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"Abhaya allows us to delve into the world of our ancestors and Gods through the route of great storytelling and a brilliant narrative. A thoroughly enjoyable read" - Amish Tripathi
A tale set in the times of Mahabharata. An assertive and idealistic Princess Abhaya meets the enigmatic Krishna Vaasudeva. A bereaved Dhatri, pursued by her own family is saved by Lord Bhauma. When subverted religion becomes a tool in the hands of power thirsty and strikes Bharatavarsha, the land of Aryas, Abhaya finds herself face to face with the impending doom.
“Can we combat the fear with faith? Can we keep our faith undeterred when the last traces of hope melt away? Can we receive blame and adulation, accept them and yet not give in to them?”
"An excitingly different take on one of the myriad legends celebrating the light vs darkness matrix that defines Diwali. The sparkling narration adds new facets to the compelling tale of the killing of the demon, Narakasur" - Sangeeta Bahadur, Author of Kaal Trilogy
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When a reader picks up a book for a read, obviously he looks for good content that will took him to a different world, away from his/her miseries or monotony. And when the characters of the story are so impeccably crafted, that they surround you, for every moment, even in your dreams where you see them visually in action or even better, you conversing with them; well the author has mastered the craft in there.
Abhaya is one such book where the author has profoundly weaved the characters and the emotions entwined. This is one of the books I would recommend for a pleasure read, or to know our history in a logical way. Though I would have liked if some episodes would been elaborated a bit more and the concept of religion was explained in a better way, but again "perfection is a journey".
Thank you Saiswaroopa for such an excellence, my best wishes for your next venture.
Oh and about "Though I have rated the book by 4 Stars, but it doesn't deserve the rating", it deserves 5 stars :)
There is something to be said for strong female characters. I absolutely love them and any book that offers a strong female character leading from the front always has my full attention. Abhaya shows her strength and honour time and again as she is tested through a set of difficult times. Of course, she has Krishna by her side to counsel her, but it is also a sign of strength to know when to seek counsel from more experienced or wiser people. She goes from strength to strength and stick to what she believes is her ‘dharma’. Bhauma represents almost everything that Abhaya is not. Deception and misguidance are his tools. In a way, he is a worthy opponent for Abhaya as their personalities and characters clash on almost everything.
Though it is a mythological novel, I can’t help but relate to it in many ways. Especially Bhauma represents the enemy that we still face today – misguided people claiming superiority and killing innocents in the name of religion. We also need more people (both men and women) like Abhaya who will stand up for what is right and fight for those who are oppressed or misguided.
Saiswaroopa has woven a wonderful story with beautiful and strong characters and an interesting plot which is only further complemented by her delicate language and smooth narrative.
SIGNIFICANCE OF ABHAYA
As said, it’s a piece of fiction, then what would be its significance?
The question is not whether stories of Krishna happened in real or not, the question is whether the stories of Krishna teach us something in real or not. Any piece of writing, whether mythology or history, fiction or non-fiction, is significant only when it teaches something which can be used to improve the quality of our life.
The book is full of incidences from which we could learn valuable lessons of life.
CORE MESSAGES OF ABHAYA
The book talks about the basic principles of life, Dharma, and how one deviates from Dharma and indulges in evil activities. It also suggests the ways to follow the path of Dharma.
Abhaya isn’t just the name of the protagonist and her story. It is used in broader aspect. Abhaya is about the victory over fear. Fear is considered as the root cause of Adharma and we could overcome fear through faith and empathy.
Author defines Dharma as that which values life over frenzied beliefs; that which balances and ensures sustenance; that which strengthens from within against fears and weaknesses.
PLOT OF NOVEL
Any fiction can be broadly divided into two parts: Plot and Narration. Plot is the strong part of the author.
The story has two main plots and one subplot which eventually merge at the climax of the novel. One plot deals with Abhaya—her upbringing, her role in the marriage of Krishna and Mitravinda, her affair with Krishna, her fight with her neighbor kingdom, and her role in the killing of Bhauma.
Another plot deals with Dhatri, who is rescued by Bhauma from the atrocities of Arya and later declared by him as Medium of Supreme Goddess. Bhauma is using Dhatri and Shakta cult to have a lordship over the world.
The subplot deals with the Vikrama’s search for his mother and his love affair with Shyeni. Vikrama is the adopted brother of Abhaya.
CHARACTERIZATION IN THE NOVEL
Characterization can be broadly divided into two parts: Physical features of characters and their character-structure. The novel lacks the description of physical features of characters, but has well worked out character-structure. Character-structure of characters in the novel is not descriptive but reflective. It reflects through behavior of the characters.
The main characters of the novel are:
Krishna —> Krishna is shown as normal human being without any magical powers. Normally, contemporary authors strip off Krishna’s spiritual wisdom in the name of presenting him human. But Saiswaroopa kept his spiritual wisdom and mysticism intact with him.
Abhaya —> Abhaya is curious, upbeat, charismatic, courageous, sympathetic, diplomatic, witty, determined, audacious, and a bit domineering. She likes to make her own decision and live life on her own terms. I like the way she tosses her plait over her shoulder on particular occasions. If you want to visualize her, you can imagine Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games movie series.
Dhatri —> Dhatri is bold, emotional, compassionate, and mature. She has many shades.
Bhauma —> Bhauma is shrewd, cunning, cruel, and ambitious. He is a pot of poison which outer surface is painted by nectar.
Vikrama —> Vikrama is simple, frank, brave, open-hearted, sentimental, and transparent. He’s skilled in artillery and warfare but lacks diplomatic skills.
Shyeni —> Shyeni is innocent, straightforward, bubbly, courageous, loving, and a bit obstinate.
Names of the character are beautifully chosen, as per ancient tradition. In Indian mythology, names tell something about the characters; it isn’t just the name for calling someone. In fact, one character have many names like, Krishna, Murari, Ranchor are the names of Krishna only, given to him at various occasions. He is called Krishna because of his dark skin; called Murari because killed Mura, called Ranchor because flew from Mathura.
In the same way, one of protagonists of the book is Abhaya because she is fearless. Another is called Dhatri because she is the medium of Supreme Goddess. Every name in the book tells you something about the character.
STYLE OF NARRATION
The narration is fluent, articulate, learned, idiomatic, impassioned and informative. The author keeps the tension of ‘what coming next’ by switching among the main plots and the subplot of the story. The novel is written in Modern English. This may lead some traditional grammarian to raise their eyebrows.
There are two ways of showing what’s going inside one’s mind: by showing thought process in words and by reflecting one’s inner thought through one’s body language. The preference of author is body language and she’s pretty good in it.
SOME QUOTES FROM ABHAYA
> Mirage is a function of fantasy. Truth, on the other hand, never disappoints, if one can accept it.
> There are times where choosing between enemies is more important than choosing between allies. At times when allies cannot be reached out to, or when allies are not in a position to extend help, it is advisable to revisit the priorities between rivals instead. A worthy enemy could perhaps save one from a bad ally.
> It is easy to rebel and call for a revolution. What is difficult is to inspire evolution. That happens with transforming thought, not condemning people. That happens with challenging their thought and not by provoking their egos.
> Never hope to make death an example. Make your life one instead. You must prevail, not perish, during the transformation.
> The purpose of our life often beckons to us in the guise of a challenge or a hopeless situation. We define our worth based on whether we choose to ignore it or to face the challenge.
> Dwell on strengths while accepting weaknesses, stay with faith while acknowledging fear, side with reason above rigidity without abandoning those who are rigid. The result, the evolution we dream of, will come with time as a function of our choices.
> Just be yourself. Learning from the world means that you become a better you and you do not change yourself into someone else
> An evolution is inspired by the individual’s internal will to adapt and not by rebellion spurred by momentary dissent….Fear is what stops us from questioning and exploring new shores.