Title: I, Rama … Age of Seers

Author: Ravi Venu

Publisher: Cratus Media

Price: Rs 225

When I first read the excerpt of the book, it sounded so much like another Immortals of Meluha (of Shiva Trilogy fame) ‘wannabe’. So much so that I decided to give it a try. This is how it goes – “There will be a time when men will fight among themselves in the name of God, when peace will fail; at that time part of me will re-emerge.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? In fact, my first thought was it would be something about Rama reincarnating in the present age.

The story starts with an event in Lanka. Then there is the Author’s Prologue, stating the most unbelievable and fantastic facts about religion, seers (or sages), Gods and even the earth. According to the author, the Sages and Demons are all beings from other planets who decided to settle down in Earth during an Age when man himself was not around. And these sages helped man to evolve and become kings and queens and what-nots. The seers seemed to have total control over everything – meaning they were equal to Gods. And the demons followed the seers to Earth but couldn’t destroy them because they had integrated themselves among earthlings. Sheeeesh! So much for the demons a.k.a. asuras. And both beings travelled light years across galaxies just to reach our measly Earth!

And as for the so-called Gods – they have been depicted as Kings of Constellations. For instance, Shiva is the ‘ruling celestial of the Shiva constellation.’ And human kings need the help of these celestial kings to solve their problems. Shiva uses energy spikes to get the Ganges to flow. I guess you already have an idea of what is to follow in the rest of the book.

In the tale, Rama reminisces his yesteryears to his kids who are about to be crowned as Kings of Ayodhya. The flowery language used in the book makes me gag and want to throw up on the book. Listen to this – ‘I see the river Sarayu. She seems to be wearing a Golden fleece woven from the rays of the evening sun, like a beautiful celestial dancer descended from the heavens….. ‘. Need I go on??? I felt like I was reading a literal translation of the book from an Indian language, and not an English novel. The language used is so unnatural for English, that it grates on your nerves trying to make sense out of it.

There are also various inconsistencies in the story. As far as I know, the Hindu caste system was based on the Manusmriti, and Manu was supposed to be the first King and author of the text. However, in this tale, Sage Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya King even before the time of Manu. What on earth is that supposed to mean if Manu was the one who founded the various castes??

A refreshing aspect of the book is its depiction of Kaikeyi, Rama’s step-mother. In almost all stories I have heard, she is portrayed as the evil one who sent Rama on his 14 year exile. However, here Kaikeyi is pictured as a strong warrior queen who had the foresight to identify Rama as an important person with a special mission in life, and each of her actions are depicted as a way to make that happen.

Another plus point for the book is the number of unheard stories related to the origin and fall of the Sages, and their relation to Rama’s story. Finally the tale ends with Rama, Lakshmana and Sita setting forth on their exile, FINALLY!!

As if the picturesque language and the utterly fantastic stories of sages travelling through space and time weren’t enough, the author seems to love using loooooong words to get a simple point across. Here is an example – “The concentration of my atonement was so intense that the vibrations started to disturb the astral planes…..As my mind woke up to earthly need, I remembered the last humiliation, which was the very purpose of my sacrament.”.  Can you imagine reading something like that and not bursting out laughing? The author seems to be in love with the word ‘celestial’ and throws it about the book carelessly. Every page has the word occurring atleast once, if not more. And the similes used are just out of the world! Here is one – “Her face was full of artful shyness like a stream gently caressing a rock in a flood.” Since when has a flood been gentle, and how can a girl’s shyness be like caressing a  rock? If anyone can make sense out of that sentence, I’d definitely love to hear it.

To me, the book read like a cross between Doctor Who and Repairman Jack, with the stories being neither here nor there. I love both, but this book was just… – well, words fail me.

So far, Rama has just been listening to stories and learning stuff. I dread to think of what is coming up in the proposed two sequels – when Rama actually begins practising all that he has learnt. I bet we will be subjected to a blow-by-blow account of how the arrow traverses across the seas and forests, the number of sparks it emits and so on – just like it is shown on the TV series Ramayana – where they show the path traced by an arrow till it finds its mark. And all in free-flowing, flowery language. I imagine it will go something like this – “Rama retrieved an arrow out of his hay quiver, uttered a few hymns to empower it with special celestial powers guaranteed to humiliate and destroy the perpetrator, and launched it from his bow. The arrow glowed with a  blue light and took on power from the celestial hymns uttered by Rama’s lips and enlightened the entire sea with its glow…..” You get the picture right 🙂 ?

I certainly hope the author won’t subject the readers to any more atrocious writing of this sort in the sequels.

Immortality has a price – the tagline of the book – but reading this was one price I didn’t want to pay.

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