FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 30, 2016
US Publication of The Making of Bhishma, Kamesh Ramakrishna’s ground-breaking novel set in Bronze Age India.
Cambridge, MA: Kashi Publishing of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is proud to announce the U.S. publication of The Making of Bhishma. This novel set in Bronze Age India is now available for sale in bookstores in North America and Europe, and of course, eCommerce sites, such as Amazon (it will soon be available as an eBook as well). The Making of Bhishma is an abridged version of the novel The Last Kaurava a novel published in November 2015 in India by Leadstart Publishing of Mumbai.
The Last Kaurava was a critical hit in India. Some critics had high praise:
- Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya, a writer and a scholar of Sanskrit plays and stories, wrote for The Statesman of The Last Kaurava: “…Ramakrishna’s debut novel … comes as a welcome surprise. … reading him is a rare pleasure.”
- Gurcharan Das, the well-known columnist and author of The Difficult of Being Good (an essay on the Mahabharata) said, “…I enjoyed reading [The Last Kaurava] … I love [the] insane ambition that underlies this project.”
- Dr. Jean Phil, a South Asian Studies scholar at the University of Massachusetts in Boston found it to be “an extraordinary book. Anyone remotely familiar with the Mahabharata will be hypnotized. It is rare to find rich character studies together with a fascinating plot and a lively style, yet, this novel has all three.”
A Synopsis of The Making of Bhishma
Devavrata/Bhishma is mortally wounded and a prisoner of the Pandavas in their field camp somewhere south of Hastinapura. Yudhishthira, the oldest Pandava, wants to learn from Bhishma and the head of the Kavi Sangha (the Vyaasa) what policies were attempted why they failed. In response, Bhishma tells the story of his life that has been sacrificed on the altar of social policy – his mother dead, one love taken away from him, the angry impulsive vow of celibacy, the loss of another love… in short, Ramakrishna has imagined a life for Bhishma (different from the thin portrayal in the original epic). The story of Bhishma’s life told here ends with the birth of his nephews, Pandu and Dhritarashtra.
Future books will take the story forward from the point-of-view of other significant characters.
A little bit of Background
The original epic poem The Mahabharata portrays a conflict over the inheritance of the kingdom of Hastinapura between two sets of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The conflict becomes a Great War that engulfs the entire sub-continent. There is the merest hint, one usually ignored, that an environmental crisis is in progress – the great river Sarasvati is drying up and almost two thousand settlements of the “Sarasvati-Sindhu Culture” are abandoned. While such a major crisis in progress, the Mahabharata focuses on a trivial issue.
The Making of Bhishma portrays a different world in which the refugees from “Panchnad” pour into the small trading center of Hastinapura that marks the eastern boundary separating the cities of Panchnad from the forest-dwelling tribal bands, the “Nagas.” Arable land is scarce. Famine threatens. Mutual respect and tolerance does not exist. Conflict is unavoidable. The Kuru leaders of Hastinapura, beginning with Pratipa, then Shantanu, and the Regent Devavrata, also called Bhishma (The Terrible) try to manage the crisis through “social policies” formulated by the Kavi Sangha, and enforced by a standing army. But Devavrata’s nephew Dhritarashtra and Pandu disagree over policies that favor the Panchnadis over the locals. After Pandu’s sudden death, his sons, the Pandavas continue to oppose Bhishma’s policies, while Dhritarashtra’s sons, the Kauravas, support them. Attempts at reconciliation fail. The Pandavas are driven out of their city and a Great War ensues.
A Different Mahabharata!
The Making of Bhishma is a radical departure from The Mahabharata, the original epic poem that underlies this book. The first line of the novel is “I am Amba”. With that sentence and in that first page, Ramakrishna introduces the first of many surprises, many in the first page – the reader will have to put aside prior expectations of what the story is going to be. The life story of Devavrata/Bhishma whose life spans the core narrative of the entire epic is pulled apart, skein by skein, to reveal a man aware of, and regretting, the price he has paid for his choices and his actions. The first chapter establishes a staggering sequence of deviations from the original:
- Amba is alive, not a dead ghost haunting Bhishma’s dreams;
- Bhishma breaks his vow of celibacy with Amba, rather than telling her to give up and go away. Amba disappears and is presumed dead;
- Amba lives to have a son, Shikhandin, by Bhishma rather than committing suicide in search of revenge in a later life;
- In the Great War, Bhishma follows Shikhandin into an ambush — in the original Shikhandin acts as a human shield for Arjuna who mortally wounds Bhishma;
- and finally, that Bhishma, unknowingly kills his own son Shikhandin!
About Kashi Publishing
Kashi Publishing provides boutique publishing services to novelists seeking to make their work available in the US Market.
Please contact Kamesh Aiyer, Kamesh@acm.org, 1-617-335-1520. He is available for lectures/author events both from a literary/fiction perspective as well as that of how conflicts over social policy helped and hindered an ancient civilization’s survival, and its relevance to our contemporary world.
Facebook: http://facebook.com/Kameshramakrishna and http://facebook.com/thelastkaurava