October 3, 2011

Two of the Shiva trilogy...

(A brief review of the The Immortals of Meluha and Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi)

It was after a long time that I read a book cover-to-cover in one sitting (well almost)! The last one I read was the Devi Bhagvatam – absolutely fascinating to the core... what I got from that book will probably never be written on this blog, rather, it can’t be written. And before anything else, there is no comparison whatsoever between Amish’s books and the Devi Bhagvatam. Please... get that straight.

That said, let’s come back to the two books that caught my fancy in terms of devoted time – The Immortals of Meluha and Secret of the Nagas – both authored by Amish Tripathi.

For a quick introduction, the Shiva trilogy is a work of fiction with Indian mythological characters and philosophy as its base.  Needless to say Shiva is the central character depicted as a raw, ruthless tribal who comes to realise his ‘godhood’ as events unfurl in his life. The author has also tried to bring in a contemporary relevance to the entire thing and there are parts where you can relate to current issues irrespective of whether or not the author intended to do that in the first place.

The language is essentially ‘everyday’ and doesn’t evoke a sense of the literary pleasures of reading. But still you can’t put it down till you are done with it. Maybe that’s the beauty of it. It flows effortlessly and you can read fast! So what was it about the books that made me read them without putting them down??

Firstly, they are all Shiva and I am an ardent ‘fan’ of Shiva – the Shiv tatva, the Shiva energy, the Shiva bearing or whatever other names we may have. Now don’t ask me to explain what that means... I can’t. And I won’t elaborate further on this.

Secondly, the author has beautifully hinted upon historical events and placed them in a fashion that can still be related to. Even the names of his characters and geographical locations find a base in our historical setting. Though the plot is fictitious, this resemblance simply reflects the author’s intensive homework... right from the Kailash Parbat and Mansarovar to the Indus Valley civilisation (which is also known as Meluha) to Kashi, Ayodhya, Bengal, Magadh, Dandakaranya and Panchvati. His description of these places somewhere poked me about them being present situations too. For example, the book mentions areas like Magadh, parts of Bengal and Orissa as being infected with plague with generation after generation battling the epidemic. What I read and later found out was that the Magadh region (which geographically denotes present day Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and a little from Bengal and Orissa) even today has alarming levels of plague, malaria and dengue... to the level of epidemic.

His depiction of different kinds of society, outlooks, perspectives, concepts of good and evil, god and human, etc. somewhere seemed to make sense in my understanding of social and political situations. The book is not an antidote and does not provide solutions but it gave a fresh perspective on what a section of our society would think like.

Specifically, I loved the way he has portrayed Sati, Shiva’s wife and his relationship with her – of mutual respect and love. She is a daring woman, highly dignified, brave and intelligent warrior, a good student and most importantly one who does not compromise on her self-esteem. And yes... she upholds Shiva’s respect to the helm and is ready to take on the world for him. And so does he! Shiva is himself unabashed, uncouth to an extent, smokes grass and gives an impression of being ‘cool’ and ‘chilled’. He has his own inner demons and a troubled past that he is unable to let go of. But what is striking of him is his compelling search for his inner soul, trying to make sense of his ‘purpose’, the love for his wife and child, his ability to see through things, give an entire new meaning to his ‘purpose’ and his sincere attempts to live up to the title bestowed upon him – the Neelkanth.

Though the book goes all good-good and win-win for Shiva (which pulls it down from being a collector’s item), it lightly touches upon issues of caste, untouchability, dirty politics, geographical identity divide, unjust rules to mention a few. His depiction of the societal laws, the need to revise them as per the time and conditions, constantly look out for the larger good all seem to make sense but do not provide any solutions. They tend to get lost in philosophy. Not that the book is expected to provide solutions; its purpose is entertainment. But what I’d like to see more in the third part is the demons in Shiva’s mind and his past which seems to be relevant to his present condition.

Waiting for the third in series – Oath of the Vayuputras...

Best Always!


Sonali said...

Great review and very well written ... :)

Biprashish said...

Interesting review. Would try & read the book to get a complete feel. Looking forward to your review of the third book as well.