What is the history of those depicted as asuras in India? What happens when Adivasi, Dravidian, Buddhist and Dalit narratives, with their egalitarian spirituality, confront an invasive brahminism? What is the counter-narrative to the ritually reancted murders of Mahishasura, Ravana and Bali? Is the trouble over Sabarimala merely about an unrepentant patriarchy?
Antigod’s Own Country reveals the histories that are contested in the South Indian state of Kerala. At the centre of the story that A.V. Sakthidharan charts is the asura king, Mahabali, whose subjugation—commemorated annually as Onam—became symbolic of the fate of the first peoples of the state in the face of Aryan domination. This book examines the multifarious origins of the myths of non-Aryan deities like Mutthappan, Suyodhana, various mother goddesses, all the way up to the cult of Ayyappan.
‘A powerful book… Every god needs an antigod’—Anand Neelakantan, author, Asura: Tale of the Vanquished
‘Offers an instructive overview of Kerala’s religious and cultural heterogeneity’—Manu S. Pillai, author, Rebel Sultans
‘Reading Sakthidharan, we realise that myths are often subversive and contrary’—Arshia Sattar, translator, Valmiki’s Ramayana
‘Forces us to rethink categories of deva and asura, good and evil, right and wrong’—Samhita Arni, author, Sita’s Ramayana
A.V. Sakthidharan has worked as a journalist for close to four decades and retired from The Hindustan Times in Delhi as Assistant Editor in 2006. This is his first book.