Ajaya: Roll of the Dice by Anand Neelakantan is written on the same line of the book Mrityunjay by Shivaji Sawant which is the autobiography of Karna. While in Mrityunjay, Shivaji has raised voice against caste system through his lead character, Anand with his Ajaya has went one step further with it and all hats off to him for his effort.
The original Mahabharata was a epic fight between Dharma and Adharma or right and wrong . In Anand’s Mahabharata it is the fight between one set of people who are stringent supporters of caste and varna system for their own vested interest to protect their position and rank in society led by Pandavas with the other set of people who are against caste system led by Suyodhana or Duryodhana.
We all know that in original Mahabharata as well, Pandavas were the supporters of caste system and smug of their being Kshatriya with little respect for their lower caste. While Duryodhana was the one who supported Karna and became his best friend irrespective of his caste. Who else then Duryodhana will be the hero of Anand Neelakantan’s Ajaya, a voice for the plight of lower caste.
The author through characters like Eklavya, Karna, Jara, Vidhura, Mayasura, Vasuki has described the plight of the people in the lower caste and untouchables who are denied their basic rights to live a dignified life. A human being is treated worse than animals just because they are born in lower caste.
Eklavya and Karna were denied education by a Brahmin teacher Drona because of their caste in spite of the sparks of great warrior in them. Mayasura was not allowed to enter in the city Indraprastha which was build by him. Vidhura a Sudra by caste was the Prime Minister of Hastinapur but even he was taunted every now and then for it.
The author vents his anger against caste system futility through characters like Suyodhana, Ashwathama, Kripa, Balarama. It is posing in the road of progress of human being. Caste system has a become tool of oppression in the hands of upper class like Brahmins and Kshatriyas against lower class like Sudras and untouchables.
So while the original Mahabharata was all about upper class and their rivalry to gain power, Anand takes his Mahabharata through Ajaya to the grass root level. Ajaya is the story of lower caste people and their fight to survive on the daily basis in a society dominated by Brahmins and Kshatriyas.
The author has done little or great alternation in all the characters of the epic to suit his story except one. Well that character is of Shakuni. He is the same cunning and opportunistic as the original one seeking revenge by wedging misunderstanding between brothers and make them blood thirsty of their kin. Well someone has to take all the responsibility of misdeeds otherwise how Suyodhana will be the hero.
It is a great challenge to rewrite epics like Mahabharata and Anand Neelakantan has done a terrific job. He has maintain a great pace and there is not a single dull moment in the book. There are few books which I read without skipping a single word. Well Ajaya by Anand Neelakantan is one such book.
It may be the story of the Mahabharata with same characters and basic outline is also the same but presented in completely different light. There is a whole new interpretation which is so unpredictable and yet so enthralling the book becomes un-putdownable. What a master piece it is.
After reading books like Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi, Mrityunjay by Shivaji Sawant, Ajaya by Anand Neelakantan, I feel rattled when seeing all these TV serial on Mahadev and after reading Ajaya, I have stopped watching Mahabharata on Star Plus. Do not find it interesting any more. Now I’m more interested in reading the last part of this series, Rise of Kali book 2 which is expected to release by the end of 2014.