Arishtanemi: Military chief of the Malayaputras; a right-hand man of Vishwamitra.
Ashwapati: King of the north-western kingdom of Kekaya; a loyal ally of Dashrath; father of Kaikeyi
Bharat: Ram’s half-brother; son of Dashrath and Kaikeyi
Dashrath: The Chakravarti king of Kosala and emperor of Sapt Sindhu; husband of Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra; father of Ram, Bharat, Lakshman, and Shatrughan
Janak: King of Mithila; father of Sita and Urmila
Jatayu: A captain of the Malayaputra tribe; a Naga friend of Sita and Ram
Kaikeyi: Daughter of King Ashwapati of Kekaya; second and the favorite wife of Dashrath; mother of Bharat
Kaushalya: Daughter of King Bhanuman of South Kosala and his wife Maheshwari; the eldest queen of Dashrath; mother of Ram
Kubaer: Trader and ruler of Lanka before Raavan Kumbhakarna: Raavan’s brother; he is also a Naga (a human being born with deformities)
Kushadhwaj: King of Sankashya; younger brother of Janak
Lakshman: One of the twin sons of Dashrath; born to Sumitra; faithful to Ram; later married to Urmila
Malayaputras: The tribe left behind by Lord Parshu Ram, the sixth Vishnu Manthara: The richest merchant of Sapt Sindhu; an ally of Kaikeyi
Mrigasya: General of Dashrath’s army; one of the nobles of Ayodhya
Nagas: A feared race of human beings born with deformities
Nilanjana: Lady doctor attending to members of the royal family of Ayodhya, she hails from South Kosala
Raavan: King of Lanka; brother of Vibhishan, Shurpanakha and Kumbhakarna
Ram: Eldest of four brothers, son of Emperor Dashrath of Ayodhya (the capital city of Kosala kingdom) and his eldest wife Kaushalya; later married to Sita
Roshni: Daughter of Manthara; a committed doctor and rakhi-sister to the four sons ofDashrath
Samichi: Police and protocol chief of Mithila
Shatrughan: Twin brother of Lakshman; son of Dashrath and Sumitra
Shurpanakha: Half-sister of Raavan
Sita: Adopted daughter of King Janak of Mithila; also the prime minister of Mithila; later married to RamS
Sumitra: Daughter of the king of Kashi; the third wife of Dashrath; mother of the twins Lakshman and Shatrughan
Vashishta: Raj guru, the royal priest of Ayodhya; teacher of the four princes
Vayuputras: The tribe left behind by Lord Rudra, the previous MahadevVibhishan: Half-brother of Raavan
Vishwamitra: Chief of the Malayaputras, the tribe left behind by Lord Parshu Ram, the sixth Vishnu; also temporary guru of Ram and Lakshman
Urmila: Younger sister of Sita; the blood-daughter of Janak; she is later married toLakshman*Refer to inside back cover for a map of India in 3400 BCE
Acknowledgments don’t agree with everything that John Donne wrote, but he was right on one count: ‘Noman is an island.
I am lucky to be connected to many others who keep me from being rifted. Creativity has no greater sustenance than the love and support of others. I’d like to acknowledge some of them.
Lord Shiva, my God, for blessing me with this life and all there is in it. Also, for bringing Lord Ram (who my grandfather, Pandit Babulal Tripathi, was a great devotee of) back into my life.
Neel, my son, my blessing, my pride, my joy. He gives me happiness by simply being who he is. Preeti, my wife; Bhavna, my sister; Himanshu, my brother-in-law; Anish and Ashish, my brothers, for all their inputs to the story.
My sister Bhavna deserves special mention for her dedication and the time she gave while advising me on the philosophies in the book.
My wife Preeti deserves my eternal gratefulness, as always, for her brilliant marketing advice. My family: Usha, Vinay, Meeta, Donetta, Shernaz, Smita, Anuj, Ruta. For their consistent faith and love.Sharvani, my editor. We have a strange relationship.
Fun and laughter in normal times; we fight with each other passionately when we edit. It’s a match made in heaven! Gautam, Krishnakumar, Preeti, Deepthi, Satish, Varsha, Jayanthi, Vipin, Senthil, Shatrughan, Sarita, Avani, Sanyog, Naveen, Jaisankar, Gururaj, Sateesh and the fantastic team at Westland, my publishers.
They have been partners from the beginning. Anuj, my agent. A big man with an even bigger heart! The best friend and author could have.
Sangram, Shalini, Parag, Shaista, Rekha, Hrishikesh, Richa, Prasad, and the team think WhyNot, the advertising agency for the book. They made the cover, which I think is fantastic! They also made most of the marketing material for the book, including the trailer.
They are among the best ad agencies in the country. Hemal, Neha, and the Oktobuzz team, the social media agency for the book.Hardworking, super smart, and intensely committed. They are an asset to any team. Jaaved, Parthasarthy, Rohit, and the rest of the production team of the trailer film.Brilliant guys. Trust me, the world will soon be their oyster. Mohan, a friend, whose advice on communication matters is something I always treasure.
Vinod, Toral, Nimisha, and the great team at Clea PR for the work that they did on the efforts for the book. Mrunalini, a Sanskrit scholar, works with me. My discussions with her were stimulating and enlightening. I learn a lot from her. Nitin, Vishal, Avani, and Mayuri for their hospitality in Nashik where I wrote parts of this book. And last, but certainly not least, you, the reader.
Thank you from the depths of my being for the support you’ve given to the Shiva Trilogy. I hope I don’t disappoint you with this book, the first in a new series. Har Har Mahadev!
Chapter 13400 BCE, somewhere near the Godavari River, IndiaRam crouched low as he bent his tall, lean, and muscular frame. He rested his weight on his right knee as he held the bow steady. The arrow was fixed in place, but he knew that the bowstring should not be pulled too early.
He didn’t want his muscles to tire out. He had to wait for the perfect moment. It must be a clean strike.‘It’s moving, Dada,’ whispered Lakshman to his elder brother.Ram didn’t reply.
His eyes were fixed on the target. A light breeze played with the few strands of hair that had escaped the practical bun atop his head. His shaggy, unkempt beard and his white dhoti gently fluttered in the breeze. Ram corrected his angle as he factored in the strength and direction of the wind.
He quietly cast his white Angvastrama side to reveal a battle-scarred, dark-skinned torso. The cloth should not interfere with the release of the arrow.
The deer suddenly came to a standstill as it looked up; perhaps instinct had kicked in with some warning signals. Ram could hear its low snort as it stomped its feet uneasily.
Within a few seconds, it went back to chewing leaves as silence prevailed. The rest of the herd was a short distance away, hidden from view by the dense foliage of the forest.‘By the great Lord Parshu Ram, it ignored its instincts,’ said Lakshman softly. ‘Thank Lord.
We need some real food.’‘Quiet…’ Lakshman fell silent. Ram knew they needed this kill. Lakshman and he, accompanied by his wife Sita, had been on the run for the last thirty days.
A few members of the theMalayaputra tribe, the sons of Malaya, led by their captain, Jatayu, were also with them.
Jatayu had urged flight well before the inevitable retaliation came. The botched meeting with Shurpanakha and Vibhishan would certainly have consequences.
They were, after all, the siblings of Raavan, the wrathful demon-king of Lanka. Raavan was sure to seek vengeance. Lankan royal blood had been shed.
Racing east through the Dandakaranya, the dense forest of Dandak, they had traveled a reasonable distance parallel to the Godavari.
They were fairly reassured now that they wouldn’t be easily spotted or tracked. Straying too far from the tributary rivers or other water bodies would mean losing out on the best chance of hunting animals. Ram and Lakshmana were princes of Ayodhya, inheritors of the proud Kshatriya tradition of the theRaghukul, the descendants of Raghu. They would not survive on a diet of herbs, fruit, and leaves alone.
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