Ravana by Abhimanyu Singh Sisodia – Roar of the Demon King
31st October, 2016
The story of Ravana, the demon king, his rise to power as one of the strongest conquerors of the world who dared to challenge even the Gods and ultimately his downfall.
Every story is told from the viewpoint of the supposedly ‘good character’ in the story. This book narrates the tale through Ravana, the villain’s point of view which is a fresh start. I was surprised to know that in the Thailand versions of Ramayana, Ravana is not as evil as he is portrayed in the Indian versions. The novel is a first person account of Ravana’s life from childhood till his deathbed.
In Brief :
Ravana is born from the union of a demon princess and a holy mortal. Being a studious child, he masters every skill at a very young age and meditates for years singing praises of Brahma to ask him for boons. Once powerful, he grows arrogant, conquers Lanka for himself and even challenges the Gods for war. As they say, pride goes before a fall, Ravana’s favourable reign gets shaken up when he kidnaps Sita, wife of the exiled prince of Ayodhya, Lord Ram. This is Ravana’s story, in his own words.
What I Liked :
It was a pleasant surprise that the the illustrator did the skin tones right. I have seen books and animations of Hindu mythologies where some illustrators have whitened the skin tones and that makes it very difficult to picturise the characters as those of Indian origin. Sachin Nagar is a wonderful illustrator. The art is amazing. He is successful in capturing the grandeur of Lanka and the ferociousness of Ravana. Hanuman is often depicted as a comical monkey man. I think this book has one of the best drawings of Hanuman that I have seen (in a non-comical way). Also, the art where Ravana’s ten heads are depicted is amazing as well.
Some facts in the story were new to me. An example is the musical instrument that Ravana makes from his own muscles and veins to sing praises of Shiva. The instrument called Ravanhatha or Ravana Hasta Veena is said to be invented by Ravan and brought to North India from Lanka by Hanuman. It later moved to Europe in the name of ‘Ravanastrom’ and is considered to be the forefather of violin. The book has a page of trivia about the instrument which was a delight to read.
Even though Ravana is celebrated as the villain, there were parts of the story when I felt sorry for him, especially when his most trusted sibling betrays him.
What I Disliked :
The size! The size of the book really put me off – It was too small! Sometimes important incidents that could have used up a page were restricted to a single bubble. I would have loved to have a bigger book where some facts were given detailed explanations. Personally I didn’t think the lettering and the art were compatible, but the magnificence of the art makes up for the tiny complaint of mine.
Final Verdict :
I have not read many books that tell the story of Ravan through his own eyes. Abhimanyu has done a brilliant job of allowing Ravana himself to tell his own story. The stories in the book are reliable too, from my memory of my grandfather’s story telling sessions. I would highly recommend the book if you are interested in Hindu mythology. Also, the art is amazing, so go get it.
Title : Ravana : Roar of the Demon King
Author : Abimanyu Singh Sisodia Illustrator : Sachin Nagar
Publisher : Campfire
Published : 2011
Language : English
Pages : 104
Rating : 4/5
Do you like stories of Hindu mythology? Do you know any other books that tell the story of Ravana?