‘While there is no harm in viewing Indian epics with different glasses, such glasses need to be washed or cleansed correctly.’
After the thumping success of ‘Asura: Tale of the Vanquished’ in 2012, Anand Neelakantan came out with a new book titled ‘Ajaya: Roll of the Dice’ in 2013. As was the case with ‘Asura’, this book also became popular among readers within a short period of time. This time, the author was trying to tell Mahabharata from Dur(Su)yodhana’s side.
If you have read my review of ‘Asura’, you would know what I think about the so called ‘untold story of Ravana’. I am having the same views on this book too. For me, the author has some pre-conceived notions in his mind and books like ‘Asura’ and ‘Ajaya’ are his deliberate attempts to propagate those notions. And, it seems that he is getting successful too, which is quite a dangerous phenomenon. However, I prefer to separate myself from the ardent admirers of such books. If we leave the innovative aspect (viewing the grand epic from a different perspective), there is nothing what we can call engaging in this book. Seeing the epic from a different perspective could have been an explosive idea if would have been used judiciously. Regrettably this other side of the coin once again failed to capture my sympathy.
To be frank, I didn’t get disappointed after reading this book. After reading ‘Asura’, I was expecting a similar sort of treatment for Mahabharata too. And, this book proved me right. This book is not about reiterating Mahabharata from a different point of view; this is about propagating author’s own views in the form of a well-crafted story. A clever attempt!
As I mentioned in one of my posts, Mahabharata is not about good or bad. Not even a single character in Mahabharata is black or white. On the other hand, each and every character has different shades of grey. Even Lord Krishna is not an exception and this is what makes Mahabharata a very engaging tale. However, in ‘Ajaya’, Kauravas are white and all the others are black. Additionally, to paint Duryodhana extra white, the author has twisted a number of crucial events. Though it helps in glorifying Duryodhana, it actually snatches the real beauty of Mahabharata. In fact, the author seems to have gone overboard in this book to prove every known hero of Mahabharata as evil.
I will not stop you to read the book. Read the book but read with open eyes. Judge yourself. You know, what I am trying to say. And, if you want to read a more balanced view of Duryodhana, read ‘Duryodhana’ by V. Raghunathan, which, in fact, is a well-written book.
In the end, I would just say that this book was a very disappointing take on Duryodhana.