A Short History of Brahminical Colonisation of Kerala
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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.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.
In the Media
The glorification of the asura ruler Mahabali disrupts the decades-long attempt of the Sangh parivar to imprison Kerala within the walls of a fictional Hindu monolith, and their hopes, like that of their predecessors, to sell off an entire society to a crony clutch of billionaires and trillionaires.—from an excerpt in The Hindu
A.V. Sakthidharan sketches the cultural and spiritual roots of festivals, deities and faiths, and underlines the insidious ways in which Brahmanical traditions have co-opted them.—Hindustan Times
An interview with A.V. Sakthidharan appeared in Indian Cultural Forum
Antigod’s Own Country: A Short History of Brahminical Colonisation of Kerala takes us to the roots of the many non-Aryan deities and myths that dot the coast of Kerala.—from an excerpt published in Indian Cultural Forum
‘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