|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.