I run short of words to describe Ashwin’s work. An author I immensely admire. An author whose works I really love. If it’s Ashwin’s book, it is pre-ordered and read straight in one sitting. And then read again. And again. And again. And when he agreed for an interview, I was on seventh heaven. Often called the Dan Brown of India, Ashwin is back with his third book, The Krishna Key. If you still haven’t got it, you are seriously missing out on something!

The Krishna Key (Published Aug 2012)

Five thousand years ago, there came to earth a magical being called Krishna, who brought about innumerable miracles for the good of mankind. Humanity despaired of its fate if the Blue God were to die but was reassured that he would return in a fresh avatar when needed in the eventual Dark Age, the Kaliyug. In modern times, a poor little rich boy grows up believing that he is that final avatar. Only, he is a serial killer. In this heart-stopping tale, the arrival of a murderer who executes his gruesome and brilliantly thought-out schemes in the name of God is the first clue to a sinister conspiracy to expose an ancient secret, Krishna’s priceless legacy to mankind. Historian Ravi Mohan Saini must breathlessly dash from the submerged remains of Dwarka and the mysterious lingam of Somnath to the icy heights of Mount Kailash, in a quest to discover the cryptic location of Krishna’s most prized possession. From the sand-washed ruins of Kalibangan to a Vrindavan temple destroyed by Aurangzeb, Saini must also delve into antiquity to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice. Ashwin Sanghi, bestselling author of ‘The Rozabal Line’ and ‘Chanakya’s Chant’, brings you yet another exhaustively researched whopper of a plot in ‘The Krishna Key’ while providing an incredible alternative explanation of the Vedic Age that will be relished by conspiracy buffs and thriller addicts alike.

To begin with, I absolutely loved The Krishna Key. It’s a fabulous book connecting the dots between history and mythology. What inspired you to write about Krishna and the Kalki Avatar?
I have always been fascinated by the Mahabharata period. What excites me is not the mythology but the possibility that the epic may be based on historical truths. The Krishna Key is my quest to provide an entertaining read while attempting to nudge Krishna and the Mahabharata from the mythology section of the library into the history section.

Anagrams seem to be your favourite. First Shawn Haigins and now Taarak Vakil in this book. How did your journey with anagrams start?
I was always fond of playing Scrabble and I would often use the same letters over and over again to see how many words I could make with a given set of letters. When I wrote my first novel, The Rozabal Line, I was worried that people may think that my writing was atrocious and wanted to keep my writing persona different and distinct from my business persona. I took the letters in “Ashwin Sanghi”, jumbled them up, and emerged as “Shawn Haigins”.

Your novels travel back to a time that we did not live in and then back into present connecting drawing a pattern on the way. How challenging is it to weave history and fiction?
Nothing is challenging if you are doing what you love. I have always believed that the journey is more important than the destination. I love doing research on historical, theological or mythological topics. I absolutely love building connections between apparently unrelated facts. And yes, I love blurring the boundaries between fiction and fact. It does end up taking me close to two years to research, write, edit and publish a new novel, but I enjoy every moment of that journey.

It is evident from your work, that a lot of time is spent in research before writing the book. How do you verify the authenticity of the material that you come across during your research? After all, history and mythology are two subjects where it is extremely difficult to filter opinion from original events.
Oh absolutely. I always try to find multiple sources for the same material. I also use the internet only as a starting point but eventually turn to published sources. Whenever I am unclear about a particular fact, I try to find an appropriate authority who can help me with my confusion. When needed, I also travel to make sure that I have a first hand view of a given location or monument. Whenever I am dealing with works in languages that I do not understand, for example Sanskrit, Latin or Greek, I try to use the services of an expert translator.

Finally, can you please give us an idea on what you are working on right now?
My first novel, The Rozabal Line, was a theological puzzle about the life of Jesus Christ. My next one, Chanakya’s Chant, was a political mystery about the connection between an ancient and modern Chanakya. My third, The Krishna Key, is a mythological thriller dealing with Krishna as a historical character. With my fourth, I would like to take a break from ancient history and use modern history as my backdrop. I am researching an event that happened in 1948 and would like to write my next story based on this particular event.


ABOUT ASHWIN: Ashwin Sanghi’s first novel, The Rozabal Line was self-published in 2007 under his pseudonym, Shawn Haigins. The theological thriller based upon the theory that Jesus died in Kashmir was subsequently published by Westland in 2008 in India under his own name and went on to become a national bestseller, remaining on national bestseller lists for several months.

Ashwin’s second novel, Chanakya’s Chant, a political thriller with roots in ancient Mauryan history, shot into almost every bestseller list in India within a few weeks of launch. The novel went on to win the Crossword-Vodafone Popular Choice Award and UTV acquired the movie rights to the book. The novel continues to dominate the fiction charts.

Ashwin’s third offering, The Krishna Key, a fast-paced and riveting thriller that explores the ancient secrets of the Vedic age and the Mahabharata. It was released in August 2012 and shot to #1 on the A.C. Nielsen all-India fiction rankings within the first week of its release.

Ashwin is an entrepreneur by profession but writing historical fiction in the thriller genre is his passion and hobby. Ashwin was educated at Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai, and St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He holds a masters degree from Yale and is working towards a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. Ashwin lives in Mumbai with his wife, Anushika, and his son, Raghuvir.

To know more about Ashwin & his work, visit http://www.ashwinsanghi.com/