In any event, it is a lot more fascinating than the Greek epics. There are various versions of the Mahabharata and I should confess that I am not expert enough to know of the various types and the differences between them. To start with, the main characters are not divine. They are just ordinary men who performed exceptional tasks in extraordinary circumstances, invoking gods such as Rudra or Hara. Maybe future generations elevated them to the status of Gods as their legends grew. The women in Mahabharata, especially Panchali, are not the supine creatures they are made out to be, in the mainstream narration of the Mahabharata.
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In any event, it is a lot more fascinating than the Greek epics. There are various versions of the Mahabharata and I should confess that I am not expert enough to know of the various types and the differences between them.
To start with, the main characters are not divine. They are just ordinary men who performed exceptional tasks in extraordinary circumstances, invoking gods such as Rudra or Hara. Maybe future generations elevated them to the status of Gods as their legends grew. The women in Mahabharata, especially Panchali, are not the supine creatures they are made out to be, in the mainstream narration of the Mahabharata. Panchali especially is her own boss and comes across as a powerful personality, intelligent, brave and of course very beautiful.
Udayasankar uses lesser known names for many of her characters. Arjun is always called Partha. Some of the names are spelt in a manner which I assume is closer to the language which may have been spoken during Vedic times. Shikandin is not a half-man-half-woman. Rather he is a brave and fearless warrior who is misunderstood by many, including his own father. The Kurus are vassals of Jarasandha as are a number of neighbouring states. Dharma and his four brothers stay in Hastinapura, more as guests of their Kuru cousins than as princes of the realm.
Govinda Krishna is a cow-herd who somehow managed to become the ruler of Mathura, but had to abandon it and take refuge in glorious Dwaraka. As the story progresses, we see Govinda plan, plot, scheme and pilot the Pandava brothers into Indr-prasta and work towards making Dharma the Emperor of all of Aryavarta.
The question remains: why does Govinda do all that? Is it solely on account of his hatred for the Firewrights? The Firewrights are an ancient order of scientists and inventors who wear mixed colours. On one hand, their inventions and advancements have contributed towards progress in Aryavarta.
Most, if not all the advanced weapons, such as those used by Partha to destroy the Kandava forest, originated from the Firewrights. However, the Firewrights can also be evil and in any event, Govinda seems to be determined to destroy them.
The rivalry and fighting between the Firewrights and the Firstborn dynasty is a thread which runs through this book and as Book One comes to an end, stays alive to continue into Book Two.
However, on the whole, the gentle pace works rather well, since we need to remember that legends were created over a period of time. Udayasankar writes very well, her language simple and elegant, with a gentle lyrical touch and a whiff of antiquity, as would befit such an ancient tale.
All her characters are coloured in grey, rather than as entirely good or bad human beings. This goes not only for Dharma, but even for Govinda, who Panchali like thousands of other women secretly pines for. Similarly Syoddhan Dhuryodhan is not such a bad guy! Panchali is definitely a feminist who after some initial docility puts her foot down and starts doing as she pleases. I am not going to explain these in detail and give away the story — please do read this excellent book and find out for yourselves.
Govinda (The Aryavarta Chronicles)
Govinda The Aryavarta Chronicles Govinda The Aryavarta Chronicles About book: The mountains gently sloped into a fair stretch of grassland with alternating bogs of marsh and sand, leading ultimately to a gem-flecked stretch of blue promise. The untamed sea fell, relentless, against a harsh, rocky coast, each defying the other in playful battle. In the middle of the foaming waters, connected by a series of foam-covered shoals, rose a mighty rock edifice. Waves beat relentlessly against the stone, and were broken into white foam, churned into golden spray.
The Aryavarta Chronicles #1: Govinda | Krishna Udayasankar | Book Review
The Aryavarta Chronicles are neither reinterpretation nor retelling. These stories are a construction of reality based on a completely different set of assumptions… I am simply one of those innumerable bards who passes the story on, contexualized and rationalized but not lacking in sincerity or integrity. It is you, the reader, who shall infuse it with meaning and bring it to life as you will. Instead, I was keenly aware that I had just finished reading a book that had turned out exactly as Udayasankar claimed, particularly the last sentence. It was a perspective that delighted me, challenged me and, more importantly, made me think.
Govinda: Book 1 of The Aryavarta Chronicles
A novel by Krishna Udayasankar Honour. Aryavarta, the ancient realm of the noble. For generations the Firstborn dynasty of scholar-sages, descendants of Vasishta Varuni and protectors of the Divine Order on earth, has dominated here. For just as long, the Angirasa family of Firewrights, weapon-makers to the kings and master inventors, has defied them. In the aftermath of the centuries-long conflict between the two orders, the once-united empire of Aryavarta lies splintered, a shadow of its former glorious self. Now the last Secret Keeper of the Firewrights is dead, killed by a violent hand, and the battle for supreme power in the empire is about to begin. As mighty powers hurtle towards a bloody conflict, Govinda Shauri, cowherd turned prince and now Commander of the armies of Dwaraka, must use all his cunning to counter deception and treachery if he is to protect his people and those whom he loves.