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So, why did i pick this book up ?  I want to believe that it is another incident where the soul of the universe always shows the path … when you seek answers, you realize that the answer seeks the seeker!

 I have been thinking about what is right & wrong relationship and what works & fails in human relationships  – result of  few counselling assignment at work  –  I  end up listening to the younger generation’s complex personal relationships when it overlaps with professional environments – complex relationships with the first circle of family, relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbours –  how relationships change over time and why relationship is all about how you feel about the other person  –  why everything is fair in love and war – and why there are no rights or wrongs – and why the most important thing is related to heart and not to anything physical – and why  the society needs a framework in which physical relationships had to be given more importance over everything else!

At the outset, from my perspective, it can be a bit of a sticky book to refer in a conservative society (it can be even offensive to some!) –  this book uses”not-so-conservative” but realistic characters/ situations to explain  relationships.  If you appreciate Paulo Coelho’s spiritual perspective, you will find those all over this book  –   you will believe that there is this universal soul which each one of us are part of and the answer seeks the seeker.   The story revolves around the life of a young women who seeks answers –  this book will resonate with those who have the ability to appreciate the human nature and the universal fact that both right and wrong co-exists, both evil and good co-exists and the final realization that there is nothing called right or wrong and nothing belongs to us.

Few of the quotes which i want to remember…

About love

  • She also noted that she associated love with the person’s absence than with their presenceIMG-20130326-00407
  • Freedom only exists when love is present
  • The person who gives him or herself wholly, the person who feels freest, is the person who loves most wholeheartedly
  • The great aim of every human being is to understand the meaning of total love. Love is not to be found in someone else, but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need another person
  • She knows this love was impossible, and yet expecting nothing, she could nevertheless have everything she hoped for from that particular stage of life

About life

  • Does the world want me to take “no” risks, to go back where I came from because I did not have the courage to say YES to life?
  • Sometimes you no second chance and that it is best to accept the gifts the world offers you
  • Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them – And if nothing belongs to me there is no point wasting my time looking after things that are not mine; it is best to live as if today were the first (or last) day of my life
  • Dreaming is very pleasant as long as you are not forced your dreams into practice.That way, we avoid all risks, frustations and difficulties and when we are old we can always blame other people – preferably our parents, spouses, children – for our failure to realize our dreams
  • The true experience of freedom – having the most important thing in the world without owning it
  • Time exists in two dimensions – it can be so quick or so slow – depending on one’s state of mind
  • I will at last have gained one happy day in my life, considering the way world is, one happy day is almost a miracle
  • The universe only makes sense when we have someone to share our feelings with
  • Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. No one wants their life to be thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat of passion under control (Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it – which of the two attitudes is least destructive?)
  •  Desire is not what you see, but what you imagine
  • Could I buy back a few hours of my life? We keep putting up with horrible people,waiting for that right moment to arrive, postponing the realization of dreams
  • When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being whom I am, I found myself. When I experienced. humiliation and submission, I am free
  • What thrilled her about the bird was his freedom, the energy of his wings in motion, not his physical body

About men and women

  • All girls are looking for one of the three things – adventure, money or husband 
  • I was unfaithful and.so were they, just like any other normal couple
  • Resonates with any woman – there are three inside any women – innocent girl, femme fatale and understanding mother
  • Men always take fright when a woman says “I need you”  (i think it works the other way when it comes to patriarchical society  –  men want women to be dependent??)
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Shiva Trilogy 1:The immortals of Meluha – Amish


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 lakeMount 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!

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho


Alchemist

Honestly, this is the second time i am reading the book. I read it five to six years back and just remember that it was a DIFFERENT book. I remember that i did not completely get deeply into the book, but read it and felt it had something which i was not able to relate.

Again, when i picked up this book this time, it really made me read some pages again and again – the depth of the concept was amazing. I am not telling that my grey matter has become much heavier in the last 6 years :). I think i have become more open to see others views – more patient to see the world as it stands and that makes me understand this book much better than what i did the first time. I somehow also get a feeling that in another five years i may get to understand these books much differently than what i do now.

Today, this book evokes in me a unexplainable peace, a confidence on self, a confidence on life -reinforcement that things will go as we want it to go (sounds like James Allen‘s “As a man thinketh“). It reinforces that every small thing / person in this world is part of a bigger scheme. As individuals, we need to listen to our heart and when we honestly make a try to reach towards our destiny, all the things fall in place and make us reach our destiny.

The book can be a looked at as a guide in management training, self-development, and what not?

It reiterates the importance of Love in everyone’s life – loving the world is more important for oneself . Betterment in Love  is a great concept. “When we love, we always strive to become better than what we are. When we strive to become better than what we are, everything around us becomes better, too”

The book is a short story – this is how i looked at it 6 years back. The book is still narrating a story, after all. But the pearls of wisdom in the story are for the reader to pick and cherish.

It goes with my belief when Coelho talks about the “Beginner’s luck” and Principle of Favourability. He says “When people are young, they know what their destinies are. People are capable at any time in their lives of doing what they dream of.” He also says “Every search begins with the beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victors being severely tested”.

Many similar thoughts when it came to the analysis of fear..

  • There is only one thing which makes a dreamimpossible to achieve – the fear of failure.
  • The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.
  • Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the language of the world
  • People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want.

He reiterates the fact that we are all part of a bigger scheme of things – “All things are the manifestation of one thing only. Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected and we are able to know everything because it’s all written there”

The importance of living in present (FISH is a good book to read on this) is covered well ……..

If you concentrate always on the present, you will be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a great festival because life is the moment we are living right now.

The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve on the present what comes later will also be better. When we strive to become better than what we are, everything around us becomes better too. When we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

I am leaving this review open as I strongly believe that I have more to learn in this short book with the years to come.

Reading – made a joy!   God bless! 🙂

Ganesha Habba!


 Swine flu ( hype or real?!)   was kind of sucking the general happiness of Bangalore for the last couple of weeks –  like the dementors in Harry Potter’s magical world!    

Media is all over – reporting every hour on the swine flu, schools are closed down, kids are held back at home with parents, roads are deserted, lots of doctor’s visit for small illness – which we would have ignored on a normal scenario!  I was almost desperate –  ‘Gosh, Bangalore needs a break!’

And then came the most inspiring “Ganesh Habba”  –   real welcome change!   I could see sudden change of mood  –  the festivities, people talking about what to prepare and where to buy the ‘green’  Ganesha!…..There indeed is the much awaited positive energy….like the dementors are pushed away by the power of magic!…

Believers may say it is the presence of Ganesha and Atheists may say it is the positive energy due to the social gatherings!!  Be an atheist or a believer, there is no denying the fact these religious festivals bring in positive energy around!  Ofcourse, these festivities are indeed a great way of keeping the energy levels high!!  I am sure our ancestors are indeed much more intelligent than what we imagine   –  to establish such frameworks to ensure that life’s energy keeps flowing  –   As Paulo Coelho puts it so well in his “Alchemist”   –   “traditions can never go wrong”

Thank you, Ganesha!!

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