Asura- Tale of The Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

I finished reading Asura yesterday and what a coincidence, it was Dussehra!
I will start its review by saying that I loved the book! I loved each and every chapter of it! As the name suggests, this novel is about Rakshas/ demons or Asuras! We call them by many names rather by various nasty names – names that depict evil, sin and wickedness.
The novel is basically dictated by 2 protagonists: Ravana and Bhadra which I feel is the strongest thing about this book. Both the characters depict almost the same incidents in their own ways and according to their thinking which shows the difference between point of views of rich and poor. Ravana describes about his feelings and his ambitions from a teenager’s point of view initially and then, further describes the problems of handling an entire empire from a ruler’s point of view. While Bhadra describes everything from a common person’s point of view or rather from a poor person’s prospective.
The novel being about Asuras doesn’t mean that the author has gone to the extent of glorifying Asuras and Ravana! Infact, I appreciate the way the author has very beautifully depicted the good and bad at both sides. The thing that makes the story of this novel different from the old laid ones (mythological books) is that the author has dared to exude the good side of Asuras and has emancipate the evils which laid in Devas society! These 2 things are very contrary to what we had grown up listening to! We had been taught that Asuras were all about bad and Devas were all about good!
This book has given a very strong and audacious challenge to those old set notions and convictions! Both the sides have been shown as 2 human civilizations and nothing more than that! Ravana is not shown as a demon with literally 10 heads and having black magical powers! Rama is not been shown as a God who had the power to call for special weapons by just one mantra whenever and wherever he want to! There are no Gods showering flowers on the win of Rama… Demons are not shown as cruel and heartless creatures flying around everywhere wearing black cloths, killing everyone! There are no deities shown who sit in darbar of heaven, watching the beautiful apsaras dancing… there are no demons shown with huge teeth, weird looks and all! It’s a book where Devas and Asuras both are shown as mere human beings who are parts of 2 different cultures and society and who has no special powers!
Thank God somebody had really dared to challenge the society for creating such wrong notions about somebody! It is an amazing piece to read specially for people like me who believes that our mythologies have really been written from a very biased point of view, whether its Ramayana or Mahabharata. They are just one sided stories and have no depiction or explanation of the other side which is off course the villain side! I agree that I have no point in believing what Anand has written, its fiction, completely fiction but then, even Ramayana can also be a fiction. When we believe that, why can’t we believe this? How can we refuse to believe that there were many things done by Rama that were unethical, that were erroneous? Why do we feel scared of accepting the positives of Ravana?
Go ahead and read this one piece and ask yourself that is it right to burn Ravana’s statues every year just on the name of celebrating victory of good over evil? Who are those who defined who’s the hero and who’s the villain in this great epic called Ramayana?
This book is really a treat to my audacious views!!! It is a treat to my thinking, to my point of views. I loved it and I am sure I am going to read it again and that too soon!
Do not miss itJ


  1. good review ! :) i have bought the book

  2. I too finished reading the book yesterday and must say it is an enchanting book to read and do appreciate Anand Neelaakantan for daring to come up with this words to show my admiration.

  3. Hi i just read the book two days ago. it is filled in my thoughts and making me restless. I really want to know the facts. I always believe that our epics are real stories except to the fact that includes gods in sky and smthing like that. so, as soon as i started reading this book, am just feeling like this may be the correct version. But infact we cant completely deny the story which is being told from ages. So, landed in a great confusion :(
    then thought of finding the facts and so am placing my msg here... I will be greatful to u if u can help me regarding this..

  4. Almost through with it. Thoroughly confused with all the different interpretations, but how it has changed my opinion. I loved the fact that Anand has depicted Ravana as a human being, contrary to what we have always heard and believed. Great book !