I just finished reading Book 1 of Krishna Udayasankar’s Aryavarta Chronicles. As Indians we have always heard our parents and all elders talk about the great Indian Epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. I personally like Mahabharata more than Ramayana. I just feel that it has more human characters in Mahabharata. Because of the liking for Mahabharata, I get drawn to reading all the books based on this epic.
Krishna Udayasankar’s ‘Govinda’ I feel is a version of Mahabharata but it’s definitely not the mainstream one. There are no godly characters that are flawless, but every one of them, including the protagonist Govinda Shauri, commander of Dwaraka, has human failings and shades of grey that make it all the more interesting to read.
The story revolves around the empire Aryavarta. There are 2 factions, the Firstborn and the Firewrights. Firstborns are the scholars and Firewrights are the scientists. Firewrights were given the responsibility to change the course of river Saraswati, which they were not able to complete and hence causing distruction. Firstborns get together with the kings to destroy all the firewrights. Govinda Shauri, commander of Dwaraka, helps the head of the Firstborn, Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, erase the Firewrights.
The women in Mahabharata, especially Panchali, are not the passive creatures as they are shown in the mainstream narration of the Mahabharata. Panchali comes across as a confident, powerful, strong, intelligent, brave and of course very beautiful.
Govinda plays a vital role in making Pandavas, led by Dharma Yudhistir, become the rulers of Aryavarta. The way complex politics and various wars and missions are carried out to make Dharma the king are fantastic.
Udayasankar writes very well, her language is simple with a slight lyrical touch. There are numerous charaters in the book, however the narration is so good that reader doesn’t feel any confusion while reading the book.
This is a great book to read if you are really interested in Indian Epics. This I think is one of the best epic story telling by an Indian author.