“The rishi rose, spinning, as perfectly straight as a pillar – a few scant inches to any side would mean terrible wounds… He seemed to hover in mid-air for a brief fraction, like a hummingbird working at its nest, then….shot out like the yawning pincers of stone crab Bharat had once seen at the moment it closed on its prey.”
— Chapter 3, Kaand 1, Vengeance of Ravana
That was rishi Valmiki on a visit to Ayodhya, showing his prowess when challenged by the gatekeepers/ security
|Title||Vengeance of Ravana|
|Series||Volume-7 of the 8 volume Ramayana series|
NOTE: Please read the reviewer’s opinions on the whole series here.
The Story in Book-7
The story is set in that period after decimation of Lanka and Rama’s return from his exile, but before Sita is banished. (I am not sure whether this part of the story is based on older versions of the Ramayana or it is a mainly a creation of Banker’s fertile imagination.)
In a dream/ nightmare Rama sees that Ravana is back. Rishi Valmiki (who is acknowledged as the original author of the Ramayana) visits Ayodhya with news of impending bad times. The city is attacked by rakshasa Kala-Nemi who was interned in the dungeons of the city. Soon after, Ayodhya is attacked by the armies and nobles of other Aryan kingdoms, led by Atikya (a son of Ravana) and Mandodari (Ravana’s wife).
At the gates of Ayodhya, there is a lot of drama, with many people getting into a ‘stasis’/ ‘freeze-frame’/ ‘statue’ mode so that a few others can take the centre-stage and show their moves, or make their speech. During one such exchange between Atikya/ Mandodari and Sita, Atikya puts a new spin to Sita’s parentage (you will have to read the book to know the new spin).
Then Ravana arrives and Siva also lands up through a ‘vortal’. We also encounter Yama. There is discourse between Siva, Rama, Yama, Sita, etc. Then there are never-ending dreams that Rama has.
This volume of Ashok Banker’s Ramayana series had me lost completely. It was entirely out of character with the first six books and also out of sync with the eighth (next in the series). Though there are interesting passages and great descriptions, the plot is all jumbled up. And I often went, “what the hell is this, now?”
One reason could be that this book has the least foundation with the traditional Ramayana story that I knew. The second reason is that there was too much emphasis on Rama and Sita being avatars of Vishnu and Lakshmi in this book. I also think the author used this book to link the Ramayana series to his other Vortal series, or maybe he was contorting himself to provide some rational justification to Rama’s actions with respect to Sita. Whatever the reason, the result is disappointing, and giving this book a skip will not deprive you of anything.
However, here is an interesting passage where the demon Kala-Nemi explodes, waging biological warfare on Ayodhya.
“… as the giant burst into a million tiny fragments like an overripe melon struck by a heavy metal-head arrow…Tiny globular bits, like miniscle black spores. There were patches of mottled colour rippling through the bunched spores”
Chapter 6, Kaand 1, Vengeance of Ravana
The last book in the series, Sons of Sita is a cracker, and worth reading. It is next in line for a review.
NOTE: Please read the comments on the whole series here , as the reviewer’s opinions on the series are expressed there.
Here is the full list of the series with links to the reviews and online bookstores:
|Book 1||Prince of Ayodhya|
|Book 2||Siege of Mithila|
|Book 3||Demons of Chitrakut|
|Book 4||Armies of Hanuman (reviewed here)|
|Book 5||Bridge of Rama|
|Book 6||King of Ayodhya|
|Book 7||Vengeance of Ravana|
|Book 8||Sons of Sita (reviewed here)|
If you have not yet read any of the books in the series, go for the first one right away! You will not regret it.
Your comments are welcome!