Heroes or Villains, no books are worth a pick-and-read unless they are intriguing. Amish Tripathi, the master storyteller of the Shiva Trilogy, Ram and Sita offers us with his latest offering Raavan – Enemy of Aryavarta. And boy, he simply doesn’t seem to lose his winning streak. (Touchwood.) We have read various versions of Raavan like from the perspective of Ashok Banker, Anand Neelkanthan, Kavita Kane. We have seen him through B.R. Chopra’s vision and also other makers but Amish showcases this titular character on a fresh note.
Plot: Raavan, son of the great scientist and spiritual guru Vishrava and Kaikesi (although there is no mention, it is assumed she doesn’t belong to the upper caste,) aged sixty along with his doting brother Kumbhakarna aged fifty-one have successfully kidnapped the future Vishnu, Sita.
The book then turns to the flashback that led to the current situation. Raavan, then four-year-old, was busy conducting a live postmortem experiment on a hare, until a virgin Goddess, Kanyakumari stopped him. The first of the many encounters with her had left him mesmerised. Fast forward to three years, Raavan, berated by his father for breaking Rudra Veena of another student Dagar, he removed his frustration through his Hannibalish ways until stopped again by Kanyakumari. ‘You can be better, at least try.’ Kanyakumari’s words turn out to be a motivating force for Raavan for the rest of his life. His life takes a turn when he escapes his father’s ashram with his mother, newborn brother Kumbhakarna with his maternal uncle, Mareech.
The book further highlights his rise from a boy to a smuggler, pirate, military general, warlord, king. (It would be an injustice to the author if this post contains detailed spoilers.)Raavan, Kumbhakarna and Vedavati form the crux of this book. It showcases the softer side of history’s greatest villain as a poet, painter, artist. (His paintings form an integral part of the story.) The book justifies Raavan’s reason for becoming the number one enemy of Sapt Sindhu. It throws mentions of the battle of Ayodhya (detailed in book 1) and the war in Mithila (detailed in book 2). This book also throws light on Raavan being a mere pawn of more significant gameplay by Vashishtha and Vishwamitra.
My Take: Everyone knows, Raavan as a jerk, a snob and what not. He is. But Amish beautifully crafts this masterpiece explaining the events that made him so. Kumbhakarna is my hero, hands down. Vedavati, in a minuscule role, packs a punch. The mysterious story behind Sita’s birth and identity gets solved. Give and take, as Amish says, this book is a result of his two-year penance, and it is undoubtedly worth the wait and hullabaloo surrounding it.
Om Namah Shivaay! Jai Shri Rudra!
Peace, Poetry and Power. Bhavin.