‘Spiritual’ has become a different genre in Indian literature over the years. The stories generally follow a fixed theme just like it happens with romantic comedies or romcoms. A person embarks on a spiritual journey after entering a zone of confusion and chaos, thanks to the ‘modern’ era and how that person manages to change his or her life.
Author Pankaj Dwivedi has tried exploring the theme in his debut novel, The Possibility. Let us try and find out how much impact does it make.
The book tells the story of Dr Abhay, who hails from Delhi. Despite being a successful surgeon and being married to a caring woman, he starts questioning his life. There comes a time when he is confused with various questions pertaining to life. Fate brings Abhay to the asharam of Maharishi in Haridwar. Will he get his answers?
The Possibility is aimed at the urban people who are living the life of machines as all are busy earning. But is earning the same as living? This theme will strike a chord with the target audience which comprises of people involved in the rat race. Hence, the relatablity factor is present.
The character of Maharishi plays a big role in keeping the appeal alive. Although he is a spiritual guru, he is not like those babas by any means. He has vast knowledge about ancient scriptures. But at the same time, he is so modern that he won’t raise an eyebrow even when two of his disciples secretly get intimate. Such portrayal of a guru will be appealing to people from today’s era.
However, there should have been more insight into the persona of Dr Abhay.
Dwivedi has used simple words and sentences, which are easy to grasp for people of all walks of life. In some places though, it appears too simplistic.
Haridwar is an important spiritual destination of India. But, surprisingly, it is not explored as most of the incidents take place inside the asharam.
The Possibility lacks repeat value due to one major reason. On quite a few occasions, we are presented with long monologues where someone continuously preaches and the narrative becomes monotonous. Author Raj Supe’s When Life Turns Turtle (read review HERE), which had a similar theme, clearly steered away from this despite being much more lengthier.
Overall:The Possibility is worth reading for those who are trapped in the web of lifeless urban life.
Review by: Keyur Seta
Author: Pankaj Dwivedi
Publisher: Leadstart Publications
Price: Rs 225
Cover: Inspiring and peaceful picture of a monk submerged in spirituality at a picturesque location
This play can also be performed as a solo act. The author has already performed it that way. It can be seen from the pictures.
Important note:The play is copyrighted. If you wish to perform it anywhere, please ask for permission by sending an e-mail on email@example.com.
(The light is dim on the stage. Surjan Nath slowly passes from right to left on the stage. He is walking with a stick with drooping shoulders.)
Narrator: Yeh tha Surjan Nath. Milanpur gaon ka pachaas varshiya kisaan jo dheere dheere chale ja raha tha apni laathi ke sahare. Uski zindagi beet gayi in sadakon se guzre. Par aaj yeh raaste use anjaan lag rahe the kyunki use pata nahin tha ki yeh use manzil ki taraf le ja rahe hain ya us se door.
Lekin ek samay tha jab uski peeth itni jhuki hui nahin thi. Zindagi ki badi museebat tal jaane ki ummeed use dikhai de rahi thi. Darasal hua yun ki use bank se pachaas hzaaar ka karz lena pada apni biwi ke TB ke ilaaj ke liye. Aur, zaahir si baat hai, uska boj usko sata tha. Karz chukana kitna bada boj hota hai yeh kisi kisaan se zyada kaun jane?
Lekin woh karz ya loan dheere dheere chuka raha tha. Badi kamartod mehnat karne ke baad woh loan chukane ke kareeb aa hi gaya tha. Oopar wale ki den se use gehun ki fasal ke achhe daam mil rahe the. Ek waqt aaya jab use 11 hazaar 400 rupaye chukane baaki the. Usne socha ab is saal ki fasal bik jaye toh woh yeh rakam bhi chuka dega.
Lekin kudrat ko yeh manzoor nahin tha. Jee haan, kudrat ne hi us par qahar machaya jab takreeban ek mahine pehle Milanpur mein ghatak baadh aayi aur Surjan ke kheton ko nasht kar gayi. Jo beej usne itni mehnat aur pyar se boye the wo fasal ke roop mein aane ke pehle hi barbaad ho gaye. Mano kisi garbhvati mahila ka bachcha gir gaya ho.
Ab uska parivaar jaise taise apna guzara kar raha tha. Aisi stithi mein sood samet loan wapas karna toh bilkul naamumkin tha. Aur yahan sirf ek hafta bacha tha loan chukane ki aakhri tareekh ke liye. Woh apni yehi dasha darshane bank ja raha tha manager se milne. Manager ke saamne gidgidane ke alawa uske paas aur koi rasta nahin tha. Bohat der rukne ke baad aakhir use manager se baat karne ka mauka mil hi gaya.
Surjan: Pichhle dino aapke aadmi yaad dila ke gaye hain ki rakam lautane ki tareekh nazdeek aa rahi hai. Ab tareekh ke bare mein soch soch ke mann ghabra uth ta hai sahab. Aur ab toh sirf ek hi hafta reh gaya hai. Meri dasha aur haav-bhaav dekh ke aap samaj hi gaye honge ki karz chuka paaun aisi meri stithi hi nahin. Is saal baadh ne na sirf humare khet balki humari zindagi ko hi ujaad diya. Maine iske pehle ke karz ki sabhi kishten sahi samay par chuka di hai. Is saal bhi gehun ke fasal ki vikri ke baad karz ki aakhri kisht bhi chukane hi wala tha. Ab yeh baadh aa gayi usme mera kya dosh sahab? Mera kya dosh?
Isliye aap se haath jod ke vinti kar raha hoon ki is gareeb kisaan par reham kijiye. Mujhe aur muddat de dijiye sahab. (with some hope) Aur maine suna hai, aaj kal kisaano ke karz maaf karne ki baat bhi aa rahi hai akhbaron mein. Toh kya mera karz maaf nahin ho sakta?
Manager: Surjan, aaj-kal tum jaise kisano ko dekh kar mujhe yehi baat yaad aati hai ki kaise ek aadmi hazaar karod ka ghotala kar ke din dahade plane mein videsh bhaag jata hai aur kisi ko pata nahin chalta… Yahan tak kisi ne dekha bhi nahin. Aur yeh ek sirf ek baar nahin hua. Arre bhai, plane tumhara hai lekin airport toh nahin. Itne saare officers aur karmachaiyon ki nazar bhi nahin gayi jab ek brasht gunehgaar apna itna sara samaan liye desh se bhaag raha tha? Arre yahan main Dadar se Andheri jata hoon toh bhi kitne log dekh lete hain.
Tum jaise kisaan aur unki karz maafi ek chunavi jumle se zyada aur kuchh nahin hai. Haan karz maaf ho sakta tha agar tum ek gareeb kisaan ki jagah ek karodpati ya arab pati businessman hote, jise desh ke sabhi naami log salaam karte. Aur aisa hone par tumhe aakhri taareekh ke ek hafte pehle aise gidgidana nahin padta. Balki, aakhri tareekh nazdeek aate hi tum desh chhodke videsh bhaag sakte the aur wahan aaraam se apni zindagi guzar sakte the.
Main tumhari koi madad nahin kar sakta. Haude se bhale hi main bank ka manage hoon lekin main bhi kisi naukar se kum nahin. Mujhe oopar jawab dena padta hai. Isliye mujhe afsos ke saath kehna pad raha hai ki agar tum karz nahin chuka paye toh majbooran humein tum par karyavahi karni hi padegi.
Tumne abhi poochha na ki tumhara dosh kya hai? Tumhara dosh yeh hai ki tumhare karz ki rakam 11 hazaar 400 rupaye hain aur naa ki 11 hazaar 400 crore.
Narrator: Yeh hai aaj ki kadvi sachchai. Jiske loan ki rakam bohat zyada hai woh desh chhod deta hai aur jiske loan ki rakam kum hai woh duniya chhodne pe majboor ho jata hai. Yeh natak aur uske sabhi paatr kalpanik hai aur unka vaastavikta se koi lena dena nahin. Yeh kehna mera farz tha. Aage aap log bohat samajdaar ho. Dhanyawaad.
Being all of just 22, the idea of going on a pilgrimage to Dwarka didn’t sound exciting to Vikram. It is believed that holy places are only for the old. A young person venturing to such trips is considered weird, especially in India. But after a lot of emotional force applied by his parents, Vikram finally agreed.
Vikram wasn’t an atheist though, which didn’t make it that difficult for his parents. The end of monsoon was zeroed in as the right time to take a tour. Vikram’s Diwali vacations had also commenced, so he wasn’t required to miss college. He was studying his Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication in a reputed college in his hometown, Mumbai.
The journey from Jamnagar airport to Dwarka was smooth. After doing the rounds of the Dwarkadhish Temple, Vikram and his parents took a tour of the neighboring places like the Rukmini temple, Sudama Setu, Nageshkar temple, etc. Vikram was pleasantly surprised to realize that he was enjoying the trip. Despite him not being too religious, he had stopped regretting coming here.
On the second last day of the trip, the trio decided to visit an unnamed beach near the Momai Mata Temple. Vikram was interested in seeing the beach but not excited. Having experienced a lot of beautiful beaches in Goa and other Konkan areas, he thought this would be just another beach.
But a single glance at the beach was enough to convince Vikram how wrong he was. They were standing atop a hill-like structure while the beach was further down. This vantage point provided the perfect view. The Momai Mata temple stood just from where they were.
Vikram was feasting his eyes on the view instead of the temple. His parents decided to take darshan inside the temple whereas he impatiently went down to the sea.
The beach was in a pristine condition to say the least. It looked virgin. It appeared that the sand was untouched as there was not a single person or even an animal visible till the far end. While wondering how the beach was so secluded, Vikram forgot to admire its beauty. What he saw appeared surreal to him.
The eerie silence of the place was broken by the chatter of his parents who had slowly descended the steps. As the sun was just about to set, they urged Vikram to visit the temple before it gets darker. He did so hesitatingly. Although he was praying in front of the idol, his mind was at the beach.
As soon as he turned around after the darshan, he heard someone jump towards him out of nowhere. Shaken, he looked to the right from where an old man clad in orange lay bended. Vikram was shocked to see a snake in his hand as he slowly stood up. He just saved his life. It was easy for him to make out that he was the pujari (priest).
But he didn’t look like a normal pujari. Going by his facial appearance, it seemed to him that the man might be centuries old. However, his physique and agility made him look extremely fit and strong. Without saying a word, he went towards the left of the temple where stood a hut-like structure made out of cement. The pujari went inside and started sweeping it.
Vikram peered inside. He could see a statue of a pujari in similar clothes. The darkness didn’t allow him to have a look at its face and he wasn’t even interested in the same. Going by what was written on a board outside, it was the statue of the founder of the place and the first pujari. As the old man turned, Vikram thanked him from saving his life.
Without showing any sort of feeling, the pujari said, “This temple is under my control. I won’t let anyone get into trouble over here.” He merely walked off.
Vikram kept on looking at the direction where he went for some time and then joined his family downstairs at the beach.
He couldn’t get the secluded beach and the age-old pujari out of his mind while being on his bed in the hotel room. Brooding over the place, he slowly drifted into sleep. Even before opening his eyes the next morning, he could hear his mom asking him to hurry up as they had to leave for Mumbai that day.
But a couple of hours before they checked out, she felt a mild shock when she realized that she forgot one of her bags near the steps of the Momai Mata temple. As the place was on their way to Jamnagar, they decided to visit and see if it is still there. They were quite sure the bag would be there considering how secluded the place was.
When their car reached the vicinity of the temple, Vikram was ordered to hurry and get the bag. He did so and luckily found it at the same spot. He took the bag and out of curiosity peered inside the hut where the statue of the founder resided. In the bright daylight he could clearly see the face of the statue and what he saw froze him.
He didn’t know how to react when the face told him that it was the statue of the same pujari who saved him from the snake last evening. Just then, he recalled the only thing the pujari had said.
“This temple is under my control. I won’t let anyone get into trouble over here.”
By: Keyur Seta
Note: The place and the temple are real. The pictures were clicked during the author’s visit to the place. But the story is fictional.
The biggest challenge while writing the first part of a trilogy or a series is that the book should generate enough interest for the subsequent parts. In other words, if the first part doesn’t impress you, why would you bother reading the remaining parts?
Thankfully nothing of that sort happens with Karan Vir’s The Sixth – The Legend Of Karna Part 1. The book passes the biggest challenge successfully through an interesting detailed insight into the life of Karna, Mahabharata’s unsung hero.
The Sixth is so called since Karna is considered the sixth Pandava since he was born to Kunti. He was born under most unusual circumstances. After being impressed with the qualities of Kunti, Sage Durvasa granted her a boon in the form of a mantra to summon the devas. Out of utter curiosity, she summons Surya (Sun God) and ends up being a mother. Fearing the wrath of the society for bearing a child without getting married, she abandons the infant.
The child is found by the royal charioteer Adhiratha and his wife, Radha. The couple considers the kid as God’s gift. They adopt him and name him Vasusena (he is later named Karna). He grows up to be a fearless teenager with a Godly gift of archery skills. Hence, his only aim in life is to become a warrior, the profession exclusive for Kshatriyas. But will the son of a charioteer be allowed to be a warrior?
The book simultaneously tells the present day story of Karan, a rich business tycoon living in New York. Out of nowhere he sees flashes and dreams about Karna. This brings him back to his roots in India. But who exactly is Karan and what is his connection with Karna?
The Sixth gets going on the enjoyable path only once it plunges fully into the life of Karna. The starting few chapters on the present day story, although not bad, don’t generate as much excitement.
However, once the story of Karna starts from scratch, there is just no looking behind. Incidents like the back story of Kunti, Karna’s birth, his abandonment, growing up with his foster parents and the consequences after he grows up are narrated with utmost sincerity and detailing.
We have read various accounts of the early years of Pandavas, Kauravas and important characters like Krishna, Bheeshma, Draupadi and Kunti. But it is rare and refreshing to get a proper understanding of the early and adolescent years of Karna as well as his psyche and inner conflicts.
Vir’s writing, especially after the initial few chapters, is creative as well as simple. He has gone into details but at the same time kept the length short. Few problem areas, however, are punctuation errors here and there.
Overall:The Sixth – The Legend Of Karna Part 1 gives an interesting insight into the life of Karna and generates interest in the two remaining series of the trilogy.
Reviewed by: Keyur Seta
Additional feature: A number of creative sketches that aid in storytelling
Author: Karan Vir
Price: Rs 299
Publishers: Leadstart Publishing
Cover: Attractive and colourful image of the event of Karna’s abandonment
There are some striking similarities between Swami Vivekananda and Shrimad Rajchandra. Both are regarded as Spiritual Gurus. Both passed away in their 30s. This is not all. There is not much gap between the birth years of both. The former was born in 1867 and the latter in 1863.
But for some reason, Shrimad Rajchandra’s life story isn’t as well-known as Vivekananda’s. Director Rajesh Joshi’s Gujarati play, ‘Yugpurush – Mahatma Na Mahatma’ takes on the task of making his enlightening story known. It succeeds in giving a layman an introduction to the spiritual giant.
‘Yugpurush – Mahatma Na Mahatma’ tells the life story of Shrimad Rajchandra. The play also dwells upon his relationship with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his teachings helped the latter gain the title of Mahatma.
The play scores the most in creating realistic and visually stunning scenarios on stage throughout its duration. Considering how some incidents are completely different from the other, it is laudable to see such favorable results gained so effortlessly. The scene where Rajchandra carries out too many tasks simultaneously stands out. But the credit should also go to the director for handling such difficult scenes and to the lighting as well.
Coming to the writing, the play has impactful lines after regular intervals, something so important in biographies of great heroes. Sachin-Jigar’s music too adds to the effect.
But the play lags behind when it comes to balancing the script. Shrimad Rajchandra’s life story and message aren’t explained in a way a layman, who has no knowledge about him, would get a proper insight. We are told through songs that he was great, but not exactly explained why and how.
There is also some confusion about the central character. If Gandhi is as much important as Shrimad Rajchandra, why they didn’t include the important incident about the former being thrown out of the train in South Africa? Gandhi’s non-violent struggle is credited to Rajchandra, so the incident that triggered the struggle has to be there.
The performance of the actor playing Shrimad Rajchandra plays a vital role here. Parthsarthi Vaidya smartly balances confidence and humility, which was so important here. His confidence is also seen in the dialogue delivery. As the older Gandhi, Nikhil Modak does what was required. Gandhi was a lot different as a young barrister. Pulkit Solanki makes him believable.
Overall: ‘Yugpurush – Mahatma Na Mahatma’ is worth watching to get an introduction into Shrimad Rajchandra.
Ancient Indian literature like Mahabharata and Ramayana has become one of the favourite genres of Indian authors since last few years. This is because young readers have gained interest in such epics, mostly due to the advent of the internet.
Few modern authors have also experimented by giving a modern touch or twist to these mythological epics. Author Karthik K B Rao has given a most modern or whacky twist to Mahabharata in his debut novel, The Mahabharata Code and has achieved decent amount of success.
The story follows Narayan Rao who hails from Bengaluru, India. As a child, he used to love listening to tales of Mahabharata and Ramayana from his grandmother. Later on, he became an avid watcher of the serial Mahabharat on Doordarshan. It is during his time that Narayan’s father migrates to the United States of America. The kid moves to the US with a heavy heart.
After growing up, Narayan becomes an astronomer in NASA. He and his colleagues once realize that people from a distant and mysterious planet have been sending signals of friendship to them. Narayan is sent on a mission to visit the planet. Circumstances ensure that he becomes an integral part of the restaging of the Mahabharata over there. The mission also brings a young techie Srishti into his life.
The Mahabharata Code has an interesting plot. It is truly an out-of-the-box idea to restage Mahabharata in another planet. Rao has been smart in giving a sci-fi touch to the epic. The gadgets and the use of modern language don’t appear silly or out-of-sync. It adds onto the interest and at the same time keeps the flavour of the epic intact.
The book is an easy read. Rao’s language is simple and the narration fast-paced. There isn’t a single sentence that is unnecessary. In other words, you are hooked. On few occasions though, the sentences could have been framed better. But this is not the biggest negative point here.
What harms The Mahabharata Code the most is the pre-climax portion where the big revelation and confrontation takes place. This part is just too lengthy, complicated and, most importantly, difficult to read. There comes a time where you are tempted to skip few pages. The big twist at the end might also leave you unsatisfied, although it takes you by surprise.
Overall:The Mahabharata Code is an interesting experiment.
Stolen Hope is the third book in Ramayana: The Game Of Life series after The Rise Of The Sun King and Shattered Dreams. Authored by Shubha Vilas, the story continues during Rama, Sita and Lakshmana’s exile period in the Dandakaranya forests. Despite living a life of ascetics, the trio is happy in their own world amid sessions of storytelling. However, they are forced to encounter demons a couple of times but Rama defeats them comprehensively.
But a bigger misadventure awaits them when the demoness, Supranakha falls madly for Rama and, later, Lakshmana. Infuriated by her evil antics, Lakshmana chops off her ears and nose. When she narrates her sorry tale to her brother Ravana, the king of Lanka, she also mentions about Sita’s exquisite beauty. Being a lustful womanizer to the core, Ravana decides to ‘enjoy’ Sita at any cost.
Shubha Vilas has continued with his delightful writing this time around too and this is hardly a surprise. Almost every sentence of his is rich, free-flowing and gripping. Like his previous two attempts, it will appeal to those who love reading rich literature as well as someone from vernacular medium.
The story takes some time to develop properly though. But once it gets into the action mode, there is no looking behind. The most important sequence of Sita’s kidnapping is handled with a lot of creativity and maturity. Going by the theme of the series, the author has provided important and positive messages even during tragic sequences.
This book lives up to the tagline – Seek courage when everything, including hope, is stolen – with some handy messages of wisdom woven throughout the narrative. There are short wisdom snippets at the bottom of each page again. It’s just that on few occasions, they are quite lengthy this time around.
Apart from the slow pace early on, the book suffers from some sexism, like the previous one. In order to point Rama’s weakness, Sita taunts him for being a woman disguised as man. To consider any type of weakness as a byproduct of being a woman is downright sexist. Since the book is written for today’s generation and the fact that we don’t exactly know what Sita must have said to Rama, the author could have easily given any other analogy.
Coming to the appearance, the cover picture is a beautiful work of art. It forces you to glance at it again and again. The quality of pages is smooth and the font is eye-friendly. This book also has a flip book feature, which is a pleasant surprise.
Rating: * * * ½
Additional feature: Preview of the fourth book in the series