Thursday, May 08, 2014

'A Book of The Times'

Ravi Shankar's 'Book Of Shiva' is a book of the times. The more technology invades our lives, the more dehumanised we are going to feel. And there will come a time when we will go on a desperate search to revive our inner spirituality so that we can feel alive again. In his novel, the main character Asananda is also in search of his inner spirituality. But it is shown outwardly as a search for the Book of Shiva. And as Asananda travels through the holy places of Benaras, Hardwar, Rishikesh and Badrinath, among other places in the Himalayas, he meets all types of people, many of whom have been wounded by life. They in turn tell their stories. So, in essence, this is a novel that abounds with stories within stories.

And Ravi's writing is rich and vivid in its description of people and places. This in-born gift comes as no surprise, since he is the nephew of OV Vijayan, one of Malayalam literature's great writers.

Here are a few insightful sentences:

'If you imagine the universe as a book, age is a paragraph'

'A great teacher is one who teaches nothing and the pupil understands everything.'

'Journeys without hope take you nowhere.'

'You get enlightened by forgetting everything.'

'Some memories are little miracles that light the way on dark and rainy nights.'

'The cremation ground is the only place where all egos end.'

And his descriptions are equally vivid: 

A ruby 'looked like a translucent spider, its belly filled with blood'.

'The sun had spent the day and the spreading fog was drawing its mystery over the garden and the hillside.'

'The opera of prayers from ashrams and temples'

What is remarkable is that apart from his writing skills – he is the author of three previous novels – the New-Delhi based Ravi is also a witty and satirical cartoonist of the New Indian Express, of which he is the Executive Editor. And he oversees the highly popular and readable Sunday magazine. 

So clearly, Ravi is a man of many parts, who is able to balance beautifully the temporal and the spiritual. 

(Ravi's book is available 
(Review posted on   

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