I was really happy to see a work on the unsung heroes of the South in terms of mythology and history put together and this is very well done story with the Chola history intertwined to make it a historical fiction. Thanks to the author Dr. R Durgadoss.
The characterization of Surya the hero and the final chapter are an ode to the way they armed warriors of those times actually lived in those era of Cholas. The background and the implication of his history also is like spicing up the story to a great bit. The author has taken pains to research the war tactics being used those times and also those cultural issues that comes in terms of relationships the marriages and the customs that prevailed there on.
For example there was a slice of live in relationship which if we take it in today’s age must have been too good in terms of societal reformation. The kings marrying second time after war victories is also well documented.
The background of the building the Big temple and the city of Gangai Konda Cholapuram and the jewels which were supposed to be a part of Chola dynasty keeps the story well knitted across the time line with the character of Surya fitting in seamlessly.
The author has taken liberties and it fits well in terms of characterisation and I must add this has a script for a movie for the twists and turns that the author makes us live in.
The naval warfare technology and the character of Surya are well intertwined to get the story the pace it deserves and adds to the overall story telling. There is war fare, there is strategy, there is romance and they are mixed in a concoction for the reader to enjoy them.
A nice fast paced read The Conquest of the East is a must read and to be frank you will finish this in one go for sure.
Genre: History of Religion, Hinduism, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
ISBN: 9789353332303, 9353332303
This is a laborious exercise ideally because the context is different. The other side of the comparing these two works is tough because they are totally having different approaches to target segment. It also is important to understand the length and breadth of the story are widely different. The fact that the characters continue to Mahabharata from Ramayana is also a pointer to the similarities and how they are a continuous set of instances that make this grand story come alive.
I read with interest the snippet like comparisons by Devdutt Pattanaik where he has put it as My playful comparison, (still wonder why it’s playful) there are enough and more comparisons you could take away right from the childless fathers in Dasaratha to Shantanu to sorrowing parents in Dasaratha to even Pandavas after the war.
We also get to see quite a few instances in terms of geography and history or the narration by rishis, etc.
But given that author has taken liberty for the time of the authorship of both the epics, I would have loved to differ. For example, the Big Temple in Tamilnadu is over 2000 years old and the devotional movement in their time was as big as anything that is covered elsewhere.
One more I noticed was the Greek and Buddhist comparisons, that are totally different and the context in which those thrived also makes for comparisons.
I was also not able to see the Ram vs Krishna connect or comparison here. That would have made it all the more interesting since the author has given very few instances of the comparison in a perspective of things. Those are the celebrated characters in the whole scheme of things. That Mahabharata has a Bhagavad Geetha in it has not be taken into consideration.
I think a body of work of such grandeur and vastness in both cases inspite of being in Sruthi mode thats hear say to being written so well after long, will constitute similarities with human beings and Gods in an intersection of game of life.
That women in both the epics have cast a shadow is irrefutable, that of Sita and Panchali, but then when you see these as just stories it would get you to this connect only. These are imageries for spiritual existance and at some places the author puts them concretely.
That there are multiple versions that have made these epics into a reckoning literature in their own right, this will also have its way of reflecting the time that the authors lived in.
Infact this is also happening now as we see multitude versions of Mahabharat and Ramayana from different authors and different perspectives from different characters than being rendered by Valmiki or Vyasa.
This is quite a study of contrast and yes you could open any page and read this in case you want to because like I mentioned earlier these are snippets and there are almost 56 instances that the author takes us through and they are small but important to note.
I am only cautious about some issues like Vedic period and Brahminism that the author takes undue liberty with. It’s like saying there was no gravity or something till Newton discovered it. One instance he says this is because of the Panini’s work of grammar came in at one certain point in time. I am unable to understand if that were the case would everyone be using the language without any sense till then. I think that is wrong way to reference the language part. Sangam literature in Tamil is far older in that case going by inscriptions.
Anyway an attempt in bringing the similarities which will continue to exist even today. You write a plot and then you can be sure that was there in Mahabharata or Ramayana.
One thing I have noticed is from giving the stories its due to now getting to liberal interpretations Devdutt Pattanaik has come a long way. Well you cant find fault with this its the way the epics have allowed itself to be retold.
Thank you Flipkart for sending in the copy and you can buy this here.
Little did I know that the impact of the book will continue to linger forever, I cannot express in words which I am trying here, the sheer magic this book will weave on you. I am sure this is gonna be a classic that will be held for long even after we are all gone. Yes you must read this book to know how it feels and the experience will transform you for sure…
That the master story teller had such an emotion hidden so long is itself a mystery and the way it has been presented in such magnitude to us is sheer charm with a wonderful streak of innocence and boyhood that can only be the signature of Ruskin Bond.
The story of a boy who lost his only relationship worthy of emulation and the year that he got to be with him is beyond compare in the way the story is narrated.
The story telling gets you riveted till the last page and tears well up as you close the book, the God here has been so cruel in the way it made the decision to call his father back. The way he reacts and the story of the stamps and how it ends up will linger long.
After a long time, I just got immersed in this book, it was like living close to the author travelling with him, the innocent narration of his world outlook as he decides to mingle with his friends on the street or get better off with his friends at the boarding school.
The illustrations add life to the narration and we have to complement Mihir for his work. Some pictures actually show the emotions so well you would easily take it for real.
I read the blurb at the back of the book after the book has been finished actually and then it dawned on me that I was literally having a Classic in the making in my hands.
I think after a long time, after R K Narayan’s Swami and Friends this one was perhaps the most engaging with some parallels in time – the pre independent India and the like. The letter to be written also was a part of Swami & Friends’ climax.
On another side you will relive some of the childhood days where there was no digital stuff say a phone like now or a TV or internet. Collection of stamps was a big hobby and it was a window to the world as much as the author explains. Hope some of those traits gets to our generation.
A word of thanks is due to the Flipkart Review Program for their copy and this opportunity. Thanks a ton Flipkart (Vivek), this will remain special! I suggest you must definitely pick a copy if you have kids at home. The more I read Ruskin Bond, the better I realise things as a parent, perhaps that is the best part of the master story teller.