8 May 2013

Book Review: The Krishna Key

The Krishna Key
The Krishna Key is an anthropological thriller trying to unfold Krishna & his much awaited Avatar, Kalki in the process and a murder mystery that is able to keep you engrossed till the very end with some contrived, forced and preachy dialogues. Right from the first page, you start comparing with Da vinchi code, then with JK Rowling’s, as Taarak Vakil’s name description is unveiled to you and in the end you won’t hesitate to think about Coelho’s writing be it, The Alchemist, Brida or the Zahir.

The Krishna Key: A difficult project to write on

There are innumerable characters in Mahabharata. Each one has been characterized so strongly and judiciously that it leaves a little scope to weave fiction around the particular character. Krishna is undoubtedly the most deserving and interesting, but the most difficult character to frame as the central character. Actor, Aamir Khan once said that his dream project was to direct Mahabharata but he knew his limits. Few yrs. back, I asked one of India’s leading authors that why Indian authors were neglecting their own mythological characters when there was tremendous scope to develop stories based on them. His response: "younger generations are global; they have lost their interest in these characters."

Hats off to Sanghi for bringing such a subject in the form of fiction equally backed up with facts!

Ashwin Sanghi is among the few Indian authors who dare to delve into the Indian history as well as mythology. The novel unfolds in layers – clearly showing author’s research at several layers aimed to examine Krishna’s existence not as mythological but as historical one. The Author has tried hard to equip the novel with archeological evidences in relation to Dwarka, the Taj conspiracy and 108’s theology. To appeal Indian younger generations and global readers, accepting the fact that they have little knowledge of Mahabharata, author decided to divide all the 108 chapters into two parts: The first one comes with an introductory story of Mahabharata while the second deals with a fictional story.

As a part of The Krishna Key project, Ashwin ended up reading 53 books and several research papers and it seems that the author has worked more on facts and less on fiction. Unlike Chanakya’s Chant and Rozabal line, The Krishna Key seems to educate readers more than to entertain. Take this:

“The Rosary represents the ecliptic – the path of the sun and moon across the sky. Yogis divide the ecliptic into twenty-seven equal sections called Naakshatras, and each of these into four equal padas – or steps –marking the 108 steps that the sun and moon take through the skies.”

What truly amazing is the fact that the distance between the earth and the sun is exactly 108 times the sun’s diameter. More incredible is the fact that the distance between earth and moon is 108 times the diameter of the moon. The sun’s diameter is 108 times the diameter of the earth.”


The Plot: Captivating 

Major part of the story has been narrated through the eyes of the protagonist and historian, Saini. The plot involves serial murders to bring four seals of Krishna together. As you read the novel, it seems that together they form a key to the elixir of life or possibly a map to discover the philosopher’s stone. What exactly it is? Unlike many other novels, it starts with a murder, keeping your curiosity high – why was Varshney murdered? Who were behind? Why did they kill the anthologist? What is the meaning of the lines that the murderer leaves after each of the murders?

The puzzle keeps you haunting right from the beginning and you won’t feel any boredom till the very end, you get to know the climax.

The Punch line:

“Krishna was the eighth Avatar of Vishnu – a manifestation of a form of energy that we shall call Vish. The exact opposite energy of Vish is Shiv. While Vish, creates and preserves, Shiv destroys. They are the two faces of same coin.”

"The Philosopher is more important than the stone."

The Characters: Weak & Vague

Characters are well described but not judiciously sketched. Ashwin Sanghi has tried to sketch all the characters. But some of them are dumbfounded and they were least expected to preach; be it, Sir Khan – who was a robber do unfold many of the layers of the mystery which you might not expect from a character like him. Radhika, Rathore, and Priya Ratnani were some of the characters that were strong enough to pull their parts. But then how can such a strong character like Priya Ratnani be fooled so easily by someone like Sir Khan for such a long time. Similar to that, Taarak Vakil a brilliant master killer knowing himself as Krishna does not get inspired from his character even a penny, never tried to know who actually the Krishna was? What was his purpose whenever he incarnated. Just because someone tells him that he is the most awaited Avatar of Lord Krishna, he doesn’t hesitate killing people. Thinking himself as god, how does he justify all his wrongdoing through the eyes of Krishna?

Somewhere, there were loads of postulates and somewhere it was just concluded without giving any postulate. It has raised a number of curious questions that you might like to know such as In accordance with theology Krishna’s existence should be 5000 yrs old and not 3200 which carbon dating suggests as the age of Dwarka. But you won’t find any satisfying answer through the postulates given in the book. Hence it satisfies – neither on facts level nor on fictional level.

The end: Little disappointing

The Author has tried to use a similar trick that Paulo Coelho does in his novels and failed abysmally in doing so. Author didn’t think it essential to connect seals or the Krishna Key with climax part, energy – for which everybody in the book except Saini, Radhika and Rathore died.

In spite of weak climax, I will rate 3-3.5 out of five as it keeps you engrossed. The climax itself is not weak but the connectivity to the climax is poor.

About the Author

S. Anupam

Author & Editor

karn@anupamtimes.com

32 comments:

  1. A very detailed review, sure it increased my interest to read the book :)

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    1. Thanks Ramya! glad to know that:)

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  2. I am a huge Indian mythology fan and even greater one of Lord Krishna. And his 10 avatar Kalki, has been very fascinating to me, with the fact that, it's yet to happen in this yug.

    Now, after reading this review, am in a dilemma.. whether to go for the book or not to. While the entire concept did stir a curiosity, on the other hand, after reading about the characters and the end, which to me are always the integral part of a book, the curiosity kind of weakened.

    "Da vinci code", which was on the similar lines, was perfectly woven, I don't think I would be able to refrain myself form comparing the two.

    However, I might pick up a copy to satisfy my urge of curiosity which is still, somewhere, lingering.

    P.S. Excellently reviewed.

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    1. Hey,

      It's a goodread Namrota. Those who haven't read Da Vinchi Code, The Rozabal line, or Chanakya's Chant might perceive the book better than what i did. The plot was unique and after reading the previous two books - expectations were higher, the trailer too was much more appealing but after reading the book, it doesn't satisfy at all the levels.

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    2. I will get my copy of the book but, will keep my expectations low... guess, I will enjoy it more that way :)

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  3. Sounds like a book I'd like to read. Maybe I'll come back and tell you how I found the book. :)

    I think its a good thing that there are so many authors who are coming up with books based on Indian Mythology. It is a trend, I guess but it's making our generation look into a part of our heritage that we ignored for a while.

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    1. Thanks Nambiar for writing in. Will look for your comments post-read :)

      Yes, The trend is commendable. But in terms of writing standards, I personally feel that Indian Literature is far behind where it used to be in 20th century with authors like Premchand, Mulk Raj Anand, RK Narayan, Tagore, Nirad C. Chaudhuri and Mahasweta Devi.

      Having said that few authors like Adiga, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy and kiran desai have done fantastic works in terms of writing.

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    2. It reminds our forgotten mythology in a novel style.

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  4. Haven't read the book, so can't say much. I met Liesl Schilliger last year, she writes book reviews for NY Times and I admire her sincerity towards her work. You are one of the very very few people in blogosphere who can write meaningful reviews. I am immensely impressed. Even I write reviews but mine are just a diary entry as I forget which book I read and what was in it.

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    1. Thank you so much Saru for your kind words of appreciation :) Haven't met Liesl Schillinger but I do follow her reviews and interviews.

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  5. a very detailed and informating review...i am a huge krishna bhakt...and even if the character potrayal is week i will read the book just to satiate my mythological hungry side..:)..havent read a single book of ashwini sanghi yet so hopefully it wont be a huge disappointment..and post ur review i ll keep my expectations to bare minimum..

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    1. If you like mythology woven with anthropology, then it's a must read for you Vaisakhi :)

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  6. Nice review. I haven't read the book but after reading your review I am going to order it right now! Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Megha! glad to know that you liked the review :)

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  7. It is very good..I just agree with your reviews.I didn't disappoint as it is my first book by Sanghi.I personally felt this is more informative & the way of narration is too gud.It shows that Sanghi has done a great job by doing a lot of research .However the climax is not that connective for the entire quest they had made & similar to the Paulo Coelho's.The characters like sir khan & Taarak are vague as you mentioned.I havent read any of his previous works,but it will be a good read connecting mythology & proving the fact that our Indian mythology did exist.Finally hatsoff to the research Sanghi has made & the way he plotted the story eventhough it has weak points... Im very much excited to know the facts after reading this book...

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    1. Thanks for writing in Gayathri. I agree with ur POV :)

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  8. I read the book first and then read this review it's purely right and correct thanks for not disappointing an "Ashwin Sanghi fan " like me...

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    1. Thanks Mohak! Being a Journo, I know my limits...

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  9. Nice review. Woah, 53 books?!?! Really?

    Read it last month. Although the book was a fun (and informative) read, it was clear rip-off of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon.
    The history teacher who starts giving a lecture as soon as there is someone and anyone willing to hear.

    I'd anytime rate his Chanakya's Chant much higher than The Krishna Key.

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  10. Nicely reviewed. The same feeling I felt, when I read the climax. The book kept my desire to know more about Krishna Key on the run. But when I read the climax, I was very disappointed. It seemed the author lost his grasp of things and just came up with a spiritual climax idea. But again , the facts and their connection with Mahabharata characters is superbly dealt with. It difficult to believe the climax is written by the same person who has wrote such a exciting story and characters.

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  11. Nicely reviewed. The same feeling I felt, when I read the climax. The book kept my desire to know more about Krishna Key on the run. But when I read the climax, I was very disappointed. It seemed the author lost his grasp of things and just came up with a spiritual climax idea. But again , the facts and their connection with Mahabharata characters is superbly dealt with. It difficult to believe the climax is written by the same person who has wrote such a exciting story and characters.

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  12. dear anupam n mr sanghi (if ur reading this)
    wrt the chapter which mentions qutab minar.... found a ref to prithviraj chauhan.... says in the book..... chau was the last of the hindu kings to be killed by M Ghori in 1192 BCE..... BCE?...... i thot ghori n chau wer 12century guys...... dat wud make it 1192 CE or AD {as u desire}.... the year is correct,..... such typos not expected.....

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  13. dear anupam n mr sanghi (if ur reading this)
    wrt the chapter which mentions qutab minar.... found a ref to prithviraj chauhan.... says in the book..... chau was the last of the hindu kings to be killed by M Ghori in 1192 BCE..... BCE?...... i thot ghori n chau wer 12century guys...... dat wud make it 1192 CE or AD {as u desire}.... the year is correct,..... such typos not expected.....

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  14. Hi, I could find parallel between your review and what I felt after reading the book.
    Here is my work, if you like to read.
    http://www.theindivisual.in/2014/01/the-krishna-key-review.html

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  15. Agreed at some points with Mr Anupam.. than how a strong character like Priya can be fooled so easily by Sir Khan ?? and How Taraak Vakil is assume himself to be Kalki Avatar because someone says so.. if he was really Kalki Avatar, then he shouldn't have follow orders from his mataji.. And after retrieving all the 4 seals.. it was unnecessary to kill Kurkure and Chedi.. especially killing Chedi when the job is almost done.

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  16. Your reviews are bang on the target. Interesting plot but a dud end. It is almost as Mr. Sanghi suddenly had to take a break and ended it abruptly.

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  17. Your reviews are bang on target. Interesting plot with a dud end. It seems Mr. Sanghi had to take an urgent break so he ended it abruptly.

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  18. Thank you so much for this wonderful review as it will help in doing my board exam project work.

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  19. After reading chanakyas chant i had really high expectations for this book but was kinda disappointed as it felt like a collection of facts with a plot somewhere in between. Completely agree with every word of the review. As i was reading the bits from krishna's pov at first i was a bit bored as we are almost well versed with it. But i felt a bit of sadness when it was about to end as we get very few stories from krishna's perspective.
    Great review

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