Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Book review – Ramayana: The Game Of Life: Rise of The Sun Prince

Author – Shubha Vilas
Publisher – Jaico
Genre – Mythology
Pages – 252
Price – Rs.250

This is my first review on a genre as sensitive as mythology. Yes, sensitive, for religion and mythology involves emotions of the masses. So writing about religion is like working with electric wires, touch the wrong chord and face the jhatka!

Ramayana, one of the greatest epic of all times has a very important role to play in our lives. Lord Rama is seen as the epitome of perfection and often comparisons are drawn with the great saga (e.g., Ram Sita jaisee Jodi, to describe a perfect pair, matched in heaven).

I saw the popular TV series Ramayana as a kid, but more for entertainment than the meaning. While glancing at the Shlokas, I have often wondered if there was a version where I could really understand the meaning and the message the story meant to convey. Apart from various versions scripted by great people long long ago, I have never come across someone from this age telling the story again. So, when I heard about this book, I was more curious and excited to see why and how is someone attempting to write about this great epic!

Sneak preview from the Cover
“One of the World’s great literary master pieces, skilfully retold for modern audiences. Epics like the Ramayana have been recounted infinite times. Is there a need for another chronicle in the presence of so many? Yes, there is a need! This new series of books, each following one volume of original Ramayana, decodes the eternal wisdom of that poetic scripture through gripping narrative and thought provoking instruction. In the time – honored custom of spreading wisdom through tales, every fascinating story in the epic is retold here and every character unfolded to captivate your heart and open your mind to life’s deepest questions.”
The preview was enticing enough, for the author wanted to customize the learnings for today’s generation, rather than making it just another version of the story!

The Cover
The cover has been done beautifully, depicting Lord Rama and Lakshmana protecting Vishwamitra’s rites from Maricha and Subahu. Bright colour and beautiful illustrations instantly attract you towards the book.

My View
Ramayana, one of the greatest epics in Hindu mythology, has been told time and again. An ideal human is expected to understand and follow principles of Ramayana, in order to lead a righteous life. However, the fast food generation of ours learns by examples and in order to engage them in the morals of Ramayana, the story had to be told the way they would understand it, and find interesting too. Many of us still read the Ramayana, whenever there is a Paath organized. However, do we go beyond than reciting just the shlokas? Do we go into the deeper meaning originally intended to be conveyed?

It was thoughtful of the author to come up with a version that today’s generation can understand and learn from. The first in the Ramayana: The game of Life series, the book begins with the motive behind the epic and covers Balkaand. However, the author has taken pains to ensure the story is interesting to read and at the same time, conveys the right message.

The book has been divided into nine chapters as per the learning each part of the story imparts. The author has used simple words and tried to make the narration interesting. What I really liked is the effective use of superscripts on each page referring to the key takeaway from each scene in Ramayana. Initially, you may be more interested in reading the story than going to the references again and again. But if you follow the references religiously, by the time you would have flipped the last page, you would have feel enlightened and learnt something than merely reading a story.

What I loved about the book
·         The simple language and beautiful narration which keeps the reader engrossed
·         Learning from a particular scene explained with a reference below on the same page so that you learn as you move.
·         The appendix at the back, explaining the qualities of a true hero. A ready reckoner to righteous living.

What could have been better
·        The beautiful illustration on the cover impressed me, and I hoped to see many more illustrations inside. However, plain text sans any illustration throughout the book disappointed me.
·         Perhaps some major shlokas could have been mentioned for the benefit of the readers.

Overall, a must read if Ramayana interests you. Read the book to get a dose of the wisdom the book holds without getting lost in the complex shlokas.
Looking forward to getting my hands on the second book now…Ramayana: The Game Of Life: Shattered Dreams!

About The Author

Shubha Vilas, a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker, holds a degree in engineering and aw with a specialization in patent law. His leadership seminars are popular with top level management in corporate houses. He addresses their crucial needs through thought provoking sessions on themes such as “Secrets of Lasting Relationships”, “Sould Curry to Stop Worry”, and “Work-Life Balance” to name a few. He also helps individuals apply the teachings of the Bhagvad Gita, the Ramayana and other dharmic traditions in dealing with modern day life situations.

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