Leadstart Publishing, www.leadstartcorp.com
The publisher provided me a copy for review.
The Last Kaurava as the name suggests is again the Mahabharat retold from a different point of view. In this case, it’s the story being told by Bhishma / Devavrat lying on his deathbed during the Kurukshetra war.
The book is treating the story in a very different manner. It has been stripped of all mythology, gods and supernatural powers. It is also of stories told as in popular culture, and the stories untold. The author Kamesh Ramakrishna, has spent lot of time on researching the history and geography of Hastinapur. He has put forth scientific reasonings for the settlement of people in India. He reasons that the original inhabitants of Indraprastha and before that Hastinapur were Nagas. Unlike the mythology, here Nagas are a tribe of people and not literally snakes. They are nomadic tribes who keep shifting to the east to find new lands for cultivation. The land they are leaving behind is occupied by tribes coming in from the west due to a drought caused by an earthquake. The author scientifically proves that an earthquake caused the rivers to change directions especially the Saraswati river which dries up on its original path, thus affecting the lives of many villages. They start migrating following other river paths.
The story begins with the cult of Kavi Sanghas who have written the Mahabharat. Initially, Mahabharat had an oral tradition. So, Devavrat, on his deathbed narrates his life story to Lomaharshana who is a memoriser from the Kavi Sangha. He has the blessings of sage Vashishta. But due to another flood and dying of many people, the rulers of Kurukshetra want the Mahabharat to be written down. But, it is a difficult task. The oral tradition ensures that the story changes in every narration. As the Kavi Sangha do not have their own writing skills, Bhargava who is a trader from Persia comes to write for the Kavi. I really loved the way, the creation of scripts for writing the Mahabharat is explained. It ensures that all the sounds are captured and can be repeated in exactly the same manner similar to the current Devanagari script.
The author dispels every myth and gives it a truer color. So, there is no story of the eight Vasus who were cursed to be born on earth with Bhishma being the eighth one. Even Ganga, is not the river here. She is just a lady named Ganga which is more believable than having rivers giving birth. But here, we have to understand why the Mahabharat is written in this manner. It was a Jaya or a victory song written post the Kurukshetra war as was the norm in those days. As expected, it is written by the winner. He can decide to write only good about himself and can cast everyone else as evil. Just to make the story interesting, mythology and fan fiction is added. So, Krishna becomes a God and Kunti gives birth to children fathered by Gods. He explains how the Nagas were having a matriarchy. But, the Kauravas take over and patriarchy is instilled. He explains how Kings came into being.
It just sounds too probable and close to the truth. I was gearing up to read another Mahabharat with the version of Bhishma. But, quite liked the way the book builds up. Initially, I felt the book is a bit slow with too many details about the workings of the Kavi Sangha. But, later realised it is essential to the story. It helps to understand how or what factors have influenced the Mahabharat. I loved the realistic background to many mythical aspects of the story. The book is well-written, excellent language. Just wish, it could be shorter by about 100 pages.
Source : http://www.kaapitimes.com/2016/01/the-last-kaurava-bookreview/
Be True Re…View: The Last Kaurava by Kamesh Ramakrishna
The Last Kaurava by Kamesh Ramakrishna – Book Review
The Last Kaurava
BY: KAMESH RAMAKRISHNA
The last Kaurava is a novel set against the background of a crisis circa 2000 BCE caused by the drying up of the Saraswati. Hastinapur on the Ganga is a frontier town that is overwhelmed by immigrants. Social policied set to manage the crisis fail and set the stage for the great war that destroyed one civilisation and established the first empire in the region.
A frame story, set in 850 BCE (over a thousand years after the great war), reimagines the meta episode in the epic of how God Ganesha agreed to be Vyaasa’s scribe, subject to unusual conditions.
In the words of the author “I imagined a highly evolved, non literate and orally based culture in 850 BCE, utterly unlike its ‘literate’ Western (i.e.) Persian, Assyrian, Greek etc.) contemporaries. I followed some ground rules. Nothing fantastic – no gods, goddesses or demons,; no magic, no magical weapons, no miraculous conceptions, no karmic explanations. Situating the Great War in 2000 BCE limited the technologies available – for instance, no nuclear weapons but more to the point, no horses or iron or million man armies. Iron was scarce or unknown; armies were small, horse drawn war chariots would not exist for another 200 years. Transportation was by carts drawn by oxen or onagers (the “Asian wild ass”). The people were not all that different from us – they loved, they hated, they were kind, they got angry, they acted without thinking, they plotted, they lied, they demanded the truth etc. Not better than us and not worse either. They were just like us. The result is this novel.”
The Last Kaurava is a work of fiction which is the imagined version of Mahabharata. Involving the characters of the great epic, the author has tried to create his own version of Mahabharata, where the stories and events follow the imagination of the author. It took me a while to get into the concept and thus into the storyline as this version is quite different from the original one; but once the flow was taken, I started enjoying the story.
The characters are same as that of the Mahabharata, but the incidents are very much different from the original. However, it follows a very strong and crisp storyline which is highly engaging. The characterisation is also very good.
The research being done before recreating the epic is impeccable and the narration style is very good and highly descriptive which adds to the beauty of the novel.
Overall a captivating and enjoyable read. Those who love mythological fiction will enjoy the novel and they must give it a shot.
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Source :- http://mybookshelf.in/book-reviews/the-last-kaurava-by-kamesh-ramakrishna-book-review/