Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Book Review: Ramayana: The Game of Life Book #3 ~ Stolen Hope

Book: Ramayana: The Game of Life Book #3 ~ STOLEN HOPE
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Genre: Religion & Philosophy
Pages: 296
Price: 299 INR

Blurb: In the evil labyrinths of Dandakaranya forest, human values are put to test. Rama’s righteousness, Lakshmana’s loyalty and Sita’s endurance reflect our own sense of values and judgment in difficult times. The story unfolds the facets of human life – the conflict and the trickery, the praise and the slander and, above all, the hope and the despair in the eventful forest life of the Exiled Royals.

Stolen Hope is about extreme deception and extreme love. It is about arrogant power and deep devotion. With every twist and turn, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana find themselves robbed of whatever and whoever they value most. 

Exploring the dynamics of human relations – between father and son, husband and wife, teacher and disciple – and the complex game of power and greed, Stolen Hope mirrors our own dilemmas in the modern world and teaches us how we must overcome them. 

Seek courage when everything, including hope, is stolen.

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Review:

I had read the last book of the Ramayana Series, which was Shattered Dreams. You can read my review of Shattered Dreams here. Just like the earlier book, Stolen Hope was a beautiful and enriching read. I could learn various facts about Ramayana by reading this book and they were narrated in such an engrossing manner that I was hooked to the book. The footnotes in the book provided profound philosophies and some beautiful wisdom that changed the way I thought about many things.

The author had written a message for me that he hopes the life lessons stated in the book become my lifetime companions. Well, he was right because the life lessons were indeed life changing and enriching.

The Book #3 of Ramayana, Stolen Hope starts from the point when Rama, Sita and Lakshmana relocates to the Dandakaranya Forests. Their days are filled with adventure. Sometimes, they come across ferocious demons, whereas other times they learn interesting stories from the various sages who inhabit the jungle.

When Rama learns about how the demons have been tormenting and killing innocent sages in Dandakaranya, he takes a vow to erase them from earth. As destined, after meeting the super sage Agastya, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita relocates to Panchavati which is closer to Janathana, the hub of demons. 

They complete 13 years of their exile and feel exhilarated with every passing day because their time to return Ayodhya had almost arrived. However, a catastrophe hits their life in the form of Surpanakha when she falls in love with Rama as soon as she sets her eyes on him.

The abduction of Sita, the death of Jatayu while saving her and Rama's misery on knowing the truth is beautifully narrated. The book ends with Rama meeting Shabari in Matanga rishi's ashram, who has been waiting for Rama's arrival in the ashram since 13 years. Shabari gives Rama a trail map to reach Sugriva, the leader of wonder-monkeys who can help him to reach his wife.

The beauty of this Ramayana Series is the philosophies it contain along with narrating the events from the epic. Here are some glimpses:

1. When people are inspired, they depend on themselves and in turn, become dependable. When people are impressed, they depend on others and in turn become dependent.

2. Doubting another's character is like whipping a relationship. Character assassination is actually relationship assassination.

3. When one falls in love, one can't find any fault in the beloved. The real test of love comes when there is a reason to find you still find perfection?

4. External competition is a sign of internal discontent. 

5. The science to control things also brings in the desire to control people. Whereas things behave the way you want, people behave the way they want.

There are some beautiful moments in this book that touched my heart. The place where Jatayu meets Rama, Sita and Lakshmana for the first time and the place where Shabari tells Rama how she has been waiting for him for the last 13 years are heart touching. This book also shows Lakshmana's patience and the deep bonding between Rama and Sita. 

If you want to know about Ramayana in detail, you must read this series. It is written in a very interesting and gripping way. This book can be a perfect self-help book for anyone. As the book contains the summary of the earlier 2 parts, it is not mandatory to read the earlier 2 books in order to understand it. 

I am looking forward to the Book #4 of the series where Rama will meet Sugriva and Hanuman.

Indian Bloggers

Friday, 8 January 2016

Book Review: She: Ekla Cholo Re

Book: She: Ekla Cholo Re
Author: Santosh Avvannavar | Dr Shayan Haq
Publisher: Hoffen
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 58
Price: 149 INR

Blurb: Set in the backdrop of 1990 Calcutta, She is a story about finding one’s own identity in spite of all odds. The story spins around the life of Kusum, a brave heart whose identity is often untitled and blurred; it does not belong anywhere, definitely not under the ‘he’ or ‘she’ bracket, thanks to our social conditioning. Will she be successful in her mission? Find out in She, an utterly absorbing read that derives inspiration from Tagore’s “Ekla Cholo Re” song, which urges everyone to move on despite the fear of abandonment from others. 

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Review: 

I completed reading this book in less than an hour and after finishing this book, I thought about it for the entire day. One of the little gems that I have been able to discover because the author was generous to send me a copy for review.

When I saw the book, I was skeptical about the impact that this small book of 58 pages can bring. However, as I began reading, I was totally hooked to it. The narration is lucid and the language is simple yet profound. The pace of the book is so fast that I finished it within an hour. 

The book deals with the life of a person named Kusum who doesn't fit into the conventional male female category. Despite the several stones and pebbles that society have hurled at her for being a transgender, she stood up on her own feet, undaunted. She embarked on a new journey after being abandoned by her parents and lover. Following the song of Tagore, Ekla Cholo Re, she chose to walk alone. She created her own identity and completed her graduation in psychology.

A professor called Rajendra notices a beautiful, young woman on an isolated road one day and immediately offers her a lift. She introduces herself as Kusum and he introduces himself as Raj.

Their conversation in the car forms the crux of the story. They instantly share a great rapport and start talking about a lot of things from marriage to music. Raj also invites Kusum to his house to have a Bengali lunch with his mother. She obliges and forms a nice rapport with Raj's Mom too, who initially thinks that she is Raj's newly wed wife.

As they begin their journey again, the conversation diverts towards family and that is when Kusum starts narrating Raj her heart wrenching story. The patience of Raj and the subtle vulnerability of Kusum is beautifully portrayed by the authors. Kusum is vulnerable and emotional while sharing her story, yet she knows how to keep her composure and not appear as someone weak.

The best thing about the book is definitely the way Tagore's famous song "Ekla Cholo Re" has been used to symbolize Kusum's journey. 

Jodi tor dak sune keu na ase
Tobe Ekla Cholo Re
Ekla Cholo, Ekla Cholo, Ekla Cholo Re

If no one answers your call
Then walk along,
(be no afraid) Walk alone my friend!

The book ends on a perfect note with a lovely surprise. The book is embellished with beautiful and profound quotes, some of which I am mentioning here:

You are what you choose to be.

Make people and situation powerless by not reacting to reactions from the society.

I would say that love isn't enough because there is always a suspicion within us. This has led to a phenomenon called marriage.

Overall, this is a book to remember. I admire the way the authors have packed so much in just 58 pages. Beautifully written, the character of Kusum will surely motivate and inspire everyone. No matter what your circumstance is, you are what you choose to be. 

Highly recommended!

Indian Bloggers