The exclusive trailer of the book available on the author’s website- www.sanghi.in identifies Krishna as a man who lived five thousand years ago whereas in the short synopsis provided at the back of the book as well as everywhere else on the website, he is described as a “magical being.” It is this central contradiction that the book engages with. The subject of engagement is a mythical-cum-magical human character Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu and the attempt is to demystify him not by humanizing him but by demythifying him.
Krishna, who has been a permanent character in traditional folklores, myths, stories, epics and other ancient scriptures, has seduced the imagination of men in every century. The novel begins with historicizing him and goes on to discuss and explore various myths and historical accounts associated with him to a purpose unknown to the central protagonist and therefore to the readers, until the end chapters of the book. The author who is known by the pseudonym of Dan Brown of India for his two earlier works does not disappoint in keeping up with it. The novel is a mystery-thriller dealing with history, myth, faith, religion, miracles which are intelligently integrated with modern science and understandings. What set him apart from Dan Brown are of course the subject matter as well as the intangible achievement of the protagonist that adorns its conclusion.
The book unequivocally gives the impression that it has been based on well carried out research and sincere efforts on the part of the author to give a logically acceptable structure to support the quasi-mythical tale. The disclaimer establishes it as a work of fiction and hence, the arguments and illustrations presented in the book become self-referential, restricting all attempts of reading it as an extra-textual reality and therefore denying any possible questioning of its authenticity.
Myth, which is described as collective consciousness, finds a central place in the story and become the building block of the structure. The benefit of working with myths is that the diversity of versions in circulation allows arguments to be drawn and reasoned to desired ends. But, Ashwin Sanghi does not depend on such short hands. It is the expertise of the author’s writing that the logical structure he provides seems so convincing that the reader is tempted into believing it time and again and it is here that the disclaimer works as a word of caution. The protagonist works by deductive reasoning, a method which is convincing as well as credible to the modern readers. Also, he brings in a lot of modern scientific concepts to present a logically coherent explanation to all his happenings. To make it appear more credible, all the characters quote from history books or authorized tales to base their proposition. In this way, the willing suspension of disbelief is taken to the level of willing affirmation to the premises on which the text is based.
Ashwin Sanghi is brilliant in bringing in the experts from different fields into the framework of the novel in order to provide credence and substance to the logic provided by the text. He also manages to convincingly transform a don into a man with surprising amount of knowledge of history, myth and nuclear science etc. However, in case of Radhika Singh who is described as one stern and skilled woman fails everytime to justify her image. Also, when he comes to the central protagonists, the alliance between Saini and Radhika seems forced, hurried, unequal and unnatural. It comes as a rather simplistic ploy to make their relationship look firmly grounded and in order to justify the claim to that intangible achievement gained by the central protagonist. He is ushered into the so-called pool of self-realization, orchestrated by the three mystical holy figures working as Dues ex machine, which is itself a weak motive for the entire hullabaloo created in the novel. This is not to say that the last knowledge achieved by the protagonist is by any means insignificant but it does not correspond to the magnanimity of action that leads to it and also it’s not really something to be qualified as a new knowledge for someone with the intellectual capability as that of Prof. Ravi Mohan Saini.
Also, there are questions that are not sufficiently answered or do not work comfortably with the information provided within the book. For example- Why does Ravi Mohan Saini and Radhika opt for Mt. Kailash and not for Somnath, given the fact that it was Saini who strongly reasoned against Devendra Chedi that Somnath must have had the secret they were looking for? Or, why do they i.e. Ravi Mohan Saini and Radhika as well as Taarak Vakil and Mataji leave Mount Kailash half way through the expedition without searching for the secret more vigorously? Or, how can Raja Man Singh, a sixteenth century Krishna devotee describe Taj Mahal, a structure which was built during his grandson’s time?
However, these things do not jeopardize the value of the book and the immense research that went into making of it. They do not in any way lessen the pleasure of reading it. Once taken up, you won’t like to drop it till you have travelled till the very end of it when the mystery is unraveled. The author does a fine job in connecting the dots and charting out for us, by means of adequate explanation, a myth of Indian history or a history of Indian myth.