7 Secrets of Shiva

Genre: Mythology

Publisher: Westland

Price: Rs.250

Pages: 219 (half the pages include pictures)

Smeared with ash

Draped in animal hide

He sits atop the snow capped mountain

Skull in hand

Withdrawn, with dogs for company

Destroying the world with his indifference

He is the God who the Goddess shall awaken

His name is Shiva

He is a God who has always inspired awe and fear. Sitting atop the frozen mount Kailasa this semi naked, ash-covered mendicant is a significant part of the Hindu folklore. His dance is powerful and enlightening.  His third eye can destroy the world.  His followers include demons, ghosts and goblins. Call him what you may- Shiva, Shankar, Bholenath or Nataraj.

As an ardent follower of the Hindu mythology my grandmother narrated stories about our Gods and Goddesses each night when I was a child. I listened to her with excitement and rapt attention. “Oh! How powerful our Gods are!”, I used to think. However, as I grew up this excitement waned away. I started questioning their existence but never did I deny it completely. “What is Their origin? How did They become such an integral part of our culture?”, I began to wonder.

 The title of this book, “7 Secrets of Shiva”, caught my attention immediately. I started wondering about the secrets this book claimed to unlock. Would this book contradict all the stories which my grandmother had narrated? Would the author reveal some startling facts about Shiva which would present Him in a whole new light. I decided to delve into this book to find answers to all the questions which started lingering in my mind.

The author’s note, however, talked about the western scholars viewing Hinduism through an “archaic Victorian lens” and the wide gap which exists between these scholars and the staunch devotees. Through this book the author has attempted to bridge this gap.

Sprawling across the seven chapters of this book dealing with Lingeshwara, Bhairava, Shankara, Bholenath, Ganesha, Murugan and Nataraj are short stories and anecdotes, many of which we all have heard time and again. Each chapter of this book explains one of the aforementioned Gods in details. We get to know about the different forms of Shiva- the withdrawn mendicant, the attached householder, the wise teacher and many more. The role which the Goddess ( Sati and Parvati) play in Shiva’s life has been well explained. She domesticates Shiva and introduces him to the ways of the world.

In Shiva temples, Shiva cannot be worshipped without acknowledging the Goddess. The linga rises from a leaf shaped trough that points north towards the Pole Star. This is the yoni, the entrance to the womb of the Goddess.

The author has also shed light on Shiva’s two sons Ganesha and Karthikeya, their birth and their role in connecting Shiva to humanity. While the former “provides for and comforts those trapped in maya” the latter protects “those trapped in maya”.

Personally I liked the first and fifth chapters the best which deal with the Shiv Linga and Ganesha respectively. In the first chapter the meaning of the Shiva linga has been explained. Linga, the erect phallus which is worshipped  throughout India by Shiva devotees, represents an alert mind, a mind aroused by internal stimulus instead of an external one. Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, epitomises Shiva’s empathy for humanity. His pot-belly represents affluence. The stories explaining the birth and significance are fascinating.

Pictures printed on every alternate page accompanied with comments and explanations keeps the readers engrossed. The book is well structured with each chapter focusing on either one Hindu God or one form of Shiva.

This book draws our attention to details which might have gone unnoticed- significance of Shiva’s trident, his bull Nandi, the idea  which Ganesha’s broken tusk represents. However, in my opinion, not many “secrets” about Shiva have been unraveled. A book titled “7 Secrets of Shiva” is expected to divulge startling facts about Shiva which might take the reader by surprise. This book merely publishes the author’s interpretation and incidences which are known to most of us. Also, the absence of a glossary and footnotes can be felt throughout the book. Any book which deals with mythology as its subject matter and contains Sanskrit words should definitely include a glossary.

To sum up this book definitely makes for an interesting read. I was transported to my childhood days when “Om Namah Shivaya” was watched in the Kapoor household with utmost attention. But did the book really unlock seven secrets about this Hindu deity? I am not sure.

To know more about the author, Devdutt Pattanaik visit his website www.devdutt.com

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at  BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

I’m Not Twenty Four …

Genre: Not mentioned in the book.  In his blog the author says it’s “mostly a true story”. Flipkart lists it under Biography.

Publisher: Grapevine India Publishers

Price: Rs.100

Pages: 223

Saumya Kapoor is a chic and stylish Delhi based girl who has just earned an MBA degree from MDI. After grabbing a job at a steel giant, Lala Steels  an ecstatic Soumya is extremely hopeful of becoming an eye candy in their “glossy Mumbai office”.  However, all her dreams come crashing down when she finds herself posted in Toranagallu, a godforsaken town located in the heart of northern Karnataka because the HR department of the company mistook her name to be that of a guy. With Amit, a nerdy friend from college and Malappa, a rebellious and goofy engineer as her only friends, Saumya in thoroughly dismayed with her new life in Toranagallu. And to make matters worse she gets placed in the Reaction Team of the Safety Department, a team whose primary responsibility is to break the news of industrial accidents to the victims’ relatives. Burdened with the task of comforting grief-stricken families and traumatised by the macabre sights of  industrial mishaps Saumya soon becomes an insomniac. She decides to quit her job and leave Toranagallu for good when Shubro, an Indian hippie, whom she had meets in Hampi, enters her live. A drug addict and a nomad by choice, he oozes a considerable amount of charm and intrigue which Saumya finds very hard to resist. Struck by Cupid’s arrow, Saumya soon realizes that there is more to Shubro’s personality than beer and weed.

I know that it is much more important for a guy to be intriguing than being handsome. Handsomeness can only get you noticed but if you want to hold the attention of a woman, there has to be a certain level of intrigue in your personality.


“There are two types of stories. One where you sit up and say ‘this is so me.’ Second, when the story takes you to a world you would hardly believe actually exists. This story is the latter” is what the author, Sachin Garg  says to describe his novel in the prologue. Well, I must say that I completely agree with him.

The story starts off on a very promising note when Saumya finds herself stranded in Toranagallu. Towards the middle, when the author describes all the industrial accidents, the narration becomes quite repetitive. I found myself labouring through this part. However the last thirty pages of the book took me by surprise. On the whole the story is quite interesting.

The author has dealt with the two main characters fairly well. The pain endured by Saumya is palpable and the mystery and charm associated with Shubro’s  personality keeps the reader engrossed.

The writing style, on the other hand, is very disappointing.  With grammatical errors sprawling across numerous pages one can easily make out that the book has been poorly edited. There are various instances where the author has messed up the tenses.

Page 29: The best case scenario was that I will be there for a year.

Page 42: I had the urge to take a walk in the township and find out what all is available here.

Page 53: One hour ago I had never thought that I will visit an iron mine.

There are quite a few typographical errors as well.

Page 89: The problem started when the left in the night.

Stumbling upon such errors again and again makes the reader frustrated.

The author has used conversational English to write this book which might be appreciated by those who prefer short and simple reads. I personally feel that this has made his writing seem amateurish.

To sum up I would say that poor editing is the biggest letdown of this book. However, the interesting storyline makes it worth a read.

To know more about the author log on to www.sachingarg.me 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at  BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Battle For Bittora

Category: Fiction

Price: 299

Publishers: Harper Collins

Pages: 426

Sarojini Pandey or Jinni is content with her life working as an animator in Pixel Animation where she designs 3D kitaanus (germs) for toilet cleaners until one day her grandmother, Pushpa Pandey barges into her office and drops a bomb. Pushapa Pandey, hailing from Pavit Pradesh, is a three time Lok Sabha MP and the widow of a famous Indian freedom fighter Madan Mohan Pandey. She pesters Jinni to contest the elections on a Pragati Party ticket from her hometown, Bittoragarh. After initial hesitations a reluctant and nervous Jinni finally gives in to her grandmother’s wish and lands up in the hot and dusty lands of Pavit Pradesh. Soon she finds herself surrounded by dimwitted party workers, kleptomaniac election organisers and sycophants as she goes from door to door begging people to vote for her. And to make matters worse her main opponent from Indian Janta Party turns out to be her childhood buddy, Zain Altaf Khaan whom she finds extremely hot and attractive. A love struck Jinni continues to battle her way through all the muck that comes her way in the hope of winning the elections and upholding her family’s dignity.

To begin with this book has all what it takes to become a successful Bollywood film. Just add a few sizzling item numbers, get the most glamorous stars to act in the movie, tweak the story a wee bit and we have the script of a potential blockbuster ready in our hands. With love, politics, sex, romance and oodles of humour all packed into a neat little bundle this book is definitely the entire package a film-maker could ask for.

‘Excuse me, beti but my grandson’s wife is not letting him consume.’

I looked rather bemusedly and said, ‘Consume what?’

He looked at me like I was a moron.

‘Consume the marriage, of course..’

The book is centred around the Lok Sabha elections and needless to say the subject itself is attractive enough to draw readers towards the book. You will have no trouble guessing which two political parties are being talked about. Hailing from a political family the author has given us a peek into the backstage happenings of the Lok Sabha elections. We also get to meet several youngsters who want to take active part in Indian Politics.

The portrayal of each and every character in this book is remarkable. While Jinni, the protagonist, is impulsive, confused and on the whole seems a little lost a calm, composed and idealistic Zak has all the traits of being a great leader. But the character that elicited the maximum number of laughs from me was Jinni’s grandmother, Amma ji. Her idiosyncrasies, witticism and crass responses  have never failed to tickle my funny bone.

That ij what you say when you are not having opsun! Now, we are having opsun. Why sud we become dark in the sun growing teenda gobhi instead of fighting election in Bittora if we have  opsun? Hum mentally retarded hain kya?

A liberal use of Hindi words made throughout the book has always managed to create the right impact. The story moves at a reasonably good pace and keeps the readers engrossed.

 The end on the other hand is quite predictable. Almost everyone can guess the outcome of the elections and the fate of Jinni and Zain’s romance.

On the whole the book is very entertaining. If you don’t mind having an occasional laugh on a crowded government bus while your fellow passengers stare at you with strange expressions on their faces this book can definitely go on your “to read” list.


Phew! Another blog?

Well, this is my second blog and here I’ll share my views about the different books I have read. I am starting this blog with two aims in mind. Firstly, it will give me the impetus to read new books regularly, something that I stopped doing ever since I joined college. Secondly it will give an opportunity to explore a book in detail-  ponder over its meaning, analyze the writing style etc. which will help me appreciate a novel even better.

To be honest I am a little skeptical about starting this blog. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to post my articles over here. I am just hoping for the best.

“Just One More Page, Mom” ?  That’s funny.

Throughout my childhood my mom and I always had a difference of opinion on one issue. While she believed that a young girl should be neatly tucked in bed by ten o’clock in the night I always wanted to stay up and finish my storybook. Each night she would barge into my room with an expression that clearly said “It’s past ten. Keep the book aside and go to sleep.” All I could do was mumble, “Just one more page, mom.”

While thinking about starting a new blog I couldn’t help but remember these midnight fights I used to have with my mom.  Hence the name of the blog.  :)