Before I talk about Amish's Shiva Trilogy 1: The Immortals of Meluha, let me give you a brief personal background about this.
The Shiva Concept Didn't Impress Inititally
My grandmother, while she lived, was an avid devotee of Lord Shiva and she felt His constant presence in her life in the form of "Ernakulathappan" the Shiva deity who is worshipped in Ernakulam city. She would go and pray there every morning and evening. The joy in her eyes and the excitement in her walk- it was like a woman in deep love and yes, she loved Lord Shiva more than anything. Her devotion ran deep and she tried her best to talk me into it...but the rebellious teenager I was, I have to confess here: I was totally contemptuous of the Shiva concept. I don't even know why I felt that way then.
My mother is also a Shiva Bhakt. However, because of the remarkable influence of my mother and grandmother, I began researching and reading upon the Shiva concept and I began to perceive the beauty, the underlying energy that forms the essence of the concept and yes, the sheer power/shakti aspect that comes alive within Shiva.
Shiva Trilogy 1: The Immortals of Meluha and the Buzz on Twitter
Across Twitter, many tweeps spoke highly about Amish's Shiva Trilogy 1: The Immortals of Meluha. Though late, I bought the book three weeks ago and began reading it. I like to read a book without feeling pressurized by the opinions of other readers. But this book totally turned my expectations upside down.
Here are some reasons why:
Shiva Trilogy 1: The Immortals of Meluha blends in refreshing perspective, clear, suspense filled narrative
Right from the beginning through the middle and towards the end, a reader feels on edge, wondering "Oh no, what will happen next to Shiva?" because though we may be familiar with Shiva Puran, the story makes you perceive Shiva's story with a refreshing perspective. Shiva, the warrior and chieftain of a tribe, is persuaded by the famed descendants of the Suryavanshis (who claim Lord Rama belongs to their tribe) to fight the Chandravanshis whom they say are cruel, ruthless, violent beings that conduct violent terrorist attacks on the Suryavanshis.
Their belief is that the Savior who will appear and defeat evil will have a blue throat after drinking the divine drink Som Ras, and because Shiva who was given the drink, developed a blue throat. This conveys to the Suryavanshis that Shiva is indeed the Lord Neelkanth who will save them. He refuses to believe that he is Divine because of the Blue Throat but every one else completely trusts in his divine power. It is in this most unlikeliest of situations that he meets the beautiful Suryavanshi Princess Sati and he knows he has lost his heart to her.
Shiva talks like the 'Guy Next Door'
The story of Shiva is narrated with clarity and simplicity. There were times when I cringed because Shiva's character seemed to speak like 'the guy next door' and I wondered whether that could be even remotely possible. But if the author's purpose was to connect Lord Shiva's story to the youths of today, then I'd say it's worth the try.
In fact, there is a line where Shiva says, "I only swear when the occasion demands it" which I felt was cheesy. But never mind, consider the larger purpose of getting iPad-crazy, tech-thinking Indians into reading about Shiva and what he represents, this is small compromise, don't you think?
Detailing in Shiva Trilogy 1
But there were layers of detailing that I particularly admire in this book. For instance, Daksha's manipulation of Shiva's soft corner for the beautiful Princess Sati. Even the way Shiva's non-hierarchical mindset works, the way he treats others beneath and above him with tremendous dignity and sense of equality - these are typically not qualities that we learn to associate with the Shiva concept at first instance. Also, he has endless questions about everything and a scientific, logical approach to problem solving, which convey to us more about his personality. Any kind of blind faith repels Shiva. His logical conversations with Nandi and Brihaspati are examples that will interest you while reading the book. Would you have believed that before reading this book? I am not so sure.
Another equally important detail: Shiva's constant opposition of the caste division is very interesting to read as he presents logical arguments to counter the concept of caste divisions in the society. The extent of research that has gone into this is commendable and worth reading as well as analyzing.
Shiva, the "Macho Man" with the Vulnerable, Soft, Loving Nature
His glory and magnificence have been more austere than anything else but in this book, there's a courageous warrior we are introduced to but one who is deeply in love and yet the epitome of all that a woman would want in one who loves her and wants to woo her. The rough looking Shiva fools us because in love, he is gentle, caring, compassionate and yes, most devoted to winning the heart of the beautiful woman he loves.
For example, there is a very touching conversation where a wise man tells Shiva that Sati has everything she needs but there is one thing she craves for the most and doesn't get: respect. He advises Shiva that if he treats her with respect, she will begin to love him.
What a simple, profound piece of advice for men who are truly in love!
Ending Shiva Trilogy 1
And yes, the way Shiva Trilogy ended was completely unexpected. It ended at a most critical point when the reader would be gripping the book with feverish expectation to know what will happen next and Boom!, its the end.
You know what, I went and bought Shiva Trilogy 2: The Secret of the Nagas the very next day!