About the Book:
BHARATVARSHA, LAND OF THE ARYAS: 270 BC
About the Book:
BHARATVARSHA, LAND OF THE ARYAS: 270 BC
TITLE: The Hounds of Shiva
AUTHOR: Preetha Rajah Kannan
PUBLISHER: Jaico Publishing House
As its mahout goaded the mammoth royal elephant to the open space where Navukkarasu was held, the beast trumpeted in fury, knocking down walls and ornamental arches in wanton aggression. The earth shook under its tread and the crowd surged back in fear.
Navukkarasu fearlessly stood his ground asserting, “The Cosmic Dancer who wears a garment of elephant hide will protect me.”
The animal charged forward – only to stop short before the saint. In an instant, all aggression leached out of the beast. As docile as a lamb, the elephant circumambulated Navukkarasu, clumsily fell to its knees, and raised its trunk in homage to him. Lumbering to its feet, it then carefully backed away from its intended victim.
Hounds of Shiva is a treasure house of tales with impassioned, heroic acts of sacrifice, devotion and service in the lives and times of the Nayanmars – the sixty-three Shaivite saints who were exemplars of bhakti. Kannappa gouges out his eye to heal Shiva’s wound; Punitavati renounces her youth and beauty to follow the Lord as an emaciated ghoul; Siruthondar sacrifices his own son at Shiva’s command; Iyarpahai gifts his beloved wife to another man; Samandhar raises a boy from the dead; Poosal builds an intricate Shiva temple in his heart.
But the book’s hero is Lord Shiva, who assumes myriad disguises to sport with his devotees, blessing and testing them. Filled with astounding miracles, Hounds of Shiva is an untold tale of the Blue-throated Lord and a feast for the mind and soul.
A journey into the lives of some of the greatest Shiva Bhakts, ‘The Hounds of Shiva’ is both interesting and enlightening. The stories 37 in all, introduce us to a bhakti of very high order in simple, crisp and lucid language. The glossary at the end of the book is a ready reckoner of sorts and makes the read easy to comprehend and appreciate.
Short and crisp, the stories move from that of one Nayanmar- Shaivite Saint – to another with ease. While each story gives us an insight into the level of love that that particular Saint has towards Lord Shiva and the extent the said person could go to, to keep his faith in the Lord intact, the penance and sacrifice he / she could undertake to attain salvation at the lotus feet of the Lord, it also enlightens us to the fact that the life of Saints is anything but easy and that nothing can be attained via shortcuts. The road to salvation is tricky and dangerous. It takes its toll in the form of renunciation or extreme suffering. So the life of the blessed one is not exactly something that mere mortals need be jealous of. They suffer; they strive and earn their reward after undertaking a journey arduous without a sigh, and undergoe untold miseries with a smile on the face and the ‘Om Namaha Shivaya’ mantra on the lips.
Though the blurb mentions Shiva as the book’s Hero, I personally felt that the Lord was just an instrument to define and extol the virtues of the Shaivite Saints and that it is they who are the true Heroes. Had it not been for their unwavering faith in the Lord, they would never have undergone the extreme trials and tribulations required of them, with a stoic attitude.
Another thing that struck me was the level of understanding each story brings out, between the family members of each of these Saints. It goes without saying that in a way these Saints were able to heed their calling and follow their heart without an iota of doubt or misgiving, because they had the unstinting support of their family be it their parents or spouse.
Gems of knowledge in the form of snippets nestled in a box within each chapter. These gems can pertain to anything from the significance or history of a particular temple, a text, a special day or even a cult. They are truly ‘delectable’ (read knowledge enhancing).
An easy read, yet one that needs to be read without a hurry in order to imbibe the essence which is true bhakti.
It was the month of April when nature attired herself in a new garb with little smooth green leaves sprouting on some trees, while the others had not yet shed completely their brownish yellow leaves. A mixture of dusty yellow fallen lifeless leaves under the massive trees and the seasonal flowers past their full bloom presented a spectacle of life and death. One had to step over the crispy fragile remains of what once was a prized greenery to get near the rows of pansies, zinnias, lilies and other flowers to see the minute tapestry of the multicoloured spectacle amidst the crackling dead leaves. The winter’s ruthlessness had made way for the pleasant breeze, dusty at times, that replaced the cold winds of February. It was a pleasant, beautiful, sombre and placid morning in a strange land when Sumitra joined the school at Domod as a lecturer. It could have been the month of July with blackish-grey clouds suppressing the bright onset of the dawn or the torrential rains drenching her on her first day of school; it could have been the month of December with its biting cold necessitating the full stock of woollen clothes. Nevertheless, out of all the random eccentricities of the transferring authority, she was slated to join the school during the best period of the year, and it sure augured well. A placid look came over her face when she saw the red cap over a green body, the gulmohar, topping the fresh green leaves of the massive tree at the end of the road leading to the school. The April bliss.
She got the first shock when she found the distance cut short abruptly. The school happened to be in full view, even as she was jostling through the crowd, manoeuvring the sharp cuts and turns of the street; an expectation of an ideal location of the school belied. Why this proximity? A school in a bazaar? How nauseating and depressing?
TITLE: The Globetrotters
AUTHOR: Arefa Tehsin
ILLUSTRATOR: Nafisa Nandini Crishna
PUBLISHER: Puffin (27 June 2018)
TARGET GROUP: 9-11 years
A bully needs a prey to satisfy his ego, but what happens if the bully himself falls prey to his own doings. Well, the story of Hudhud a mean and nasty little boy, imparts some truly meaningful lessons not only in terms of empathy and love, but also regarding different living forms that are very much a part of Planet Earth.
Children are prone to playing pranks. So what’s wrong with Hudhud? Harmless pranks are a big ‘no’ as far as Hudhud is concerned. The headache of his classmates, teachers and innocent creatures too, Hudhud learns some eye-opening lessons ‘the hard way’ when his strange new history teacher visits him on the night Sameer his classmate and a victim of his insensitivity, goes missing. Cursed and left alone to fend for himself Hudhud must find answers to all wrongs and for that he must roam the vast earth in the form of some of the greatest migratory beings.
Setting out as a blue whale calf separated from his mother in the deep ocean; as a trusting caterpillar who befriends a hunting spider; as a competitive caribou on a perilous trek; as an Arctic tern too scared to fly . . . But fly across the world he must, if he hopes to ever return home, Hudhud’s surreal journey takes him across the globe where he encounters some truly majestic species, comes face to face with danger and death, learns to differentiate between friend and foe and understands the meaning of empathy and love.
Interesting and engaging, The Globetrotters is a remarkable tribute to those innumerable species that inhabit the sky, land and waters of earth. What stands out as one moves from story to story in this vast amount of information that’s packed in just 197 pages which also see some wonderful illustrations put in. This speaks volumes of the author’s knowledge and language skills.
Reading the book is like going on a safari where one comes face to face with the marvels of the oceans, the desert and the poles. Each story imparts a life lesson and at the same time helps the young reader understand the characters (life form) involved in the same, their habitat, mannerisms, food habits, etc. The imagery takes us on the arduous trek/ travel undertaken by them (mainly the mighty migratory creatures) and gives us an insight into their stamina and determination.
What does the adult reader take away from the book?
The joy of reliving childhood years!
The book offers the adult reader a trip down memory lane, a revisit to those classroom sessions made enjoyable and lovely with some lively role plays, amazing textbooks and equally amazing teachers who even without the internet or all the tech- tools available today, made learning a wonderful experience. One also has the advantage of carrying away bits of information that may have not been available in those days.
The language is crisp and lucid. The illustrations compliment the content and the style of writing is amazing. Each story is testimony to the fact that the author Arefa Tehsin, is truly a globetrotter and a wonderful story-teller. ‘The Globetrotters’ also voices the author’s concern regarding the steady deterioration of the health of land, water and air on Planet Earth.
The icing on the cake (read ‘story’)
The twist at the end. Loved it.
A book for both the young and old alike, with the power to make you sit upright.
Forced to team up with video game designer Ashwin Deo, who is too attractive for his own good, she finds life becoming a whole lot more complicated when he turns out to be her new neighbour. How can she maintain a professional distance with this charming troublemaker who believes in getting up close and personal?
To make matters worse, her ex tries to manipulate her loved ones to work his way back into her life. Hysterical siblings, a cantankerous client, an ex who will not take no for an answer, and a blow hot blow cold neighbour… Sanjana is sleepless in the City of Dreams! Can she do what Ashwin dares her to–create a few ripples even if it upsets her family?
Adite Banerjie discovered the wonderful world of books at an early age which sparked her interest in writing. After a fulfilling and exciting career as a business journalist she turned her attention to fiction.
Three of her books have been published by Harlequin/Harper Collins India. She is now committed to being an indie author.
She also writes screenplays and in 2017 one of her scripts made it to the semi-finals of the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowships.
When she is not grappling with her current work-in-progress, she enjoys spending time with her husband and watching back-to-back movies.
She loves to connect with her readers and writers. .
As the divine Blue Lotus Indivara sprouts an ominous red petal, its guardians must do everything in their power to protect it and their kingdom. Aryavir and Sitanshu march to the border of Kalipura for a bloody showdown with the Chandraketu King Divyendu. It seems as if the Kamal Akshi Army with its peerless long-haired Kesakuta warriors cannot lose a war, but the wily enemies of Kamalkund have diabolical plans that are not written in any rule book. Thanks to the evil machinations of the Mayakari Queen Tamasi and wily King Kratu, Aryavir and Sitanshu are facing the battle of their lives.
With hidden ancient secrets that are known only to the revered Maheshwari Masters, the mythological Old World is about to be plunged into intrigue and danger its denizens could never have imagined. Powerful kings face mortality, relationships are tested to their breaking point and the Great War of Sompur will bring completely unexpected repercussions.
Written with the classic Indian ethos, Sitanshu, the second part of the Guardians of the Blue Lotus Trilogy, pays homage to India’s magnificent mythological heritage and takes the reader on a journey into the heart of human passions.
Mesmerizing cover design and an interesting blurb combined with a wonderful prequel that goes by the title ‘Áryavir,’ beckons the mythological fiction buff to pick up ‘Sitanshu’ and I must admit that this one is a notch up compared to its prequel.
Picking up from where Áryavir’ ( Read my review of the book here) ends, ‘Sitanshu’ takes the reader on a ride far different from its prequel. Interesting and captivating there is a lot of action, there are intriguing paranormal sightings and a one of its kind encounter with the mythological Maheshwari Masters. Palace intrigues combined with startling revelations test relationships. Greed gets the better of good sense and love blossoms in unexpected quarters. Amidst all the action we get to know some interesting characters, see the birth of a new star and witness a positive change in equations as far as relationships are concerned. Little Eashwari with her intuitive powers puzzles all who come into contact with her and plays a pivotal role in taking the story forward. As one moves forward along a path ( read) full of twists and turns, one can’t but help admire the author’s skill at keeping her reader/s hooked. Relationships fail, new ones are built. Secrets are revealed, characters as well as readers are taken by surprise. The brave survive, deceit takes a beating. The foundation stone for a new and final part of the trilogy is laid.
The characters, again a huge cast, are well developed. One can actually visualize them and perhaps even live them out as one encounters them. There are some like little Easwari, Eshan and Lakshya who bring a smile to your face, and then others like Tamasi, Kratu, Divyendu, Drisana and Nyka who by their thoughts and actions leave you gritting your teeth. There are people like Queen Mother Chandrabha and Urmasi who leave you confused and wondering and then there are people like Sitanshu and Reva whom you can understand without going too deep into their mind. In short this is one story where you get a glimpse of all shades of human character and all types of human emotions.
Pace is racy, language is simple, crisp and lucid and the style is apt.
A book that’s sure to keep the reader hooked and guessing.
The cover an eye-catching one, invites the reader to turn over and take a look at the blurb, and the blurb in turn nudges him/ her to pick it up.
Aryavir is not an ordinary prince. Heir to the throne of Kamalkund, Aryavir is a Kamal Akshi – blue-eyed and blessed by the Indivara, a divine Blue Lotus that protects his kingdom. And yet Aryavir harbours a terrible secret about his fate. His family, led by his father, King Chiraksh, is bound by its own web of intrigue and ancient promises.
The complexity of the family’s past and present allegiances and the secrets each family member hides are set against the fact that Kamalkund has to fight off covetous kings from across the borders who will do anything to control the powers of the Lotus.
Meanwhile, as Aryavir, his faithful tiger Kar and friend Sitanshu fight their own battles, the kingdom is faced by clear and present danger. And the past unravels its mysteries unexpectedly.
This classic tale pays homage to India’s magnificent mythological heritage and, at its heart, is a story about the eternal human journey.
Interesting, intriguing and engaging, ‘Aryavir’ is a saga set in the Old World where Ishv the formless one is worshipped, Astradharis are blessed with weapons that wreak untold havoc if not handled properly, Mayakaaris play an important role in determining the destiny of men and women they come into contact with, Maheshwari masters with mystical powers see the future with clarity and are adept at guiding the affected and where life for some runs into anywhere between 200 to 500 years.
Packed with interesting characters, events, twists and turns as well as various shades of human nature, the story takes the reader on a journey beautiful yet nail biting. One can’t help but marvel at the author’s creative side, style and the ability to put across a complex plot with ease. As one moves from chapter to chapter, one feels drawn into the midst of the action that unfurls and can’t help but wait with bated breath to see the end result. In short there’s no going back once you set foot into ( read enter) the ‘trap’ that’s called Guardians of the Blue Lotus, that Author Anita Shirodkar has set for you.
The characters a sizeable number, are well developed and are well integrated into the fabric of the story. While some exude energy , some tug at heartstrings by their innocence and plight and then there are others whose wily nature make you wish you could shake them up and give them a piece of your mind.
The pace, though slow at first, picked up after the initial few chapters. After that the ride (read) was not only enjoyable but mind tickling too.
Language is simple, easy to comprehend, crisp and lucid and has the power to transport the reader to the scene of action. There are no mind boggling jargons to sweat over nor inappropriate phrases and usages that will make you crinkle your nose.
So what’s it that stops me from giving the book a 💯
Well it’s the typographical errors especially towards the fag end of the novel, that restrains me from saying ‘Perfect.’ This needs to be looked into and taken care of if not already done, before going in for a fresh edition.
A read that’s sure to make you pick up the next in this series of Guardians of the Blue Lotus i.e. ‘Sitanshu.’
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