ASHOK Banker is a well established and competent re-creator of what he calls our rich, vast, and wise itihasa that has “suffused every cell of my being, every unit of my consciousness.” He has already published several volumes based on the Ramayana. Slayer of Kamsa is the first one in the new series of “Krishna Coriolis.” It begins with the signing of a peace treaty by Vasudeva and Ugrasena, but crown prince Kamsa does not accept it. So he attacks Vasudeva, but fails to kill him. Though Devaki urges Vasudeva to kill him, he does not do so; he believes that violence cannot lead to lasting peace.
Kamsa and his cronies destroy villages and kill people. Because Kamsa fails once again to kill Vasudeva, he gets frustrated. Narada advises him to seek the help of Jarasandha, who teaches him statecraft and the new philosophy of success. Kamsa marries his two daughters, returns to Mathura in the midst of the marriage celebrations of Vasudeva and Devaki, and uses his Mohini army to kill as many people as they can. When Kamsa hears a voice that Devaki would give birth to his destroyer, he drags her by her hair to kill her, but does not do so because Vasudeva cleverly inflates his ego.
When Kamsa’s father decrees that he be executed, Kamsa expands into an unusual size, and breaks the executioner’s weapon. He imprisons his parents and Devaki and Vasudeva. One by one he kills the children born to them, but he cannot stop the birth of Balbadhra, who is transported by yogmaya into another womb, and Krishna, who is taken out of the prison by Vasudeva when the whole country is in the grip of sleep. The girl he brings in exchange for him announces the birth of Kamsa’s destroyer.
Banker is good at creating powerful scenes and memorable characters. The scenes of confrontation between Vasudeva and Kamsa bring out the wisdom and sanity of the former and the brutality and vanity of the latter. The episodes dealing with Jarasandha are diverting and sinister in their import, and the portrait of Kamsa is comes off very well. Slayer of Kamsa is readable and engaging and should be of interest to readers of all ages.
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