Skip to main content

MY corner: King of Ayodhya


My Corner: Transports me to wordy realms: Just me, a book and my imagination.

Book Review

King Of Ayodhya By Ashok K Banker

The complicated art of epic telling and retelling makes it an entangled mesh of imaginations. And the protagonists- their foresight has to be accommodated too. The protagonist of the epic, Rama, the future King of Ayodhya, hardly knows whether to smile or sigh as he crosses the living bridge of leviathans into the realm of rakshasa, “he was resigned to the knowledge that virtually everything they did would be turned into lore and legend, with all the accompanying flights of imagination and exaggeration that poetic licence allowed.” As Rama, traverses the making of his own legend he seems almost amused by what story -tellers would make of his feats as the defender of Dharma. Thousands of years later, Ashok K Banker’s retelling of the epic in the modern idiom only underscores what Rama had already envisaged.

Even if you have grown up listening to the Ramayana, each new telling will not cease to surprise you. And Banker explicates in this notes that it is through the works of Valmiki, Kamban, Tulsidas, Vyasa the tradition of telling and retelling the Ramayana began. “If it changes shape and structure, form and even content, it is because that is the nature of the story itself: it inspires the teller to bring fresh insights to each new version, bringing us even closer to understanding Rama himself.”

In the last of Banker’s Ramayana series, “King of Ayodhya”, Rama leads an army of vanars and bears onto the unassailable shores of Lanka to rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana. No army had dared to land on the island of rakshasas before. At the behest of Ravana, the sea lord Varuna sends a tidal wave (tsunami) to destroy the bridge that they had built and kill thousands. The army manages to cross with the aid of greybacks but what awaits them is sorcerous engineering of Ravana-he commands the island of Lanka to reform into a new shape under the feet of Rama’s army killing many more. The language of the times seeps into the book-tsunami, hybrid, engineering etc..

Banker’s characterization of Ravana makes him a formidable foe but an interesting one too- the ten headed Ravana is well versed in the shlokas- he can chant them backwards, perfectly inverting every syllable to reverse the energies of Brahman. Besides being a destroyer of worlds and conqueror of realms he is artistic too, “with his many talents and gifts, he was a great artist as well, not to mention a gifted poet and musician, a connoisseur of all arts.’’ It is against such an evil force that Rama and his mortal army have to fight. In the inexorable battle of good and evil only one force will triumph….and Ravana knows there is no escaping the inevitable outcome. “This war is not about any woman, and never was. This war has been waged forever. It is the eternal war, mother of all wars. It is not merely about me, or Rama, or our differences. In another time, he and I were friends much beloved of each other: in another time, we may be so again. We shall be so. Yet in this age, and this place we are at war. And neither of us, if pressed hard, can answer honestly and truly why. For the reason goes to the very soul of ithihaas itself. And as you know the word for history means simply: That is what happened.” Explains the demon Ravana just before he leaves to keep his appointment with death.

Banker’s awe of the legend manifests in the lucidity of the composition and this is magically transported to the minds of the readers - the legend of Rama of Ayodhya grows enormously larger and larger as one negotiates the army of words.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Suryanelli Girl: Her Story

Suryanelli: The place of no sun. 
  Roofs weighed down by rock bags to keep the wind from blowing them away
Off the Kerala state highway that connect the small, brash towns giddy with foreign remittances, sits an unassuming, modest home that goes by the name: Lovedale. A septuagenarian couple, a retired postmaster and a retired nurse, live here with their younger daughter and, a ghoulish past that continues to taunt every waking moment of their lives. The 33-year-old daughter smiles shyly revealing an innocence frozen in time. 17 years ago, the daughter, then a 16-year-old girl, had left home wearing a skirt and a blouse to go to school and returned sexually violated and terribly traumatized: her transformation from a carefree school girl to a bloated individual was violently shocking. The girl had been kept captive, fed sedatives and alcohol, traded for sex and raped by 42 men in a span of 40 days in the months of January and February 1996. The family’s tryst with rapists, the police, …

Free Masons: All about them

Free masonry- the 'spiritual society' of sacred brotherhood with its origins in antiquity has always been shrouded in mystery. Their initiation rites, rituals, symbolisms, secret signs and code of conduct have further enhanced the aura of mysteriousness. Is Free Masonry a remnant of an ancient religion that worshipped the Sun or is it just an exclusive, elitist boy's club that indulges in secret charity missions?
In 1961 the Grand Lodge of India, which is an off -shoot of the Grand Lodges of Scotland, England and Ireland was constituted. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India Mr.Arun Chintopanth was recently here in Kochi to preside over the meeting of the Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India. In an exclusive interview with the Grand Master sought to demystify the Masonic Lodge. Arun Chintopanth in full regalia. Dont miss the apron. What is Free Masonry? It is not a service organisation. It is not a religious group. It is not a mutual benefit society but it is a combi…

Kerala Murals: The Dancing Narrative

Detail of the mural in the Pathy home in Coimbatore
Kerala Murals, once exclusive to the royal and sacred walls, instantly command your awe and reverence. The mesmerized beholder is then impelled into the realm of silence- transfixed by the play of Gods and Goddesses on the earthly walls.It is perhaps to create a genuflecting atmosphere that temples, palaces and churches in Kerala decorated their walls with intricate chumarchitrangal (murals) that told stories from the Mahabaratha, Ramayana, Puranas and the Bible. One of the most fascinating works of mural art is on the walls of the MattancherryPalace at Kochi which was probably executed in the late sixteenth century. It’s the Ramayana epic that seamlessly unfolds in the palliyara (royal bed chamber) on the upper half of the walls while the border is covered with simple textile designs that mural artists call veeralli pattu.Murals in the Mattancherry PalaceHowever this highly stylized art went out of fashion for most part of the twenti…