Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The secret of the Nagas

I have never written book reviews as far as I can remember. But, there is always a first time and no better book than the “Secret of Nagas”. Amish the author of “Shiva Triology” has a unique gift of imagination, the art of storytelling and an amazing ability to blend mythology with fiction. How many authors you have read, can boast of such talents?

"The Secret of the Nagas" is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The way Amish has brought in the innumerable aspects of our mythology to bring one of the most amazingly written gripping story speaks volumes of his artistry in writing.

Growing up I had always been fascinated with Lord Ganesha. The combination of a human and Elephant made him my favorite Gods. His deformity, if you can call that, was what actually made him the most attractive. And I still remember how I used to listen to stories from my parents about his life, how he was born and how he managed to get an elephant head for himself. It always intrigued me, mesmerized me and captivated my imagination. Over time my curiosity, my thought process et al got the better of me and that’s when questioning all these concepts and stories started. It led to what I now understand about the great ‘Hindu’ culture, its practices and its way of life.

But what has that got to do with Amish’s “Shiva Triology”? It has everything to do with that. The whole assumption of Gods and their supernatural powers is thrown out and he starts with the simple concepts of how these characters were plain humans with extraordinary thought process, determination, ability to fight against all odds, but still make mistakes and correct them along the way. It talks about how Shiva is born in a remote Himalayan Mountain (Mt. Kailash) as a son of a tribal chief and had to fight mortal enemies (other tribal chiefs) just to survive and live.

The flow of events makes him to choose a path that will ultimately led him to a land called “Meluha” – a perfect society following the rules formed by Lord Rama. These people were the Suryavanshi’s and the their enemies were the Chandravanshi’s. And, they believed the only way peace can be restored in “India” was to force the people of Chandravanshi’s to follow their way of life. The whole crux of the book is that ultimately “Evil needs to be destroyed”. But the fun part is that the definition of Evil is something that changes among various people based on their perceptions.

And these perceptions within an individual change too. This is seen even in the great Shiva as he tries to find and destroy evil. The ‘Nagas’ add a third element in the entire story bringing in all facets of our community and inturn our various Gods into the story. What makes the book simply beautiful is the way Sati, Shiva, Ganesh, Kali and other Gods, are introduced in the story and how they behave, their characters and their perceptions of good and evil. And all this is brought together by a great story.

According to the author its all fiction. But who said mythology is not? But by bringing the gods to the level of humans and then making them extraordinary through their actions, thoughts and sometimes mistakes makes it much more believable than the actual/original stories of God. This story epitomizes the philosophy of a way of life. It brings in philosophy and morals in a way that no story does. It makes you believe on why there is a God in each one of us. Makes you question why we can’t be Gods and makes you ponder on your decisions and the way you lead your life.

It also shows that first one needs to believe in oneself before one can even try to succeed (Even Shiva faces this problem). One needs to learn from ones mistakes and have the humility to accept the mistakes. One needs to work hard for everything one does and nothing comes easy.

So in short, the characters in the book are all from actual mythology but the story isnt. At the end of the day it’s the aspects of philosophy, human behavior and its contradictions that makes you think. All this he does by making the story a page-turner for even a layman. And that’s the best part according to me.

It goes without saying that I highly recommend this book but would recommend that you read the first book "The Immortals of Meluha" before reading this one.

I am eagerly awaiting ‘The Oath of the Vayuputras’ - the final book in the series.


Sagar said...

Don't know why I was expecting this review sooner than later. :-) Good write up, and goos summary of the 'take home' from the book. But should you have let the secret out for those who are yet to read? :-D

dilip said...

Ouch! Did I?!?
For someone who hasn't read the book, i thought he/she wouldn't get it..;) Anyway, next time i should be more careful..:)

Divya A L said...

Interesting... :)
Happy Ganesh chaturthi! :)

dilip said...

Thanks.. Wish you the same..:)

Deepthi said...

Got to interact with Amish today and also got a signed book :-D
Started with the first book and its no doubt very interesting ! The whole concept is soo different..who would imagine making God a mere mortal ? Am surprised this didn't rake up any controversies!!

Ghalib said...

The story is well continued after the first book. Lots of new, surprising and shocking information is revealed.

Did not find it as engaging as the first book for some reason. But enjoyed it nevertheless. And anyway, after reading the cliff-hanger ending of the first book, you can't stop without reading this one!