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Book Review: Ganga: The Constant Goddess by Anuja Chandramouli

River Ganga is the most sacred river of India. She is also worshiped as a Goddess in Hinduism and referred to as ‘Ganga Maiya’ in common parlance in north India.

As per the myths, Ganga is the daughter of the mountain God Himalaya. Some ancient scriptures also say that the water of Ganga was created from the sweat of the feet of Lord Vishnu. Hence, a dip in the holy Ganga bestows helps attain salvation.

The need to bring Ganga to earth arose because of a curse on the dynasty of King Sagar. Kapil Muni, whose intense meditation had been interrupted by the sons of King Sagar, cursed them and reduced them to ashes. Only the holy water of the Ganga could free them from Patal and help them attain salvation.

King Bhagiratha, a descendent of the same dynasty, made it his mission to help his ancestors attain salvation. He underwent rigorous meditation and finally managed to bring Ganga to earth. As per the Hindu mythology, it is believed that when Ganga was flowing down to the earth from the heavens, the pressure of the water was so high that Gods feared that the entire earth might get destroyed by floods. So, Lord Shiva held Ganga in the lock of his hairs and released the water on to the earth in a controlled manner.

Ganga is then led by the Bhagirath to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Prayag, Varanasi, and finally Ganga Sagar, where she meets the ocean, reaches Patal, and saves the sons of King Sagar.

The beauty of Anuja Chandramouli’s book ‘Ganga: The Constant Goddess’ is that she humanises the Gods and Godesses. They are not bereft of human emotions. So, despite being a form of Shakti, she is jealous of her sister Parvati, who becomes the consort of Lord Shiva.

We are all familiar with the story of Ganga’s marriage to King Shantanu, which sets the ball rolling for the sequence of events in the Mahabharata. However, thanks to Anuja, now we know Shantanu was a reincarnation of King Mahabisha, and also gain knowledge about his history with Ganga.

More than anything, what keeps me hooked to Anuja’s books is the writing. The striking prose, luscious description – for example, “the silvery river wound its way sensuously through the peaks, glistening and lustrous as a string of pearls against the blackness of the rocky terrain” – and the free-flowing narrative will never let you lose focus.

Anuja Chandramouli’s Ganga is not just the one-dimensional Ganga Maiya whom everyone worships to cleanse their sins. She is a woman – a free-spirited goddess, who has her way. She is a prolific lover, a fighter and survivor and above-all, Ganga refuses to fit in. That is why Anuja touches upon the recent controversies surrounding #MeToo movement in her own style in this mythological fiction.

The deep philosophy inherent in this book makes it stand out. This is not just a ‘fresh take’ on mythology. No. Anuja Chandramouli, in her own style, has gifted us a new manifesto of feminism. It is also a spiritual guide to life – to keep moving, despite hurdles, come what may, beyond all setbacks. Just like the free-flowing water of the Ganga.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by the author

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The Oath of The Vayuputras – A Review

Shiva TrilogyThe third installment in the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi sets off in Panchavati where Evil is revealed to the Neelkanth, leading to the culmination of years of expedition and sets of a chain of conspiracies and a series of violent wars that changes the course of the history of India. In case you did not grasp what i meant in the previous sentence, you are probably unknown to the world of Meluha. Set in India, millions of years ago, the Shiva trilogy chronicles the transformation of a Tibetan barbarian, Shiva, into the Lord Neelkanth, an avatar of Lord Rudra himself, on whose shoulders lay the task of ridding the nation of The Evil.

Right from The Immortals of Meluha and throughout The Secret of the Nagas, Shiva has tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together to solve the jigsaw – what is Evil? Led onto the task by the king of Meluha, Daksha, Shiva had been chasing the Nagas, led into believing these deformed creatures were the root of all that was wrong with India. As we see in the second book, the real conspirators are revealed, and the Queen of the Nagas happens to the sister of Shiva’s wife, Sati.

Amish Tripathi’s great insight into the ancient Indian philosophy and scientific treasure-trove is worth saluting. As he himself concedes in the last paragraph of the book, these tenets of knowledge have transgressed into myths, because people cannot accept the fact that wisdom, of such high calibre, could have existed in India at such primitive times. History will be indebted to Tripathi for reclaiming the lost honour for Indian mythology.

A lot of people who have read the book, or are reading the book currently, have told me that Vayuputras is not as pacy as the rest of the books in the trilogy. Even the climax is not utterly convincing. I agree partly with my friends. I finished reading Vayuputras in 26 hours, had it not been “pacy” i wouldn’t have been hooked onto it, would I? The Evil is revealed in the first chapter itself, and we know the identity of the conspirators against Neelkanth from the second book itself. The “element of surprise” is quite daftly compensated by the “thrill factor”. What happens next, the question keeps us hooked onto the chapters, forcing us to turn pages at breathtaking pace.

Anyone who is acquainted with Hindu mythology, knows about Daksha Yajna and Sati’s Deha Tyag. The event has been described so beautifully in the novel that i could not hold back my tears during Shiva’s lament for Sati. Yes, the culmination of the grand trilogy might seem a bit simplistic and dull to many, but what it teaches us is nothing short of epochal. The Oath of The Vayuputras, for me, is a sacred book of philosophy that holds the key to thriving civillizations and peaceful societies – Good and Evil are two sides of the same coin; when good outlives its utility, it turns evil.

Generations to come will scarce believe that a man of Shiva’s stature walked the lands that we call India. His life is a lesson in itself, his greatness have transformed him from a mere mortal and accorded him divine status. Isn’t that what sets us apart from rest of the world – our actions.

Har Har Mahadev (God Resides in Everyone)!

My Rating – 4/5 

Oath of the Vayuputras

DISCLAIMER : All images used in the post have their respective copyrights.

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