Download Ajaya: Rise of Kali PDF EPUB for Free - The Epic Novel that Challenges the Conventional Narrative of the Mahabharata
Ajaya: Rise of Kali - A Review of the Epic Novel by Anand Neelakantan
If you are a fan of Indian mythology, you must have heard of the Mahabharata, the epic saga that narrates the story of the Kurukshetra war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. But have you ever wondered what if the story was told from the perspective of the so-called villains, the Kauravas? What if they were not evil, but misunderstood? What if they had their own reasons and motivations to fight for their rights and honor? What if they were the true heroes, and the Pandavas were the real villains?
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That is exactly what Anand Neelakantan does in his novel Ajaya: Rise of Kali, a two-part series that retells the Mahabharata from the point of view of the Kauravas, especially Duryodhana, who is renamed as Suyodhana in this version. In this article, we will review this novel and see how it challenges and subverts the conventional narrative of the Mahabharata, and presents a different and fascinating perspective on one of the most famous stories in Indian literature.
What is Ajaya: Rise of Kali?
Ajaya: Rise of Kali is a historical fiction novel that reimagines the Mahabharata as a story of political intrigue, social injustice, religious bigotry, and human drama. It portrays the Kauravas as the oppressed and marginalized victims of a corrupt and oppressive system, while the Pandavas are shown as the privileged and arrogant beneficiaries of a biased and hypocritical society. It also explores the role and influence of other characters such as Krishna, Karna, Draupadi, Bheeshma, Shakuni, Ashwatthama, and many others who shape the course and outcome of the war.
The novel is divided into two books: Book One: Roll of the Dice, which covers the events from the birth of Suyodhana to his exile after losing the game of dice to Yudhisthira; and Book Two: Rise of Kali, which covers the events from Suyodhana's return from exile to his death on the battlefield. The novel is based on extensive research and references from various sources such as Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, folktales, regional versions, and historical accounts.
Who is Anand Neelakantan?
Anand Neelakantan is an Indian author who specializes in writing mythological fiction. He is best known for his debut novel Asura: Tale of the Vanquished, which tells the story of Ramayana from Ravana's perspective. He has also written other novels such as Vanara: The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara; Bahubali: Before the Beginning; and Chaturanga: The Rise of Chandragupta Maurya. He is also a screenwriter, illustrator, columnist, and speaker. He lives in Mumbai with his wife and two children.
Why should you read Ajaya: Rise of Kali?
You should read Ajaya: Rise of Kali if you are interested in: - Reading a different and unconventional version of the Mahabharata that challenges the stereotypes and prejudices associated with the characters and events. - Exploring the complex and nuanced personalities, motivations, and relationships of the characters, especially Suyodhana, who is portrayed as a noble, brave, and compassionate leader who fights for justice and equality. - Learning about the historical and cultural context of the Mahabharata, such as the social hierarchy, caste system, religious practices, political alliances, and warfare strategies. - Enjoying a gripping and engaging narrative that blends mythology, history, fantasy, and realism, and keeps you hooked till the end.
Summary of Ajaya: Rise of Kali
Book One: Roll of the Dice
The plot of Book One: Roll of the Dice follows the life and struggles of Suyodhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, the blind king of Hastinapura. Suyodhana is born with a deformity in his thigh, which makes him an object of ridicule and contempt by his cousins, the Pandavas, who are the sons of Pandu, Dhritarashtra's younger brother. Suyodhana grows up with a sense of resentment and injustice towards the Pandavas, who are favored by their elders, such as Bheeshma, the granduncle of both clans, and Vidura, the half-brother of Dhritarashtra and Pandu.
Suyodhana finds his only friends and allies in his brothers, especially Dushasana, his uncle Shakuni, who is a master manipulator and strategist, his best friend Karna, who is a low-born but talented archer and warrior, and his wife Bhanumati, who is a princess of Kalinga. Suyodhana also develops a close bond with Krishna, who is a charismatic and mysterious prince of Dwaraka. Suyodhana admires Krishna's wisdom and charisma, but also fears his ulterior motives and hidden agenda.
Suyodhana faces many challenges and obstacles in his quest to become the rightful heir of Hastinapura. He has to deal with the hostility and treachery of the Pandavas, who try to undermine his authority and legitimacy at every step. He also has to cope with the internal conflicts and divisions within his own clan, such as the rivalry between his father Dhritarashtra and his uncle Pandu, the loyalty issues of his cousins Vikarna and Yuyutsu, who sympathize with the Pandavas, and the moral dilemmas of his elders Bheeshma and Vidura, who are torn between their duty and conscience.
Suyodhana also has to face the external threats and challenges from other kingdoms and forces that are either allied with or opposed to him. He has to deal with the invasion of Jarasandha, the king of Magadha, who wants to conquer Hastinapura and sacrifice its kings to Shiva. He also has to deal with the alliance of Drupada, the king of Panchala, who wants to avenge his humiliation by Drona, the guru of both clans. Drupada arranges a swayamvara for his daughter Draupadi, who is destined to marry Arjuna, the third Pandava. However, Suyodhana tries to foil this plan by sending Karna to win Draupadi's hand for him. But Karna is rejected by Draupadi for being a sutaputra (son of a charioteer). This enrages Suyodhana and Karna, who vow to take revenge on Draupadi.
The climax of Book One: Roll of the Dice is the infamous game of dice between Suyodhana and Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava. Suyodhana invites Yudhisthira to play a friendly game of dice at Hastinapura, but it is actually a trap set by Shakuni, who uses his magic dice to cheat in favor of Suyodhana. Yudhisthira, who is addicted to gambling, loses everything he owns, including his kingdom, his brothers, and even himself. Finally, he stakes Draupadi, who is dragged into the court by Dushasana. Dushasana tries to disrobe Draupadi in front of everyone, but she is miraculously saved by Krishna, saree endlessly. Suyodhana orders Draupadi to sit on his lap, but she refuses and curses him and his clan. The elders of the court, such as Bheeshma, Vidura, and Dhritarashtra, are shocked and ashamed by the events, but they are powerless to stop them. Dhritarashtra finally intervenes and grants Draupadi a boon, which she uses to free her husbands from slavery. However, Suyodhana challenges Yudhisthira to play one more round of dice, with the condition that the loser and his brothers will go into exile for 13 years, and spend the last year in disguise. Yudhisthira agrees, and loses again. The Pandavas and Draupadi are forced to leave Hastinapura and live in the forest.
Book Two: Rise of Kali
The plot of Book Two: Rise of Kali follows the events that take place during and after the exile of the Pandavas. Suyodhana tries to consolidate his power and expand his influence over other kingdoms. He makes alliances with kings such as Karna, who becomes the king of Anga, Shishupala, who becomes the king of Chedi, and Jarasandha, who becomes his father-in-law. He also tries to win over Krishna, who remains neutral and unpredictable. Suyodhana faces opposition from kings such as Drupada, Virata, Matsya, and others who support the Pandavas.
The Pandavas spend their exile in various places, facing hardships and dangers. They encounter demons, sages, gods, and other beings who test their faith and skills. They also perform various deeds and adventures that earn them fame and respect. They spend their last year of exile in disguise at the court of Virata, the king of Matsya. There, they face various challenges and threats from Kichaka, the brother-in-law of Virata, who lusts after Draupadi; Duryodhana's spies, who try to expose their identity; and Susharma, the king of Trigarta, who attacks Matsya with the help of Kauravas.
The climax of Book Two: Rise of Kali is the Kurukshetra war, the epic battle that decides the fate of both clans. The war lasts for 18 days, and involves millions of warriors, elephants, chariots, and weapons. The war is marked by many heroic deeds, tragic deaths, and controversial acts. Some of the most notable events are: - The Bhagavad Gita, the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna before the war, where Krishna reveals his true identity as Vishnu, the supreme god, and teaches Arjuna about dharma, karma, and yoga. - The death of Bheeshma, the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army, who is mortally wounded by Arjuna on the tenth day of the war, after he reveals his weakness to Krishna. - The death of Drona, the guru of both clans, who is beheaded by Dhrishtadyumna, the son of Drupada, on the thirteenth day of the war, after he is deceived by Yudhisthira into believing that his son Ashwatthama is dead. - The death of Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, who is killed by a group of Kaurava warriors on the thirteenth day of the war, after he enters a deadly formation called Chakravyuha. - The death of Karna, the best friend of Suyodhana and the rival of Arjuna, who is slain by Arjuna on the seventeenth day of the war, after he is cursed by Parashurama, his guru; humiliated by Bhima, his brother; and abandoned by Surya, his father. - The death of Dushasana, the brother of Suyodhana and the tormentor of Draupadi, who is killed by Bhima on the seventeenth day of the war, after he tears his chest open and drinks his blood. - The death of Suyodhana, of Kali, who is defeated by Bhima on the eighteenth day of the war, after he is hit on his vulnerable thigh by Bhima's mace. Suyodhana dies on the battlefield, surrounded by his loyal friends and brothers.
Analysis of Ajaya: Rise of Kali
The style and language
The style and language of Ajaya: Rise of Kali are simple, clear, and engaging. The author uses a mix of modern and archaic words and phrases to create a balance between realism and fantasy. The author also uses various literary devices such as metaphors, similes, allusions, foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism to enhance the meaning and impact of the story. The author also uses dialogues, descriptions, and narration to convey the emotions, thoughts, and actions of the characters. The author also uses different fonts and formats to indicate the changes in time, place, and perspective.
The perspective and narration
The perspective and narration of Ajaya: Rise of Kali are unique and unconventional. The author uses multiple perspectives and narrators to tell the story from different angles and viewpoints. The author mainly uses the first-person perspective of Suyodhana, who narrates his own story in a candid and honest manner. The author also uses the third-person perspective of other characters such as Krishna, Karna, Draupadi, Bheeshma, Ashwatthama, and others who provide their own insights and opinions on the events and characters. The author also uses the second-person perspective of an unnamed narrator who addresses the reader directly and asks them to question their assumptions and beliefs about the Mahabharata.
The message and relevance
The message and relevance of Ajaya: Rise of Kali are profound and universal. The author conveys a message that there is no absolute right or wrong, good or evil, hero or villain in any story or situation. The author shows that every character has their own strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, motives and goals. The author also shows that every action has its consequences, both intended and unintended. The author also shows that every situation has its context, complexity, and ambiguity. The author also shows that every story has its interpretation, representation, and manipulation.
The relevance of Ajaya: Rise of Kali is evident in today's world, where we face many issues and challenges that are similar to those faced by the characters in the novel. Some of these issues are: - The conflict between tradition and modernity, between orthodoxy and reform, between conservatism and liberalism. - The struggle for power and justice, between oppression and resistance, between tyranny and democracy. - The dilemma between duty and desire, between loyalty and betrayal, between sacrifice and selfishness. - The diversity of culture and religion, between tolerance and intolerance, between harmony and violence. - The role of fate and free will, between destiny and choice, and dharma.
The author urges the reader to rethink and reevaluate their understanding and perception of the Mahabharata, and by extension, of history, mythology, and reality. The author invites the reader to empathize and identify with the characters, especially Suyodhana, and to appreciate their humanity and complexity. The author challenges the reader to question and critique the established and dominant narratives, and to explore and discover the alternative and marginalized narratives. The author inspires the reader to learn and apply the lessons and values of the Mahabharata in their own lives and contexts.
The strengths and weaknesses of Ajaya: Rise of Kali
The strengths of Ajaya: Rise of Kali are: - The novel is well-researched and well-written, with a captivating and compelling plot, rich and vivid descriptions, and realistic and relatable characters. - The novel is innovative and creative, with a fresh and original perspective, a bold and daring approach, and a diverse and dynamic narration. - The novel is insightful and informative, with a deep and nuanced analysis, a relevant and universal message, and a thought-provoking and engaging style.
The weaknesses of Ajaya: Rise of Kali are: - The novel is lengthy and dense, with a lot of details and information, which may make it difficult for some readers to follow and comprehend. - The novel is controversial and provocative, with a radical and unconventional interpretation, which may offend or upset some readers who are attached or loyal to the traditional version of the Mahabharata. - The novel is incomplete and unfinished, as it does not cover the aftermath of the war, such as the coronation of Yudhisthira, the death of Krishna, and the end of the Kali Yuga.
The rating and recommendation of Ajaya: Rise of Kali
The rating of Ajaya: Rise of Kali is 4.5 out of 5 stars. The novel is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in Indian mythology, history, culture, or literature. The novel is also recommended for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction, fantasy fiction, or alternative fiction. The novel is especially recommended for anyone who wants to experience a different and unique version of the Mahabharata that will challenge their mind and touch their heart.
The FAQs about Ajaya: Rise of Kali
Here are some frequently asked questions about Ajaya: Rise of Kali:
Where can I buy Ajaya: Rise of Kali?
You can buy Ajaya: Rise of Kali online from Amazon or Flipkart, or offline from any bookstore near you.
Is Ajaya: Rise of Kali available in other languages?
Yes, Ajaya: Rise of Kali is available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada.
Is Ajaya: Rise of Kali based on a true story?
No, Ajaya: Rise of Kali is a fictional story that is based on the Mahabharata, which is a mythological story that may or may not have some historical basis.
Is Ajaya: Rise of Kali part of a series?
Yes, Ajaya: Rise of Kali is part of a series called Ajaya, which consists of two books: Book One: Roll of the Dice, of Kali.
Is Ajaya: Rise of Kali suitable for children?
No, Ajaya: Rise of Kali is not suitable for children, as it contains scenes and themes that are violent, sexual, and mature.