Book Review: Ramayana – The Game of Life Shattered Dreams
The epics are called epics because they are epic in every sense. I don’t make any sense? Right? Well what to do, I started this post to write a review of Ramayana- The Game of Life , Shattered Dreams book 2 by Shubha Vilas. But how do you review an epic you were raised on, as lullabies by your doting granny? When you heard story of Rama as a toddler, read about him in Amar Chitra Katha, saw him in Ramleela in the neighborhood and later on TV. So Ramayana is everywhere in India and even beyond India in many countries it is bound to evoke emotions that only an epic that has been around forever.
Now imagine if it is so difficult for me to write a review how tough it would be for Engineer turned new age guru turned author Shubha Vilas to reinterpret Ramayana and present it to a whole new generation raised on TV serial versions of Ramayana and Google for getting their gyan.
Therein lays the beauty of Ramayana series authored by Shubha Vilas, and the second book in the series after the best seller The Rise of Sun Prince. The author not only narrates the story in true form without diluting the epic but also interprets it for you.
This second book begins with Dasaratha the mighty emperor of Ayodhaya and the descendant of Ikshvaku dynasty deciding to abdicate his throne in favor of his beloved elder son Rama. A king giving up his throne in his lifetime is not a common occurring, but remembers we are talking about Ramayana the story of Lord Rama, the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu on this earth. He is here on a special mission that needs to be accomplished at any cost if the earth needs to be saved from the atrocities of demon Ravana.
This second book in the series titled Shattered Dreams, take you through the emotions of various characters of Ramayana right from Manthara the maid, Kaikaye the queen who blinded by the desire for his Son Bharata to rule Ayodhya, is willing to see her husband die a thousand deaths. Then we have the Emperor Dasaratha torn between his love for his son Rama and the tradition of Raghuvansha or the dynasty of Raghu where you never back from a promise made.
The author takes you through each characters emotion step by step and decoding the background of each emotion, sentences and words used their accepted interpretation and authors own take on the same. In this process you learn lessons in morality, management, leadership, humanity and even social skill through footnotes where each action is meticulously explained.
Here I must compliment author Shubha Vilas that he maintains a fine balance between textbook and an epic reintroduced and reinterpreted for a modern reader. He avoids the trap of using too technical language and even the characters from Ramayana at times use modern language and even colloquial English at times e.g. phrase like – mumbo jumbo. This helps the reader stay connected with the narration and relate with the ancient wisdom told again. Look at simple way to explain the mental status of characters in emotional trauma, ” Praise is the temperature at which any human melts.”, or look at this one: ” Rama demonstrated that an ideal leader hides his sorrows and is concerned about the welfare of his followers”
or this one that that is both about leadership and good heath a nugget in one sentence I must say — ” A good leader prudently stops and overdose of anger from entering his system like a healthy man consciously avoids overeating.”
The foot notes in the book are a treasure of such nuggets and I suggest you ponder over them to gain a better perspective
During all the turmoil in Ayodhya while everybody is too emotional right from the common citizens to the queens and ministers who all weep and open their heart out. It is Rama who maintains his composure and never lets his emotions betray him. Rama who is the ideal son, perfect husband, brother, prince would be king never even batters and eyelid when instead of getting the crown is banished to forest for 14 years. This is where we learn why Rama is in the life of every one in India for some he is God, for some an ideal ruler that every ruler should look to follow Raj dharma (how a ruler should act). I hope those who aim to divide this country on basis of religion etc. will remember that it was Rama who averted the first civil war in this country by giving up a kingdom for the wishes of his father. No wonder even Allama Iqbal called Lord Rama Imam-e- Hind in one of his poems. The author Shubha Vilas makes sure that for not even a second we forget that Rama is here on earth for a purpose and he is a higher being than all of us combined. His Rama is divine, unlike the more human interpretation by Bhagwan Singh in his hindi book Apne Apne Ram. Shubha Vilas’ Rama is not only divine and supreme he is above any kind of temptation, and human flaws. It is here that the author treads on a fine line between divine actions and their modern interpretation but is successful in most cases.
But Ramayana is the story of Ram happily agreeing to renounce crown and going away to jungle and its impact on the kingdom of Ayodhya, his family and how each one of the reacts and why this was needed not just for Rama but also for the greater good of society.
I will not go into details of the plot as each one of us is aware of the story of the Ramayana but read this modern interpretation of Ramayana – The Game of Life, Shattered Dreams to understand why Ramayana is more than a book and Rama more than just a warrior Sun prince, and how the epic survived, thrived and multiplied in many versions not just in India but across oceans in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia etc. In the process you will learn priceless lessons about management, leadership, humanity etc.
About the Author: Shubha Vilas, a qualified engineer and Patent attorney is a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker he is highly sought after by CEOs and other senior leaders in corporate world for his seminars of leadership etc. For this series he has used multiple versions of Ramayana like Valmiki Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana from Tamil, Ramcharitmanas by Tulsi Das and folk takes in India prevalent in various parts of India.
Title: Ramayana – The Game of Life – Book 2 Shattered Dreams
Author: Shubha Vilas
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I have not read the 1st book. Would that be a disadvantage in enjoying this one or this is a standalone book?
Deepak Sir: As the basic core story and concept of Ramayana is known to all, you can enjoy the book from where it begins…though I am sure I want to read the whole series now…
Interesting! Does the book have anything new to offer? Because I’ve read excellent versions of the Ramayana and I know the story backwards. There are also a host of new writers whose books I barely have time enough to read so I’d only read this if the language was exquisite.
The wonder of Ramayana is that even with so many versions and interpretations the core message and story remain constant and have guided us for thousands of years. While the author has his interpretation I am sure the readers will also like to have their own understanding of Ramayana…