Book Review: Perfect Love by Shubha Vilas

Self-help books are not a new phenomenon by any means. They are found in aplenty. Books on love tips also fall under this genre. They give ‘relationship tips’ and carry a threat of becoming too preachy after a point of time.

But author Shubha Vilas’ Perfect Love: 5.5 Ways To A Lasting Relationship stands apart from the normal books in this genre for two reasons. It tells stories of interesting individuals instead of preaching anything. Secondly, it proves that ancient mythological stories carry messages and wisdom that can be useful even in 2018.

The book tells these six stories:

— The Wheel Of Fortune – About Nala and Damayanti

— The Golden Letter – About Krishna-Rukmini and Arjun-Subhadra

— A Silent Voice – About King Dushyanta and Shakuntala

— The Other Before Oneself – King Udayana and Vasavadatta

— The Woman Who Chose – About Satyavan and Savitri

— A Conditions About Conditions – Draupadi narrating the story of king Shantanu and her five husbands

Perfect-Love-bookOur mythological stories are vast. You feel you know a story by knowing its outline. However deep within, there are sub-plots and even little anecdotes that are not only interesting but also filled with positive messages. To see such minute detailing of incidents speaks a lot about the author’s command over mythology.

Perfect Love gives various timely messages in the book. The most important ones are the importance of proper communication (in the second story) and the dangers of being carried away by lust over love (in the fifth one). These are simple messages but they are needed to be told today when one can’t perceive simplest of things since the minds are so clouded by complications.

Vilas is known for keeping his writing simple yet rich in his Ramayana series. He has followed exactly the same method here. And like his other quality in his previous works, he has kept the narrative engaging and his description and presentation of scenes is akin to mainstream Hindi films.

The problem area here are some sentences that range from questionable to objectionable. They are:

‘Begetting a son is more meritorious than performing a sacrifice. But speaking the truth is more meritorious than begetting a hundred sons.’ – Now, how is begetting a son glorified in an unimaginable way? Does that mean daughters mean less? It can be argued that such beliefs were present in ancient times. But as the book is written for today’s youngsters, it is worrying to see such theories being preached, especially at a time when the country is struggling to achieve women empowerment.

‘A man who has a wife can be trusted more than a man who is a loner.’ – Now this is so shocking that it needs to description. It’s self-explanatory.

Apart from this, the explanation after each chapter could have been shorter.

Overall: Perfect Love is an interesting and insightful book that provides ways for lasting romantic relationships without being preachy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Shubha Vilas

Publisher: Westland Publications

Pages: 203

Price: Rs 350

Cover: A simple illustration of ancient lovers that goes with the subject

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Book Review: Shrouded Truth – Biblical Revelations Through Past Life Journeys

Reincarnation has been one of the most favourite subjects for Indian filmmakers irrespective of the language. The whole idea of a person getting reborn in another body after dying is truly filmi indeed. But as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

This filmi idea is very much accepted today even by modern psychiatrists or psychologists as therapy to treat their patients. Reena Kumarasingham is one such practitioner of past live regression therapies.

Co-incidentally, she came across more than a handful of people who regressed back to the life of people who were around Jesus Christ and somewhere related to him. The recording of the regression sessions is what Shrouded Truth is all about.

The book is an interesting, insightful, at times shocking and a challenge to the popular belief around Christ. The most significant one being the claim from all participants that Jesus didn’t die on the cross (not divulging further to avoid spoilers).

Shrouded-Truth.jpgHowever, deep inside the book gives an overwhelming message of love, unity and equality among human beings across of all races the world, which is so vital in the times we are living.

Although the entire book is a non-fictional account of a group of people’s past life experiences, it follows a story format. In a lot of fictitious books and movies, a story is told through different characters, which is then merged as a single story.

This is exactly what happens with Shrouded Truth. As the individuals keep sharing their past life experiences, slowly but steadily a story forms developing. It turns out to be an enlightening affair about the Biblical era, even for someone like me who had hardly any knowledge on the period before reading it.

The stories do bring back memories of Ashwin Sanghi’s The Rozabal Line. Of course, the big difference is that it was purely a work of fiction.

This isn’t a book where there is scope for criticisms on the writing style. This is simply because the major portion of the book is the conversation record between Kumarasingham and the participants. The explanations provided in between is simple and to the point.

Perhaps the only issue is the length. The book could have been little shorter by omitting out few conversations that are repetitive. In other words, it could have been crisper.

How much to believe?

The most obvious question any reader would ask here is how genuine is the book and whatever it claims. The author’s honest approach is felt throughout, especially during the very last chapter, at least for me. In fact, she herself has raised this concern few times in the book. It is also possible to contact her in case of any questions, thanks to the era of the internet.

But there are also people who don’t believe in reincarnation or the existence of the soul. Personally, I feel they can still read the book with an open mind just to know the fascinating story of a group of people who selflessly strived to spread the message of humanity across the world.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Reena Kumarasingham (Contact her by visiting divineaspect.com or blog.divineaspect.com or facebook.com/divineaspectiam

Pages: 393 (including the preview of her next book Illuminated Truth)

Publishers: Heart Press

Promoters: Publishing Push

Cover: A simple illuminating image of a light, which goes with the theme

Nakula & Sahadeva: The unsung heroes of the Mahabharata

Mahabharata is one of the most widely read scripture not only in India but world over. After various sub-plots and twists, it all boils down to the great war of Kurukshetre, which the righteous Pandavas won against the evil Kauravas.

The Pandavas are, always, praised for being showing the valour to defeat the Kauravas. However, it is only Arjun, Yudhishthir and Bheem who have received fame and recognition (of course apart from Lord Krishna). Nakula and Sahadeva, a prominent part of the Pandava group, haven’t got their due and recognition.

So here’s an attempt to have a sneak-peek into their lives and abilities

Sahadeva:

The name Sahadeva is derived from Sanskrit words ‘saha’ [with] and ‘deva’ [Gods]. The meaning becomes ‘someone with Gods.’

He was considered the most intelligent of all the five Pandava brothers. Yudhishthira compares his wisdom to that of Brihaspati, the teacher of Gods. Hence, Sahadeva also counseled Yudhishthira.

Sahadeva was well versed in the field of medicines.

If Arjun was a champion in archery, Sahadeva, along with his brother Nakula, was a master in sword fighting.

One of Sahadeva’s divine gifts was his profound knowledge in Astrology. However, he couldn’t disclose future events because of a curse, which would ensure that he would die if he does so. Therefore, he couldn’t reveal about the battle of Kurukshetra although he could foresee it.

Duryodhana, the evil leader of the Kaurava clan, had approached Sahadeva to suggest a mahurat (right time) for the war. Sahadeva unhesitatingly revealed the mahurat despite knowing Duryodhana was their enemy.

Sahadeva defeated a lot of Kauravas during the war. After the gambling loss that also ensured the humiliation of Draupadi, Sahadeva had taken a vow to kill Shakuni, the mastermind behind the plan. He fulfilled his vow on the 18th day of the war.

Nakul-Sahadev
Screenthot of Nakula and Sahadeva from the TV series Dharamkshetra on EPIC channel.

Nakula:

Nakula was said to be dark and handsome.

He was skilled in diplonmacy.

Like his brother Sahadeva, he too had the gift of astrology. But, just like his brother, the knowledge came with a curse. Soon after predicting something he would forget his predictions and futuristic visions.

Nakula was not only skilled sword fighter, again like his brother, but could also handle an array of unusual weapons. His skills proved to be more than useful during the great war.

He was also said to be an expert in Ayurveda.

He was a master at horse breeding and riding. Due to his knowledge of Ayurveda, he was also able to carry out the treatment of ill horses.

Nakula, along with Bheema, led the Pandava army on the first day of the war of Kurukshetra.

Nakula has to his credit the achievement of defeating a number of important people from the Kaurava side including Dussasana (who was killed by Bheema. He was responsible for humiliating Draupadi , Shalya, Shakuni, etc.

His negative quality of being proud of his looks is also mentioned in the Mahabharata. This is the reason given for his fall while being on the final journey to heaven with the rest of his brothers, Draupadi and the dog Dharma.

With such achievements under their belt, we wonder why Nakula and Sahadeva didn’t receive prominence in the centuries gone by.

By: Keyur Seta

Book Review: Matsya – The First Avatar (Dashavatar Series)

Author Sundari Venkatraman is known as the specialist on romance and relationships. With Matsya – The First Avatar, the first short book in her Dashavatar series, she takes a leap in to the mythological or spiritual sphere. Not even once does it seem as if she is new to the genre. This, obviously, means that her switch has been successful.

Matsya – The First Avatar, as the name suggests, is about the first avatar of Lord Vishnu in the form of a fish. Lord Brahma was tired and sleepy after completion of one kalpa (10 thousand years). As he dozed off to sleep, the Asura Hayagriva managed to steal the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda – from him.

After realizing his folly, a guilt-ridden Brahma visited Lord Vishnu urging for help and intervention. The calm-headed Lord readily agreed to help by taking form of a fish (matsya). The sage king Satyavrath became an important part in the latter part of Vishnu’s plan, which is the progression to another Yuga.

Matsya-Sundari-VenkatramanWe have heard about the different avatars of Lord Vishnu. Probably many of us might have read descriptions of each of his avatars. But it is a smart idea to provide detailed information on them and their importance. Venkatraman’s story follows Matsya Purana (the Brahma Purana features Brahma as the fish avatar).

The book is ideal for those who are much interested in the topic. The story, which started with the stealing of the Vedas, gives an overwhelming feeling as it ends towards the creation of Satya Yuga. For the believers or devotees, it answers some tough questions and gives clarity on the times we are living. But the non-believers too are in for a good experience if they look at it purely as a fictional story.

Ventakraman has presented the story in as simple was as possible but at the same time has retained the richness of the language, making it appealing across age groups. Maintaining such balance is certainly not easy. The grip is also nicely maintained throughout.

In today’s times, the standard of editing in modern Indian English literature has gone down. A number of punctuation and other errors are overlooked somehow. Thankfully, Matsya – The First Avatar is a fine example of quality editing.

There are no such negatives points as such. It’s just that the author could have used a more believable way of slipping of the Vedas than through Brahma’s nostrils. It also would have been fine if we were given more insight into Satyavartha’s greatness.

Overall: Matsya – The First Avatar is a fine account of Lord Vishnu’s first avatar as the fish. The book makes you eager to read about the remaining avatars by the author in her Dashavatar series.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Sundari Venkatraman

Publisher: Flaming Sun (author’s banner)

Pages: 38

Cover: Artistic image of Lord Vishnu in his half-fish form

Book Review: The Possibility by Pankaj Dwivedi

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-Pankaj-DwivediThe 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.

Rating: 3/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Pankaj Dwivedi

Publisher: Leadstart Publications

Pages: 210

Price: Rs 225

Cover: Inspiring and peaceful picture of a monk submerged in spirituality at a picturesque location

Hindi play script on Farmers: Loan Den Ki Baat

Written by: Keyur Seta

Characters:

Narrator: 25-30 years

Surjan Nath: 50 years

Bank Manager: 50 years

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 keyurseta@gmail.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?

PosterLekin 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.

Short story: The age-old pujari near the secluded beach

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.

Dwarka-beach

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.

Dwarka beach

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.

Momai-Mata-Dwarka
Momai Mata temple

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.

P_20170928_181045
Pujari inside the hut with a statue

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.