“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 may be 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 loser, Bhadra, is the hero in a refreshingly pure fiction viewed by many as path-breaking attempt by a writer who has made a bold attempt to re-tell Ramayana from Bhadra’s view point, rather from that of the common man.
Thus, if the book titled, “AUSRA: TALE OF THE VANQUISHED The Story of Ravana and His People” authored by Anand Neelakantan has raised several questions among the unaffiliated readers, it is obvious.
It was natural for Anand, born and brought up in a conservative family in a quaint little Thripoonithura village with many temples to be fascinated by the Ramayana. But, ironically, he was drawn to the anti-hero of the epic, Ravana, and to his people, the Asuras.
This fascination remained dormant for many years. Graduated as an engineer and later joining Indian Oil Corporation and now working as its manager in Belgaum, the ghost of the Asura emperor kept haunting to the extent of inspiring him to write his version of the story.
But, he is not the only one who wanted his version of the story to be told. One by one, irrelevant and minor characters of the Ramayana kept coming up with their own versions.
Bhadra, who was one of the many common Asuras who were inspired, led and betrayed by Ravana, also had a remarkable story to tell, different from that of his king. And both their stories are different from the Ramayana that has been told in a thousand different ways across Asia over the last three millennia. This is then Asurayana, the story of the Asuras, the story of the vanquished.
The story of the Ramayana wherein the enthralling story of Rama, the incarnation of God who slew the ten-headed evil demon of darkness Ravana, 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 out castes 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, says the author.
Reliance Timeout bookstore chain selected Anand as the author of the month for July 2012 across the country. Magazines such as Savvy, Verve, etc., have carried the title with “Book of the Month” and recommended book series. What more remarkable response can be for the first-time author like him whose 500-page book published by Platinum Press, Mumbai, now finds among the “top-ten” in all book stalls; already 17,000 copies sold.