• Asura Tale of The Vanquished

  • The Story of Ravana And His People
  • By: Anand Neelakantan
  • Narrated by: Sanket Mhatre
  • Length: 21 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-06-15
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: READO
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (49 ratings)

Regular price: $6.96

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Publisher's Summary

In this best-seller, Neelakantan tries to break the age old tradition where history is always narrated by the victors.

Asura: Tale of the Vanquished dares to narrate the tale of the Asura people. Blending mythology, religion, and history, the audiobook narrates the tale from Ravana and Bhadra's perspective.

The book talks about how the Asura community is more liberal than the orthodox Deva clan, which was highly biased. It also attacks the evil practices of the Brahmin caste.

From the tale of Mahabali, Vamana, and Sita's Agni-Pareeksha, to Jatayu's meeting with Ravana, the author reveals the many human emotions behind these stories and logically presents a new perspective for the listeners.

How wrong was Ravana to challenge the mighty gods for his daughter's sake? Was he evil for deciding to lead life in his own terms? Was he wrong for freeing the people from the caste-cased Deva reign? The author takes the listeners on an enthralling journey and poses many such complex questions. Bhadra is a creative character who gives voice to the common man, who is lost amidst the villains and heroes.

The author has been appreciated for his eye for detail, which gives life to his work. The right blend of good language and interesting twists keeps the audiobook engaging.

©2012 Anand Neelakantan (P)2015 READO

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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a seasoned book ..

very remarkable. truly inspiring. narration is very good ..well done.
the book of a lifetime.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Needs a rewrite

The idea of the Ramayana from the putative villain's point of view was fascinating, and all the reviews were effusive. I feel misled.

This book 'reads' like a fairly competent first draft. It needs editing or a full rewrite. Characters fly into high temper without proportionate provocation. They beat their chests and announce how they feel rather than demonstrate their emotions. Poorly-chosen words spoil effects. There are climaxes with no buildup, changes of heart out of nowhere. Listening rapidly became a chore.

Having Ravana champion a system based on merit while disparaging the emerging caste divisions seemed like an excellent revisionist device. The discussion of the 'heads' of Ravana was a fine answer to the problem of making the demon king an ordinary man. The idea of calling ancient foes asuras fits well with the theme of demonizing one's enemies. But the novel is a shapeless and unsatisfying mess.

It may be suggested that, as an American, I lack the cultural grounding necessary to appreciate this book. But a work of art must succeed or fail on its own merit. If I have to know Henry James's biography to understand 'The Turn of the Screw,' the book has failed.

Contrast 'Asura' with Robert Graves's 'I, Claudius,' for instance. One can read 'I Claudius' with pleasure and understanding without knowing about ancient Rome.

I regret that 'Asura' is a great might-have-been, and that's too bad. I was looking forward to listening to it. I will avoid this author in future.

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a wake up call

Everyone sees Ram as a hero that could do nothing wrong and Ravan as the villian whose every action was wrong.... but this story tells a tale that shows there good and evil in everyone..... ones tales of victory is just another man's suffering.... i truly enjoyed the experience

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Wow!

I loved the story telling.. this book is a life changer to me it shouts to me that everything is about perspectives and it all depends where you are seeing it from.. so you be your own decision maker..

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  • Yogi
  • Sunnyvale
  • 12-01-17

Wonderfully written

Wonderfully scripted and each character has been carefully given right dialogue. Appreciate the effort taken.

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One the best stories ever!

Anand is a phenomenal writer and perhaps one of the most captivating writers I have ever read.
The phrases, prose, plots have been woven beautifully with not a moment of drag. Simpler explanations than those mentioned in the Ramayana of how the events might have actually transpired are just fabulously drawn and sound believable. He should write more. He is way ahead of Amish Tripathi in his command on language.

Sanket, the narrator, is incredibly talented. I had never expected it honestly but if the novel sounded good to the ears it was due to the amazing characterisation by Sanket. If there is any award for Narrators then Sanket has earned it without doubt. Initially I was amused with dramatics but later it became an integral part of this experience. Mind blowing performance and deep understanding of characters. Keep it up!

The story is timeless and well known but this novel uses the other part of the story i.e. Of the defeated and it does it convincingly well. Let me warn you that the novel can be extremely disturbing if you cannot suspend your faith and belief and let the writer have a chance to say his part. The characterisation is beautiful and mesmerising and very deeply developed rather than the simple ideas we have of these timeless heroes.
You will hate, loathe, ridicule, laugh and cry for Ravana and Bhadra. You might question the divinity of many established heroes once you start calling a spade a spade. The parallels with our current society has been injected in the book and the Aryan Invasion Theory along with the British Raj and the Modern Western Liberalism has been used to provide the political undertones to the novel. Casteism has been rightly denounced but a lot of Brahman blaming is there too. Atheistic movements of the past have been covered too and a denouncement of elitist capitalism and a yearning for true freedom is the primary theme. One cannot help but feel that the writer wanted to show the Western countries particularly USA like the modern Asura empire with emphasis on individual liberty but a crumbling empire against a ruthless but disciplined and rigid rag tag bunch of warriors.

As Bhadra said, "I wanted to go away from this world of Ramas and Ravanas". Perhaps the natural dharma is the best way.

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Sanket has literally given life to all characters

Anand has written a wonderful book and sanket have life to all the characters. Awesome will be an understatement for this book. It was an out-of-the-world experience listening to this book.

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Enlightening, Entertaining and Exeptional

There is much of history in this story; social, religious and cultural questions answered. Above all the two voices, from different castes, are engaging and kept me listening. The narration is as superlative as the story. Well worth reading on several levels.

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Astounding audio performance

Any additional comments?

This is one of the best audio performances I have ever heard (and I listen to a lot of audiobooks!). I'm not sure how this book would strike someone who is not familiar with the traditional character of Ravana from the Indian epic Ramayana, but if you are familiar with the traditional Ravana, this re-telling of his story will really surprise you. The writing is excellent, and the reader is brilliant. HIGHLY recommended.

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The author made sure you knew the characters!

Where does Asura Tale of The Vanquished rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's the best I have heard so far.

What other book might you compare Asura Tale of The Vanquished to and why?

I think in the series you might be interested in Similar books from Amish Tripathy and Neelakanthan himself

Have you listened to any of Sanket Mhatre’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not yet, but this was stellar

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

I believe every book (esp. a narrative) has success in absorbing the reader / listener it its story line and making you relate to the characters. Anand seems to know his characters very well and has been able to bring out every aspect of the lead ones ... if you thought characterization was important, this book will make you feel it is indispensable. The way Ravana, Bhadra or even Prahasta, Rama, Kuber, Varuna's characters have been established and analyzed is an ode to great writing. Am looking forward to more Anand Neelakanthan books on audible...

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  • Hugh Ekeberg
  • 06-30-16

Great commentary on human nature.

I love that the story is from the point of view of Ravana and a simple though street wise peasant.

I think if Rama had been truly wise, he would've demanded from the Brahmins that they prove their purity first, before subjecting Sita to the trial by fire.