Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Immortals of Meluha: totally recommended!

For quite some time now, I been searching for and collecting books on Shiva. I have Kramsrisch's 'The Presence of Shiva', Suzanne Fisher Staples' 'Shiva's Fire', Mohapatra's 'The Book of Shiva'... I like those books, tho Mohapatra's depiction of Shiva was the closest one to my liking. But something was lacking in that book of Shiva in the comic format. Shiva wasn't really smiling. Too serious. He was romantic alright, just the way I pictured Him to be. But he wasn't so cheerful. At least, please give him a bit smile. Shiva isn't Krishna, but at least some smiles would not hurt.

The Immortals of Meluha, the first book of The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi, gave me the Shiva I identified with the most. He did swear too much to my taste (tho I don't mind a bit of swearing, I think it’s natural for a tribal chief), but since the premise was human-turned-to-god anyway, it's not a big deal for me. Other than the swearing, I really like this Shiva. He was so humane and approachable. He made mistakes and learned from them. He became humble because of them, and rose above them. He seriously defended humanity, but he still enjoyed life and made jokes around as well, while he could. He had his demons in the past... and I hope he eventually made peace with them.

And how can I tell you how mesmerised I was whenever I read about Shiva's interactions with Sati here? Amish wrote them just the way I picture Shiva-Sati relationship. Shiva with all his passions and thinly veiled disappointments whenever Sati refused him again... and Sati with her facade, trying not to need him yet in the end could not resist him. The love between Shiva and Sati was exactly as I pictured in my mind all these years. A beautiful eternal dance of love.

I also like the interactions between Shiva, Brahaspati, Veerbhadra, Nandi, Ayurvati and other characters in the book. I particularly like how Anandmayi, the Princess of Swadeep, was depicted. Daring, brazen, embracing her sexuality, and a little bit too free with her speech; she nonetheless was the first who made me realise that the Chandravanshi were not evil.

But perhaps the most impressive scene was when Shiva met the old beggar in Ayodhya. I won't give away anything here, but suffice to say that Shiva actually deserved the surprise. The last chapter with the Pandit was very interesting too. I cannot wait for the Naga book to arrive!

I learned that Meluha (or Meluhha, or Melukha) was the name used in the ancient times (around the time the Mesopotamians, Assyrians, and the Sumerians prospered) for the Indus Valley Civilisation. The story was set around 1,900 BC, almost at the end of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which seemed to be triggered by the drying up of the mighty Sarasvati River. Indeed, when Shiva started his adventure in Meluha, the river was slowly dying. It’s very interesting for me to realise that the book was based largely on historical notes and artefacts. The concept of Somras as anti-oxidant was also unique.

I know this is not Shiva Purana (historical manuscript on Shiva, to rather simplify it) but since it brings me closer to Shiva, what difference does it make? I love the book so much, it's difficult for me to lend it to my friend who also wants to read it (a bit difficult to find this book outside of India. Mine was the last Amazon copy). Overall, I wish I can give more stars, but since I can't... so it's five out of five stars for the book.

Pic: the cover of 'Immortals of Meluha'

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