As I mentioned in a few earlier posts, I am a big fan of Ashok Banker. It’s pretty hard for me to call an author as favorite but he would be nearest after Agatha Christie (she always gets me back to reading).
After I finished the Ramayana Series I wanted to start his new series Krishna Coriolis and before I was finished with the last book of Ramayana Series i.e. Vengeance of Ravana I already have bought 3 books of Krishna Coriolis.
So as I finished the book for previous week Malgudi days I was struggling with which book to pick, I have a few sitting in my box but nothing was appealing to me for the weekend. And suddenly I thought why not start the Krishna Coriolis series and after a few minutes of deliberations I said to myself why not?
And so I started with the first book of Krishna Coriolis ‘Slayer of Kamsa’. Slayer of Kamsa is also from the mythological genre like the Ramayana Series. Now we all know about the story of Krishna throughout India and surprisingly I have observed beyond India also if there is one god who is popular or people know more about from India is Krishna, may be its because of ISKCON or other cults built around Krishna, propagating the teachings of Krishna, which has made Krishna an international god. Or may be because Krishna is depicted as a god who has all the qualities of a normal young one and teenager that appeals to everyone. For instance his antics while he was growing up, stealing milk, butter and other things and his flirtatious nature as a teenager where he was considered to be a Casanova (if I may).
Whatever it is people love Krishna as a god everywhere and before even I picked up the book I was sure Banker would bring some freshness to the tales of Krishna. Sadly enough I haven’t seen much coverage of his Krishna Coriolis series as compared to the Ramayana or the current Mahabharata.
So I picked up the book on Saturday and poured into it and by Sunday I was done (that’s how beautiful Banker’s books are).
Slayer of Kamsa starts with the tale of King Vasudeva and Ugrasena, kings of Arya nations and more specifically Mathura. The book tells the story about Vasudeva, the Yadava nation and about Kamsa. Now we all know the story of how Krishna defeats (and ultimately kills ) Kamsa and that Kamsa was a cruel king but few of us know much about Kamsa (as to who he was and why was he cruel king), it was good to read Banker’s version of it and he gives you more details about it (not necessarily in tune with puranas and upanishads).
The story is well written and does go on the lines of what you know (if you already know the story through some source) but Kamsa being an amsa (avatar) of Kala Nemi this link up was good (if you have read the Ramayana Series you would know about the rakshasa Kala Nemi). The good thing is when you start Krishna Coriolis it sort of connects after Ramayana, it begins from where it lefts in the Ramayana and in addition even if you have not read Ramayana Series it will still make complete sense. That’s how brilliant the writing is.
The story goes on by describing Kamsa, his atrocities, his increasing power, his collaboration with king of Magadha, Jarasandha and he hitting back at Vasudeva and Mathura to become the ‘eternal king’ of Mathura and how due to prophecy (by Narada) about his Slayer being born through Vasudeva and Devaki he starts killing every child of the couple.
The book ends with the birth of KRISHNA, the avatar of VISHNU.
As in the case of Vengeance of Ravana my slight disappointment was with the description of ‘THE GOD’, I understand that Krishna is god and will have to be portrayed like that but would have liked to see it done more subtly, as in the case of his birth it could have been little less dramatic then having a child conceive by concentrating through the mind and giving a more solid reason as to why Kamsa kept Vasudeva and Devaki alive while he killed most others and while he hated Vasudeva the most.
But then there could be some minor points that can be improved and as I am an avid reader of Banker’s works so I will have much more expectations from him. But its no denying that the book is a very nice read, its so different from Ramayana Series but not at all different from it.
Kudos to Banker to continue his work on Indian Mythology. Looking forward to other books of the Series.
PS: It has got a beautiful cover too. The full cover looks like below