Prince of Ayodhya

I just finished reading the book ‘Prince of Ayodhya’, the first volume of a series of books which are a modern re-telling of the great Ramayana by Ashok Banker.

The book is simply awesome. I was totally raptured by it and am still in awe of the story. I just had to read the book when I caught sight of it in the library, and needless to say, I’m happy I chanced upon it.

For those who don’t know, the original Ramayana was written three thousand years ago by Sage Valmiki. The story revolves around the noble Prince Rama of the kingdom of Ayodhya (and his family) and Ravana, the evil demon and Dark Lord of Lanka. It is a proverbial fight of good versus evil but will a 16-year old prince be able to face and fight the wrath of the 7-headed evil lord who has gained many boons from the gods with his austere prayers, including immortality? Well, you will have to read the book to find out!

I have seen many circles of friends discuss many books, but I did not get to hear about Indian books and authors that much, but this is one particular book (and series) that I am surely going to be raving about. I am glad to know a bit more of Indian mythology and our own history and culture.

I give the book a 9/10. The 1 point is down simply because its a 7-book series and the last 3 volumes are not published yet! What I really like about the book is the way the characters are etched and described. They seem so ‘human’.

Also, more good news – I read on his website that Ashok Banker has already started to work on the other great Indian epic – the longest epic ever written, the Mahabharata.

What I would really like to see as well is a real inspiring movie on the Ramayana as well, something with the vision and inspiration and fascination that Peter Jackson brought alive in the ‘Lord of the Rings’. Is that a bit too much to expect? I don’t know. I think we’re better off not having a movie at all rather than someone try to make it and make a total mockery out of it. Well, that’s the pessimist in me speaking; even then, until such a thing happens (and I doubt it ever will), the excellent books by Banker are here and I’m enjoying every moment of it.

Update : OH MY GOD! … Notice the time I published this post – a good half an hour after midnight. Today morning, mom called me for breakfast. I am not in the habit of reading the newspaper (too much negative news, too few positive developments) but since I didn’t have a book to read (remember, I just finished reading one), I picked up the newspaper to read. I see Bangalore Times and notice the top story – Dramayana 2005:

New Age guru Deepak Chopra and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, along with Chopra’s son Gotham and Sharad Devarajan of the Gotham Entertainment group, have created a global development company. Gotham Studios, which will churn out a number of comic book projects, the first being Kapur and Chopra’s interpretation of the Ramayana.

Devarajan says the Ramayana project will be Asia’s Lord Of The Rings. "We also envision turning it into a landmark major movie".

Read the full article with sneak peek sketches.

I am still recovering from the shock of the coincidence. Here, I thought a Ramayana movie like LOTR and Matrix would be so good. Here, Shekhar Kapur and gang have big plans for the same! :shock:

I am praying and hoping that he makes a good movie. He better not muck it up.

Update : Just got ‘Siege of Mithila’ (Book Two of the Ramayana) from the library :D

18 thoughts on “Prince of Ayodhya

  1. Have you read RK Narayan’s Mahabharath ? It’s short , but complete. I will put it up on the book exchange list, you can send a borrow request ;)

  2. know wht, i hav always wanted a mahabharata ala LOTR, i mean WE r the ones who came out with such original concepts in our epics… but u r right, bollywood wud make a hash of it. there is a indo-japan collaborative animated version of ramayana which is ok (too childish)….
    but i think the problem bigger than visualisation is tht of controversy…groups in india r always ready to fight over anything related to religion and portraying ramayana is sure courting trouble…

  3. Suman, I agree with you on all counts. I am sure there will be at least one political party (we all know which) ready to create a ruckus over it.

  4. Viju: Yeah, I had read in the Times (quite a while ago) that Banker was paid some 10 crore (I don’t remember exact amount) in advance for the distribution rights in UK… :roll:

    Its Eloor Library near Safina Plaza and near Commercial Street. Buzz me if you want me to take you there sometime.

  5. Swaroop your note about ‘Prince of Ayodhya’ is inspiring and convincing. I visited book shop saturday, read it a bit – but did not purchase (there is no good library in Lucknow). I decided that should read the original Ramayan first. I don’t want to imprint my blank/clean mind with the retold version first.

    You should read ‘Professor seeks return to Indian ethos’ in Sunday Times of India, dated 2005-02-20 Sunday. It is painful that Indian culture is being dominated and eliminated by Western culture.

  6. Vikram: What language is the ‘original’ Ramayana written in? I am comfortable with Hindi but not comfortable enough to read a whole book in it.

  7. Well, I guess I got too idealistic.
    Anyway, ‘The Original Ramayan’ is of course in Sanskrit. I am myself looking around for a good version that translates in Hindi or English as nearly as possible.

    Meanwhile first complete public domain translation of the RÁMÁYAN OF VÁLMÍKI is available at

  8. My take on Ashok Banker’s work is that it is cool as a fanatasy book. I have liked it immensely but as a story on its own right. A faithful rendition of the Ramayana- I don’t know, too Bollywoodesque for me!!! I had read these books last year in the UK. [Interesting tidbit: I used the Prince of Rama book as a placeholder for a picture of Ramji for my diwali puja in UK:)]As for the Mahabharata it seems Kamala Subramaniam’s book is cool.

    link to a post on the Mahabharata: Title_TBD

  9. BrijWhiz: I agree that the story is ‘novelized’ but it’s the best way for today’s readers to read the great Ramayana. I will try to look for that Mahabharata book. Thanks :)

  10. Swaroop ..the Indian edition came out recently..I glanced it at a Mumbai shop..its in my must buy list. The excerpt is good.

  11. I just watched the japanese-animated version of Ramayana, and found it very nice. I grabbed it off the website. The hindi dialogue is fine, but the english dialogue track is awful and wooden. There was however a separate US-released version called ‘Prince of Light’ which has a much better english soundtrack, with better voice-acting, sound fx, and musical numbers that give it a Disney-esque feel. Check out the preview trailer at:

    I rather enjoyed this animated movie. There’s also a new Indian-animated movie called ‘Hanuman’ that’s just come out in May/June. It was produced by Sahara One in collaboration with Silvertoons. This is the first ever full-length animation feature produced in India, so cross your fingers and hope the art is good. The posters for it look fantastic, anyway. Indian animators probably cost less than their japanese counterparts, but hopefully their artwork is comparably good. Keep an eye out for it, since it’s just being released in India now.

  12. If you want to read Mahabharata
    Krisnavathara by KM Munshi. You would get a glimpse of the history from a rational thought of Munshi. This is in seven volumes although the seventh one was not fully written by Munshi. Happy reading for Healthy feeling.

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