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Mythological Sagas


Arshia Sattar

LORD OF MATHURA
By Ashok K. Banker
Harper Collins Publishers, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 283, Rs. 250.00

RAGE OF JARASANDHA
By Ashok K. Banker
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 301, Rs. 250.00

SONS OF SITA
By Ashok K. Banker
Wisdom Tree, Delhi, 2012, pp. 362, Rs. 345.00

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 5 May 2013

Ashok Banker continues to churn out his multi-volume mythological sagas with an entirely super-human energy and dedication. Reviewed here are Sons of Sita, which stands at the end of the Ramayana cycle and Lord of Mathura and Rage of Jarasandha from his Krishna series, each one years in the making. Banker is not coy about how long it takes to put these books together, in fact, he seems proud of the time and the effort, as he should be. The writing of them actually seems like the quickest and easiest part. It’s the reading and researching and talking and learning that precedes them that deserves a special mention.   Smack in the middle of the Krishna series (called ‘Krishna Coriolis’ for reasons that I have not been able to understand, despite several trusty Google searches), are the volumes Lord of Mathura and Rage of Jarasandha and as the titles indicate, they concern Lord Krishna’s early youth and his move from Vrindavan to the city of Mathura. In these volumes, Krishna is clearly divine, and that becomes slowly manifest to those around him in the course of his extraordinary feats of strength and courage.   Banker writes easily and smoothly, with enormous commitment to his characters and to his stories. Krishna is playful and mischievous but also entirely focused on the enemies that he must kill, Balarama is his constant and somewhat stolid companion and mind-sharing brother, Radha is a vibrant and volatile young girl, Krishna’s opponents are gargantuan in size and in their villainy. However, the early chapters of Lord of Mathura are somewhat monotonous, each one consisting primarily of an encounter with an asura, each asura being more ferocious and invincible than the one before. Of course, these are mere tests along the way to the confrontation with Kamsa, the Child-Killer, which forms the heart and the climax of this volume. It must be said, however, that Banker’s imagination soars higher and further with each of Krishna’s opponents—the battle with the serpent Kaliya is quite astounding, not only in its description of the monster but also in terms of what the encounter does to Krishna.   The problem has never been with Banker’s imagination and by and large, I really enjoy the way he opens up and develops these epic characters, giving them dimensions and nuances that simultaneously make them like us as well as ...


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