Historical fiction is still a nascent area for Indian authors. History is a bit easier to write so is fiction. When these two are merged together then it becomes a bit more challenging since it requires introducing fiction in known history and creating a sense of doubt in the mind of readers. The doubt which the author introduces – a conflict between what is in the book and what is commonly accepted to be truth - is the fine line between an average book and an awesome one. Add well rounded philosophy to it and it takes a book to the absolute next level.
Debutante author - Sai Swaroopa’s “Abhaya” is all this and more. She’s been tremendously successful in implanting doubt about actual history in the readers mind. So much so that I went back to refresh what actually happened versus what’s in the book. The plot, philosophy, protagonists, antagonists are all very well defined and developed. Though the story is set in times of Krishna, the problems that Krishna & Abhaya face and, problems facing Bharatavarsha are dealt in a very contemporary way. For instance, Atulya Prabha and her quest to clean Ganga is seemingly inspired by the Namami Gange project and also the yeoman service being done by Temsutula Imsong, Darshika Seth and Mission Parijat. The idea of women empowerment and girl child equality is also propounded as extensions of thoughts espoused in Vedas.
Her take on various aspects of Sanatana Dharma such as Moksha, Faith, Arya Dharma etc. are refreshing and unique. For instance, in the book, on the discussion of what is Arya Dharma, Swaroopa has the main protagonists discuss thus:
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