Saraswati'S Intelligence: Book 1 of the Kishkindha Chronicles
By Vamsee Juluri
Published by Westland - 2016
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Before the dawn of man, there was Hanuman.
Ancient Kishkindha, the land of Hanuman and his people, is in mortal danger.
The era of peace marked by the parama dharma, a rigorous code that forbids the spilling of blood, seems about to end. A new and deadly race of beings that destroy and devour anything that lives is gathering outside Kishkindha’s northern frontiers and invasion is imminent.
Hanuman, meanwhile, has been exiled by the intrigues of his aunt, the empress Riksharaja, in order to make way for Vali.
Only his cousin Sugreeva and wise guru Vishwamitra can help Hanuman as his destiny takes him onward to face himself and a world no one in Kishkindha has known about until now.
‘The Kishkindha Chronicles’ re-imagines the ancient prehistory of India from a startlingly new perspective that will make us rethink what it means to be human and animal. Saraswati’s Intelligence is the first book in the trilogy.
Saraswati’s Intelligence: A Rediscovery Of India’s Fabled Past
By Ramesh N Rao
Swarajya - 2017
In these times of conflict, confusion, and an abundance of distraction, Saraswati’s Intelligence is an antidote to surfeit and to jaded reality.
It is a contemplation on Parama Dharma.
Saraswati's Intelligence: Book 1 of the Kishkindha Chronicles, by Vamsee Juluri. Published by Westland, December 2016.
I was in second grade when I saw the then newly-released Kannada movie, Sree Ramaanjaneya Yuddha, in Tumkur, in 1963. One scene from the movie is still imprinted in my mind’s eye: Anjaneya baring his heart to show Rama that he, Rama, is always in his (Hanuman’s) heart. As a seven-year-old, some of the melodramatic moments were too difficult to comprehend, and I believe, my brothers and my sisters, along with my mother, were crying into their handkerchiefs as we watched the movie.
My mother is a talented storyteller, and she would sit us down, all five of us, and tell us tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as well as the retelling of them in the works of such authors as Devudu Narasimha Shastri. She would keep us mesmerised as she wove the kind of details from the epics only people from her generation seemed to so easily recall. And never, ever, were the gods “Monkey God”, or “Lion God” or “Elephant God”. Those diminutions and reductions came much later, in newspaper articles and Western books, crude and cringe-worthy for those of us who knew and revered the beloved Hanumantha/Anjaneya, Ganesha/Ganapathi, the feared Narasimha in his ugraavatara, and prayed to his benevolent appearance as Lakshmi-Narasimha.
Not knowing then anything about “magic realism”, we, my siblings and I, were transported gloriously into worlds that were indeed magical and mystical. We believed deeply in the reality and the glory of the gods till adolescence and a new world unmoored us and took us into the worlds created by Western authors, Nehruvian socialism, and science, and newspaper-spun “reality”. And, till recently, there were few attempts to recreate and rediscover the worlds of the gods, and of the sages, kings and rulers of yore, who believed and worshipped the gods of their times. The world of Indian writing in English was taken over by the sceptical, the clever, the Westernised, and the tellers of the tales of the “ordinary” men and women in their quest for happiness in an unreasonable world. The gods were mocked, caricatured, or simply forgotten. The sages and the kings were reduced to their “material” selves by Marxist historians and angry feminists, who believed that while the new “magic realism” should be celebrated and copied in their own work, the old was just junk to be discarded into the dustbin of Hindu “make-believe”.
Then change began to happen about a decade ago as more Indians travelled abroad, more discovered their own talent in writing, and more began to open and read the books that their parents and grandparents had stored away in the attic. The curious, new Hindu began to connect with those others with similar tastes and talents in the age of emails, discussion lists, and the newer age of social media. And thus we have now begun to see books appear on bestseller lists like Amish Tripathi’s The Immortals of Meluha, the Scion of Ikshvaku, etc.; Kavita Kane’s Karna’s Wife; and Ashok Banker’s multi-volume retelling of the Ramayana. Then we began to see newer talent, like Sumedha Verma Ojha, with her gripping tale Urnabhih from the times of Chandragupta Maurya, and Saiswaroopa Iyer’s imaginative recreation of Lord Krishna’s times in Abhaya.