Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Krishna Key” is about an ancient secret related to the Hindu god Krishna. The existence of the secret and its revelation become possible when Anil Varshney discovers 4 almost identical seals during excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization sites. Varshney though is murdered by an unknown assailant in a peculiar manner. But prior to his death, Anil has sent these seals to his closest friends, one of which is historian Ravi Mohan Saini. Ravi ends up being suspected of Varshney’s murder and thus begins a chase across India in a bid to protect the remaining seals, Varshney’s friends, discovering the ancient secret & Varshney’s murderer.
The book is well researched and contains a truck load of information, both mythological and historical. It encompasses various topics, from the Mahabharata epic to Krishna and the Vedas to the Indus Valley Civilization and the mystical submerged city of Dwarka. Since my knowledge on these topics ranges from very basic to almost non-existent, I found this book very educative. Sanghi’s various interpretations are inventive and sensible. In other words, the book makes interesting the subjects which otherwise would have been tedious to read about.
Despite being full of interesting facts and arousing my curiosity, there were many aspects of this book which did not work for me. The main problem I had, was with the characterization of the protagonist Professor Saini. I was completely indifferent to this character. He does not evoke any emotions at all. Another character in a historical thriller comes to mind; Dr. Robert Langdon and I couldn’t help but compare the two. Both of them are experts in their fields and extremely knowledgeable, constantly spewing arcane facts, but while Langdon comes across as warm & charming, and reminds you of that one favorite teacher you had who “gets it”; Saini is like a robot who joins the ranks of those teachers that march past your life and give you all the pertinent information without making the slightest impression.
The unnecessarily convoluted plot does not help improve the story. After a point it began to read like a Bollywood masala film; what with all the murders, which for me are never satisfactorily justified; two escapes from custody by Professor Saini, one of which is achieved; in true filmi style; by toppling a police jeep on the way to prison; and an underworld don featured towards the end. I could feel the story being stretched to the breaking point but the author kept puffing more n more air into the balloon. The result is a brilliant historical, mythological backdrop with a nondescript protagonist and a plot which is all over the place.
In addition to the characterization and plot, there is one other albeit minor element but it irked so much that I feel I need to mention it. You know when you watch a film, it flashbacks to scenes already shown just to remind the viewer of a certain incident or dialogue, usually used in mysteries and thrillers during the big revelation at the end to explain the chain of events & also refresh the viewer’s memory. Sanghi uses this device in this book by reproducing segments of entire dialogues and scenes from earleir chapters, in Italics. He does it so often that it breaks the flow of his narrative and at the worse possible times. Personally, a simple allusion to the said incident or dialogue would have been enough to jog my memory. After a point it just became insulting because it showed that the author lacked confidence in his readers to figure it out.
In conclusion, I would say I am not unhappy that I took the time to read this book because it introduced me to many historical, mythological theories which I would have never read on their own. But a tight plot or a strong memorable protagonist would have immensely increased the enjoyment I gleaned from this book.
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