After being suggested by a couple of friends and reading some fabulous reviews about these books, I ordered them online and yes, they were definitely a wonderful read…
In a very broad sense, the story is about Shiva and various others (characters picked from the actual Hindu mythology) who are on a quest to conquer evil with good and make India a better place to live in. On their voyage, the leader of the troupe “Lord Neelkant” aka “Shiva” is faced with difficult and tricky situations that initially makes him prejudiced about the evil that he fights. He eventually uncovers that his beliefs were false and finds new and different dimensions to his falsified assumptions. The more he uncovers the truth the more his perceptions towards the “good” and “evil” change.
The story is split across 3 books –
1. The Immortals of Meluha
2. The Secret of the Nagas and
3. The Oath of the Vayuputras (Not yet out)
Summary: The Immortals of Meluha
The story kicks off in a slow pace with Shiva and his troupe moving to the state of Meluha – the place where the Suryavanshis reside. The Meluha is known for its immaculate civilization offering an almost perfect way of life for its residents. The rules and policies carefully knit together by Lord Rama(the then ruler of Meluha) largely in the interest of the society, leaves no loose ends for any kind of illegal and unfair act in any aspect and meritocracy is the sole criteria for everyone in anything that they want to pursue. The concept of ‘Gurukul’ is quite interesting! Like any good system has a flip to it, Shiva abolishes an illogical and unfair ritual that had gotten into the system of Meluhans during the reign of Rama. Shiva believes in changing rules that were/could have been of some significance in the past and is utter non sense in the present. This change of rule also rescues his lady love Sati and they get married.
Suryavanshis seek help of the Lord Shiva to fight The chandravanshis – the neck deep enemies of Meluhans who are apparently allied with the terrorist Nagas and together they keep making illicit attacks on the innocents in Meluha. In one such attack, the Lord’s fav, brother-like, scientist “Brahaspati” is killed.
Almost immediately, the Suryavanshi declare a war against the Chandravamshis and turn out triumphant. The techniques used by the Suryavanshis in a war - like the tortoise formation etc are beautifully narrated. Very imaginative indeed, by the author. Later on Shiva realizes his folly – Chandravamshis are not evil, but they are only different. They don’t follow a set of rigid rules like Suryavamshis do. Each one is free enough to choose and do what they like that makes them a lot different from Suryavamshis – “disorganized”. Shiva also realizes that the chandravanshis played no role in any of the Naga terrorist attacks.... Shiva is more confused and his rage against the Nagas is undefiable…
The author is successful in keeping the readers engaged and infringing the curiosity about the nagas… At least I picked the second book almost immediately.
Summary: The Secret of the Nagas
The story in this book has a lot of twists and turns unlike the first one. Shiva explores various other cities including Kashi and marvels at how each of it is so different. Each of the cities varied a lot in the culture and tradition. The Kashi for example accommodates all kind of people seeking refuge and are the peace makers while another city is very conservative about its visitors.
As the story progresses Shiva is baffled by the knowledge that his enemy – the Nagas are the ones who turn out to be the saviours of many innocents. The Shiva himself receives a strange medicine from them that saves his son from death during his birth. Shiva is deeply puzzled about them being good or evil. However the death of his beloved brother makes his stance rigid in considering them to be “evil”. The Nagas also rescue Sati from the man eater tigers and at the end of it, the Nagas’ revelation leaves her stunned. Sati learns about her father's deception - hiding an important truth from her with a selfish motive of keeping his daughter happy and away from all the ridicule and difficulties she may have had to face otherwise.
When Sati unveils the info about the Nagas, the Shiva is as much stunned and astounded, but on seeing the Naga, he is again reminded of his beloved brother and the vengeance takes over him. The Nagas finally decide that the Shiva ought to know the truth and they take him to Panchavati – the place of the Nagas. What Shiva finds out is nerve clenching....
- Apart from the story itself, which is definitely a great work of fiction, the author has diligently taken care of portraying even the minutest of the details at his best. The description of each of the cities, the fight scenes, the lively descriptions of sunderbans etc are “wow”!
- The real beauty of the story is that the “Gods” of the mythology are portrayed as normal humans possessing no supernatural power. Everything that “seems” supernatural is backed up with convincing scientific justification. Be it about the Somras, or the telepathy…
- The meaning of “Har har Mahadev” – is well explained - one who sticks to dharma, one who makes decisions in the interest of the larger society, one who is as selfless as possible – he is the God in himself.
- Some of the conversations Shiva has with the Vasudevs are very thought provoking! I especially liked the one that talks about “desire” the “good” and the “evil”!
- Learnt a new thing - The opposite of "love" is not "hate" but "apathy" :)
Oops this was quite long! :P Looking forward to read the third book!