The Gurukul Chronicles – Radhika Meganathan.
Mahabharat is one of the most loved epic (by me for sure) and if someone asked me about who are my three favorite from the epic, the answer will always be Karn, Bhishm Pitamah and Krishna exactly in that order but my mind is always curious to read or know more about two more underrated characters of all times. One was Eklavya and the other was Ashwathama. If my granny were to be believed and also as per the epic he was Immortal, he was last scene some 30 kms from Kathmandu (her village) around the 1940’s when while digging an icy hill some people found a ten feet tall guy inside a cave with a broad vertically split forehead as if he had some sort of a third eye. The moment they woke him up, the first question he asked was “Is Mahabharat War over?” (in Sanskrit) and then no one saw him ever again. Now how interesting is that 🙂 but unfortunately I never get to read anything neither on Eklavya nor on Ashwathama till I landed this amazing book giving the two guys what’s been long over due to them. I guess I was destined to read this book as I got a copy from the Author herself long ago and unfortunately it got lost inside my Kindle (A black-hole of sorts as of now). Last weekend I had to travel to Mumbai on an urgent call and return by evening, as I was reading a thick paperback that I couldn’t take along, this was my filler read and I am glad I read it. Now, Imagine all these three guys together in a story, what if they were friends? or what if they came to each others rescue, even in fiction it was a too good story to tell and Radhika has done a tremendous job with the same.
When we talk about Mythological Fiction, I must have read a dozen odd books, loved some, hated some but I was mesmerized by the character of Karn, totally loved him in quite a few books. Now this one does the same, although he is a little arrogant in this one but thats alright. Its OK to have some attitude (not when Parshuram is in front of you) but you see its Fiction so lets give it a benefit of doubt, the guy is always struggling for his past and has no future as well. Coming to Eklavya, no one has ever given his story any due and we hardly know anything about his birth, family, clan or what happens to him while the Mahabharat is happening and whats his end? This one was terrific and so was the story of Ashwathama, who never got his due. Yes, he does gets a mention here and a little credit there but never a full fledged story on him ever, this was certainly the best of the stories among the three as per me. What soared my interest was whether these three ever meet in person? and what if they did, that made me sit back and read it back to back without a break. The way story keeps changing the versions was simply awesome, it does takes a little time to realize whose version it is but is done very smartly and totally convincing. A breeze of a book, as I got a Kindle version so not sure about its length but I was able to finish it in two sittings of 3 hours and a little more each.
I just saw its terrific cover to post my review with three heroes on top :), Unfortunately the Kindle copy doesn’t even have that :(. If you have read this, do let me know how you like it but if you haven’t and you admire any of those characters, you better not miss it. Give it a shot and you will be surprised by the twist and turn of the story(s). I will recommend it big time.