Ravana's perspective; the king who lost the war. Like every legend that grows over thousands of years, Ramayana is full of fantastic events and unrealistic occurrences (Ravana's ten heads, Hanuman's jump over the ocean etc.). However, it is obvious that these exaggerations must have had some real and fundamental truth to them which then evolved into the fantastic story that we now know as Ramayana. Anand Neelakantan does an excellent job of weaving together a very realistic picture of what might have been the actual events which now have turned into legends and myths. Ravana was a great ruler; flawed but great. Even the Ramayana acknowledges the fact that Ravana was a very learned and able ruler. The empire eventually crumbled due to infighting, betrayal and Ravana's ego, culminating in a great war precipitated by Ravana's abduction of Rama's wife, Sita --By Siby Mathew
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 what if Ravana and his people had a different story to tell? The story of the Ravanayana had never been told. Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed outcastes 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 for them. It is when that Ravana, by one action, changes the history of the world.