Ramayan

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Book Review : The Rise Of The Sun Prince {Ramayan Book 1}

Published April 25, 2017 by vishalvkale

||Shri||

Book Review : The Rise Of The Sun Prince

Ramayan : The Game of Life Book One

By : Shubh Vilas

This is a story that never grows old; a history that has been and will be told millions of times in the past 7000 years; and a practice, a tradition that will remain with us Sanaatan Dharmis as long as there is life on Earth. This is the story, the History of the Lord Ram himself, and his undying and mesmerizingly lovely story of his time of Earth with his lady love, Goddess Sita. That makes it a hard, an exceptionally hard story to re-tell; something to be taken up with great caution, tremendous knowledge – and above all, utmost devotion.

Any retelling of The Ramayan that is taken up with the above 3 characteristics will be enticing, beautiful, lovely and fascinating. This is not a tale that can be anything less; not with its sublime beauty; this is a tale like no other – never has history been so enchanting, so beautiful as during the events of The Lord Ram’s life. Such is the towering beauty of this magnificent historical event that it captivates the mind, draws it in, leaves you enchanted, and leaves you richer for the experience. We are truly lucky to be able to savour the awesome delectable pull of this lovely tale in all its resplendent glory! 

And when this sublime story is taken up with the additional flavours of completeness, intellectuality, and connection with modern life – it rises above the ordinary, making its reading an experience to be relished, moments spent reading it as special moments to be treasured in your memory. This current re-telling of this timeless story is in this category – a very, very special re-telling that elevates it into the pantheon of being among the finest modern books written!
The first part of the seven-book series starts, quite literally, from the beginning – from the time Narad Muni narrates The Ramayan to Valmiki Muni, and contains details of Lord Ram’s Ancestors; and the full story of the Ikshavaku Dynasty leading upto King Dasharath in its pages. It tells the story of the birth of Lord Ram, of his growing up years, and of his experiences with his Guru Vishwamitra. The book also paints a stunningly beautiful and detailed portrait of life in Ayodhya, as well as of the qualities that made Lord Ram so special.
It also narrates the full tale of the Janak Dynasty of Goddess Sita, and of the confluence of the two majestic Satyug Dynasties- The Solar and The Lunar Dynasties, giving names of the ancestors of each lineage. And it also introduces the third major player on the scene -Ravan, and gives his history, as well as the story of the rise of the Island of Lanka from Mount Meru. But above all, second only to Lord Ram, this book is the book of Maharshi Vishwamitra – of the way he rose above his passions, failures, anger and learned-struggled-studied-sacrificed his way to the high status of being a Maharshi. This is something that gives all of us tremendous hope, and which drives us to work ever harder in rising above our own sins!
Similarly, there are so many small and big mini-stories, all critical to a full understanding of this Holy Tale, that are detailed within the pages of this book that mentioning them all here is not feasible; I can only state that this is a unique and remarkably detailed narration of The Ramayan, that is recognizably true to The Ramayan History that we all know so well; and yet – it is far more, as it gives full details of a lot of events and things we were not aware of earlier.
The current, first book starts, as stated above, from the beginning, with Narad Muni and Valmiki Muni; and completes at the Marriage of Lord Ram to Lady Sita, concluding at the confrontation scene between the two Avatars of Lord Vishnu : Lord Ram and Lord Parshuram. It covers the birth, education of Lord Ram under both Maharshi Vashisth and Maharshi Vishwamitra, on to his marriage to Goddess Sita, adding quite a bit of details that at least I was not fully aware of.

But the icing on the cake is the connect with the Modern World, and the applicability of the learning from this Timeless, Ageless Tale of The Lord Himself in a modern context. That is what makes this series truly special, giving it a deep connect. This approach makes this series of books an experience, and a self-development effort as well as a mesmerizing tale- giving its breathtaking scope and details enclosed within each book of this series. This series is an experience to be experienced, and a learning to be enjoyed!  
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Book Review : Ramayan – Stolen Hope

Published January 24, 2016 by vishalvkale

||Shri||


RAMAYAN : STOLEN HOPE
RAMAYAN – STOLEN HOPE by SHUBH VILAS
{Book 3, after The Rise Of The Sun Prince and Shattered Dreams}

THE AUTHOR
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



STOLEN HOPE
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!


THE ANALYSIS
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.


THE LESSONS
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!


THE CONCLUSION
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}



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