Couple of weeks back, I was seen walking around with "King of Ayodhya – Book 6 of Ramayana Series by Ashok Banker ":. My fetish with the book was so strong that I would keep it at my desk, in the car, near the pillow, to steal those 3-5-10-15 minutes where I would read a few pages from the book. People were wondering – Why? Whats so special? After all , its Ramayana!! A story that we already know inside out. And I used to just smile at them and pass on a very friendly suggestion – If you are not averse to printed words, read the first 50 pages of Prince of Ayodhya – Book 1. We can discuss these questions at that time. One of my colleagues Sulabh tried it and he curses me even today – He had to spend 1800 bucks or so to get all the six books (he could not wait a month for me to give him all the six books for a read)! For the records , Sulabh is my eighth direct marketing success story (all for the same book)!
King of Ayodhya
A story that starts on the shores of lanka, and ends at Ayodhya, KoA is an excellent example of what a magnificent storyteller can do to a story you have already heard so often. What Banker does , incrementally, is to add his imagination, wisdom, and perspective to a story that every Indian lives and breathes! End Result – a book that you can just not put down!
The book is fascinating, the storytelling is spellbinding, and the events – quite unlike my imagination (largely inspired by Ramanand Sagar's Television Series).
Its about war, war strategies, mind-games, Rama's mortal life (and not-the demi god life where he smiles at even problems of huge magnitude). The only thing that has always confused me about the book is that after you have completed reading all the six books , you wonder if Hanuman is the GOD in the book, and Rama the mortal. Gods descend to help Mortals (as part of all Heavenly gameplans!) in Indian mythology. And Rama, though a higher mortal with his (seemingly) infallible poise and adherence to Dharma , he needed more than just inspiration from Hanuman to win this battle.
There are several interesting facets about this book-
- The war is fought at a level which is not heavenly. Not a lot of fancy arrows in multiple colors and doing funny stuff. Vanars do get massacred. They have to retaliate not in anger , but with wisdom to win the battle.
- Ravan has some strategic gems too, up his sleeve. And some esoteric powers.
- Kumbhakarna gets killed by Hanuman, and not Rama.
- Most of the seemingly important stories of Ravana's warriors (such as Atikaya, Akampana , Kumbh, Nikumbh, Trishala, etc.) which we have heard of in good detail, as they got killed by various Rama warriors and not just Rama/ Lakshmana/ Hanuman, have been discounted to give us a view of what the war being fought at a mental level.
- Ravana finally kills Supanakha. And more importantly, Supanakha, in many ways, is Ravana's source of power
Questions that still remained unanswered –
- Ravana, with all that he achieved in one night before the war started, did not chose to demolish the Vanar Army at one go. Despite the fact that he had the powers to do so!
- What happened to the Amrit Kalash story and of Ravana being immortal?
- Hanuman, with all his might, could have changed the course of the war at any given minute? Why did he
- While Ashok explains why he is not writing Book 7 (Uttar Ramayana), I would still want to read his explanation of Ram banishing Sita.
The more I think about this book, the more questions I will have. But, for the time being, let me tell you guys – READ THIS BOOK. AND THE ENTIRE SERIES. Its not just good storytelling, but a fresh insight into a story that you "think" you know!
Rating - 10 on 10