AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan is the second book from the same author that I have read and reviewed. Earlier book Asura: Tale of Vanquished: The story of Ravana and his People was an excellent read that was quite engrossing. And proving Anand to be an excellent writer. Who does extensive research before writing his book. And takes his own time to sip and drink to finish the bottle without a hurry. And that is, when I became a complete fan of Anand Neelakantan. In fact, I eagerly started waiting for his next book AJAYA Epic of the KAURAVA Clan Book 1: Roll of Dice. Anand loves to touch Indian mythical and epic stories with a totally different kind of touch. His aim is to provide an entirely different perspective. But not without doing his homework well with good amount of research in his subject.
AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan
That is the strength of Anand Neelakantan. To take huge challenges of changing the main characters to their extremities. And presenting it so well. That the reader almost engrosses in such a way that the whole outlook about the character that was there in the mind changes. By 180 degrees. As far as writing style of Anand is concerned, it is undoubtedly unchallenging. He has the art of creating big picture. And then taking to the journey with the magic of his writing to extreme depths. Duryodhana in AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan is the lead character. And is with neat intentions, and good deeds. Whatever he does is in response to the negative acts from the opposite end. His defeat in the hands of Pandavas does not prove that he was the villain. And Pandavas were heroes.
Anand Neelakantan even takes the challenge of playing with the characterization in a different style. We all read so far, for instance, about Shakuni, as a short, harsh and not too good appearing character. Shakuni, we see, in AJAYA, as a totally different character – tall, handsome and good looking. So is with many other characters. We saw Bhadra in his earlier book ASURA as one of the main characters who is born from nowhere but plays a substantial role in the whole book. The same happens in AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan too, here we find a character Jara, a beggar, along with his blind dog Dharma and has played a substantial role in the book.
AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan
Overall a very interesting read with some great lessons and insights on life. For instance, a conversation happening between Karna and Kripacharya on pages 68-69 is excellent. It is a learning about the caste system at that time. the purpose was not bad initially. But gradually its misinterpretation over the period of time was a real concern for the society. When one caste became the enemy of another instead of the reality that one could not survive without the other.
Though there are many excellent quotes in the book AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan, one out of them I would like to place here on life what Acharya Kripa told to Karna after saving him from a suicidal attemp – “Life is a gamble. You do not know how the dice will fall. But once they have, how you move the pieces is in your hands.”
One thing that I could not digest in AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan is the absurd talks by Acharya Kripa and Acharya Drona against Vidhura, Bhishma, Duryodhana and the blind king Dhritrashtra to an extreme insulting extent and that too quite openly. After all they both were the servants in the kingdom. It cannot happen even in today’s scenario, how could that happen in those times?
Final Verdict: AJAYA by Anand Neelakantan is A fantastic, interesting and engrossing read to learn an insight of Mahabharata in an entirely different perspective.