Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review : The Aryavarta Chronicles : Kurukshetra

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 The Aryavarta Chronicles : Kurukshetra is the third book of the Aryavarta Chronicles.The author is Krishna Udayashankar,alumni of the National Law School of India-Bangalore.She did her Ph.D from Nanyang Business School,Singapore.At present ,she is a lecturer in Nanyang Business School.Her first book of the Aryavarta Chronicles : Govinda as also her second book in the series,Kaurava have been critically acclaimed.Krishna has penned a poetry collection titled ,Objects of Affection " as also edited "Body Boundaries : The Etiquette Anthology of Women's Writings " .

 The cover of the book shows a weapon which is a fusion of two axes & two spears .There are five sharp blades in  the weapon.The arm of the weapon can be seen but just a little.The weapon looks menacing.The Sun seems to be peeking from behind one of the sharp blades of the weapon.THe sky is all dark & overcast.There is an eagle flying in the sky.There is  carcass of an Elephant and perhaps a horse near the weapon.A soldier's armour can be seen lying on the right of the weapon.On the back cover,the sky is dark .There is a vulture & some arrows which have pierced an elephant .This dark & grim cover sets the tone of the tale .

 This is the tale of the Kurukshetra battle between the Kauravas & Pandavas.Both the parties are assembling their friends & their armies so that the opposite party can be coerced to negotiate.Yet on its own ,neither the Kauravas nor the Pandavas want to be seen as weak.Govinda tries very hard to prevent the parties from going to war.Yet ,eventually,they go to war. All knew that it will destroy much.Yet no one imagined it would end the way it ended.The Kauravas have many mighty men in their midst namely Bhishma,Drona,Vasusena,Asvattama,& others.Even the Pandavas have many warriors in their midst namely Shikhandin,Arjuna,Bhim,Abhimanyu,etc.Bhishma is killed first .And then there are no rules of warfare left.All rules get broken one after the other .And many warriors get killed due to deception & cunningness.Not by valour.

 The fact, that they all are fighting their own brothers,fathers,uncles,teachers etc confounds all.Some want to fight as they have scores to settle for supposed insults.Others join in to show solidarity & still others join reluctantly.And yet, some will not raise arms & fight some in the enemy camp because they owe their lives,their very existence to that someone in the enemy camp.The battle is therefore much more in the minds of all than in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.Hence Arjuna 's dilemma is not just his.It is something which plagues so many.And yet, must they kill each other ? Is there no other way out ? Why is the battle being fought ? Is it, because there was an attempt to disrobe Draupadi ? And still ,who allowed it to take place ? Are they innocent ? Why are others ,the common people ,soldiers being pushed into the war ? Is it, their fault, that their rulers,kings,etal felt that they must wage this battle for setting some wrongs right.What have they done to deserve being maimed and killed in battle ? It is not their battle .And they are being butchered .Will their rulers,be accountable for killing their own people .A ruler's duty is to protect his subjects & in the name of dharma ,he is pushing his subjects into the battlefield.

Govinda keeps emphasizing on humanity as also kindness.Why & what for ?
 Govinda is staring into the future rather than the past or the present.What is his role ? Is he innocent or scheming ?Is the battle of Kurukshetra ,a part of his grand agenda ?

 The battle ends & how .All are punished.There are no victors.All are vanquished.And who is the biggest loser ? Perhaps the victor .Draupadi has supposedly been avenged.She must be pleased & yet is she ? The tale once again reinforces that peace is always just & wars are  always unjust.

 The author has explained the dilemmas of all characters superbly so much so that the reader becomes one with the character.The tale though a known one is narrated in an engrossing manner.One wants  to read further & further .She reveals a lot about the epic which flabbergasts the reader like it is stated that even few women were on the battlefield.The fight,the scenes & the weapons are all finely detailed in the narrative.This makes it very interesting. The book is in three parts followed by the end.Some chapters are short & some are long.There is a map as also a family tree of the Kurus .There is a list of the characters with short notes as well.Doubtless,Krishna has done painstaking research to come up with the Aryavarta Chronicles & that is also stated towards the end of the book. It is published by Hachette India.

 A must read for every one who wants to get a fresh perspective on the battle in the epic tale.

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