Saturday, March 16, 2013

Identify your Karma: A Peek into The Shiva Trilogy

Around 2.5 years back when I saw the book 'The Immortals of Meluha' for the first time in a book store in Delhi I didn't have the slightest idea that I would ever find it worth my time. From the first glance of the cover, it appeared like a science fiction whose protagonist was, probably, Bob Marley (showing his back) and talked about some superficial kingdom of Meluha. Later, when I got occasional reviews about the book from its readers, I still didn't bother to read it considering my lack of interest in fiction.

Thanks to the Shiva-based books of Devdutt Pattanaik and the Life-OK super-hit Devon Ke Dev Mahadev that my devotion in Shiva was deepened far more so as to grab fictional novels this time, the much talked-about books of The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi.

My belief in the saying, 'Never judge a book by its cover' strengthened after reading this trilogy and I curse my prejudice towards the book-cover that kept me away from it for so long. The series has been declared a super-hit (or best-seller, whatever one would like to call it), Karan Johar has already announced a movie on the trilogy and the believers of Shiva are growing exponentially all over, and so is their devotion in him. Today, as I write this blog, the trilogy has already touched a sales figure of Rs. 17 crore and any attempt to predict future figures is as good as predicting the rise in number of mobile phones in the hands of Average (above and below average included too) Indians.

The trilogy is a delicate blend of mythology, historical facts and fiction and its protagonist is Shiva - not Shiva The GOD who is traditionally worshiped all over India, but Shiva - a barbarian from Tibet who by the virtue of his karma rises to achieve GOD-like status. Amish's trilogy is rooted in the belief that the deities we worship are not mythical gods but actually ordinary people with extra-ordinary achievements and untainted karma.

In short, the story is about a tribal named Shiva from Tibet who migrates to the (almost) Utopian kingdom of Meluha as a refugee to save his tribe from the constant conflicts with neighbouring enemies. A series of events ends up making the people of Meluha and the entire Indian Mainland believe that he is Lord Neelkanth (literal meaning - one with a blue throat); one who will be their saviour from the Evil, as their popular legend stated. The humble Shiva, though embarrassed by the apotheosizing, out of empathy takes it as his duty to help the people and save them from their misery. The trilogy is essentially about Shiva’s journey of figuring out the root cause of people’s plight and fighting for it, during which there are astounding revelations, enlightening lessons and unimaginable sacrifices and an ultimate realization of his true Karma.

One can say:
Karmayog hi Dharma hai, Dharmayog hi Karma.

The most interesting feature of this trilogy is the author’s attempt to provide scientific justifications for all the events that were traditionally considered magical (...and are presently considered mythical). Readers, with hair-splitting instincts fail to make much sense of mythology, focusing more on facts and less on lessons. Then they come up with strange questions – how could a little boy have an elephant head (like Ganesh) or how could a women give birth to a hundred children (like Gandhari). But this trilogy attempts to answer many of such mythical facts with scientific justifications, if not for the mainstream Indian Mythological stories, then at least for the sections that are limited to the trilogy.

Amish’s penchant for mythology is clearly visible in every plot and his narration is gripping enough to make you miss a couple of meals while you are engrossed in reading the book. The philosophical conversations between Shiva and his friends, the Vasudevs, can be read again and again and again, opening doors for enlightenment through repeated introspection. The war-strategy scenes and hematic action plots run at a pace slow enough to understand the intricacies, yet fast enough to keep your mind racing.

The author left his 14-year long career in Finance to devote his time to praying and writing about Lord Shiva. Just like the Shiva in the trilogy, he too has finally figured out his true karma. You and I still might need to figure it out. The trilogy can probably help us know, HOW.

The Universe bows to Lord Shiva. I bow to Lord Shiva.


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