- Author – Amish
- Category – Fiction mixed with history/mythology
- My rating – 3.5 on 5
I bought this book only at the third try -
First time, when I spotted it in Crosswords at Bangalore Airport, it was the cover which captured my attention – I glanced through the summary and the review on the back cover – When I read the two line review in the back cover from Business world “Amish……. is well on his way to becoming the Paulo Coelho of the east…”, I started contemplating – Should I drop the already selected “I have a Dream – Rashmi Bansal” and go for this book - I may get time only for one book during the travel…..!!! Given that Rashmi Bansal was already recommended by Shiva himself (it is my friend’s name, pun intended though!), I decided for her book.
Second time, I got an offer from a blog community to review the two books of the Shiva Trilogy (second one is “The secret of Nagas”). If I agree to review and post the review in my blog, the blog community will ship those two books to me free of cost. I was tempted but there was a catch - they wanted the review to be completed within 15 days…I just dropped this offer, given that I do not even know if I will like this book to make me read the second one ….and 15 days is too short for my speed!!
Third time, we were in Landmark and picking some books on my kid’s birthday…while both the kids were skimming through the rows of book, I was doing my rounds and saw this book again…the cover continued to seek attention…and then I saw this 3 for 2 offer in landmark………..and this came as the third one…..though it is reasonably priced at Rs. 195/-, getting something free makes a feel good factor……and finally I got it.
Given that I got it over a weekend, I started reading it immediately and at the middle of first chapter, I WAS HOOKED. Not sure if it was the influence of the review comparing Amish with Paulo Coelho OR it is the effect of living in a Temple town of Siva for a considerable part of my life and being in the family of shiva worshippers, I took to fancy this setting. The story is set in 1900 BC, what is the era of Indus valley civilization. The settings are very familiar if you know the history and geography of North India - Mansarovar lake, Mount Kailash, Srinagar, Hariyuppa (Harappa), Mohan jo daro, Karachapa (Karachi?), Devagiri, Ayodha, Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, Sarayu, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Narmada. The characters are again very familiar for all who would have heard Indian mythology - Siva, Sati, Daksha, Nandi, Lord Ram, Brahaspathi, Veerabhagu,….
So, what is new?
I think it is the way Amish has treated the subject - he has the right mix of action, love and adventure which is required for a fiction, used facts from religion and folklore and has the right mix of mythology and history, and then……….the messages for the reader, through the all-powerful character Shiva (which probably gets an edge of advantage over other characters) ….every passage is open to interpretation………and makes it interesting to contemplate on the facts - Few of the notes from this book depicting the interesting mixture…
SPIRITUALITY: Siva himself advocates that, God is everywhere. When asked about his belief in God, Siva responds “I don’t believe in symbolic Gods. I believe that the real God exists all around us. In the flow of the river, in the rustle of the trees, in the whisper of winds,. He speaks to all of us all the time. All we need to do it listen.”
“His burden did not feel any lighter. But he felt strong enough to carry it.”
“They are not evil. They are just different.”
HEALTH AND SCIENCE: When Amish shares the Oxygen/anti-oxidants theory (refer “Radical Proposal” by Kathryn Brown in Scientific Americana) it gels so well with the story and the context …. “ What keeps us alive? Energy is a fundamental thing to keep us alive. We use energy when we do anything. This energy comes from food we eat. Food stores energy, which we can expend in our body. The conversion of food to energy in our body is done by the air we breathe. Oxygen in air helps to release energy from food. The very thing which keeps us alive is also what causes us to age and eventually die. When oxygen reacts with food to release energy, it also releases free radicals called oxidants which are toxic. Any fruit left outside rot as the oxidants react with it. We also rust from inside out and age and die. Body stores food/water – you can survive without food for few days or few days of thirst will not kill you. But body does not store oxygen, the most crucial component of staying alive. The explanation is that body realises that despite being an elixir, oxygen is also a poison.
LOVE: When Daksha says “Man has the intense desire to impress the person he loves most”, it is justified why he is hoping Siva will marry Sati.
WOMAN: This is a stunner …when even experienced intelligent souls are struggling to understand woman, this simple definition really fits the requirement well – if only all men understand this secret….”The most powerful force in a woman’s life is the need to be appreciated, loved and cherished for what she is”
SOCIETY: This is in line with what I went across my mind in the context of marriage Vs Osho’s suggestion. Amish consolidated it well “What any successfully society needs is “Flexibility with Stability”. Flexibility is required because every single person has different dreams and capabilities. Flexibility in a society allows change3, so that all its members have the space to discover their true selves and grow to their potential. And if every person in a society achieves his true potential, society as a whole also achieves its true potential. Society must remain stable so that we don’t put each other in a situation of having to fight for survival. People can pursue their dreams only when they are living in a society where survival is not a daily threat.
The lengthy description of some of the events could have been more crispy and would have helped to keep up the tempo……………..Nevertheless, a decent book to read!
Category - History ; Rating - 3.5 ; Comment - Choice of Freedom is with the individual!!
Ok, it was the Daniel Craig factor to start with - ofcourse, who will not recognize the Bond….James Bond!! When the movie progressed, all I saw was the strength of the Jewish leader who had so much positive outlook and humanity even during the toughest times of second world war!!
Adapted from Nechama Tec’s book “Defiance: The Bielski Partisans”, this movie gives the account of the life of Bielki Partisans. They were led by four Jewish brothers who saved the Jews during the tough world war 2 days in Poland.
While the entire movies plot is available readily in Wikipedia if you care to read, the following are something you will notice when you watch the movie
Leadership skills - When you put others in front of you, you become a leader in no time Theories of Viktor Frankl - Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way
Concept of Right and Wrong - While Tuvia wants to be a fair leader, his younger brother Zus gets carried away and joins the Soviet - while it looks bad, Zus strongly exhibits the school of thought that what matters is the END and not how we reach there;
Love for life - When they initially decide to ban newborns into the camp and when it actually happens, the way they react - again establishes the fact that women are much stronger than men!! :)
A movie to watch!!!
Category - History ; Rating - 3.5 ; Comment - Forgiveness and Leadership by example!
Invictus is Latin and means ‘unconquered’. When i watched this movie, what struck me was the critical importance of respecting your enemies (are they?) for what they are and getting them on your side. This indeed is a great leadership quality. Not just in politics, but this skill is very much required in corporates and personal life. How many such mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world would have been raving success if this leadership quality is practiced……..How many marriages would have been saved if this quality is practiced in personal lives…..
The interview between Nelson Mandela and the Rugby captain is a MUST WATCH for aspiring leaders.
Just to add value to my page, i wanted to repeat the poem Invictus here (Victorian poem by English poet William Ernest Henley)
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul
Category - History ; Rating - 3 ; Comment - About the lines that divide us & the HOPE that unites us!
While i visited the holocaust memorial in Europe almost 15 years back, it was not as disturbing as it was watching this movie - one of the strongest reason is my ignorance in world history at that time. I only knew Hitler as a dictator, but not in detail. My imagination of how bad Hitler could have been was limited to the knowledge of the Asuras in Indian mythology. Over the years, the reading habits have brought in the required knowledge about the terrible history and now watching a movie like this one brings in those emotions as a human being and more importantly the parent! It is a tough movie to watch, but then it was indeed a well depicted movie!