- 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!
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!!