PLOT: 4/5

At times, it gets difficult to comprehend as to whether immortality is a boon or a curse. Of course, it appears to be a boon if its possessor has the responsibility and determination to save the world and its people from destruction for ages, but it is nothing less than a curse if one has no clue how to make use of it or has nothing to look forward to in his/her life.

If you have also grown up watching those mesmerizing epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, it is very unlikely that you haven’t heard of this superpower at least a thousand times by now. It is something that even the mightiest warriors, wisest sages and powerful asuras yearned for.

Doesn’t really matter if you really believe in the authenticity of the epics or not. Even if you have the slightest interest in fiction and epics, you will enjoy reading Ashwatthama’s Redemption, as it will give you a taste of ancient mythical characters surviving in the present day world.

Speaking of immortality, most of us would have definitely heard about Ashwatthama, a warrior believed to be so mighty that only great yodhas like Arjuna and Karna could challenge him. Son of Dronacharya, this fearless warrior fought a remarkable war in the Kurukshetra battlefield and dreaded the confidence and bravery of many of his opponents.

He is believed to be a part-incarnate of Lord Shiva and was born with a distinctive and precious gem on his forehead, which made him undoubtedly fearless and free from the worldly botheration of hunger, thirst, disease and fear of weapons.

He led a glorious life until one day when, out of revenge and anger over his father’s death, he committed an unforgivable sin. As a result, Lord Krishna got infuriated and pierced out the jewel from his forehead. He cursed Ashwatthama to live the life of a wanderer until the end of the world. If this wasn’t a punishment enough, he was further cursed that the hollow made on his forehead will never heal and always seep blood and puss. It would bear a constant pain to remind him of the deadly sin he once committed.

It is believed that Ashwatthama is still alive. There are many instances where people claim to have seen him, believing it was him owing to his gigantic warrior like body structure and constantly bleeding wound on his forehead.

In Ashwatthama’s Redemption, Gunjan Porwal has tried to picture and present as to how Ashwatthama might be surviving and keeping up in the present age. Does he have a purpose in life to look forward to? Is he still living with a consistent sensation of pain that keeps taking him back to that fateful day in the past?

Very efficiently and convincingly, the author has tried to build a fictional situation where the present day world is at the mercy of a rising evil and Ashwatthama alone has the rightful courage and capacity to bring it down.

As the story unfolds, Ashwatthama is seen living a deserted and meaningless life in the forests of Kairali. Although he had secluded himself from the outer world, he still has a few acquaintances in the nearby kingdoms. One fine day, he is approached by his friend Vikram, King of Surparaka, who informs him about the speculations of Dandak’s possible comeback. Dandak is an asura believed to have died centuries ago. But turns out, he had been hiding in the Pataal Lok since then and is now planning his resurrection, which will be a huge downfall to humanity.

After many discussions, explanations and pleading, Vikram manages to convince Ashwatthama to take up this responsibility of finding and defeating Dandak, thereby rescuing the world.

The story takes you through the entire journey that Ashwatthama undertakes, along with Vikram and a few other companions, in a quest to end the evil power.

To do so, they must prepare well and acquire all that is needed for safeguarding their victory over Dandak. They are seen travelling across the kingdoms, through thick and illusionary forests and beyond the mighty mountain ranges. They make alliances with several kingdoms on their way to reaching the Kanjiroba peak (beyond the Himavat ranges), where they believe the Kodanda (Lord Rama’s bow) is hidden and thereafter seek to kill Dandak with this divine weapon.

En route this journey, they come across various hindrances and enormous hurdles, never ever encountered or even heard of before. In a way, this journey and purpose help Ashwatthama to overcome his pain and brings him at truce with the past. He ends up rediscovering his lost strengths and looks forward to serving mankind, whenever and wherever required.

He comes across many situations and circumstances that pull him back and make him grieve over his past doings and the unfortunate gift of immortality. However, the mighty, fearless and determined warrior that he was once, still persisted inside him. His strong will power and excellent knowledge about terrains, warfare tactics, weapons and survival help them successfully complete their journey in spite of the innumerous losses and unannounced troubles.

The entire story is well knitted around how Ashwatthama has been living with a dreadful past and how he finally stands up to continue doing what he was born for. You will be surprised to see how wonderfully the author has connected the story to the incidents in the epics. Just when you are about to have a slight feeling that some of the descriptions and events are too fictional, the author helps you connect the dots and clarify your doubts, providing an excellent reasoning for everything presented in the story.

Also, Ashwatthama’s Redemption will acquaint you with many events and important links that you might have skipped noticing while watching those epics. The story is intriguing enough and is a must read for all those who are deeply interested in learning more about epics and wish to ponder deep into the reasoning behind every incident.

Essentially a story where a death-seeking immortal finds a new purpose in life, Ashwatthama’s Redemption is an excellent attempt to develop an understanding that although these epics are related to an era much old and ancient, one can still find its traces in this modern world. The past can never be swept away in totality and ‘today’ is, after all, a continuation and consequence of yesterday’s actions.

Even if you are not a believer of all this, this spell-bounding story will make you fancy those epic stories at least for a while.

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