Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ramayana - The Game of Life - Book Review

Book: Ramayana – The Game of Life
Author: Shubha Vilas
Number of Pages: 387

‘Ramayana – The Game of Life’ is the latest book by Shubha Vilas. This is his second book in the Ramayana Series and a sequel to ‘Rise of the Sun Prince’.  It is really fascinating to see how authors in the modern day are writing on ancient ithihasas like Ramayana and Mahabharata. With Shubha Vilas’s first book being a best seller and getting lots of positive reviews, I was keen on reading this sequel. Reading this book has been a different experience from reading other books. Although it gets a bit preachy at time, the connections that are made with the story and the learning based on the various instances in the story is pretty interesting.

 Shubha Vilas book ‘Ramayana – The Game of Life’ – Shattered Dreams is based on Rama’s exile. The story starts with King Dasaratha decides to step down and crown Rama as the ruler of Ayodhya. This is when the boon that Dasaratha gives Keikeyi in the past comes into the picture. Keikeyi asks for 2 boons and insists on her son Bharata being crowned the King of Ayodhya instead of Rama and Rama being sent to exile for 14 years.  The rest of the story talks about how Rama and Sita react to this setback positively and head for the exile.

Having read the entire Ramayana story in 250-300 pages or through Amar Chitra Katha comics, reading this book has been completely different experience. With close to 400 pages being dedicated to this story, the author presents the thinking and the emotions behind each of the decisions that happened during the course of this story. This detail also helps in showing the shades of each character (which is what happens in real life) instead of showing them in black and white.

The story also explores various other smaller stories connected to the main one. There is this part which explains how Dasaratha gives boons to Keikeyi and also on how Dasagriva transforms to Ravana. I never had a chance to read any of these in such detail.

There is analysis in boxes at various points in the story which conveys the larger message to the world to be learnt from the story. In addition to this, there are notes presented in that bottom of each page that present aspects  to learn and understand  from the story and this is where Shubha Vilas shows how there is so much to learn from Ramayana.  These notes present the hidden text and implicit meaning in some of statements that are made by the characters in the story. As someone who writes, I thought this was also a lesson in writing knowing what to reveal and what to convey through the hidden meaning while crafting a story.

It is fascinating to read how modern day authors write on an ancient ithihasas like Ramayana. I enjoyed reading this book and I am now looking to get a different perspective on the same story. I intend to get started on Ashok Banker’s Series of Ramayana which I believe will explore Ramayana in a very different way and present a new perspective.

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