Asura: The tale of Vanquished

Anand Neelakantan’s Asura is an important book. I think, it is a must read for those who know Ramayana or at least who had heared about Rama or Ravana. I guess in this era, you understand very well about History. You had already learnt to read between the lines of a news snippet. You had already started to think why a person says this or that and what he gets if I buy his argument, or what I would loose . If not, better start to think, for your and others well being.

History is nothing but perspective. Perspective of the winners. Perspective of those who happened to win. One small mistake, one change of a tide, one split second of escape from the – carefully prepared – poison coated arrow, one betrayal, one deception, one stupid decision can make one the victorious and the other a stupid sucker. If the victorious is a cunning fox or a gang of merciless ruthless killers the loser will be just wiped from the history. And that’s it mostly. But if the winner is terribly scared of the loser and his clan, he has to make sure that the clan never reclaims their lost glory. Never even try. Not even think of it.

And how would one do it? Rewrite the history, make him – and his clan – a villain, tell the story to every rustic corner, to the last man or woman or child who is living, to every child who will born in future, after 1000 years. Like entreprenuers pay the journalists, bloggers or who ever for paid stories, you pay any poet to write this story in every possible language in the country. Persuade every king, small or big, to accept the story, to ask his poets to write it down and to vow to take that to every beggar in the street. Make the story in to a literature. After that, again and again, persistently, say this is the best ever literature. Say that the poet is the best of the best. Say that the poet is so good that even his dog can write poem. A story will become a literature. The literature will turn in to a legend. People will jump head first in to the legend. Now the legend is set for thousand years to come.

How is it possible for us to think Prahalada as a good chap when he killed his own father? That’s when perspective comes to picture. One side of a coin. You are seeing through the eyes of the winner. You don’t even think that there is another perspective. You forget the other side of the coin.Now think from the perspective of Hiranyakasipu, his father, the poor lad who was poisoned by his own son. Or think from the perspective of his country people. Prahalada becomes a traitor. He collaborated with King’s enemy Vishnu, and poisoned the king. How did Prahalada moved from the status of a traitor to deity? Simple – because he was on the winners side. If you look carefully, history is full of traitors. Betrayals are everywhere. Sugreeva, Vibhisana to name a few.

Why Ravana cannot touch Sita? Here comes the answer to test your rationality. She has a ring of fire. But but how? (Mind Voice: Are yaar it is just a story). Think from Ravana’s perspective. He abducts Sita and he can’t touch her? He takes her to his kingdom, keep her house arrest, when he continue to live with his only wife and son. His people and his army fought and stood with him till the very end, despite their old king’s stupid lust? How is it possible? What could be the reason? Because Sita is Ravana’s daughter. (I had heared about this story when I was a kid).

One of my friend, when I narrated Asura to him, kept asking me: how did the author (Anand) know all these things? How can you believe him? Where is the evidence? Wow. Now my friend starts to be rational – which is not usual for him. I welcome his change. I appreciate. But he should ask the same question with more rationality to the author of the current known version of Ramayana – Valmiki. (Atually there is a version – or many versions- before Valmiki’s Ramayana) How does Valmiki know what he wrote? How and why would my friend accept – and believe – the version of Valmiki with out any question but would question Anand’s Asura version? How did he develop selective rationality? It could be because he had been ferociously taught about Ramayana. He had been prepared for this with out his consent from the moment he came to this world. So, naturally deep in his mind he believes Valmiki’s version, as he would believe sun rises in the east. Its natural. Its fact. He honestly believes it is true. But did he had any other choice? Did we ever let Ravana tell his story? We had already taken side, and sharply biased against the poor chap – and indirectly against his beloved clan.

But we need not to be on the winner’s side. Or for that matter on the loser’s side. We don’t have to accept the view of others. We just need to be aware of the fact that there is indeed another side for a coin.

Perhaps there are more sides.

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