The Scion of Ikshuvaku,
Author Amish Tripathi
Publisher Westland Limited.
I did wonder what would be the genre that the publisher would cast this book on.
The story of the prince of Ajodhya is much told and he is the icon people rally around before socio- political changes. From Valmiki’s Ramayana to Tulasidas’s Ramcharita manas to Ramanand sagar each story teller has dispensed their ideology through the vehicle of the journey of the prince of Ayodhya to becoming an Icon and finally God;
Well Amish retells this sacred lore through the grid that he has created in the Shiva Trilogy, the Mahadeva’s, the Vishnu’s, like in the Shiva Trilogy and the various story tellers before him, he has modified the characters. Hanuman becomes a Naga… that is a physical deviant instead of the Monkey-man as narrated traditionally. So do Kumbhakarna. I wonder what he will do with Maricha.
Tripathi’s Rama typical contemporary kids, growing up with personal issues he has self esteem issues, he is suppressed, oppressed Dasharath has parenting issues. Kausalya the traditionally butter does not melt in mouth becomes the simpering cowering victim of a abusive husband, of course the abuse is not physical or verbal but it is behavioural, then the placid Sumitra becomes a manipulative mother, Kaikeyi becomes the power behind e
Manthara Kaikeyi’s wet nurse becomes is business woman, who is part of a greater conspiracy. Vishwamitra and Vashsista are also not presented in their traditional forms.
I do agree that Tulasidas and other story tellers and added their interpretations, their voices to the story but the basic story line has been the same. The characters manifest basic prototype which Amish has totally altered. I really wonder why Hindutva crowd that goes berserk with things have let Amish alone maybe they consider him an irrelevant author.
Site from being the agricultural goddess has morphed into a warrior. All through Shiva trilogy and now through this I get feeling that Amish has learnt his corporate thinking through Sun Tzu and has now translated to Indian Mythology he does have issues in accepting the ethno-agrigarian roots of these sacred lore’s….Sorry if I sound judgemental.
The story opens at Dandakaranya, with Jatayu is a naga, the visual of naga for all AmaraChitraKatha nourished Indians, is not a snake man, but a human with physical defects. Amish begins his deviation right here instead of the traditional Jatayu guiding Rama in the Sundarakanda, he arrives right the kidnapping.
The story is then rendered in a flashback. The author through the narration maintains a disdain for Vaishyas, his Brahmana’s are also warrior like.
Then there is an episode of manthara’s daughter being gang-raped the plot, the language could all be borrowed from Arnab Goswami’s dealing of the Nirbhaya case the only addendum by the author is how to deal with the underaged perpetuator who has got away with murder. With all his contemporary intellectualization the author is still not able to give up the prototype of giant clumsy appearance of the asuras.
Ashwapathi the Kaikeya that is father of kaikeyi gets acknowledged by the author as a friend of Dasharath. Unlike the description given in other texts where Kaikeya was a ganrajya and Ashwapathi was the ganadipathi. Traditionally men and women of Kaikeya were trained warriors. But Amish stays true to his cowbelt roots, he adds the flavour of Ashwapthi’s disdain for a daughter who excelled over his sons.
The author shares an interesting concept of the same of an individual representing their swadharma, which could be a great way to analyse myths. He immediately trips up with Shatrughna read books, shatrughna was learned in shastra’s but Ramayana was the period of shruti’s or oral texts. The belief was writing the shruti’s limited their growth.
There are lot things that jar, like the geographic references to Gujarat, and Konkani. The time line of Dwaraka submerging. The conflict of Monotheisms, and others, the parallel of the asura behaviour to contemporary Islamic behaviour.
Overall an average book. The novelty of thought and style has gone. All the same a great read for readers who would like to progress from the Ravindra Singh’s and Chetan Bhagats.