Books, Reviews

The Immortals Of Meluha

After struggling with the first 45 pages of ‘The Immortals of Meluha’, I sat through this today and finished this book. When I started it again, and coursed through the great 45, I realised what I had been putting away in these days. I just could not put it down at all, it was just not possible. I am quite a fast reader and I finished this book in one go. No my impatience did not make me skip whole paragraphs or pages. I read through every single word,  and boy, what a book!

The author (Amish Tripathy) works with the idea of humanising Shiva , the deity, and making the mythology relating to the god, into earthly situations that forced him to rise above the normal. Throughout the book, the mythology that surrounds the deity is not lost at all, but blends beautifully into the narrative, and therefore those readers who are familiar with it are able to draw on the similarity. However, there is an interesting novelty in the way in which the mythology has been adapted. The unfolding of the events makes the reader look forward to seeing the author’s  take of the successive events that are a part of the mythological storyline.

Amish re-casts the god into a Tibetan tribal leader who is forced to become the unwilling Superhero of a highly advanced civilisation. The result is amazing. The reader is unable to take his eyes of the book, and its hero. The mind works, along with the author, to conjure a strapping image of the protagonist, who might as well be God.

Quoting from the book :
“Shiva! The Mahadev. The God of Gods. Destroyer of evil. Passionate lover. Consummate Dancer. Charismatic Leader. All-powerful, yet incorruptible.Quick wit, accompanied by an equally quick and fearsome temper.”
These are the opening lines of the book and that is all that is needed to sum up the protagonist. However, all of these sound really ideal, almost lofty, and may make one think there is no “Man” to this Superman. But it is not one bit so. He carries a burly sense of humour very characteristic of a carefree and bold young man. The slight arrogance that comes with being a strong handsome man, and a warrior at that, is not missed either. The warm camaraderie and friendship he shares with Brahaspati , Nandi and Bhadra lets us see the Shiva who wants, more to be  man than a saviour. More so human is the passionate and intense chemistry that builds between Shiva and Sati. The reluctance to accept that he is any better than a normal man, the turmoil that brews in his chest when he is forced to lead a nation to war and the personal strife that he undergoes when he realises his mistake, all draw him down firmly to earth. Much like a war general who is broken at the sight of the devastation he has caused, the hero breaks down and literally weeps.   

The mythology of Shiva begins where he is already a man and nothing is known about his ancestry. He is typically portrayed as a chandravanshi, absolutely bohemian, living with complete abandon. He sports hide over his clothes, his hair is long and untamed with the cresent moon adorning it. He meets and falls irredeemably in love with Sati, the daughter of King  Daksha. As all fathers, Daksha is less than impressed but reluctantly agrees to get them married. The king then conducts a sacrificial ritual where he fails protocol by not inviting Shiva. Shiva, by then is accepted as one among the ”creator, protector, destroyer” triumvirate, as the destroyer of evil. This unleashes all catastrophe, but is not a part of this book’s storyline. This book stops with Shiva and Sati getting married and some random incidents after that, as far as its adherence to the mythology is concerned. But considering that this is only the first book of the Shiva trilogy , we could look forward for more.
The actual storyline of the book, independent of the mythology, is quite interesting in itself. Shiva is a head of the Gunas , a Tibetan tribe, who are invited into Meluha. During the stay there, Shiva is discovered to be the “Neelkanth”, their Blue-throated saviour. The entire royalty and the nation falls into a frenzy of adulation for the Neelkanth and he drawn into a becoming something he cannot even understand. Among them is the King himself, Daksha; the princess,Sati; the chief medic, Ayurvati and the general populace of Meluha. There is no dearth of sceptics as well and among them are Brahaspati and Parvateshwar, the chief scientist and the War General of Meluha respectively.The story progresses to trace how Shiva relates to all of these people, and goes on discover the greatness of Meluha in the journey towards accepting the greatness forced upon him. Throughout the story,  he cannot understand how one man can be the solution to the perceived enemy of a near perfect civilization. However, he decides to stick on, rallying the nation into a war, strategizing with them, building weapons and leading the army into a resounding victory in impossible circumstances. He slowly learns to accept and builds on his persona to stand up to the expectations of the Meluhans , only to learn that he could be on the wrong side of the line. The internal troubles of this man feel so intensely real.

Splendid narration. Must Read.

But please do not get religious and start raving about the book. Suspend religious reverence and read purely for pleasure. You will love this book.

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