Tag Archives: books read

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

Once Upon an IAS Exam – by Dr. Vijayakarthikeyan, a book review

Once upon an IAS exam, by Dr. K Vijayakarthikeyan

There are two disclaimers here. The author is Commissioner,  Coimbatore Corporation, and is a well known motivational speaker. I wanted to review this personally as I thought this will be a different one coming from the author / speaker I know and have had the opportunity to listen to.

The story is a very simple one of a IAS aspirant and the way to his success amidst the whole drama of his personal life, the change of syllabi and how he handles them with elan. Vishy is he aspirant and he doesnt make his cut the first time, and then what does he do? Simple propose to his girlfriend for marriage… It might look very cinematic but Vishy is a different character who makes the cut understanding the

The narration gets top marks because this could have been a 400 page story. But the author nails it in such a straight forward narration and gets us closer to the characters with ease. The usual tribulations of boy in love and the parental pressure apart, the positives makes this story a very easy read.

The anecdotes on Dhoni perhaps is the best in terms of trying to bring home the point of equanimity. That picture that has Dhoni not being on high even after winning the World cup is a big motivation for everyone to take life as it comes.

The other side of the story is the idea of time management especially during the exams is worth emulating. The Never Never Give up idea is very well presented here and this applies to any of the situation that we are in not necessarily in the context of preparing for the civil services exams.

The love story part is very cinematic in a way, but thats ok given the way the story moves and yes you could expect people in Delhi too without any hint of whats in store.

I loved the characterization of Vishy’s father and mother, and the way Vishy responds to the medical emergency two times when he has to take the exam the next day morning. I think there is a message for the parent folks out there on how to respond or rather react to the kids exam results or how to take decision for the career.

I am sure Dr. Vijayakarthikeyan has more up his sleeves and wish him all the very best for his future works. Looking forward to having his next work at the earliest.

So here you go click on the links to pick up your copy Amazon | Flipkart

Senthilkumar

The Tree Bears Witness: A Birbal Mystery book by Sharath Komarraju – a book review

tree bears witness

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Westland (17 November 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9386850443
  • ISBN-13: 978-9386850447
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm

This is a wonderful thriller with the background of the Akbar and his famous and favourite courtier Mahesh Das popularly known as Birbal. There is a murder in the Palace and the murdered is one of the guest from Rajputs called Sujjamal.

Akbar has this responsibility given to none other than his trusted courtier Birbal. The best part is the victim is the brother of one of the new Rajput bride Hina Kunwari and she has just come into the palace.

Now the thing is if this murder is not cracked that might have a lot of repercussions for the Emperor to high stakes political issues with the Rajputs and other leaders in the region. And also time is of the essence and the Emperor cannot wait for the crime to be wrapped in suspense on who did it and as such gives Birbal two days to get the murderer.

The story is well narrated with instances that has the readers hooked to the last page. Ofcourse the fact that there was no witness and how there was no witness are all well taken up by Birbal as he builds up his case in the short time that he has at his disposal.

The time he spends with the guards at the place who are a part of the suspect list and the stories that he hears from the older man gives him a bit of hint in making the tree a witness.

The story is how Birbal gets to crack the case with all the suspects involved and help Akbar regain his respect with the new bride makes for an interesting Sherlock story. For once the tree becomes a witness and helps solve a murder mystery.

Well narrated and fast paced the story is planted in a nice setting on the Akbar era and it makes for an easy understanding of the characters.

Worth a read if you are into mystery novels. Pick your book here.. Amazon | Flipkart

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

Murder in Paharganj by Kulpreet Yadav – a book review

Murder in Paharganj

Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury India; First edition (10 October 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9386826615
ISBN-13: 978-9386826619

First things first, this is the first time I am reading Kulpreet Yadav and happy that we have a series with someone called Vicks Menon, it definitely is a nice idea to get a Journalist don a detective’s hat.

The story opens with a murder in a hotel in Paharganj, of a foreign lady, and the hotel staff invariably a friend of Vicks Menon informs him before he actually calls the police and that’s where it all starts.

The man in the story Vicks is a journalist albeit this time he is jobless and wants to show his boss that he has made a mistake and that’s one reason why he decides to take this on his own instead being a help to the police. Also in the story is his live in partner and lover combined  Tonya who is a psychiatrist and helps the police unravel motives for crimes.

The story travels across half the continent atleast from Israel to Iran to Afghanistan to India to Bangkok. Though most of the happenings is at Paharganj and Udaipur for a bit, its shadow casts across the other places mentioned earlier.

There is also the farther daughter story which comes to light with an introduction of an Israeli spy in Ariel.

The contours of the killer who is Jalauddin in real and with a name of Jamie and how he is an agent for Iran is well crafted but the scenes that unfold are quite cinematic in the way it takes shape towards the end.

The unravelling of the plot could have been more intense. The trace that the police are after looks pretty amateurish. It could have been much more scientific and today there are enough things in digital that is happening. I would expect much more from a spy thriller.

Easy and a fast paced read but could have been more gripping, because it was left to someone to finish of the killer, somehow doesn’t seem true to the plot. I think the character of the psychiatrist should have been chiselled in a way that could have a bearing on the case.

There are too many characters to contend with and we have to sympathise with them too. And their roles get limited when the author tries to give each a bit of the focus on them. A good read overall.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book review. Thanks FLipkart for the copy and you may pick up yours here!

Senthilkumar

What Kitty Did by Trisha Bora – a Book Review

what kitty did

Book: What Kitty Did
Author: Trisha Bora
ISBN-13: 9789352644476
Product Code EBK0398371
Binding: Paper Back
Publishing Date: 2017-06
Publisher: Harpercollins
Number of Pages: 288
Language: English

For once, the don’t judge the book by its cover doesn’t work for me personally because the cover is designed very purposefully and as you read the book you will know the fitment that has come to fruition in terms of the prose and the design team which did the cover. Well that’s the designer in me before I get to review the book.

The central character of this book nick named Kitty (Ketaki Roy) has a roller coaster of a life as a journalist. You get a peek into her life during the course of her covering an incident about a death of a movie star. That forms the part of the story because what Kitty thinks it to be a small assignment that will have an impact on her promotion and money part later seems to be different than she thought. In between you have flings, romances and everything peppered in.

The author has a style of her own and the best part she does is get funny with her own antics and making us laugh in the process. Its Delhi all the way and if you have been in Delhi you would know how to empathise with what she says about Dilli.

I would probably look at it as a view of a Delhi girl’s perspective in a way and in short a profiling of how young girls there get to live their life. A millennials perspective as the cover says.

The English is straight forward and conversational and ofcourse I don’t know if its because of her background in literature that she loathes so much, nevertheless. I think the book should have got atleast some pages less say may be 20 odd pages. As for the pace the book manages to keep you going. I took three sessions to finish this book.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program. To buy your copy click here : Flipkart | Amazon

The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara – S V Sujatha a Book Review

 

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Aleph Book Company
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 9789386021090, 9386021099
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 200

The story of the demon hunter of Chottanikkara is a super natural  thriller in a unique way. Probably if you know the place and the temple you would more than easily understand the background and appreciate the story telling. That was one of the reasons that actually got me to read this book.

This is a very interesting read because it bares the human limitations and weakness to a level that it is really scary what people can do in some instances.

The portrayal of Devi is a classic case of the super natural among the human and it is very vivid and down to earth and makes her a hero of the masses with an earthen attitude. The all powerful and the rustic portrayal and especially the food habits etc make it a part of the folklore and how the temple manifestation is a pointer in a way. I loved the fearlessness that is so easy going with the character which makes the people worship her. The background and the minute details especially of the rituals and the way the demon is hunted makes for a great reading. I think the story of Kannappa – a thief turned father here adds to the emotional drama.

The characters are so well sketched to make you sit up and though I would say the plot could have been a bit intense towards the end, the story at some point midway almost give away the secret.

I liked the interlude of Parasurama, for me the mythological aspect of him being a Chiranjeevi and his relationship with Kerala are quite folklore and so loved the aspect of his characterisation.

The author has written a beautiful prose and the story telling is fast paced but could have led to the climax and plot in a more intense way and it would have been a better presentation. As for the pace I took three sessions to finish this book.

I was also wondering the date of this story. Absolutely vivid story telling, and simple narrative prose for reading, this book gives you a different perspective on exorcism and rituals.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program. Thank You Flipkart for your copy!