Category Archives: Stories/storification

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison by Devdutt Pattanaik – a book review

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • Genre: History of Religion, Hinduism, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
  • ISBN: 9789353332303, 9353332303
  • Edition: 2018

This is a laborious exercise ideally because the context is different. The other side of the comparing these two works is tough because they are totally having different approaches to target segment. It also is important to understand the length and breadth of the story are widely different. The fact that the characters continue to Mahabharata from Ramayana is also a pointer to the similarities and how they are a continuous set of instances that make this grand story come alive.

I read with interest the snippet like comparisons by Devdutt Pattanaik where he has put it as My playful comparison, (still wonder why it’s playful) there are enough and more comparisons you could take away right from the childless fathers in Dasaratha to Shantanu to sorrowing parents in Dasaratha to even Pandavas after the war.

We also get to see quite a few instances in terms of geography and history or the narration by rishis, etc.

But given that author has taken liberty for the time of the authorship of both the epics, I would have loved to differ. For example, the Big Temple in Tamilnadu is over 2000 years old and the devotional movement in their time was as big as anything that is covered elsewhere.

One more I noticed was the Greek and Buddhist comparisons, that are totally different and the context in which those thrived also makes for comparisons.

I was also not able to see the Ram vs Krishna connect or comparison here. That would have made it all the more interesting since the author has given very few instances of the comparison in a perspective of things. Those are the celebrated characters in the whole scheme of things. That Mahabharata has a Bhagavad Geetha in it has not be taken into consideration.

I think a body of work of such grandeur and vastness in both cases inspite of being in Sruthi mode thats hear say to being written so well after long, will constitute similarities with human beings and Gods in an intersection of game of life.

That women in both the epics have cast a shadow is irrefutable, that of Sita and Panchali, but then when you see these as just stories it would get you to this connect only. These are imageries for spiritual existance and at some places the author puts them concretely.

That there are multiple versions that have made these epics into a reckoning literature in their own right, this will also have its way of reflecting the time that the authors lived in.

Infact this is also happening now as we see multitude versions of Mahabharat and Ramayana from different authors and different perspectives from different characters than being rendered by Valmiki or Vyasa.

This is quite a study of contrast and yes you could open any page and read this in case you want to because like I mentioned earlier these are snippets and there are almost 56 instances that the author takes us through and they are small but important to note.

I am only cautious about some issues like Vedic period and Brahminism that the author takes undue liberty with. It’s like saying there was no gravity or something till Newton discovered it. One instance he says this is because of the Panini’s work of grammar came in at one certain point in time. I am unable to understand if that were the case would everyone be using the language without any sense till then. I think that is wrong way to reference the language part. Sangam literature in Tamil is far older in that case going by inscriptions.

Anyway an attempt in bringing the similarities which will continue to exist even today. You write a plot and then you can be sure that was there in Mahabharata or Ramayana.

One thing I have noticed is from giving the stories its due to now getting to liberal interpretations Devdutt Pattanaik has come a long way. Well you cant find fault with this its the way the epics have allowed itself to be retold.

Thank you Flipkart for sending in the copy and you can buy this here.

Senthilkumar

I am M-M-Mumbai by Rishi Vohra – a book review

I am M-M-Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications; 1 edition (2018)
Language:
English
ISBN-10: 9386455706
ISBN-13: 978-9386455703 

I am M-M-Mumbai is a breezy read and has a very simple to talk tone that makes its a single sitting read. Stammering and you know you might think about another hero in Bollywood. Coming together of things make it for the hero in this scheme of things.

The stammering of the hero is all that he needs to overcome and this could be well anything in our life to overcome. A motivational positive story of an upcoming actor is well presented in a straight forward manner. May be the background of the author has some element of coincidences being revealed to the readers. The many facets of Mumbai come to the fore during the story telling.

Sometimes its a bit predictive, but the characters hold on to their own right from the protagonist to the circle of characters around him. One thing I liked about this is the story could well be a negative of what all happens in the Bollywood but then this is a whiff of fresh air in terms of the people presented here.

Some of the incidents are quite relatable and that we can easily identify with. I liked the way the story moved on and the characters in a very positive way, given that you can write so much of negative things around Bollywood.

The author does a great service to the goodness of human being,  taking it for granted and every time there could have been a disaster, he get a seamless character to help the protagonist and also use a handicap to make it better for Rudra.

The marriage of the childhood sweethearts in the story, is a bit bollywoodesque if you ask me, but then given the authors proximity to bollywood it’s was quite expected.

I would recommend you to pick it up for some whiff of fresh air and a dose of positive vibes in your life and you will think that the world is after all not as bad as portrayed.

Like I said earlier the book finishes up so fast may be because some places are predictable. But then that’s ok with some social messaging.

So go here to pick up your copy Amazon | Flipkart

Thanks to the author for sending a copy to review and hope he has many more stories to tell. (This is the first time I am reading his work.)

Senthilkumar Rajappan

‘The Wise Man Said’ by Priya Kumar – a book review

 

 

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Books That Inspire
  • Genre: Religion & Spirituality
  • ISBN: 9788193391204, 8193391209
  • Edition: 1, 2017

So its again a wonderful opportunity to review after having read the book ‘The Wise Man Said’ by Priya Kumar.

This is a stellar work in terms of getting so many nuggets of wisdom from far and wide with the character of the Wise  Man through his diary. I am sure you would not dare to take this trip unless we have the time as our investment to go the distance and learn things and sometimes unlearn it the hard way.

The chance meeting with the wise man probably was destined to be since we get to know a lot of stories from all around the world in its unique flavour. Every story / travel of the Wise man is a testament to how we take life and how we react to it in situations that present before us.

I am sure we would not have known about some habits from far and wide unless the wise man decided to trek them and give us the wisdom in a power packed paper back.

That the man decided to tell us some unconventional stories is something we need to cherish with this book. The sense of gratitude or a sense of deja vu is evident when he sees some personal achievement which are bound by ethical behaviour even when they are in high seas.

That spirituality is a part of our living is evident irrespective of it being given in non religious way across the world and ofcourse that is a proof that world is a better place than we imagine.

P.S: I have to admit I wasn’t able to finish this review long back. But the best part is I am able to recall those mystery stories and also how impactful they are.

P.P.S: Also keep track of the author on her social media handles and Youtube channels.

P.P.P.S: In case you want to pick up a copy.. at Flipkart / Amazon 

Vishnu by Subhadra Sen Gupta – a book review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: RUPA
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 9788129147370, 8129147378
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 48

So this is the second book in the series after Ganesh which has already been reviewed earlier.

Now I can foresee many more stories being told to kids this way and they don’t disappoint, and imagine the story telling with telling illustrations for kids and the setting is going to get better and enjoyable.

So here the author presents three different stories we normally identify with Vishnu the protector of the trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

In this land of India if you want to achieve seriously powerful weapons and sometimes even immortality there is an way to go about it and quite often the asuras or the opponents of devas as we know them, do it with finesse that they will end up with some of the best wishes granted to them.

So in the first story titled How to fool an Asura is that of Bhasmasura as his name suggest the asura with ashes, invoked Shiva and got his prayers answered and in that he wanted anyone he touches  with his hand to become ashes.

This as usual was a problem for the Devas led by Indra and they take refuge of Vishnu to somehow defeat Bhasmasura.

Vishnu takes the form of Mohini a beautiful girl and get to teach Bhasmasura and he being very happy about it continues to dance following the steps of Mohini,  till he puts his hand on his head without realising that he would burn to ashes.

The second story Sea of Milk  is that of churning the milk ocean and how Vishnu became the turtle and held the mountain for them to continue churning the milky ocean. He takes the form of again a beautiful maiden to get the advantage to the Gods.

The third story of Vamana is also a great one with the King Mahabali who is also an asura who gets to rule the world with his powers. But then it has to be stopped or else there might be a problem for the devas. When asked for three foot steps of land from Maha Bali, Vishnu covers the earth and sky with two steps and Bali offers his head for the third step.

So we have some nice stories that will enliven the kids during sleep time or when they are seeking fun.

The author has taken liberty to interpret things for kids and in a way it seems it suits the adult audience too. As for me, the kid at home seems to like it with the interesting illustrations and pictures that they identify with.

Tapas Guha has done a commendable job with his illustrations and the cover looks very nice.

Click on these links to pick the copy from Amazon / Flipkart.

Senthilkumar

You Can Achieve More by Shiv Khera – a book review

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury India (18 April 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 938634906X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9386349064
  • Package Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm

I signed up for this for the simple reason that its SHIV KHERA.

One of the most impacted stories that is also a part of this book is about being woken up by the mother every day morning. In a situation of handling money and a bit of unethical variety the accountant asks his mom what he should do. When he explains the things, she says that she doesn’t understand what he says but says one thing  “I don’t understand anything you say, but I want my son to be awake when I enter the room”

I was not disappointed with the book, has a lot of things on the ethics and moral side of it which are given a go by in todays corporate world.

The book is a very lucid in the sense making the subject easy. Not many jargons. Author given his extensive training experience quotes from his seminars and makes us relate to the messages he has, in his inimitable style.

To be honest his approach on the ethical and moral issues deserves praise simply because he has taken it to the logical end in terms of the context and more so he believes real issues are taken up.

The base premise is of living by design and not by default. I think we get into the default mode the moment we get into a comfort zone. Perhaps that is why we need to remind ourselves that its not the real potential that we are really better and more capable that what we think.

There are books and there will be books, this is one of the simpler ones and easy to digest if you ask me. The design of the book and the layout with easy to read format and quotes in special boxes makes it reader friendly and also make it easy to take notes.

The author does say that you can take your time reading this book, I think its like you can come to this book anytime later and that serves you well simply because it is a kind of reference material that we can look up to.

The best part is the exercises behind each of the topics and I think that works very well like – the things to do and action plan after every chapter is read.

This book is a clarion call by the author to live life by design and not default. You could always keep it simple and real and this book has the ability to make people look within and find their potential and achieve more than they think they can.

The book will be a great help for those who doubt themselves and for those who think greatness is thrust upon a few.

A person with a positive attitude cannot be stopped and a person with a negative
attitude cannot be helped.

Thanks Flipkart for the copy. This review is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program.

Senthilkumar

Best Stories From Around the World by Deepa Agarwal – Book Review

 

book cover

  • Reading level: 8 – 12 years
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India (2 June 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129147386
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129147387
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm

Absolutely a delightful read, each of the stories took me back to the childhood. Timelessness is not easy but then the authors in this collection are not ordinary human beings for that matter. So when you get to put some of the best names in a collection the result obviously is going to be something extra ordinary and to that effect I am very thankful to the Editor Deepa Agarwal here.

She has chosen some of the best works from around the world literally. Who can ever forget the Gift of the Magi, or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, I liked some of those stories that will remain etched in life for the sheer magic that they create and make you spell bound when they close.

The story Open Window  by Saki is a classic example of narration and holding you by the wits with the childish innocence that can transform things in a great way! The little girl simply knows what she was doing or does she?

I relished the Freedom the story which actually looks at the present set of police and how the Freedom fighter thinks he can be the same as against the British.

You cant miss the Red Room by HG Wells or the story Dare for its narrative excellence and how it gives you a twist.

One of the relatively longer stories is Saritha Kamakshi makes a mistake by Jerry Pinto makes for a wonderful reading and just gives us glimpses of lives of people around us.

The Accursed House makes for a wonderful reading especially how it makes fun of the character and how things go for a slide, very well articulated and the story stands out for its sheer black humour.

All in all a great set of stories with varied background and delivered by masters story tellers. One thing about the Short story collection is you don’t have to go page by page, you could start reading a new story at will and so I did not read it in sequence as a matter of fact but got to read all the stories. Some were known and had that affinity to re read it at a fast pace.

The editor  Deepa Agarwal has taken pains to present the same without any changes in the way it was told.

Thanks a lot Rupa / Red Turtle for the copy and I am sure this will brighten the days of many who read and those around too!

Pick your copy here: Amazon

Small Towns, Big Stories by Ruskin Bond a Book Review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Aleph Book Company
  • ISBN: 9789382277545, 9382277544
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 200

How do you write a review of one of the most enigmatic literary figure this country has ever produced.

Words fail in its sincerity to appreciate the thought process and the innate innocence that the type writer of those days churned out. All I can see is the relationship between childhood and innocence is laid thread bare for you to enjoy. It’s sheer magic of the storytelling that keeps you turning pages wishing that the story shouldn’t end. The pages goes on, sometimes to an end which is a mesmerising, an aspect of story telling by this Bond, Ruskin Bond!

The first story Big Race was a charming one and would take you to your childhood, ofcourse we may not relate it in the city here, but the story evinced such innocence in Koki the character and the way she wins is pretty about the character and the beetle too.

I don’t know if I should miss some stories in appreciation, but for want of space I am sure we can be suggestive enough.

Up the spiral stair case is the story which is quite reminiscent of how innocence and old are twinned wonderfully in a narrative.  The Story of Bina,  in A long Walk for Bina takes u through the hardships but ever loving character whose trek to school is well documented. The best part being that the scare of leopard and wild animals hanging over their head and they live the life to the fullest.

The Night train at Deoli, is another train story that will make you go back to the old charm of the author.

Another old one – Time stops at Shamli is also imagination par excellence. This story will continue to be remembered all through our lives. The characters are enigmatic and they are etched with the background of quite a rural Indian saga. I did love the notes on this by the author in his foreword.

I loved the Ghosts stories and the Murder stories apart from the other classics. I could sense a new way of looking at things when the author says Small towns are sure playground for big stories. It’s so true in all his creative works. The magic and charm that he weaves with the prose so sublime, you will start loving the place and the character. The repartees are good and you should actually be a witness to those.

The new stories also exemplify the way the author recreates magic with his words and those are going to be celebrated as much as the old ones are. I feel a sense of deja vu actually writing this review simply because, you don’t stand a chance to review but submit this as an endeavour in my trying to write rather than review the book.

Thankful for the copy from the publishers Aleph, made me go through the string of pearls. I am sure this will keep inspiring the readers and many new authors for days to come.  Be sure to check out the copies on Amazon here!

The Tantric Curse by Anupama Garg – a Book review

Book Review The Tantric Curse Anupama Garg

The Indian spiritual tradition is always a mystery and that is kept so because people have heard of them only by hear say and never ever tried to find the real body of knowledge.

Quite often it gets twisted simply because the people who want to know it don’t have the patience or would not like to go through the rigour of knowledge seeking.

In this book the author who is a spiritual seeker herself makes a nice attempt to impart those basic understanding of spiritual and the tantric sciences with this novel.

The characters of Krishnam, Rhea make the story and the life and times of Rhea is central to the narration that we have here. The author takes extra care in getting us understand the real meaning of some of the things that are just not true and gives an insight into the lives of sadhaks, gurus and tantra tradition.

The portrayal of Rhea as a common girl and then later getting transformed is one that will leave you  thinking. It’s a rare attempt and a brave one, simply because the author has shown the female as the lead in the story and that helps remove much of the stigma that comes attached to say a Shakthi Dham or a religious place.

The descriptions and definitions at the right places gives us an insight into the real spiritual pursuits rather than those which are highlighted in the normal world and media gets it.

A nice read and a fast paced one could have been a little crisper at places but makes you turn the pages as you go.

Pick this book to know about the real vidya of tantra and how it is practiced and you could remove a lot of misconceptions about the religious and spiritual aspect of tantra.

On a sidenote I really liked the cover page and its got so many things covered.

Buy this book here at Flipkart: http://www.flipkart.com/tantric-curse-english/p/itmecb8fnhc49myu?pid=9788129137524

Amazon link here: http://www.amazon.in/Tantric-Curse-Anupama-Garg/dp/8129137526

Faster, Smarter, Higher – Managing your career by Utkarsh Rai Book Review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • ISBN: 9788129137500, 812913750X
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 199

A career crisis is a phase everyone goes through at some point in time of their life. The earlier one gets it, it makes you better to anticipate somethings for yourself. In this book the author Utkarsh Rai takes us through some of the most mind boggling times when we should have had the real experience of being faster, smarter and think higher.

The author has made the book into 8 parts and each one is a testament on how you can manage different sets of values and sometimes people.

  1. Managing Self
  2. Managing your Manager
  3. Managing your Team
  4. Managing your Peers
  5. Managing your Managers Boss
  6. Managing Managers Peers
  7. Managing Others
  8. Managing the Acrobatics of the future.

The book provides ample insights in giving us the solutions in the form of What can you do? Quite often it’s this question that needs to be answered and that’s how it is done.

The book quotes extensively from the experience and situations which we may come across and this holds very true in case of people to people interaction we may come across in the daily routine.

I think this is an encapsulation in a very fine format which young budding managers need to learn a bit especially about managing their managers and their peers, this I think is a very new way to look at the career prospects and the people influencing the same.

The quotes which accompany the chapters are very thought provoking and mostly application driven and has the ability to propel you to achieve what you want in your career. In hindsight when I look back I feel things could have been different if I had read something like this before early in my career and it could have really made a difference.

I think this book is a go to guide for you whenever you need to go back and check and how you need to work on the situations that you come across. It’s more about people and how we manage them to get the best out of them.

It’s a fast read in a sense but will hold your thoughts for a while and sometimes you might take time to digest and flip through to the next page.

Another aspect is the simple straight talking language that is akin to speaking straight to you, making you comfortable and talking to you in a way that makes it easy to understand and help ourselves.

Pick this book and this will be an immense help for yourself and will turn to be a go to guide for times to come.

This review is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book review program. To pick up your copy of this book just click here

Senthilkumar