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[Book Reviews] Raavan- Enemy of Aryavrata- Amish Tripathi

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Post time: 16-7-2019 12:25:53
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INDIA, 3400 BCE.

A land in tumult, poverty and chaos. Most people suffer quietly. A few rebel. Some fight for a better world. Some for themselves. Some don’t give a damn. Raavan. Fathered by one of the most illustrious sages of the time. Blessed by the Gods with talents beyond all. Cursed by fate to be tested to the extremes.

A formidable teenage pirate, he is filled with equal parts courage, cruelty and fearsome resolve. A resolve to be a giant among men, to conquer, plunder, and seize the greatness that he thinks is his right.

A man of contrasts, of brutal violence and scholarly knowledge. A man who will love without reward and kill without remorse.

This exhilarating third book of the Ram Chandra series sheds light on Ravaan, the king of Lanka. And the light shines on darkness of the darkest kind. Is he the greatest villain in history or just a man in a dark place, all the time?

Read the epic tale of one of the most complex, violent, passionate and accomplished men of all time.

Well I had really high hopes from Amish and this book but somehow this series is just not upto the mark. Maybe because we have read and re read so many versions of the great epic Ramayana that very few things would actually surprise me. The story telling is weak and the writer seems distracted. Its like an old bollywood movie with the troubled childhood leading to becoming a great villian. What is interesting is kept in the background especially the feud between two great sages Vashishtha and Vishwamitra. May be the writer is keeping the more material for his later books. The rise of Ravana as the greatest evil could have been portrayed better. Most of the times he appears as a love struck individual hell bent on petty revenge rather than an ambitious and brutal warrior, one who made the whole universe cry in pain.

Was disappointed by the whole thing and would give it 2.5/5

It can be accessed here


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Post time: 17-7-2019 01:46:35
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Edited by ssangra at 17-7-2019 01:49 AM

Ravana was as skilled and accomplished as Rama, probably more so. Only his need and greed was a shade more. He was more consistent than Ram and also more respectful of womanhood. If we see in perspective, he did kidnap Sita, but he did not apply force thenceafter. Ram on the other hand is called a maryadapurush (a man who knows his limits and sticks to the good wise path), however he let the speech of his subject decide how he treats his wife once she returns to him after the kidnap. One suspects he never trusted her later and banished her cruelly to a life of loneliness and single parenthood and that too for no fault of her own.
Ravana was also a scientist. He is reputed to have 6 airports in Sri Lanka and multiple types of powerful high tech weapons and  Vimanas (as mentioned in Vimanashastra).  His home is architecturally secure and politically strongly built. His knowledge of multiple branches and aspects of ancient learning is legendary. We are taught to see him in a bad light, but one must always question and as one questions and searches, the other gigantic aspects of his personality become apparent. Read the book like a story ...dont judge the man by one book alone

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 Author| Post time: 17-7-2019 10:31:04
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ssangra 17-7-2019 01:46 AM
Ravana was as skilled and accomplished as Rama, probably more so. Only his need and greed was a shad ...

There is no doubt in Ravana's greatness. Everyone has a shade of black and white in them. The important thing is the dominant part. Just because you are a great inventor doesnt mean you are at liberty to kidnap someone else's wife. If you dont force yourself on her doesnt mean that you are virtous. Showing some other aspect of the character just for the sake of being different from popular view is also not right. There have always been a lot of instances and stories not just in Valmiki's ramayana but also in others to show how cruel and evil Ravana had turned into.
Yes there are lot of flaws in the character of Ram as well. But have you noticed that most if these have been after the whole story with Ravana have come to an end. Why? Most of our epics have been evolving over a period of time, be it Ramayana or Mahabharata and episodes have been added to the original collection. For eg Valmiki's Ramayana Ends with Ravana's death. So where does this story of Sita's banishment comes from? We may never know but it can be to show that too much righteousness is also not good. AS Amish himself has mentioned in his Meluha trilogy that there has to be a balance always and a long rein of any one form of character is not good for the society in the long run.

But given a choice I would any day pick Ram over Ravana as a king and ruler because I am expected to be treated fairly and my wife and daughters are not in danger of being whisked away on whims and fancies of ruling class. Have you ever wondered how would have Ram felt when he had to let go of the person whom he loved so much that he waged a whole war for her? Was this a plot to maling a too perfect character? I dont know...

My review was for the story only and I appreciate your feedback but I still feel that I expected much more from the author especially when dealing with a character as complex as the Ravana and was disappointed with the author's treatment of him

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Post time: 17-7-2019 19:07:45
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I appreciate ur view but when you chose Rama I would request you to also remember that he was directly responsible for his own dear brothers suffering and death. It was extremely unfair to his wife who was thereby estranged from him for long and in the end losses him. I dont think that Valmiki should have stopped where he did. What was the reason he left the travails of Sita out ? Too much righteousness is never good but we need to be careful of what we call evil also because in our limited capacity we ourselves have the shade of evil. Sure that u r expected to be treated fairly and so is ur family and that women must be safe. However it is possible that Ram waged a war because it was necessary for him to more because no state would respect a (wo)man who did not fight to save his/her spouse. He would face a revolt if he did not. It also ensured his safety because his palace has devious politics from the stepmothers which would have become very dangerous had he not left. Love had little to do with it. A king does not put love first if I may say so. At least not a good king. I really liked yr review and felt that we need to be definitely more open about the evil depicted in the ancient books. It was more to keep our demons controlled than depict the caricature of the person itself and we must see it in that light alone rather than whip up emotions against the character in real life. Its my own darkness that I must dispel.

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Post time: 18-7-2019 07:21:28
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Has been waiting for your review on this one. I just couldn't continue with this series after the horrible sita part(book 2). Now a days there is a trend of converting black into grey and white into grey and claiming they are one and the same. Amish may have fell in the hole of that trend. In my opinion, even if every characters of the epics are grey, they are not the same shades of grey. There are still heroes and villains. Shiva trilogy was good, this series is plain horrible, both in characterization and plot and narrating style of  Amish has never been top class.

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 Author| Post time: 18-7-2019 10:30:44
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ssangra 17-7-2019 07:07 PM
I appreciate ur view but when you chose Rama I would request you to also remember that he was direct ...

I completely agree with your view that we need to dispel inner darkness from our own self first. As I said and you rightly pointed out that we all have a trace of evil in us. But what defines us is the dominant shade.
There are endless possibilities about why Ram waged a war on Lanka or why he left to live in a forest when he could have easily taken over the power because of the public mood with him. Either her could be a great politician, a manipulator to the extreme or he could be one of those great leaders who inspire such following. I feel if he was so bad then why did people follow him? No one coarsed Bharat to put his sandals on the throne and act as reagent in his absence. Or for that matter Laxman to leave his newly wed wife and move to forest and live a whole life in his brother's shadow. These two still can be seen to gain something for being in the good books of their elder brother. But what about Hanuman? What would he get if he served Ram? He is always shown as a great and learned person and he is extremely devoted to Ram. I often wonder why? There would be some qualities in him that made him worthy of such followers, as is said often respect is earned not demanded.

As you said that he probably needed to be more to save his face and be a king but if he would have been such a sharp politician he would not have to leave his home in the first place. He would have easily dealt with his scheming step mother. That is the difference between Ram and Krishna. If love was not a motive then what? A good king has to be empathetic, surely dispassionate else how can he understand how his people feel.

Ram is considered to be too good and is never considered a perfect Avatara, while Krishna is who went to all lengths to propogate good and is considered closer to how the common people are.Here again there is always a debate about evil and good. As you rightly pointed that we all have traces of evil in us. So for me someone else can be evil and vice versa. Humans are the most evolved creatures and the reason is our highly developed brain that we can think about such concepts of good and evil. ANd yes any discussion about our scriptures and ideas is always welcomed.


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 Author| Post time: 18-7-2019 10:33:09
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Arunita 18-7-2019 07:21 AM
Has been waiting for your review on this one. I just couldn't continue with this series after the ho ...

I am thinking of skipping the next book and read he final book in which Ram established Meluha. I find that could be more fun than the whole series. And hopefully he would have more material to write next time.
I hope that Amish writes next on the Rudra the older Mahadev and that could be a great read if he treats that well.


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Post time: 18-7-2019 13:46:29
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Edited by Arunita at 18-7-2019 07:52 PM
divey 18-7-2019 10:33 AM
I am thinking of skipping the next book and read he final book in which Ram established Meluha. I  ...

I think we should have skipped the 'sita' version. Nothing new had been added in that book that is worth wasting your time on. I too am planning to read the last book. As you have aptly put,"if he treats that well" is the key phrase to be considered before reading any of his book.:-)

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Post time: 20-7-2019 10:30:49
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I feel that in literature, we often give more importance to the person than the values he or she represents. And this can lead to problems especially if the said person is regarded as a god. People expect the heros of stories to he perfect in all respects and since they are human and the values and morals of society change over time, one will always be able to find faults with anyone given a length of time. And I am talking about characters who are depicted as "white" and not even "gray".
To me the most prominent takeaway from Ram's character is the episode when he decides to go to the forest. He has the entire kingdom standing behind him, the army is supporting him, his brother too doesn't want the throne, his father also says that if Ram just days that he wants to be king, there is nobody who will object (except maybe kaikeyi). In spite of all this, Ram replies that he needs to respect his fathers promise made to his wife and cannot let that word go in vain. Remember, it's not even his own promise but his fathers and that too made mny years ago. Still he respects it and goes to forest for 14 of his prime years without any shade of bitterness or resentment. How many of us today would have the strength of character to do that?

That's why I think that it is important to focus on the values rather than the person. Ram may have had his faults and these may be rightly pointed out but what we takeaway from his or others characters is upto us.


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 Author| Post time: 22-7-2019 10:05:50
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rahulpx 20-7-2019 10:30 AM
I feel that in literature, we often give more importance to the person than the values he or she rep ...

very nicely put...Its summarises the whole episode. People can be black and white but all of them have something to teach

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