Name: Shattered Dreams
Author: Shubha Vilas
Genre: Mythology / Spiritual
Publisher: Jaico Books
Publication Year: 2015
Number of pages: 387
Price: 350 INR
My rating: 4/5
Ramayana – The Game of Life, Shattered Dreams, which happens to be the second instalment of the series Ramayana – The Game of Life, is preceded by Rise of the Sun Prince, the first instalment which encircles the phase of Ramayana that starts before the birth of Lord Rama and ends with the glorious marriage to Sita. I haven’t read this book (I’m sorely tempted to grab the first part, after having a wonderful experience with the second one), so I can’t really give an opinion about it.
Shattered Dreams takes the story forward 12 years since the famous marriage union of Lord Rama and Sita and chronicles that part of the phase which starts with Dasaratha’s desperate but futile attempts to change his and Ayodhya’s destiny, by deciding to go ahead with a sudden coronation of Lord Rama as the king. If anybody has ever read or heard Ramayana (it would be rare if people haven’t because we have all spent at least a significant part of our childhood, listening to tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata), he/she would be quick to remember what follows after: Manthara’s devious plan leading to vitiating Kaikeyi’s initially pure and chaste mind, to install Prince Bharata as the king instead, by redeeming two unclaimed boons granted by King Dasaratha. It ultimately lead to Dasaratha’s biggest fall, be it to himself or to Rama or to Ayodhya, both apparently his other lives. It is soon followed by the riveting drama that unfolds, leading to Lord Rama’s exile for 14 years and his retreat to the Dandakaranya forest along-with Sita and Lakshmana. Unable to cope up with the loss of his son, Dasaratha expires and Bharata resolves to correct the deliberate constructed mishaps by trying to persuade Rama, only to return empty-handed, albeit wiser.
So the book essentially or the core theme of it, is about ‘shattered dreams’, be it the dreams of Dasaratha (who having horrible premonitions, had wanted to make it go into oblivion, through Rama’s coronation, which ultimately didn’t succeed) or the expectations of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, or in that case, the dreams of all the people of Ayodhya, who had wanted to see Rama as their king.
What worked for me
The first thing that got my attention was that apart from the well-written lucidity of the book, it is the numerous footnotes that grips you, added at every such places where the deed done or decisions taken might be needed to be explained, which is painstakingly done through various easy examples, that aren’t too heavy on one’s mind. It was certainly a refreshing change, as footnotes generally are avoided, especially if that is an epic classic (as the general thought goes, that they might be too much information to process). In fact, I found myself reading each and every footnote and actually enjoying the explanations.
Each and every word of the dialogues that transpires in between the characters is not only etched out in details, but the background stories linked with the past history, has been beautifully intertwined with the present phase of the story. It only gives an easy pace to the story, but also makes it interesting to read.
As has been confessed at the very first place, I’ve not read the first book, but it doesn’t at all take away anything from this book. In fact, this book can be very well be taken as a standalone book, provided the reader does have got some idea of the story of the initial phase of Ramayana, the cue from which has been followed up in this part of the book.
The examples that are used are very reflective of modern dilemmas and their solutions, which conceive of ways to come out clean of situations that might make us go astray from the laid-down right way to lead life. The fact that the author is a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker, shows through the instances given and it wouldn’t be a surprise if some readers might find this book to have the inclination of turning into a self-help book, if one goes solely by the footnotes.
What did not work
Keeping in mind that readers might face some initial difficulty in adjusting to the pace of the book, alternating between reading the story and footnotes simultaneously, this might turn out to be the only negative aspect of the book. But of course, it is the footnotes which actually seem to have a story of their own, so maybe the difficulty to adjust might just be worth it.
Drum-roll: Overall Verdict
For readers who are already initiated into the epic that is Ramayana, this book might just be yet another enjoyable experience for them. Having read Ramayana before, I was completely outbound with a new sensation, that came with having a new perspective added on by the footnotes. Not just for the spiritual knowledge, this book can be recommended for a motivational book as well, with teachings from the glorious past pages of our ancient Indian history.
P.S This is my first book review, so here’s sincerely hoping I could do justice to the book.
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