Book Review : Ramayan – Stolen Hope

Published January 24, 2016 by vishalvkale


{Book 3, after The Rise Of The Sun Prince and Shattered Dreams}

Shubh Vilas is a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker, with a degree in Engineering and Law, specialised in Patent Law. Prominent among his teachers are H.D.G. A.C. Bhaktivedant Swami Srila Prabhuda {Founder Hare Krshna Movement} and H.H. Radhanath Swami

This is a book that is completely different from the previous book/s in narrative, content and flow; those of us who are aware of the story of the life of the Lord Ram will find this in keeping with the story of his life. In the previous book, we studied {I cannot use the word “read” for the story of our Lord} his life till the Vanvaasperiod starting; far too obviously, the story takes a turn from that point.
The current book traces the life of Lord Ram from the beginning of the Vanvaas going right till the sad episode of Sita Haran by Ravan, and the start of the hunt till the meeting of Lord Rama with Shabari. Along the way, we are treated to a series of episodes from the Vanvaas Period which make for enthralling reading for those of us {like self} who were unaware of the full details of the complete Ramayan. To me, The Ramayan moves from Vanvaas straight till Sita Haran; this book has enabled me to get a hand on the full story of our Lord.
Here you will find a multitude of episodes with enchantingly exhausting details which enrich your understanding of The Ramayan – from the full story of Rishi Agastya who tamed the Vindhya Mountain Range, to the story of Jatayu, to the story of Dandakaranya and many other interesting parts, like the story of Khara & Dushan; the palace of Ravan, the story of Mandodari and many others that make this a highly engaging read!

But far more than the story itself, for me personally the biggest takeaway from this part of His life is the description of the lifestyle, environment, their daily activities, their simplicity, their surrender to their current situation and the way they conduct themselves. That left me spellbound, as I was able to visualise how tough it must have been for a Prince, a man who was brought up for kingship to go through these rigours.
The other part of this part of the book is the continuing delicate interplay between The Lord and Sita Ma; this is truly the stuff of legend. The author has reproduced their relationship in such a sublime fashion, with their conversations, episodes and communications leaving a deep impression on your mind. Add to this the absolutely wondrous devotion of Lord  Lakshman, and you have a retelling of The Ramayan that is beyond description almost
In Lakshman one sees devotion to one’s loved ones; sacrifice for the sake of the elders; total obedience – and yet an ability to respectfully convey one’s disagreement with the elder; complete surrender to one’s duties and responsibilities; this is a sacrifice that is unparalleled in my experience at least. This is one of the biggest plus points of this series, the way Lakshman’s role has been given due attention and portrayed properly.

Such is the style of the presentation & so powerful the connect of The Ramayan with us that you smile with delight with each smile of Devi Sita, and get tears in your eyes on more than one occasion in the scenes of The Lord and The Devi, in the devotion of Lakshman, in the tragic Sita Haran. The author has done full justice to The Ramayan, and has made it far more than a mere book or a retelling…
Best of all is the Lord Ram and the way his full character is brought out in front of our eyes; one can see the loving husband, the caring brother, the compassionate man, as well as the tough warrior and hard punisher all in one complete package, enabling you to understand why he is the ideal man : Maryada Purushottam! The transformation of the Lord from loving man to determined warrior, from compassionate human to crusading punisher has been flawlessly achieved, and enriches your understanding of The Lord.

Where this series makes its most powerful mark is the series of short annotations, text boxes and comments that drive home powerfully the lessons of The Ramayan; and its contemporary relevance. This places the current retelling in  a league of its own, and makes for a deeply engaging, immensely enriching and deeply thought-provoking study. That is also another reason why I refer to this series not as a reading material – but a study to be undertaken and a path to be followed.

The way the material has been presented, it ceases to be just a Holy Book, or a retelling of the known story of The Lord Ram and Devi Sita; it transposes into a potentially life-changing or life-enriching experience as you are taken deep into human psychology, human reactions & life lessons. This is not done  through long lectures or allegories but rather through short end-notes of a few words each, leaving deep learnings. This is series to be read again and again until the message sinks in and changes you for the better.

Furthermore, another fantastic part of this series is the text boxes which contain analyses of some episodes and the reasons why each person behaved as he or she did in that scenario; this enables a deeper understanding of the story, as well as a deeper connect with these historical characters. These text boxes are also used to drive home lessons from key episodes of The Ramayan; making this book far more than just a mere retelling!

This is a labour of love, of a learned man’s deep passion for The Ramayan; it is not just a mere book series or a retelling. It can be best described as the effort of a Guru; you become a pupil in his class of life, as the Guru takes you through the story, with the attendant hard-hitting, or thought-provoking comments which I now like to call Guides to Life. This is a guide to the reader, an aid even to a brutal self-examination with potentially far reaching effects and learnings, if studied with attention.

{Have I, who am writing these tall words, studied it with the requisite attention? I didn’t the first book; that was just a deeply engaging book. But the second one got through to me, and it has now  become a potential study. How much I will succeed is anyone’s guess. Time will tell! If I can succeed in my effort to treat this as a study, a life-changing experience – I will be the richer for the experience}

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!

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