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Ashwin Sanghi’s most anticipated book, Keepers of the Kalachakra, is a mythological fiction and thriller. The book reveals a treasure trove of information that weaves together history, mythology, philosophy, religion and science. “Do you know the difference between mythology and history?’ asked Brahmananda. The lady expressed herself in a shrug. ‘Mythology is a set...
Ashwin Sanghi’s most anticipated book, Keepers of the Kalachakra, is a mythological fiction and thriller. The book reveals a treasure trove of information that weaves together history, mythology, philosophy, religion and science.
“Do you know the difference between mythology and history?’ asked Brahmananda. The lady expressed herself in a shrug. ‘Mythology is a set of lies that people rarely believe,’ Brahmananda said and paused. ‘And history?’ ‘A set of lies that people have agreed to believe.”
The book gives us entry into a fascinating world of mythology, infused with science. Author has shed light on some of the most intriguing concepts of physics, mathematics, biology, ontology, computer science, symbology and astrology. The author has made use of mystical concepts, conspiracy theories, historical events and scientific researches like double split experiment, quantum entanglement, theory of relativity, string theory, akashic theory, theory of everything, tor, zrtp, golden ratio, and many more. All of them strung tactically in a single string to form a remarkable storyline. Though the book claims to be a work of fiction, but the narration will make you feel like reading accounts of real incidents. For someone who is not science student or if physics is not your cup of tea, it might be a bit of struggle to understand this book in toto. Albeit the simple language of this book makes it a fast read.
The very first Kalachakra initiation was given some 2,594 years ago in Dharanikota (near modern Amravathi, Andhra Pradesh) by Shakyamuni Buddha, who attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya. One of the students was King Suchandara who had also come to learn something very special from the Buddha. It was called Kalachakra Multantra. Later Kalachakra teachings were summarized into simplified texts called Sri Kalachakra. Kalachakra system explains that there were three levels of teachings that the Buddha imparted to King Suchandara – outer teachings, inner teachings and intuitive teachings.
Outer teachings dealt with the physical world. These included the calculations used for the Kalachakra calendar, the start and end of universe, and the planetary system. Inner teachings dealt with the human body and mind. Intuitive teachings constituted the path to enlightenment that could be achieved by balancing the outer with the inner. The Buddhist wheel of time, the Kalachakra system believes in the correlation between body, mind, consciousness and the universe. As it is outside, so it is within the body. The theory was to study the mimicry between the behaviour patterns of subatomic particles and the behaviour patterns of planets.
Kalachakra was a technique by which non-celibates could become bodhisattvas. One could attain nirvana and experience the pure exalted realm of Shangri-La or, as the Buddhists called it, Shambhala.
Albert Einstein is one of history’s greatest minds that mankind has ever produced. His most recognised contribution to science was his Theory of Relativity. Einstein had no doubts that the mind is a product of the brain, his revolutionary discovery taught us that time and space are related to the observer. He formulated an equation that encompassed the relationship between matter, energy and the speed of light. It revealed that energy and matter are the products of the same substance and can be interchanged from one form to the other. The equation says that energy and matter are the two sides of same coin.
The world of quantum physics is mind-boggling and equally impossible to imagine. It gives us the notion of uncertainty principle, wave-particle duality, quantum superpositions, quantum entanglement, and many other theories that have been baffling the scientists for decades. One such quintessential aspect of quantum physics that riled Albert Einstein was the quantum entanglement theory. He described it as “spooky action at a distance”. According to the theory, in an entangled system, two particles remain connected so that the actions performed on one affect the other, even when separated by great distances and continue to share a common quantum mechanical state.
Much of what we today claim as “science” is the silent and munificent contribution of our ancestors. Western world still wonder – why would anyone imagine that enlightenment involves sitting under a tree, meditating? Two thousand years ago, Buddha taught us the techniques to explore the untapped potentials of our minds. He used his own powers of observation and reasoning, to guide him to his enlightenment. Scientists are now trying to study, comprehend and prove the theories that Indian sages had already postulated thousands years ago. According to Hinduism and Buddhism, everything in nature undergoes the vicious and beginning-less cycle of birth and death, or the cycle of Samsara. Every living organism takes birth, exists, and eventually dies. The truth of impermanence is that – everything that arises, ceases eventually.
Pratītyasamutpāda, or interdependent co-origination was one of the crucial aspect to what Buddha was awakened to. It states that all phenomena rise together in an interdependent web of cause and effect. All phenomena are empty of self-causation and the result of everything else. According to Buddhist philosophy, the two primordial qualities of space-time are information and connection or wisdom and compassion, which is nothing but the primordial force, the Buddha-nature. The conventionally accepted fundamental forces of nature that form the basis of all known interactions in nature are gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear forces. On the other hand, the primordial force is intelligent enough to communicate through all connections just like the quantum theory of entanglement. This entanglement is the glue that holds the nature, it is self-aware and aware of everything, and it is this buddha-nature that binds the universe together. It makes the vast and expanding universe a complex interrelated network in which universe itself and all creatures are acting in interdependence of their mutual interactions, where observer has a definite effect on the observed. There are various terms for this noumena – Dharmakāya, Brahman, Atman, Tao, the Great Spirit, the Void and the Christ. This energy of love and creation binds us together as a whole.
Indian sages believed in selflessness and we are all subconsciously connected by the fabric of love. They were far away from any advanced scientific laboratories and equipments, nor they had any access to supercomputers, but they possessed perspicacity of coherent conception of ideas that we lack today. It took them over ten billion dollars, over fifty years and thousands of scientists to discern the nature of Higgs Boson or it’s antecedent, the Buddha-nature.
“If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. – Albert Einstein”
Keepers of the Kalachakra is yet another magnum opus by Ashwin Sanghi, an amazing story that pans out across the globe – India, Russia, Syria, Turkey, China, Tibet, Australia, America and many more. The stupendous plot provides an amazing insight into the ancient traditions of Hinduism, Vajrayana Buddhism and the Kalachakra, which slowly delves into the apprehension of peeved issues of radicalisation and polarisation of religion and it’s consequences. The boisterous conversations about science and religion are truly entertaining and enlightening. It’s one of the best painstakingly researched novel with a good number of diagrams and Buddhist iconography which makes this novel a compelling read. From consciousness to Blavatsky’s akashic records and from correlation between milky way to the golden ratio and Roop Kund lake, the book boasts about the profound knowledge and mysteries in India. The author shares this huge kaleidoscopic and mind-expanding knowledge backed by tonnes of research from a reference list of 58 books, which is a commendable feat indeed! The book is actually a subterfuge, a fiction thriller surreptitiously leaking a treasure trove of information.
Keepers of the Kalachakra is an undoubtedly must read for all fiction lovers. The content is proficiently stitched together to form a perfect story and a brilliant closing climax. The narrative and the style of writing can be compared to Dan Brown. I would therefore strongly recommend this book to everyone who loves fiction, science and mythology.
Ruskin Bond wrote his first novel, The Room on the Roof, when he was 17, and won John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial prize in 1957. He has been enthralling the readers for 62 long years. He has written several essays, novels, poems, short stories and children’s books. He is also the winner of the prestigious...
Ruskin Bond wrote his first novel, The Room on the Roof, when he was 17, and won John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial prize in 1957. He has been enthralling the readers for 62 long years. He has written several essays, novels, poems, short stories and children’s books. He is also the winner of the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award which is the second-highest literary honour in India.
I too have been a die hard fan of Ruskin Bond since long. I can still recall a story, A face in the Dark, that was a part of our class 6 English syllabus. That was the first time, I was vis-a-vis with the Bond’s literature. The first time we read it, it’s thrilling climax made shivers run down our spines. I was so mesmerised that, when I upgraded myself to higher classes, I clipped the story from my textbook and preserved it for the rest of my life. I grew up reading his stories in the school textbooks and gradually he became one of my favourite authors.
There are classics written by great authors, but sometimes there are books written by story-tellers that are unputdownable, that can make you forget your work, no matter how big or small it might be. The words charm you and you fall into a hypnotic trance. When any author compels his readers to hover in the delicious overlap of reality and illusion, he has your full attention. Every second the story lures the reader into the book. Only then, the author knows that he has deftly carved out a masterpiece.
But what makes The Blue Umbrella book so distinct? The book portrays the distinctive flavour of India, a sense unmistakable realism and the diminutive details, characterising Bond’s work. The Blue Umbrella is one of Ruskin Bond’s marvellous creations. It is a perfectly handy children’s book.
The plot is set in the foothills of Himachal, in the beautiful lush green hills and valleys. The lackadaisical life in this small sequestered hamlet is seldom peppered with tourists. As is evident from the title of the book, it is the story of a precocious girl, Binya and her blue umbrella. She barters her leopard claw amulet for a blue umbrella with a tourist. She takes the umbrella along with her everywhere she goes. She fights men and nature to keep it safe. She even refuses to close it even while at home. The rain and sun eventually fade away the colour of the umbrella, but couldn’t tarnish her love for the umbrella. Soon the umbrella becomes the focal point of her life, and she becomes the cynosure of all eyes. Everyone’s thing of covet, the blue umbrella becomes the talk of the town for the unpretentious villagers.
Ram Bharosa, the shopkeeper is no different from the other villagers. He too is enamoured of the blue umbrella and secretly yearns to own it. Ram Bharosa tries hard to possess his craving wish but all his efforts go in vain. He feels vexed and dejected by his futile endeavours to own the umbrella. Seeing him desolated, his apprentice offers to steal it for him. Eventually, the boy gets caught while stealing and inculpates Ram Bharosa. Ram Bharosa’s unethical way to possess Binya’s umbrella, slanders his image and demolishes his repute. The villagers abstain from going to his shop, this further causes loss in his business.
Binya felt guilty for inculcating jealousy and covetousness inside the villagers and hence, she decides to share it with everyone. Unable to stand his suffering of loss, the instilled compassion of Binya gives away her umbrella. Overwhelmed by her kindness, Ram Bharosa comprehends his mistake, and gifts her a pendant with a bear claw amulet.
It is a simple, heart-lifting, children’s story with a resonating message of sharing the fragrance of caring by doling out the things that we love the most. A marvellous read for adults as well as a recommended gift for children. The simplified and elegant english with excellent storytelling and vivid descriptions makes it a delightful read for kids. Ruskin Bond does an immaculate job by revealing the various dimensions of human emotion and eventually touching the core meaning of humanity – kindness.
“The Catcher in the Rye” is a tragic story of a 17-year old adolescent,Holden Caufield, a strange and rebellious protagonist. The story is a long flashback of his three day period that starts at Pencey Prep, a prestigious boarding school from where he has just been expelled. He spends his time wandering in New York...
“The Catcher in the Rye” is a tragic story of a 17-year old adolescent,Holden Caufield, a strange and rebellious protagonist. The story is a long flashback of his three day period that starts at Pencey Prep, a prestigious boarding school from where he has just been expelled. He spends his time wandering in New York city. Almost everybody around him disappoints him. He thinks everybody is unrealistic and calls them phonies. Though Holden is not a cruel person, but still he does not believe in compassion and humanity. His rebel attitude drags him into constant fights.
As opposed to his nihilistic approach towards his life, Holden finds solace in the innocence of his beloved sister, Phoebe. Phoebe’s presence accentuates an interesting perspective into his character. I love the interaction between them. He secretly sneaks into her room, and tells her that he would love to be a catcher in the rye, a person who saves little children from falling off a cliff in the rye field. She is the only person in the book whom he dearly loves and cares because she is still an innocent child. He does not want her to get corrupted by the dishonest world of adulthood.
“The Catcher in the Rye” is well-written book with an extensive use of colloquialism. It seems like an impatient attempt of cynical teenager trying to understand the world around him and somehow fit into it. The book describes that moment when you hate everybody and everything is worthless. The author sounds real, his astute observations makes the reader sympathetic towards Holden, despite the choices that he makes. He does not make a deliberate attempt to recognise people but he effortlessly makes wry observations that are very superficial. He does not arrive to any conjectures with his significant perspicacious remarks. The book precariously exposes the emotionally difficult and hypocritical nature of Holden that makes him fall apart from the world that he lives in.
Even though Holden loathes almost everybody, but still he is filled with longing for all those who share his memories. He wants to save all children from falling off the cliff and thus saving them from the miserable adulthood, disdaining themselves from humanity, faith and hope, or may be from becoming another Holden Caufield.
If you are reading this book for the first time, you will wait for something spectacular to happen, but unfortunately it never does. It is one of the most critiqued and most frequently banned books of 20th century. It is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Honestly, I did not find it exciting enough to be a compelling read. But every book has a message to deliver, “The Catcher in the Rye” sends a message to be true to ourselves and remain hopeful.
Origin is the fifth Dan Brown classic featuring Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology and religious iconology. All of us who are fascinated and enthralled by Dan Brown’s works, already know that all of Robert Langdon series are paradoxically associated with the interplay between science and religion. Honestly, I have always been interested in...
Origin is the fifth Dan Brown classic featuring Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology and religious iconology. All of us who are fascinated and enthralled by Dan Brown’s works, already know that all of Robert Langdon series are paradoxically associated with the interplay between science and religion. Honestly, I have always been interested in the paradigms where science and religion intersect focussing on creation, human origin and divine action. The themes have been the raison d’être he has been one of my favourite authors. And since the launch of Origin, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this new Robert Landon adventure.
As usual, the story comprises of a series of captivating events that take place in Spain where Edmond Kirsch (an Elon Musk-ish tech genius), an inventor, futurist, a renowned global figure and also one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard is about to reveal the answers to the two most fundamental questions about human existence that every individual, irrespective of his/her timeline of existence on this planet might have thought of.
Where do we come from?
Where are we going?
While exploring for the answers, the maverick scientist and researcher, Edmond Kirsch uncovers a hidden discovery that would shatter the faith of people across the globe. He meets three different religious leaders – Roman Catholic Bishop, Jewish Rabbi and Islamic Imam and informs them about his discovery that he was going to make public. At Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, his revelation unfortunately faces unexpected set of events and the discovery lies uncovered.
Robert Langdon has no choice but to escape with Ambra, museum’s director and the future queen of Spain. They try to solve the dilemma revolving around a murder mystery while running for their lives. Both set out on a perilous quest to locate secret password to replay the recording of Kirsch’s precious discovery that lies teetering on the brink of being lost forever. The story gets murkier when the Royal family of Spain which is influenced by Catholic Church is also involved in the conspiracy. The story is beautifully woven by conspiracy, murder, love, betrayal and a world-changing secret.
I personally like every Dan Brown book, they all leave you thinking out of the box with a unique sense of suspense and intrigue. Unlike his previous books in Langdon series which unravel the ancient hidden secrets in the dark corridors of renaissance architectures, masterpieces and enigmatic symbols, Origin takes us into a new direction, focusing on modern technology, science and art. Dan Brown succeeds in masking the truth till the very end where the reader is utterly flabbergasted. The book can compel you to question your faith and at some point, anyone who is deeply religious shall rethink about God’s existence. This time the author has attacked everyone who believes in divine power. This book is a page-turner, thought provoking read that will sometime make you ponder whether science can replace religion. It also delves into some interesting discussions on scientific topics like entropy and Miller-Urey experiments. It’s a genre fiction at it’s best.
Origin is all about changing your views, to evolve, adapt and learn about various angles of truth explaining life’s origin and destiny. This book doesn’t shatter the beliefs but helps us to understand the world we live in. It portrays the world where we will share our private spaces with the ever increasing adoption of new technology in our lives and continue to coexist with artificially intelligent machines. The author deserves credit for scientific merit and extensive research done behind developing these theories. Lastly, even though Origin is much better than Inferno, but still it does not match up to the nail biting suspense in Angels and Demons or The Da Vinci Code. Origin proposes to use proportionate reasoning equipped with moral imagination as an epistemological tool to address ethical ambiguity of both science and religion. For Dan Brown and Langdon fans it is definitely a must read.
“Science and religion are not competitors, they’re two different languages trying to tell the same story. There’s room in this world for both.”
Book review: Men Without Women
This book is one of deft works of Haruki Murakami revealing the manifestation of male sentiments. It’s a pitch-perfect collection of seven short stories about men who became wise and old without women. The male characters seek for elucidation behind strange incidents and the mysterious ways of life, whereas the elusive women hold the secret to their partner’s fate. Their experiences teach them about acceptance, acquiescence and sometimes self-renunciation. Men in these stories are proscribed, abandoned and lonesome.
The stories are incessantly sad, a cold chill pervades the collection. The reader involuntarily emulates the alienation theme of this book – “when you lose your partner, you lose everything”. However, the intense curiosity of the characters that drives the narration, adeptly infuses into ours making it a compulsive read and a truly contemplating book.
The first story of the collection, “Drive My Car,” the narrator, hires an unattractive and taciturn woman as chauffeur as he has been in more than one drunk-driving minor accidents. The narrator is an actor by profession and has a reticent demeanor. His wife has recently died. He makes friends with his wife’s lover to determine the reason for which she had been cheating on him. The narrator who very much appreciates his friend’s company, eventually tries to confront his friend’s guilt by alluding him into tactful conversations and ends their friendship abruptly, without even leaving a note of concern.
In “Yesterday”, the narrator feels he is unworthy to be the boyfriend of his childhood sweetheart and alienates her. In an attempt to achieve intimacy in his relation, he urges his girlfriend for new acquaintances. This is where the story gets dark, commingled with nostalgia and regret.
Meanwhile, the narrator of “An Independent Organ”, is an unmarried cosmetic plastic surgeon who is habituated to having frequent affairs. He is a man who overlooks physical imperfections in his lovers. One fine day he deeply falls in love with one of his lovers. But their tryst gradually transitions into a catastrophe. He is obsessed with finding the answer to a question: “Who in the world am i?”
Well, not all stories fall under “men without women” category. In Scheherazade, the narrator is a young man who is incarcerated in a remote safe house. He has been assigned a support liaison who is also a housewife. On each visit she delivers groceries and books, have an insentient physical relationship that is almost impassive after which there is always an enthralling storytelling session. Each of those stories is enchanting, captivating both narrator and reader’s curiosity. Her ingenious storytelling skills seemed to be God gifted which made the narrator occasionally ponder – what if one day she went and never came back. Murakami ensures that the reader is hooked on the book making it unresistingly unputdownable.
The author seems to have delved into the unfathomable depths of life in search of force that binds us together – love. The pursuit of truth is the quintessential either-or scenario, whereas procrastination and posturing are puzzling circumstances that only tend to contribute to the garbled chaos in their lives. Each story pushes the reader towards the edge of assuaged grief, that can give sleepless nights and existential thoughts. The author’s rhetoric sleight reveals a significant journey into the male heart.
A concluding Murakami schmaltzy coda: “Being alive is a killer, if you think about it.”
Book Review: The Zahir by Paulo Coelho
Love is a disease no one wants to get rid of. Those who catch it never try to get better, and those who suffer do not wish to be cured.
I am not a Paulo Coelho fan! But The Alchemist compelled me to read The Zahir . I somewhere realized that the importance of an author’s work can’t be justified by just reading a single book.
The Zahir is yet another intriguing novel by Paulo Coelho. This time the subject is eternally entertaining – the mysterious relationship between a husband and a wife.
The story revolves around three people – Esther, Mikhail and the narrator. The narrator is a person who is laced with fame and wealth and he is a slave of his celebrity status. He never attempts to care about the aspirations of his wife, Esther, who is a journalist by profession. She desires to be a war correspondent but her love turns her into a housewife. She suddenly abandons him leaving no note of concern. He couldn’t surmise the plausible reason for her departure. Her absence creates a void in his life, making him realise that he actually was incapable to keep the woman he loved so much. His mind is distracted by various thoughts and worries, whether she abandoned the marriage or eloped with someone. He finds himself in a dilemma about whether to find her and persuade her to come back or to gain liberty to pursue bold new endeavours . He is caught up in maelstrom of mixed emotions to muddle through. He recalls the conversations he had with her in order to determine what had gone wrong in their relation. But, the more he thinks about her, the more he is obsessed to find her. She had already captivated him entirely with his body, mind and soul. In order to escape from the clutches of her thoughts, he tries to find solace in his girlfriend Marie but fails to break free.
Zahir in Arabic means something which cannot go unnoticed & once we come into contact with it, it grows into magnificent proportions in our thoughts. Zahir is an obsession, an obsession of a person, thing or oneself. To free ourselves from that is next to impossible.
Slowly, Esther symbolically becomes the Zahir, she fills him entirely. He starts to love her more than himself. Esther was the woman who helped him accomplish his dream to become an established author of a best-selling novel “a time to rend & a time to sew”. Suddenly, there is a change in his life when he meets a mysterious epileptic person with superficial powers of hearing voices, Mikhail who turns out to be a close friend of Esther too. Mikhail is a war correspondent whose mission is to transform the world by spreading the message of love. He tells him that she was giving french lessons to kids and making carpets while staying in Kazakhstan. The narrator is surprised and his obsession to meet Esther increases. Mikhail suggests him to find her soul in case he sets out to find her.
Later he meets with an accident which destroys his obsession. The incident leaves him with a clear understanding of nature of love and power of destiny. He feels as if he is reborn. He understands that one needs to keep walking without carrying any unnecessary extra baggage, and carry only as much as it is required to live each day and let the energy of love flow freely within and between us. He ventures from South America to Spain, France, Croatia and eventually Central Asia, to find her and bring her back in his life. Mikhail helps him to commence his journey from Kazakhstan. Gradually his journey leads him to a new understanding about love, hatred, forgiveness and life. He finally meets his wife and what happens in the end is a new beginning.
There are also places where the author has tried to create a melodrama and does not seem very realistic. The narrator has left unexplained reason for the way he drops Marie, his girlfriend and pacifier, when he was alone and distressed. The author believes in sign language, magical powers and intuition and given a chance he does not hesitate to hinder into his favourite spaces.
The narrator talks about contributing to favour bank to create a goodwill. The realm of art, culture and literature needs mutual cooperation to show your gratitude or repay wisely when required. He has provided a beautiful count of favour bank in this story. It’s a tale of being free, shed inhibitions, obsessions and explore newer horizons. Searching for a purpose in life and what you value most is the core idea and central theme of this book. The narrator brings into light the day-to-day arguments between husband and wife and with frequent disagreements how they fail to see diminishing love in their lives. It is a common trajectory for married people: fall in love, begin the journey, get comfortable and take for granted. As a reader you delve into a different level of understanding, the true meaning of love and spirituality. As the narrator describes the marriage between two people is similar to a railway track – they accompany each other in every walk of life but never overlap. There is no such adventure or mystery kind of thing. But, this book discusses about many aspects of marriage life and imperative to be read by every married couple.
Overall, Paulo Coelho’s The Zahir gives a fresh perspective towards life philosophy. It talks about a remarkable journey of love, spirituality, freedom to listen to your heart and self-introspection with a strong plot focussing husband-wife relation. This book has the potential to change one’s views on the wonderful relationship between husband and wife.
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