Book review: Blue Vanquisher by Manoshi Sinha Rawal
Blue Vanquisher by Manoshi Sinha Rawal is available for purchase from Amazon.
“What is right can never be wrong.” – Krishn’s dialogue from The Blue Vanquisher
Perhaps because of Krishn’s divinity, his world is the world of the triumph of good over evil, of poetic justice. Manoshi Sinha Rawal’s latest novel, Blue Vanquisher(2017), is the second part of her Krishn trilogy. The author narrates the events in Krishn’s life, from his fourteenth year till he is in his eighties. Various stories related to Krishn are narrated in different chapters, including the important tale of the Mahabharata and Krishn’s involvement with the happenings at Hastinapur.
The various threads of the plot are beautifully woven together, and the author leaves no loose ends. For instance, we learn about Satrajit, the Syamantaka jewel and Satrajit’s daughter Satyabhama whose marriage proposal is brought to Krishn. Later in the story, we learn that Satyabhama is the reincarnation of Bhumi Devi whose mission in life is to kill her son from her previous birth, Narakasur.
The novel goes off to a riveting start at the court of Mathura (on the verge of a war with Jarasandh) and keeps the reader hooked from start to finish. There are many thrilling incidents and descriptions in the book. Krishn himself is shown, not only as a great warrior, but also as a master strategist and politician. Rather than subject the people of Mathura to all the havoc wrecked by an impending war with Jarasandh, he shifts his kingdom to Dwarka. He is also shown to be cool-headed and calculating – when Banasur sends a threatening message to Dwarka, an enraged Balaram wants to wage a war against him. However, Krishn keeps the main goal in mind – the marriage of his grandson Aniruddh with Banasur’s daughter Usha – rather than get carried away by anger. Krishn is also diplomatic in his behaviour. When brought the marriage proposal of Satyabhama, he gently refuses by comparing her to his sister, Subhadra. Then again, we see his diplomacy in the incident before the Kurukshetra war when he agrees to help both Arjun and Duryodhan, by offering himself to the former and his powerful Narayani soldiers to the latter. The deity’s softer side is shown in his relations with Rukmini, and his strong friendships with Arjun and Sudama. Especially with Sudama, he shows generosity beyond any measure.
Blue Vanquisher is replete with lively dialogues. In the very first chapter, the reader can clearly visualize the scene at the court with important courtiers giving their opinions. One gets the sense of drama and feels himself to be present there. Another amusing and interesting dialogue takes place between Udhav and the residents of Vrindavan. Udhav talks like a philosopher, using logic and rationality to explain why Krishn cannot stay in Vrindavan. On the other hand, the gopis express their love for Krishn from the depths of their hearts, and wonder about Udhav’s philosophical discourse.
The action in the novel continuously moves forward, with detailed descriptions. Battles are sketched in great detail, so that we come to know exactly that the title of the novel is justified. Krishn is indeed a vanquisher, in more ways than one. Some of the evil ones are killed by his own hands. The others are killed according to his plotting and machinations. For instance, it is he who gives Bheem the incentive to indulge in wrestling with Jarasandh. When Bheem is unable to defeat Jarasandh after several days of wrestling, Krishn asks him to give him a glance while wrestling, and then teaches Bheem the exact way to kill Jarasandh using a leaf. When Bheem fails the first time, Krishn does not give up, but demonstrates the required action with a stick. Again, it is he who facilitates the death of Narakasur by asking Satyabhama for help, and telling her about her previous birth, for the demon had a boon that he could be killed only by his mother.
The best part of the novel Blue Vanquisher, in my opinion, is the language, especially when the author indulges in poetic descriptions of places like Dwarka and the Mayasabha. Some of the descriptive moments are like looking at a sweeping landscape from a vantage point. We are simply unable to tear ourselves away as Krishn battles Sishupal’s friends or Arjun burns the forest of Khandav. Such moments are the actual master-strokes in the plot and carry the reader away on tides of beauty and suspense.
Another aspect of the novel that I especially liked is that we encounter strong, confident and powerful women figures in the novel. Rukmini rejects proposals of many princes because she is in love with Krishn. When her brother Rukmi fixes her marriage with Sishupal, it she who initiates the action and writes to Krishn to bear her away. Two generations down, Chitralekha kidnaps Krishn’s grandson, Aniruddh, for her friend, princess Usha, the daughter of Banasur. Satyabhama is shown to be a warrior who defeats and kills the arrogant Narakasur.
Other than women characters, the minor characters in the novel are also memorable. We cannot forget the faithful courtier Akrur, the wise Vidur, weak Dhritarashtra and arrogant Duryodhan, among others. Krishn, of course, is a towering figure and other characters are dwarfed by his presence.
In Greek mythology, humans are helpless before their mighty gods. However, in Indian mythology, humans can both please the gods through tapasya, or even defeat some of them in warfare, as Arjun defeats Indra during the burning of the Khandav forest. Krishn is the all-powerful divinity who has taken birth in the mortal form. His allies, including the Pandavs, owe their repeated glories and victories to him.
The book ends just before the Kurukshetra war. Had the story not been well-known, one would have thought that it ended as a cliff-hanger. Blue Vanquisher is a must-read for all who wish to update their knowledge of Indian puranic history, and for those who are interested in Indian culture and the forces that shape it. One looks forward to the third part, where all the pieces are expected to fall in place.