Saraswati's Intelligence: Book 1 of the Kishkindha Chronicles, by Vamsee Juluri
When you first hear about the book and have a peek at the cover page, you’ll know that it’s a book about Hanuman, judging by the picture of a brave monkey. A story on Hanuman must mean the retelling of the whole Ramayana with Hanuman as Rama’s faithful devotee. But, no. This book is different. The excellent book written by Vamsee Juluri is the first book in the trilogy of Hanuman’s life, that he has been writing. Being different and rare from other books about Lord Hanuman’s life, it talks about the whole stretch of time before devoted Hanuman met Lord Rama. It describes the culture of the Kishkindhans, which many books, as far as I’ve read, have failed to do so. Let me start with a short summary of the story, for you to get a general idea.
Hanuman looked in disbelief as he saw Sugreeva miss the ledge of the cliff by an inch, and fall to the rocky ground. This was very rare with Sugreeva. Sugreeva could always leap across such ravines with much ease. Hanuman had failed to jump across the ravine due to an unusual sense of fear that had gripped him only recently. Hanuman was born to gentle Anjana and the valiant Kesari, while his cousins Vali and Sugreeva were born to his father’s sister, Riksharaja. They were fast friends and were having a race with a few other Kishkindhan lads, when Sugreeva fell. Vali had landed safely, but not Sugreeva. Parama dharma apchara! Were the words uttered as blood started oozing out of Sugreeva’s wounds. You must be wondering what Parama dharma apchara was. It was the violation of the prime duty. The people in Hanuman’s time believed in Ma Saraswati. She was the one who poured blood into their body when they were born. A single drop of blood was made of the sunlight of one hundred and eight leaves which made it so precious. Parama dharma apchara was when you spilt blood. All the other monkeys witnessing the scene moved back, all except Hanuman. He picked Sugreeva up and decided to take him to Vishwamitra, their guru. The rest of the monkeys ran away with Sugreeva’s own cousin Vali in the lead. Vali and the others narrated all of this to Kesari. He lied that Hanuman jumped first when Sugriva had. With a heavy heart, Kesari had to banish his own son and Sugreeva, with Riksharaja pressing him to do so, due to the parama dharma apchara committed by both. Left alone, they continue their journey and bumped into none other than Vishwamitra. A message was sent to Vali, asking for forgiveness. Vali agreed but the sad news is Hanuman’s parents had left Kishkindha. Not wanting to return home without his parents, he decided to follow Vishwamitra in his journey to uncover hidden secrets in the north, followed by Sugreeva who preferred to accompany Hanuman.
What happens after that is the rest of the book.
I enjoyed the book thoroughly, though it was slightly slow in the start. His style of writing is intriguing, as in very interesting, and makes you want to read the other two books in the trilogy. He has his own style of writing which is different from other people’s. He knows how to capture the reader’s attention and not make the book boring inbetween. He beautifully describes the story of Hanuman’s life. Through the whole book, he keeps talking about what is Dharma, Parama Dharma, etc. This way he also teaches us more about Indian culture, through a story.
I liked the way he favored Hanuman and told us about his habits, culture, fears and his qualities. He also sympathized Vali as he was almost a servant for his mother Riksharaja. This was one of my favourite books I’ve read so far. One thing I didn’t like a lot in this book was that towards the end, Vamsee Juluri didn’t tell us the whereabouts of Vali after he went to kill the one horned creature.
My favourite character was Hanuman. I learnt more about Hanuman and the difficulties he had to face before he met Lord Rama. In this, the author describes the time before man as a peaceful time. This tells us that it was man, who destroyed the unity of the world by killing and fighting, with the help of other unpeaceful creatures. Trusting that this book made a good impression on me, I hope the other two books in the trilogy appeal to me the way this one did.
So, friends, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this short review I’ve presented before you. In my opinion, it would do you good if you dashed off to the nearest library and grabbed the book ‘Saraswati’s Intelligence’ and the other two books. Wait for me to review the next book. Till then, Jai Siya Ram! Jai Mata Saraswati!
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© 2017, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.