On Ashok Banker

In response to Ashok's call for providing some feedback about his writing , and in order to speak some more from my side , this post :).

Firstly, some background before we delve deep into Ashok's writing. A wish to say a few words about the most common form of comparision that people use to compare Ashok and Tolkein. I personally think that its quite unfair to compare LoTR with Ashok's Ramayana when talking about East vs West. The primary reason being that LoTR is not an individual work, but just a piece of a vast and expansive landscape that Tolkien intended to be a 'new' mythology for the British people (The Brits DONT have their own mythology !! Their folklore and legends are borrowed heavily from Nordic and European myths and legends. Tolkien wanted to provide the Brits with a well documented and chronicled mythology -- which became his life work). So, by definition, LoTR is not just a "fantasy novel" at all. It is rich in details and should be treated more like a chronicle of the Ages of Middle Earth, than as a story meant for entertainment. Tolkien himself felt disgusted when people referred to his work as a 'novel'. So, please do not use LoTR as a reference to compare wetern "fantasy novels" :).

Now back to Ashok. I agree with all of you in that Ashok is an amazingly gifted writer !! The ease with which he manipulates words into a seamless flow of ideas that the reader can actually visualise whilst reading, is in itself a no mean feat. Not for want of a better word, but partly due to the generous sprinkling of Indianese, and more importantly - because of ashok's firm belief in Indian roots and its philosophy, I will refer to his style of writing as "Indic" (thats a new genre that we have created at this moment :) ). Ashok is the first Indic writer that I know of. Please know that becoming an Indic author does not come from merely including traditional words and phrases in your work. In fact, its quite the opposite -- it comes from a firm foundation of Indian philosophy (by Indian, I do not mean the country India, but the Indian subcontinent as a whole). Much of it is actually unsaid in explicit terms, but rather stems from the intricate whys and hows and whats concerning his characters. Rama, Kausalya, and also to some extent, Manthara, Ravana and the other lot are all from the same mould. Two sides of the same coin. Built on the same unshakable framework of fundamental precepts which form the cornerstone of Indic way of life. Their trials and tribulations seem familiar to us, because their convictions, their beliefs are also a part of us all !!! And THAT is what touches us the most. Ramayana has traditionally become a uni-dimensional katha of a goody-goody hero, adulterated by all types of religious mishmash. However, Ashok's Ramayana does not portray the characters as string puppets who only know how to dance in one way. His characters are alive, in every sense of the word. The reason they appeal to the newer generation of readers is simple: the characters are identifiable, not through a smoke screen of 'implied divinity' or "avatars" , but rather through their human qualitites of courage, patience, adherence to 'Dharma' - qualities which the youth of today know are more important than the rote ritualism of their forefathers. Ashok, it does not matter that a few individuals cannot grasp our epics. By your efforts so far, you are a living example of what is routinely touted by 'saviours of Hinduism' as the most important message from the Gita -- "Follow your karma, without any heed to what you will get in return". This one sentence has been twisted beyond recognition for what it really means, and your writing is a perfect example of what it was intended to be. For that reason alone, continue writing the way you have...

So carry on my friend, it will take much much more than just a few publishers to stop this "army of words". Let the Indic revolution begin !!!