‘Chhedi and Priya were stumped.’ Well, I’m sure most of the characters even inside this novel must’ve been stumped. As a reader and very much an outsider for all that this book has, even I was thoroughly stumped. Just look at what a reader has to agree to believe.
‘Just take the name Noah and flip the two vowels in the middle. What do you get? Naoh – the Hindi word for boat! Even the concept of man’s creation is from India. The English word man is derived from the Sanskrit root manus – which is also the root of the Indian name Man, the mythological progenitor of the Hindus.’
The writer gives us a list of references and acknowledgements at the end and these include more than a hundred and fifty books, papers, journals, blogs, websites, and videos. Ashwin Sanghi, the author wants us to believe that all the conclusions mentioned in the books are a result of in-depth research. It isn’t just mythology that we are made to look at in a different way, but even history seems to have been re-written by the author. Some of it does make rather interesting reading… for instance, I loved reading the way Ashwin interpreted the numbers 8 and 5, and I was left gasping when the author took me flying across the boundaries of time and into what levitation and alchemy could really mean. The swastika is explained, Lord Shiva is demystified, the essence of the vedas is laid before you, and we are given previously unknown interpretations (for me, at least) of Lord Krishna too!
Ashwin Sanghi takes us through so much history and mythology because he makes Ram Mohan Saini solve a few murders. I’m sure this simplistic explanation will sound unconvincing to most readers, but it is the truth. The novel indeed is just about the intrigue around a few murders… but then the author takes us through almost five hundred pages of mythological riddles and history gets re-sewn and re-buttoned in the process. To add to all this complexity are a few theories of radioactivity hired towards the end as if a scientific temper would balance all the other improbabilities that a reader gets thrown into.
But if I have lead you to think that all this mumbo-jumbo of mythology and history being re-interpreted is just unpalatable garnishing, you’re mistaken. The author weaves in every little detail into the main plot and you know that if even one of these conclusions went missing, the jigsaw would remain incomplete for ever. To whet your appetite, let me quote the author’s interpretation of the number eight. No, this is not all, there is more than this small quote and then there is the obvious connect to the main plot too.
‘According to the sages, zero is nothing. One is the beginning. Eight is everything. 18, 108, 1008, 10008 – and other numbers like these – represent the very beginning to the very end!’ he said. ‘Eight is supreme. That’s why on the eighth day of Rohini!’
And then there is the intrigue woven around the number five. The author does take us on a wonder trip around this number and all the ways it is significant, and then makes us dive right into the murder intrigue:
‘And there are five Yadava descendants – Varshney, Bhojraj, Kurkude, Saini, and Chhedi – of which three are already dead,’ muttered Chhedi morosely, recalling Saini’s private conversation with him on the subject.
No, I have not gone through any of the references given at the end of this book to try and find out if all this theorizing has any logic or is just a part of some imaginative journey taking place inside the author’s mind. All I know is that most of this appears quite convincing… at least the way the author writes and presents them. I’d go to the extent of saying that Ashwin Sanghi is probably trying to be the Dan Brown of India. He himself makes Priya tell Taarak: ‘…history is simply a version of events that can be easily influenced by the political, cultural, and religious leanings of those who write it. I wanted to use my education to set this right. I wanted the historical authenticity of Krishna to be firmly established. Krishna should not be taught as mythology, but as history!’ Thus we are in the midst of some authentic re-interpretation of both mythology and history… and, therefore, it is better to keep the mind open while reading this book. Don’t mistrust and walk away. Don’t believe and get trapped!!
The author has cleverly mixed a few murders with a search not just for the murderer but also for some elusive formula, or a hidden treasure, or even the DNA of the real Lord Krishna – the reader is kept guessing to what it is that the book will ultimately reveal. So, at a point we have even the characters inside the novel making wild guesses:
‘What is the point that you are trying to make, Dumpy?’ asked Saini.
‘The point that I am making, Roger, is this: isn’t it possible that when Krishna was killed by an arrow lodged in his left foot, what was witnessed was not a killing but a process of ancient DNA extraction?’ asked Chhedi. ‘And if this DNA had to be preserved, wouldn’t the logical place to preserve it be under a sheer sheet of ice that never thawed? Say, allocation like Mount Kailash?’
Here I must tell the reader that even the left foot reference comes up as a seemingly important clue. Thus there is no little detail that is left unconnected. However, I was a little saddened to find that such imaginative interpretations are simply locked up into a trifling murder mystery… I’m sure they deserve a better treatment if there is any truth in them.
The writer, I must say, has a penchant for details. He has not only gone and resurrected a totally new mythological and historical thought in detail but goes about his job of a novelist without skimping on details. for instance, when Varshney gets killed, he is shown to be ‘oblivious to his surroundings and did not observe the shaft of light falling on the floor that gradually widened as the main entrance door to his house was quietly opened, the lock having been expertly picked. He did not notice the beam of light disappearing as the door was gently closed.’
Yes, there is murder to be solved, there are myths busted and redone, and there is history cut and sliced and sewn differently… but the little stories and interpretations, even if read separately and without the burden of a connected intrigue, are simply charming. For instance, the author tells us that ‘Shiv is merely a form of Vish and that Vish is merely a form of Shiv. Shiv resides in the heart of Vish and Vish resides in that of Shiv.’ What I’m trying to say is that the book is interesting not because it is a gripping murder mystery, but because it is a riveting myth buster and an enthralling history converter. I smiled when I came across this passage on the real fiction that seems to surround Krishna:
‘Krishna was a great statesman and strategist. He probably led a rather serious life – with much of his early life devoted to studying under Sage Sandipani. The tales about his being a playful naughty cowherd were added on much later. Mathura, Gokul, and Vrindavan have much more tourist value than historical.’
I actually chuckled when I read the above paragraph… the author goes on to tell us more about the real Krishna – and this gets more spellbinding than the cryptic mystery that the author has so painstakingly built around Krishna. the search of the protagonists in the novel does lead to something very meaningful… but that is something you need to read and reach to on your own. All that I am willing to tell you is that the final interpretation of the Syamantaka involves ‘both the telescope and the microscope (to) help us peer into exactly the same phenomenon – bundles of energy in constant motion. Our collective energies make miracles happen, not the stone idol.’
No wonder then, that the book constantly reminds a reader that ‘the philosopher is more important than the stone.’ Let me say again that Ashwin Sanghi is surely the Dan Brown of India and if he starts selling more copies I wouldn’t be surprised to find critics the world over starting to say that Dan is the Sanghi from India!
Title: The Krishna Key
Author: Ashwin Sanghi
Price: Rs 250/- (in 2012)
This review is a part of the <a href=”http://blog.blogadda.
04 October 2012