Vanara - The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara

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Item Code: NBZ492
Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Anand Neelakantan
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9780143442837
Pages: 328
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 280 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
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100% Made in India
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23 years in business
Book Description
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
About the Book

Baali and Sugreeva-brothers, orphans-born in abject poverty and brought up as slaves, belonging to the Vana Nara tribe, the people of the forest, who are often mocked by others as Vanaras, the monkey men. Sandwiched between the never-ending war between Deva tribes in the north and Asura tribes in the south, the Vana Naras have lost all hope. But Baali is determined not to die a slave. Aided by his beloved brother Sugreeva, Baali builds a country for his people. The capital city, Kishkinda, becomes a beacon of hope for all the emancipated slaves from all over the world, a city of the people, by the people, for the people, where there is no discrimination based on caste, creed, language or the colour of skin. Soon fate intervenes through the beautiful Tara, the daughter of a tribal physician. Loved by Baali and lusted after by Sugreeva, Tara becomes the cause of a fraternal war that will change history forever.

The love story of Baali, Tara and Sugreeva is arguably the world's first love triangle. Written by Anand Neelakantan, who gave a voice to Ravana in Asura, Duryodhana in the Ajaya series and Sivagami in the Bahubali series, Vanara is a classic tale of love, lust and betrayal. Shakespearean in its tragic depth and epic in its sweep, Vanara gives voice to the greatest warrior of the Ramayana: Baali.

About the Author

Anand Neelakantan is the author of the Bahubali trilogy, the prequel to S.S. Rajamouli's movie. The first book in the series, The Rise of Sivagami, was released in 2017 and continues to be the no. 1 bestseller across charts. The book was on Amazon's list of top five bestsellers for 2017. Neelakantan is also the author of Assam Tale of the Vanquished, which told the Ramayana from Ravana's point of view. He followed it up with the tremendously successful Ajaya series. Neelakantan's books have been Translated into more than nine languages, including Indonesian.

S.S. Rajamouli has announced a mini-series based on Neelakantan's books, on the lines of Game of Thrones. Neelakantan has also written scripts/screenplays for popular TV series like Siya KeRam, Asboka, Mahabali Hanuman, among others. He writes columns for The Hindu, Indian Express, Pioneer, Washington Post and other newspapers. He also writes a fortnightly column called 'Acute Angle' for Sunday Express. He has upcoming series planned with Discovery, Star TV, Nedlix and Amazon. Neelakantan is also a prolific writer in Malayalam and regularly publishes stories in the prestigious Malayalam magazine. He is also a cartoonist.

He lives in Mumbai with his wife Aparna, daughter Ananya, son Abhinav endue dog, Jackie the Blackie. You can look him up on Facebook, Twiner and Instagram using the handle: @itsanandneel.


One of the most fascinating characters in the Ramayana is Baali, also known as Vali (Valmiki Ramayana) or Baalin, Valin etc. Unarguably, he was the strongest man in the Ramayana and had defeated even Ravana in a duel. I have always been fascinated with Indian epics and folk tales. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata played a major part in my growing up. I was seeped in the stories of the Puranas from my childhood. Most of my writings have their base in our epics and the Puranas. My first three books were on Ravana and Duryodhana and I had explored the familiar stories from the antagonists' perspective. Except for my last book, The Rise of Sivagami, where I based my story in the Bahubali world, most of my works, whether for television, short stories or novels have been based on the Puranas. I had also written a few episodes of the legal thriller Adalat for Sony TV and the story of Battle of Saragarhi for Discovery Jeet. However, my first love and fascination has always been our Puranas.

In my first book, Asura, I had written the Ramayana from the, perspective of the antihero, Ravana, and Bhadra, a common Asura. I had explored the Ramayana from Sita's point of view in the series, Siya Ke Ram, and explored Hanuman's heroics in the series, Mahabali Hanuman. Most of the readers will be more familiar with Hanuman. He is our God and perhaps the first superhero in the world.

The Ramayana has a fascinating story-world. One of the most intriguing stories is that of the Vanaras. As per Brahma's orders, Devas started parenting children in various races. In this, the Vanaras resembling monkeys, were born. All Vanaras had the traits of the Deva father who parented them. There are many stories about how Baali and Sugreeva were born. As per Brahmanda Purana, the story goes like this.

Once, there was a virtuous wife (pativruta) called Sheelavati who was married to Ugratapas, a leper. Ugratapas wanted to visit a brothel and the virtuous wife Sheelavati carried him on her shoulders. On the way to the brothel, a mendicant named Agnimandavya lay impaled by the king. Agnimandavya, who was in the throes of death, saw Sheelavati carrying her leper husband to a brothel. The uncontrolled passion of the lecherous Ugratapas angered Agnimandavya and he cursed that Ugratapas would die before sunrise the next day. Sheelavati used all the power she had gained through unconditional surrender and service of her lecherous husband to stop the sun from rising. Due to her virtuosity, the sun could not rise in the morning.

Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun God, arrived for duty on time, but was surprised to find that his master was still asleep. Aruna tried his best to awaken the Sun God Suryadeva, but the power of Sheelavati's virtue prevented the sun from rising. A bored Aruna wandered around and stumbled into heaven. Indra, the king of Devas, was enjoying the dance of the celestial maidens Urvashi, Ramba, Menaka and Tilothamma, and he had banned the entry of any other male into his harem. Aruna pleaded with the guards but he was thrown out from heaven. Aruna was desperate to see the dance. He turned into a beautiful damsel with his magical powers and reached the gates of heaven to try his luck again. This time he was allowed without a question. He enjoyed the dance of the celestial beauties, but as he was about to return, he was summoned by Indra. The king of gods, Indra, had fallen in love with the female Aruna. In their union, a boy was born, and he was Baali.

Meanwhile, Agnimandavya had withdrawn his curse, and Sheelavati took her husband to the brothel so that he could enjoy with his mistress. She also withdrew her curse and the Sun God woke up. When Aruna came back to Surya after assuming his own form, the Sun God was livid for making him wait. Aruna pleaded with him, but Surya wanted to dismiss Aruna from his service. Cornered, Aurna confessed what happened in heaven. Surya was curious to see the female form of Aruna. There was no way Aruna could object to his master's wish without jeopardizing his job. He turned into a woman and Surya was smitten by the lovely lady. In their union, Sugreeva was born.

Indra, Surya and Aruna were ashamed at what had happened. They didn't know what to do with the two baby boys. Indra took the boys to Sage Gautama and his young wife Ahalya, and asked them to take care of the babies. Indra saw the beautiful Ahalya and fell in love with her. The affair of Ahalya and Indra is another story, told differently in various Puranas and Ramayanas. Baali and Sugreeva were brought up by Ahalya and Gautama, but after Ahalya was cursed by her husband, they were adopted by Riksarajas, a Vanara chief. This is the Brahmanda Purana version, Chapter 42.

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