Writers at times resort to fiction to push their hypothesis that counter long held social beliefs. On such belief sustained by caretakers of the Hindu faith is that Krishna is a mythological figure. And here comes Ashwin Sanghi who depicts Krishna, not as a figure conjured up by collective minds several generations back, but as a historical person who lived 138 generations before the times of Alexander and Chandragupta Maurya.
A fascinating proposition, this. In his latest fiction – The Krishna Key – Sanghi explores the possibility that Mahabharata is based on historical reality. What’s more, he relates the epic to contemperory times; he interpretes Mahabharata for the benefit of the Facebook generation. And dresses up his version as a theological thriller that ought to interest crime suspense addicts and conspiracy buffs . Sanghi’s book is categorized as ‘Thriller’ in ISBN coding.
My interest in the book, when Blogadda offered it under their book review programme, arose because of what I had read about the writer. Ashwin Sanghi, engaged in his family business, presumably, does his writing on weekends. Theological thriller is his genre. Such a mix evokes one’s interest in a writer. What’s more, Sanghi has flair for the social media; and uses if effectively to promote his books. As he put it, ‘in my world, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube allow me to reach out to my readers far more effectively than I would ever have been able to without them’.
The narrative runs at two levels. If such creative writing poses its own challenge for the writer, I found it no less of a challenge, as a reader. I can’t say I felt comfortable, having to keep pace with the run of events , moving on parallel tracks. The characters in the two layers of plot relate to periods that are 5000 years apart. At one level we have a 5,000 year old story, of tyrant Kansa’s futile attempt to kill his nephew Krishna, before he grew up to take on Kansa. The plot is peopled with figures such as Kansa, his sister, Devaki, her husband Vasudeva and their eighth son Krishna.
At the other level is this crime thriller playing out in Kaliyug, with charecters such as history professor Ravi Mohan Saini, who gets arrested for the murder he didn’t commit, of a close friend and archeologist Anil Varshvey. The two, along with Dr Nikhil Bhojaraj, another academic, and Prof. Rajaram Kurkude, doing research in nuclear science, hold archaeological finds , comprising the Krishna Key that can unlock the truth of Krishna having been a historial entity, rather than mythological figure. Before they could piece together their finds to resolve a theological puzzle, they are targeted by a serial killer. And then there is a female cop chasing the wrong suspect . Inspector Radhika Singh holds a cigarette in one hand and prayer beads in the other. The tough-talking Radhika drops in unannounced in Saini’s class-room, and announces his arrest, baffling the students. I don’t see how such Bollywood type melodrama furthers the narrative. Couldn’t the cop have waited till Prof.Saini finished the class ?
Ideally, it is a book that ought to be read in one go. If you take The Krishna Key in instalments, as I did, you might have to re-read a few preceding pages every time you pick up the book, to get the hang of the narrative thread.
Some reviewers reckon Ashwin Sanghi is India’s answer to Dan Brown. I don’t know about it , for I confess, The Da Vinci Code didn’t interest me. Now that I have read Sanghi, I wouldn’t, probably, pass up Brown, if I happen by his book.