Title: Ramayana: The Game of Life: Stolen Hope (Book 3)
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Number of Pages: 312
Price: 299 [INR]
Seek Courage when everything,including hope,is stolen.
This is what I call a perfect pitch!
And of course a personalised note by the author.
This is a book that ones highly recommended by stalwarts like Mr Anup Jalota ,Mr Mahesh Jethmalani and Ms Namita Gokhale. This is all about religion and philosophy and belief in Karma and a huge chasm between good and evil.
Hubby dear did a double take...
Well, I'm a Game of Thrones person. Where was I getting entrenched in the game of life?
But books must be read, and reviews must be written.
A little rewind to my review of the previous book by Mr Shubha Vilas -Shattered Dreams ,will tell you what a disbeliever I am.
Cynical is not such a good word.
I am entrenched in faith. Krishna is my support system. And were Mr Shubha Vilas not an Iskon person, I would have scoffed some and more.
This book took me a while ,so bear with me...
The story begins in a forest of Central India , with Araja ,the daughter of Sage Sukracharya having been ravaged by the banished King Danda of the SuryaVansh. The sage cursed the King and that forest with a rain of fire ,destroying everything it touched. So then this forest rejuvenated as the Dandakarnya forest or the forest of King Danda's misdeeds or the jungle of punishment.
Long after, sages and hermits made this forest their home,but were constantly troubled by demons or Rakshasas. Until Lord Rama came to rid this forest of all their evil.
Essentially,the book is about Ram, Sita and Lakshmana's exile in the forest.
How they encounter the demons and deal with them , freeing the sages from the
This is where the trio are spending the last days of their exile.
Shubha Vilas has beautifully highlighted the relationship of Ram and Sita. Wherein the two believe themselves to be two parts of a whole. One breathing for the other. One living for the other. One thinking for the other . The same thoughts and the same simplicity and the same adoration.
Then there is the relationship of Rama and Laxman. For once,Laxman is portrayed as a normal young man. Not servile, not subservient or just a blind follower. Intelligent and creative. He's the one who makes their lives comfortable. With superbly designed houses made out of organic material. The rapport between the brothers is also natural,with humour,anger and camaraderie shining through.
The incident in which a fat and ugly , narcissistic demoness called Srupnakha falls lustily in love with Rama.He gently revokes her affections even though she calls Sita scrawny and ugly. (That is called godly behaviour. If any one, ever ,makes fun of my spouse, I will have his/her eye balls for breakfast.)
And then Lakshmana cuts off her nose. And she goes crying to her brothers Khara nd Dushana ,who in their arrogance move to slaughter Ram and Lakshmana.
And then their defeat brings in Ravana.
Well, the story we all know...
What I never knew was why Marich agreed to become the elusive deer...
And how Ravana, who I believe was an educated and sensible Brahmin , fell from glory.
Well ,he was the son of the learned sage Vishravas and Rakshasi Kaikashi. He was destined to be great. But the Ramayana portrays him as the antagonist. Someone has to be the anti hero, we cannot all be good.
But I have also read otherwise, and in the states of South India ,the festival of Dussera is not celebrated because they revered Ravana.
Whether you are a sceptic or a believer, there is a lot for you to learn from this book. And the author ends the book with a little statement...
Just as only extraordinary species are caged in a zoo for people to view in wonder,the mind only captures the memories of special souls to recollect in wonder.
Just so you know - I do not approve of zoos. Now ,a sanctuary is fine.
Don't read this book as a part of the Ramayana. You already know the story.
Read this for the nuances that you never knew.
And read it also for some insight into the way an unblemished mind functions.
And also to remember that one must always pay his debts. And that hope is what drives you out of the abyss.
So begin Stolen Hope with an open mind. Only then will you appreciate a work like this.
So what are you reading today???