Saturday, December 18, 2010

Har Har Mahadev = Every one is a God of Gods!

I have just finished reading the book, The Immortals of Meluha and I am fascinated... fascinated with the writer's, who is known as Amish (just Amish, no surname like superman or batman!) attempt at demystifying the myths of Ram, Shiva and Brahma (the trinity). The novel, the first in the Shiva trilogy, is about a man - Shiva. Point to be noted here is that he is not portrayed as a god but a man. An extraordinary man, but a human nonetheless who also makes mistakes, who has doubts, who has fears and who is sceptical of the responsibility that befalls him. The novel details his journey from the Mansarovar Lake, where he lives with his tribe, to the empire called Meluha. Meluha is depicted as a near perfect society that was established by the greatest king of all times, Lord Ram. Now again, Ram is portrayed as an extraordinary human being who with his deeds has eventually come to be looked upon as a god. He is not considered as a re-incarnation of God Vishnu. Now Meluha is the land of the Suryavanshis and they have a Utopian society. The laws and the rules laid down by Lord Ram are considered above and beyond everyone and everything else. Each and every citizen of this land follows their thousand-year-old laws religiously, diligently and without question. The Suryavanshi society has no room for the individual; it is all about loving your country and working towards the growth of the society as a whole . It is a society that follows restraint. There is no room for opulence and excess. Whatever they have is equally distributed among the rich and the poor. When Shiva arrives in this land of law-abiding citizens, he is naturally impressed. however, there are certain laws that he doesn't agree with such as the Vikarma system (a refined form of untouchability. the Vikarma people are not touched but they are not shudras, they belong to all castes. they are labelled as Vikarma because of some huge adversity they face which is seen as a result of their past deeds!) all said and done, this land is different from his war-enraged country and he is happy to settle in Meluha and spend the rest of his days. What he doesn't know that there is a motive behind his welcome to Meluha which is revealed pretty soon. He is termed as the neelkanth and is revered as a messiah who will save the Suryavanshis from the corrupt chandravanshis. At first, Shiva is sceptical of the task that is being assigned to him, the faith that the people put in him (irrespective of his ability), and that is due to some demons in his past. But he soon rises to the occasion and leads an attack on the evil chandravanshis. But, as soon as the war is over and he lands in Chandravanshi Empire, he realises that the chandravanshi are not evil, they are just different. Chandravanshis give more importance to an individual growth. They don't have age-old laws. They are a passionate society. They have grandeur. There is a strict demarcation between the rich and the poor. As Shiva sees this society he sees some good here as well (like the fact they have preserved the temple dedicated to the suryanvanshi's ram. incidentally Ayodhya, the birth place of ram is the capital city of chandravanshi Swadeep.) He is guilt-stricken of the war that he has raged that killed thousands. And it is with this dilemma between the good and the evil, that the novel ends.

I picked up the novel because I was intrigued with the basic concept of the demystification of the ancient Indian myths. Ram, Shiva and Brahma are depicted as very talented men and NOT Gods. Ram was a just, kind and a far-sighted emperor (preserver); Shiva is a skilled warrior and strategist (Destroyer); and Brahma was an exceptional scientist (creator). The characters also link the story to the myths and thus help in demystification... the wife of Shiva is a princess called Sati, Shiva's trusted aide is Nandi (remember Nandi the Bull) and so on and so forth. There are other basic concepts that interested me especially the concept of 'Har Har Mahadev.' in the novel, Shiva is seen by the populace of Meluha as a Mahadev (God of Gods). During the final war, Shiva uses the war cry of Har Har Mahadev and he (Shiva and by extension the writer) translates it as 'Every one of us is a God of Gods.' this cry created a vigour in the soldiers and gave them an energy to fight with all that they have. I don't know how Shiva bakhts would take it as but I was simply amazed at the simplicity of the deduction! And for me Har Har Mahadev would always mean that every one is a god!

Another concept that really created an impact on me was that of the oxidation theory. In the novel, the suryavanshis are very healthy human race who have a very long life. This is attributed to the Somras. Now, somras is no amrit. It is a scientific concoction that is created by Lord Brahma (who is NOT a god but a mortal) somras is an anti-oxidation agent. The oxidation theory of the Meluhans goes something like this - they believe that oxygen is not only a giver of life but destroyer of it as well. Oxygen, when it converts food into energy, releases some oxidants that erode the body from the inside. The same way oxygen rusts the iron, it rots the body too. The body knows it and that is why it doesn’t store any oxygen for future use. for example, it stores some amount of food and water and that is why when we don’t have any food or water for some days we don’t die but even if don’t have oxygen for some minutes we can die. Amish uses this example to corroborate the theory that first, oxygen is harmful too; and second that the body knows about it. Apparently this theory has been proved by some scientists somewhere also. Now, to counter the harmful effects of oxygen and oxidants, the scientists led by Brahma had devised the anti-oxidant somras that helps the meluhans release the oxidants and remain young for a long time! Impressive, isn’t it?

the love story and eventual marriage of Shiva and sati, the ever-existing war between good and evil, the existence of duality in nature, past lives, legends, myths, Shiva and his weaknesses, the Natraj pose, the belief in Parmatma (one single unisex god) etc etc... I loved reading it all. This book is that rare combination that is a gripping read and also makes you think after you have put it down. (And also makes you write about it!)

The basic premise of the novel is that every coin has two sides. Shiva only realised it at the end of the first part of the trilogy that Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis are two sides of the coin. For both, the other one is evil. He landed up in Meluha and that is why his judgement was coloured by the Suryanvanshi thought. If Chandravanshis had found him, he would have believed them to be right and the Suryavanshi to be wrong. Both the empires were waiting for the Neelkanth to save them from the respective other. Shiva realised too late that what is different is not necessarily evil. If you don't understand something that doesn't mean it is wrong. (Something that I had also written about sometime back ;))

I am eagerly waiting for the next instalment of the series. Till then, Har Har Mahadev!

P.S. - there is also something about the Nagas. They are some deformed creatures considered evil. But I have a gut feeling they would have a major role to play in the coming series... and maybe they are not that bad after all. Watsay, Amish? ;) Only time will tell.

8 comments:

  1. Very informative post..Har Har Mahadev.

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  2. Interesting review Megha.
    What kind of writing do you do?
    May Lord Shiva continue to bless you and your family.
    cheers, Amish
    P.S. We can connect on Facebook (Amish Tripathi) or Twitter (@amisht)

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  3. thanks alka :)
    and thank you very much amish :) it took me some time to actually believe that THE author has read my humble review ;) thanks :)

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  4. Hi Megha. Stumbled upon your writings here while checking out on the Immortals of Meluha by Amish. From what you say, I sense this is a read to settle down for. Thanks for the review. and might I add, you write well too. Any publishing plans? Or has that happened already? Cheers

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  5. Har Har Mahadev,
    What an interesting review..
    Almost the entire book is jisted in the mystified line's above..

    God Bless, may you continue writing thus.

    @All other reader's, "Amish" Sir, is one of the coolest author's i have ever known or even heard about...

    "The Immortals of Meluha" - Its the God, in each, that is immortal not the flesh. Every one is a god in himself.

    The Man, The God, Lord Shiva.

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  6. Hi Megha!!

    Firstly, Congratulations on writing a review which is near perfect (almost Meluhan!!). I was fascinated by the books because of primarily because I am interested in reading about ancient Indian history, and a self confessed book lover also I happen to be a student of philosophy. I happen to agree with a lot of points in your review, for instance, the demystification of the trinity of Ram, Shiva and Brahma, nice perspective. Also Mr. Tripathi's interpretation of the war cry Har Har Mahadev is refreshingly different. All in all a very good book. Coming back to your review, it is one of the best I have read so far...

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  7. hi megha!
    must say a well written review of the book and something that i feel is one of its kind! yes i relate to it too and now when i'm watching'"devon ke dev mahadev"...the feeling i get is indian mythology is not just so perfectly fit for great followings but at the same time extremely intriguing! must say a very logical God or perhaps man i would call "lord shiva"! i'm too now in the middle of reading the "immortals of meluha" and being a history graduate i feel amazingly happy to be a part of this civilisation. really good review...congratulations!

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  8. I had a doubt the book was aimed to do exactly this and judging by your excitement on the "depictions" of Brahma, Shiva and Rama as normal humans the book has achieved this.
    I don't know if the entire purpose of writing this book was to totally confuse the already confused Indian about our culture and its ancient texts or this is again one of the things that pass of as "creativity". That is the ability to twist something.
    I wonder if it was intentional but this book sure will result in Indian not taking anything about our culture and ancient texts seriously.
    Its not like we were even trying.
    Great review of the book but it seems you are also sometimes forgetting that this is a work of pure fictions ;-)

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