Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: Shattered Dreams - Ramayana-The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas

Most of us would have heard the story of Ramayana early in our lives from our grandmothers (even before we learn to read or went to school). Thanks to Ramanand Sagar, his TV serial filled the gaps in those homes where grandmas were absent. At schools, it was teachers who retold it. At dramas, our elders enacted the scenes from it. After one learns to read, it opens up the bigger world as there are numerous books on Ramayana written over many centuries. Each author had put forward his or her views though the central plot and the subject matter remained the same, it was the style and the focus on certain characters made them unique. So it became an epic as it had the strength to survive many generations and remain relevant.

I too had read many versions of it with different perspectives and kept wondering each time about the capability of the story to be retold but still holding readers interest. And I had my set of questions too. If the purpose of Rama’s birth was to kill Ravana and if it was all destiny, why Sita was made the ignorant victim as Rama would have found any other reason to kill Ravana? I always found Rama too ideal for a human being (is that the reason they term him God?) and wondered how such a person who did not lose his tranquil in many odd circumstances but lost his serene when one of his countrymen accused his wife. It was strange for me to see Lakshmana losing importance in the story after the war gets over and wondered why nobody thought of his wife. As a fellow human being, Lakshmana’s wife would also have craved for her husband’s love but she gets little attention than she had deserved and so on.

When I had received the book “Shattered Dreams - Ramayana-The Game of Life” from BlogAdda, I begin with an impression that I am reading another version of the great mythology but soon I realized that the footnotes are making it more than a novel like read. For fictional/novel readers, footnotes are a distraction as they break the flow and continuity. But in non-fiction books, they are a must to provide references and other notes from the author. This book is full of footnotes almost in every page which are sharp and full of wisdom which gave me a feeling of reading a case study and the take away from case study captured in the form of foot notes. As you read a page from the book, the footnotes below it offer an explanation and reasoning why the characters behaved that way. That helps us understand the characters in depth and dissect the situation.

If one reads this book like a novel, I suppose the objective of the author will not be met. It is the synthesis of Ramayana and how we can improve our lives reading it is the significance of this book. So this book appeals to me more of a personality development/leadership guide book, and a good one at it as it has the backing of the great epic. The story of it everyone knows but what we can learn from each character and the situation from Ramayana, this book shows it. So it cannot be read in one go but need to be used like a study guide and I feel it is worth the time invested. It helps to clarify one’s understanding of life, transform himself and elevate to next level of understanding and produce a tolerant leader out of the reader. It helps the readers understand the importance of character and integrity. 

I am sure to come back to this book again in time.

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