Our National Heroes- divine and others.
No true Indian can stay away from our epics for long. It applies to readers, as well as to writers. Narayan too could not escape the itch.This volume brings together his retelling of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and episodes from other sources.
Narayan has chosen the Tamil version of Kamban for his narration. For Valmiki, Rama was the best of men, who as king set standards of personal conduct under all situations . For Kamban, however, Rama is the Avatar who came to set things right, besides teaching us how to live. Ramayana is noted for simple nobility and Narayan's narrative captures this spirit.
Mahabharata is the fascinating but painful story of man's struggle to be righteous, and how most of us falter and fail due to some weakness in our our own system. We go on weaving tangled webs and get caught ourselves. Unlike the Ramayana, no character here is unmixed, nor is the story straight. Narayan unfolds the story in his inimitable style, keeping to the main line,combining simplicity and sublimity.
Gods, Demons, and Others again deals with characters drawn from the two epics, besides some from other sources including the Tamil kavya Silappadikaram. These are not mere translations but re-creation by Narayan after his own fashion as a story-teller, without sacrificing the original content.
All told, this is a delightful and lighthearted rendering of , stories mythical and allegorical, legendary and historical, which have shaped Indian culture and civilization through millennia. This is, in my opinion, Narayan's greatest contribution to the cause of India.We are very grateful to him.