Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review - Ravanaleela - The One Who Forced God to Become Human

I have first seen "Ravanaleela" by Radha Viswanath's poster on Twitter by Rupa Publication. I was instantly attracted to the book. I have Asura by Anand Neelakantan which is highly praised work. Somehow I felt that this book is another try to show Ravana as a hero. 

Book Blurb
Ravana, perhaps the most popular Rakshasa in Indian mythology, is known as the villain in the Ramayana and the epic would not have been what it is without this great Rakshasa.
Yet Ravana is much more than a mere abductor. Born out of the union of a Rishi and Rakshasi, a devout Shiv-bhakt and a mighty king, Ravana is no ordinary Rakshasa.
This book attempts to bring out a comprehensive and well-rounded character of Ravana. The various little dots of information about the Rakshasa king as given in Valmiki Ramayana have been picked with care, collated and compared with presentations in several other versions of the Ramayana, and the long, hoary lineage of the demon king painstakingly put together to present this villain of villains as a legend worthy of greater attention
The story started with Ravana or I would say Dashagreeva's maternal grandfather Sumali & his brother. After getting boons from Brahma, they have spread havoc in the world. Due to that, devas have to interfere. On request of Deva, Lost Vishnu fought against them and killed the rakshasa warriors, except Sumali. They have been thrown out of their home, Lanka. Sumali (a lone male survivor of the war) took the family of three brothers and lived in Naga-log for years. To take revenge on Devas & get Lanka back, Sumali sent Kaikashi to Rishi Vishrava to have combine progeny of Brahmana & Rakshasha. She had three sons & a daughter. Gradually Dashagreeva came to know about his mother's tragic past and decided to fulfill his mother's wish. He went for Tapasya with his brothers Kumbhakarna and Vibheeshana. But after Tapasya of 100 years, when they got their boon they felt cheated. Ravana was the only one who got a boon which can be beneficial to his mission, his brother Kumbhakarna got Eternal sleep as a boon. Even with all the odds, he was able to establish his iron-clad rule throughout Bharat Varsha. I would suggest you check the book for more.

Some points which I would like to share
  • Book has portrayed Ravana as a neutral character, not a villain like Ramayana or Victim like Asura
  • The author has given more emphasis on the mental turmoil of Ravana and each of the character from his side (Kaikashi, Sumali, Kumbhakarna etc)
  • The author was able to show how it will be felt to be betrayed by Gods or our own 
  • Though Ramayana is lengthy in size, this book covers only Ravana related incidents.
  • The pace of the book (at some places) & the naration style is slow which could be faster and more interesting.
Overall it is a wonderful experience for me.

Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 4.5/5
  2. Characters - 4.5/5
  3. Content - 3/5
  4. Overall - 4/5
Book can be found at Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

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