Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ramayana- Stolen Hopes

Title - Ramayana - The Game of Life - Stolen Hopes (Book 3)
Author- Shubha Vilas
Publisher -JAICO Publishing House
Total pages 312
Price Rs. 299
Formats available - Paperback and Kindle

Its been very long since I reviewed any book. But when you receive a signed copy of the book by the author himself, you have to blog about it for sure. Ramayana- The Game of Life - Stolen Dreams is third in the series written by Shubha Vilas. And if you have missed the first two books, not to worry. The book has summery of the first two books. But summary is only about the general story and not the short stories / Upakatha that you get to read in a Shubha Vilas book. So it is good if you can get the first two books too.

The book starts in Dandakaranya and then to the sages and their trouble with the Rakshasas and the massacre of Rakshasas of Janmasthana. After the massacre at Janmasthana there is Sita's abduction and the story ends with the meeting of Rama and Lakshmana with Shabari and their quest for the wonder monkeys Sugriva and his group in order to save Sita from Ravana's clutches.

As Indians, Ramayana is not new for us. We have heard the story from our parents and grandparents, read in Amar Chitra Katha, seen on television and read other books too. What is different about this book is Shubha Vilas's writhing. The language is pretty simple and eloquent and can be easily understood by kids too. The other major plus point of this book are the short stories / Upakathas. I mean, one gets to read so many back stories, short stories / Upakatha, in this book which makes this book all the more interesting. All these back stories helps us to know more about the relative characters other than Rama, Lakshmana and Sita in a better way and in turn helps us to understand our epic better. 

The many stories of Agastya Rishi helps in a better understanding of him. Without the upakathas Agastya would have remained just another character that we read in our epics. but Shubha Vilas has written so many small stories about Agasthya that we get a good understanding of him. Similarly Rama's meeting with Shabari has been elaborated so as to provide us with a good knowledge about Shabari and her role in Ramayana. There are Upakathas about Ravana, Virada, Vatapi and Illvala, etc. There are references to Meru Parvata, Nahusha, Mandarkini, Kabandha, Matanga Rishi, Sati, etc. 

One should read this book once to know about all these characters and also about life lessons that Ramayana teaches us. There is this one instance when Sita who disapproves of Rama involving himself in killing the demons to cleanse the forest of Panchavati and protecting the Sages. Her reason being that they are in exile and so should refrain from violence. But Rama explains that Kshatriya dharma is to protect the helpless ones from the evil. He explains to Sita that by wearing a sage's attire, he cannot forget his duty of following the Kshatriya Dharma.

This book provides a proper insight of how Gods in the form of human think. Even if they are the incarnation of God himself, one can always see the human touch and human trait in the characters. For example the scene before Sita's abduction, in a desperate attempt to send Lakshmana to Rama's rescue, Sita doubts Lakshmana's character. These traits shows the human side to God like characters of Ramayana.

Also the specialty of Shubha Vilas's Ramayana series is the little foot notes throughout the novel. These footnotes usually contain some explanations, back stories or some philosophical notes about life lessons. Shubha Vilas is a spiritual seeker, motivational speaker, holds a degree in engineering and law with s specialization in patent law. So along with narrating the story of Ramayana, the book contains the philosophical narrations which gives us valuable lessons about life.

The designs in the foot note throughout the book is also very interesting. In the Shattered Dreams, Rama's Paduka / Slippers were used very effectively in the footnotes throughout the book to show the departure of Rama from Ayodhya for exile. And in this book, Stolen Hope, similar approach has been taken. Design of a deer is used throughout the book in the footnotes. The deer changes its position and there is movement throughout the book. I liked the cover of Shattered Dreams much better compared to Stolen Hopes though.

The book has a mixture of traditional as well as a modern approach in narration. And apart from the story, the foot notes are the highlights of this book. Its worth a read if you are in to mythology, spiritual and self-help kind of books. You can buy the Kindle edition here