13 Feb 2013

Seeds of War by Ashok Banker

About the Book

The Seeds of War, Book Two in Ashok Bankers MBA series, introduces us to the elder protagonists of the epic, as well as some of the great loves and lusts, friendships and enmities, politics and self-sacrifice that will lay the seeds that will eventually fester and erupt into the mother of all wars. At first it may seem that the journey is the reward, with seemingly unrelated love stories, fantastical tales of exploits in the heavenly realms, divine pacts and demoniac trysts. But it soon becomes evident that all these form a tapestry revealing the grandeur and glamour of the Kuru Bharata race itself, the growing descendants of the original tribe that established perhaps the greatest and oldest human civilization ever known in recorded history.

My view

After an amazing first book of MBA Mahabharata series “The Forest of Stories”, Ashok K. Banker writes "The Seeds of War", in a similar fervor. If you haven’t read the first book, you can still read "The Seeds of War” as there is no connection in terms of characters or flow of knowledge. But if you have, it will only add to knowing his style of writing that has completely changed since the “Ramayana” series.

For everyone who has curiosity about Indian Mythology and especially Mahabharata, this one is a best buy. I have watched Mahabharata twice and heard many tiny stories out of the huge book, but this book offered more than the info that I already knew.

Ramayana was easily to remember, to me and my cousins, due to the less number of characters and the story being focused on a small subject. I think that is the reason the author linked his Ramayana series volume to volume. This epic venture is written like a collection of stories. This one is the beginning. Of war. What led, who led, and how it led, to the planting seeds, which resulted in, War.

Ashok K. Banker makes this an enjoyable read, by simplifying the characters. There is an instance where I fell in love with Kacha, the son of Brihaspati, only due to his style of narration. Best part of the book has to be love of Shantanu and Ganga, with fascinating particulars made me feel I was a live witness of the incident.

 Author has segregated this book into nine pakshas which in turn have many chapters.
 My favorite one being paksha five "Shantanu and Ganga - A love story written on water" Why? When queen of the river Ganga desires king Pratipa, he tells her about how she sat on his right thigh and not the left one. Right thigh is a place reserved for daughters, daughter-in-laws and grand-daughters. Left thigh is actually a proper place for a lover. This is the amount of detailing expected from an author who dares to recreate an epic. That too Vyaasa's epic.

I particularly should mention Dolphins leaping while Ganga leaves. Dolphins existed only in Northern tales for me. Indian stories only had deer’s and peacocks and rabbits.
When Pratipa tells Shantanu about him choosing a girl for him already, son agrees. Indeed got a smile. It’s a weird concept but the beauty of narration makes the situation completely acceptable.

The union too left me spellbound. We often listen to stories how dominant the male part was those days.

But in Shantanu and Ganga's love it wasn't. She never wanted him to ask her who she was and from where she had arrived. He was not even to question her or speak harshly with her. She asked complete freedom in turn she would turn his every desire a reality.

It wasn't marriage according to Shantanu but autocracy. But she wanted him as much as he desired her. The union according to author was "bliss"

This love, strange love, where Ganga loves Shantanu even before he was born is what makes this paksha very special.

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Anonymous said...

An absolutely fantastic book by Ashok Banker. Keeps you hooked till the last page.

Everyone knows about the Pandavas and the Kauravas but not many know about the illustrious Puru lineage. The book is a wonderful insight into that.

The Mahabharata is all about people and Ashok Banker has managed to narrate the deepest of emotions [e.g. Bhishma and Amba's confrontation in the night after he abducts her] with the most simplest of words. His narrative makes you empathize with the characters.

Simple language, fine use of words and an amazing narrative keeps you hooked on till the last page. A must must read!