The Greatest Battle of Culture: A Story of Harappans by Panigrahi Bethi Book Review

Post Category: Novels
The Greatest Battle of Culture: A story of Harappans by Panigrahi Bethi book review blog Indian Book Critics

Book: The Greatest Battle of Culture: A Story of Harappans

Author: Panigrahi Bethi

Publication: April 29, 2024

Pages: 153

Genre: Historical Fiction, Novella

Review by: Anand S J



After reading this book by Panigrahi Bethi, I reached (at least) one conclusion. The author, Panigrahi, is a good storyteller. He can entertain readers with the cobweb of (an otherwise simple) story. He masterfully manipulates the speed of the storyline, the critical points of the plot, and the entrances and exits of the characters. The Greatest Battle of Culture: A Story of Harappans is indeed what the title pronounces. Panigrahi takes liberty as a fiction author, adds layers of imagination, twists and turns, and presents the Indus Valley’s golden days in a neatly reproduced package as a novella. The cultural exchange between the Aryans and the Harappans takes the form of a covert war, at times apparent with assassinations and attacks, where plotting against each other goes on till the very end.


Panigrahi’s story has interesting characters. The Aryans have Purusha, Varuna, and Ashwin. The Harappans have their leader, Baguhara, called Chief, and his wise, beautiful, and brave daughter, Armitam. Many others excel in engineering, agriculture, irrigation, and the arts. The story begins with the Aryans settling near the Harappan town. Purusha, the brave warrior, and Ashwin, the counsel to Purusha, cunning and wise enough to persuade, begin their venture to assimilate with the Harappans and understand their ways of life. Ashwin sways Purusha to speed up the process or strike and use force over the Harappan settlers, as the Aryans were superior to the Harappans. Varuna, the wise counsel and an understanding person in the Aryan leadership group, suggests against Ashwin’s plans and warns Purusha of the probable Harappan retaliation.


As the story progresses, the Aryans begin to note the marvels of engineering and arts in the Harappan town. Meanwhile, Purusha falls in love with Armita, who takes the initiative to confess her heart’s secrets to Purusha. However, the otherwise smooth story of cultural assimilation finds its first twist, and Purusha dies in an abrupt ambush by the Harappans. Armita conveys to her father a few gems of wisdom and mourns the demise of Purusha, her valiant lover.


Varuna takes the initiative from the Aryan side to initiate cultural exchange steadily and mutually. It works out positively. Armita and Varuna plan things out so the two clans can share their knowledge and richness. The Aryan supremacy in philosophy, poetry, and spirituality takes over Harappan’s mind and heart. They find themselves overwhelmed by the quality of poetry of the Vedas and other philosophical, religious and spiritual texts of the Aryans. On the other hand, the Aryans began to admire the engineering, arts, planning, and rich agricultural practices of the Harappans.


Things go with bitter-sweet fate. Armita marries Bharadwaja, a scholarly Aryan young man. Their son, Maharudra, becomes the king of the joint Aryan-Harappan society. The Aryans’ relentless war pursuits continue, winning city after city. There are a few more plot twists:

  • The divide between fundamentalists among Harappans and Aryans
  • The exodus of the Harappans to the South
  • The ‘compositions’ of a few famous Hindu epics by the Aryans

You can read all these in the novella. It is readable, enjoyable, and also fast!



Critical Observations:

The author confesses to having based his ‘story’ on various genome studies. In the prologue, Panigrahi announces that the Aryans were nomadic and reached the Harappan settlement, somehow wandering from south-eastern Europe. First, many scientists and historians (including Thapar, R) have already conceded that the Aryans were a linguistic group, not a biological one. So, the genome study argument may seldom hold. To quote Romila Thapar,


“Aryan is a linguistic and cultural category and not a biological one.”


“It is assumed that genetic analyses can provide some evidence of human population origins and social history in India. But so far, the results have been contradictory, and historians find it difficult to use them with any certitude.”


Therefore, readers should read this incredible story as it is—one that offers captivating cultural clashes and bonhomie moments. It rightfully observes human nature. As I put it earlier, Panigrahi is a skilled storyteller! He has offered readers a chance to glimpse human civilisation at function when faced with challenges that put the very existence and cultural originality at risk! Harappans and the Aryans have their moments of struggles, friendship, enmity, envy, gratitude, appreciation, rejection, celebration and departure! The story offers us a quick recapitulation of what the human life stands for!


Panigrahi skilfully conveys that India stands for unity, acceptance, and assimilation. The challenges posed by the spread of Buddhism, the counter by the Bhagavad Gita, the spread of life and miracles, with the messages of Sri Krishna, the acceptance of the saviour Krishna in the new lands of the Harappans… everything defines the core of India. This land seldom wishes to run down any belief or ideology. It accepts it and creates a new, grand, all-inclusive, and pluralistic idea that swallows the challenge!



The story is fast. It takes just a few hours to read it and reach the conclusion, with Sri Krishna capturing the centre stage. However, the beginning of the Aryan-Harappan clash offers an accurate image of the storyteller’s art. Purusha’s rise and demise are a statement of Panigrahi’s storytelling! There are many more moments of brilliance in the first few chapters. After Bharadwaja-Armita’s marriage, there are also a few moments of excitement in the plot. Overall, the story is worth reading, and I suggest approaching it with an open mind that can celebrate the author’s storytelling!


You can get a copy of this novella from Amazon India. Click the link below:


Get a copy now – click here.



Review by Anand Shiv J for Indian Book Critics

The Greatest Battle of Culture: A Story of Harappans by Panigrahi Bethi Book Review
  • IBC Rating


It is interesting, fast, quick to read, and entertaining! It is a historical clash recapitulated with twists you would not imagine.

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