Book Review: The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

I really am short of words at expressing the sense of bewilderment that grips me while trying to finish reading this book. It is a tale (?) cum lecture (?) cum thriller (??) that tries too hard to present a lot of ‘research’ in the garb of a serial killer suspense novel. The presentation of this research (mainly carried out on the sites mentioned in the Mahabharata) is quite loud, preachy and pretentious. In the name of  supplying the reader with enough details- historical and otherwise, places such as Kalibangan, Dwarka, Somnath, Mount Kailash and Vrindavan have been historically profiled. In my opinion, these profiles should remain the sole reasons behind the novel’s significance, if any at all. The Krishna Key fails to engage the reader with its exceedingly boring plot inundated with a host of characters, events and ideas and a childish technique which is predictable to say the least.

In a way, the narrator of the tale happens to be Vishnu’s incarnation Krishna himself. It is his voice through which we have an entry to the 108 chapters of the novel. Instead of a breathtaking who-dun-it tale that TKK could have been, what we have in its place is a plot gone stunningly bizarre. None of the characters are allowed to develop enough to let the  reader remember him or her by the time their reference in the text is over. The tedious second half of the book is all the more sluggish.

The language of the book is unimpressive. Throughout its text, The Krishna Key seems to be a constant attempt by the author at nothing more than translating Hindi and Sanskrit lines and dialogues into English. At times the verbal exchanges begin to sound artificial and unrealistic. To illustrate:

Mataji nodded appreciatively. ‘Good. Now let us examine the salient features of a Shiv lingam, shall we? It’s made of two parts. The first is a cylindrical structure made of polished stone. The second is the surrounding coils or grooves ending in a spout. in Shiv temples, a pot of water hangs over the cylindrical structure, allowing for water to continuously drip on it at regular intervals. This water then empties itself out through the spout,’ she explained, pointing to each of the constituent elements as she described them.” (p.40).

The book does not succeed in presenting a coherent narrative of whatever it is that it tries to present. Hindu mythology in general and the Mahabharata in particular form the background. A number of characters are killed in the story by the time the reader realises that they actually have been. Regarding the flow of the narrative, there is little sense one can make of it, thanks to its movement back and forth in time and place.

In brief, The Krishna Key turns out to be quite disappointing. Both as a thriller as well as a fictional reconstruction of the ‘mythological’ past, this one surely does not stand up to the mark.


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52 thoughts on “Book Review: The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi”

  1. Ha ha ha! Who put you in the ‘Chakravyuh’ of reviewing this book? Beware the ides of March!! And beware the sites that offer crappy works for review! You have well transferred your exasperation into your post. It is also a fine analysis.

  2. धन्यवाद! पौराणिक कथाओं एवं महाकाव्यों पर आधारित आधुनिक उपन्यास लिखने का प्रयास बहुत लोग करते हैं। बहुत कम हैं जो सफल हो पाते हैं। जैसे हिन्दी में नरेंद्र कोहली हैं और आजकल अङ्ग्रेज़ी में देवदत्त पटनायक हैं, वैसा काम बहुत कम देखने को मिलता है। अङ्ग्रेज़ी में इरावती कर्वे भी याद आती हैं।

    पर आप समीक्षाएं लिखने में निस्संदेह सफल हैं।

    -हितेन्द्र अनंत

    1. धन्यवाद.

      नरेन्द्र कोहली की याद दिला दी आप ने. क्या खूब है उनका ‘बंधन’ में भीष्म पितामह की दुविधाओं का चित्रण. देवदत्त पटनायक और इरावती कार्वे को भी पढ़ने का अवसर मिला है. कहाँ हैं वो महान लेखक??? इरावती कार्वे का एक मैग्नम ओपस समाजशास्त्रीय विवेचन है “kinship organisation in india”. समय मिले तो ज़रूर देखिएगा! मजेदार है बहुत!

  3. I am done with a nice book, Chankya’s Chant by the same author, who has rolled out this, The Krishna Key. I must tell you that Chankya’s Chant is an amazing book; loved reading each and every page of this book. But, now, i believe, i shouldn’t go for this Krishna thing. By the way, you’ve been writing some great posts these days:) Keep it up, bro!

  4. Great review 🙂 I guess after the success of “The Immortals of Meluha”, this mythology genre is picking up in India. Too bad that they don’t repeat its success.

  5. HI ,MORNDAY HI,,DOT,BLESSING YOUR PAGE…..“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.’” Isaiah 48:17 (ESV)

    Are you waking up today with a serious case of the Mondays? Does your life feel like a prison that is keeping you bound in chains of grief, shame, guilt, and sin? Sometimes we need a good reminder of how free we are and why praise and thankfulness should always be on our lips.

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10, ESV)

    1. humph, spare us the pretentious preaching “sister”… we are moving in the global world here, not in some bible-land. And, please !!! there is no need to assume that people are waking up feeling guilty, it is insulting to the readers of this blog, maybe you wake up like that, but we don’t. There are more ways of living right than by being a Christian or stuffing the bible down other people’s throats, thank you very much.
      And, yes I was raised as a western Christian, but I am a thinking person first.

  6. hehehe! pretty much the same conclusion I cam to in my review too! The effort in the research is obvious, but the whole thing lacks the depth and the soul that Chanakya’a Chants did!! Good review.

  7. I was depressed after reading this! No. Your review is nice. Its just that I loved Chanakya’s chant so much and I got this to read a few days back and am so excited to! And now – 😐
    Thanks btw. I have to read it anyway but will keep the expectations low atleast..

  8. The Chanakya Chant had me pumped up enough to pre-order this poor cousin (poor as in B.P.L) of The DaVinci Code+Angels&Demons+The Lost Symbol+ Mahabharata-For-Dummies. Now that this book has hit the stands, if the tenth avatar of Vishnu does come charging like some Hindu Hulk, I know whose ass He’ll be after first.
    Mr. Sanghi, don’t ever do this again.

  9. True that it can get preachy at times but it is indeed a well researched book. If you love thrillers, then it won’t disappoint you but if you are reading it for its mythological significance then you’re looking at the wrong place.

  10. I was exasperated after reading this copy, such a blatant copy of Dan Brown, I wrote about it on my blog too. I am fan of Devdutt Patnaik but have’t had the good fortune of reading Narendra Kohli. Thanks for introducing me to the author. I will certainly find his books and read.

  11. i dont know if i should say it or not but the novel is the dumbest fiction book i’v ever read. i finished 250 pages and will continue to read just to see how dumb the writer is. if you search on net you will find that so many things mentioned in the novel are already on the net for so many yrs. for ex the radioactivity around jaipur. then on page 122 the para “we cannot disregard…………………………emit radiation” is almost taken from net. if u just type the name of A A Gorbovsky you will get this material. and you will not find any references for any of these facts nywhere. then the interpretation on page 212 of what krishna says in geeta about his non-destructible nature and that he is the seed of all life. mataji or i would say the writer interprets it as “Krishna is still alive” Seriously!!!!! can it get any dumber. and this idea is one of the main ideas around which the story revolves.
    and above all in flipkart reviews, readers are comparing it with The da vinci code. i wonder who these “readers” are…
    total waste of money and time..

  12. i didn’t like the ending ,after all the history and mythological reasoning,he left the climax hanging in the dome.:D

  13. Hi there thank you so much for writing this review. I thought i was the only one who felt this way after reading the book. The guy has so much of good imagination which could have been put to better use but unfortunately he insisted on trying to copy the western style of writing. Very dissappointed 😦

  14. Dear Friend ! I am a language addict. Don’t tempt me with a language that has such a fantastic script and is probably more than I can handle at my age… I’ll think about it…

  15. thnx for that wonderfull review…i did not take the pain to finish it as i knew that it would never have a sensible end

  16. I loved your review. I read the book and my opinion isn’t any different from yours. I got constantly irritated with the situations/people and the writing style. Like you said, it’s preachy…and feels kind of amateur, because of so many questions left unanswered.

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