What if Lord Shiva the destroyer is human, who lived thousands of years ago and fought great battles to establish the balance between superpowers of allegorical Good and Evil? What if there did exist in reality a Rama Rajya – as prescribed by King Rama of Ayodhya, but practiced by the people of the Indus valley Civilization? What if Manu is originally from SangamTamil, the kingdom of the Pandyas (an etymological origin for the word pundit), the present day Tamil Nadu. What if owing to some great calamity (ocean engulfing vast Southern lands) along with a select few pundits he has gone up to North until Harappa and Mohan-ja-daro, the cradle of the Indus Valley Civilization? What if Brahaspathi is a chief scientist of an advanced research laboratory with nice coherent scientific ideas and rational outlook? What if he could brew the divine nectar or immortality, amirtham (amruth for Northies) or somarasa in his laboratory almost as a modern day organic titration? What if the somarasa neutralizes oxidants – the toxins – from our body and prevents oxidation, thereby aging…There are enough interesting thoughts and suggestions that engage you in The Immortals of Meluha, the first book of a promised trilogy (2nd is The Secret of the Nagas) by Amish, which I picked on a lark from the local book store.
The Immortals of Meluha is neither commendable for its plot nor for the language (just better than passable English - like mine), but definitely recommendable as an engaging page turner with enough Hindu mythology to rediscover and philosophy to ruminate, rue or ignore. The story is set around 1900 BC in India, known then a Sapt Sindh, the land of the seven rivers. The Indus Valley civilization of Harappa and Mohan-ja-daro are the Meluhas or Suryavanshis, while the dwellers of present day Tibet, Bihar and nearby regions are the Chandravanshis. One tribe is very advanced in their thinking and technology , with organized roads, sanitation and drainage (required for an interesting reason), almost immortal but captive to their rules. The other tribe is not so advanced, disorganized as a civilization, unbounded by rules, mortals with diseases and strife and freedom. Both believe a savior or leader from outside their tribe will come to lead them to victory in a definitive battle to vanquish the other tribe. And then there were the Nagas, vile and willy, from a far off netherworld to complicate the issue. The leader arrives from elsewhere (Kailash or Himalayas), takes sides, wins the battle. But did Good actually triumph? With names of the characters resembling their mythological originals and their deeds not too far off from the myths, the plot meanders after a while. Taking up Gods as characters also has its limitations. Romance between Shiva and Sati (Parvathi) is stinky clean without a kiss. Thankfully, Shiva is human and humane, amorous and valorous, smokes pot and fights to kill. If I can devour all the predictably racy and many-a-times half-way-through-rudderless page-turners of James Rollins, I would definitely read the other parts of Amish’s. At least the yarn is closer to my abode.
Having read the book, I searched the web for further details. Bad decision. First, I looked at the nice YouTube Advertisement video for the book. Then I stumbled on a series of videos presenting an interview with Amish [Start here]. That interview was a definite let down for me. According to that interview, once, he didn’t want to enter the temple his wife went to (why should a ‘true atheist’ refrain from entering temples that should anyway have no Gods?) but now he is a zealous convert with Lord Shiv(a) as fav-deity, wearing the rudraksha and so on. May be I shouldn’t blame him when the interview asks questions on “how to end world violence,” assuming the answer is in the book or with the author. I liked the refreshing outlook he brought in the book with Shiva as a human with some novel interpretations of our scriptures and puranas. He cites Underworld by Graham Hancock for his Manu interpretations. He even argued nicely about the plausibility but futility of an ideal society. And then he goes on to become a ‘staunch theist’ — at least in the interviews — not to ruffle any religious feathers. I don’t mind such incongruity in humans. We are carbon-based islands of capricious consciousness. But with such image-bursting information about the author, perhaps done as a promotion gig, the book I read isolates author-less.
Book: The Immortals of Meluha
Author: Amish (Tripathi)
Year of Publication: 2010