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Lessons from the epic (Book Review: Shattered Dreams - Shubha Vilas)

Book Title: Shattered Dreams 
(Ramayana - The Game of Life - Book 2)

Author: Shubha Vilas
Genre: Religion & Philosophy / Self Help
Published by: Jaico Books
No. of pages: 387
Cover price: Rs. 350

Shattered Dreams, Book 2 of Shubha Vilas' Ramayana - The Game of Life begins with Dasaratha's restlessness. It is the night before the decision of Rama's coronation as the next king of Ayodhya is to be taken.
It journeys through Keikeyi's selfish and cruel demands, to Rama's initial days in forest and Bharat's reaction to these events.

Most of what I knew of Ramayana (before reading Shattered Dreams) was from Ramanand Sagar's TV version of it. Many a Sunday morning of my childhood was spent watching Arun Govil and Deepika as Rama and Sita, respectively.
I have no knowledge of and thus, no opinion on the different versions of the epic. What I am writing about here is 'Shattered Dreams' as a book.

Reading 'Shattered Dreams' is like watching a well-written play. Each emotion, each event is captured engagingly.

Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya and the father of Rama, is fighting the 'common' human insecurities and emotions.

The author of 'Shattered Dreams', Shubha Vilas makes the story of Ramayana relevant for our days too. After all, times change, eras pass, human emotions remain the same.

"Having fun at the expense of another is like buying misery with your post-dated check that is cashed at some unpredictable time, when your balance is zero."

"Praise is the temperature at which any human melts. It is the garment that warms a cold body. It is a password to log into the software of any heart."

The bountiful footnotes in 'Shattered Dreams' are at times simple, yet profound insights into what we can learn from Ramayana and how it can be adapted into our everyday life.
Each footnote is an intense quote in itself. Each footnote is obviously in context of the events of Ramayana and is thus well-explained.

"If service is like a flower and genuine service attitude is like fragrance, then gratitude is like a bee that hovers over it. Relationships thrive when genuine service is acknowledged by active gratitude."

That is why 'Shattered Dreams' is a perfect self-help book too.
This is also the reason that a single reading can't do justice to this rendition of the epic. It deserves to be read / referred to, just as any good self-help book.

The story of Ramayana is not an unfamiliar one. Even for a reader who knows nothing of it, 'Shattered Dreams' is a great way to be introduced to the world of Rama and Sita.

Simple language, vivid descriptions, emotional narrative, thorough story-telling and practical explanations are some of the reasons why I am happy I read 'Shattered Dreams', although it is not a genre I usually read.

'Shattered Dreams' gives the back stories to all that happens. Obviously nothing is as simple as general society's viewpoint would perceive it to be.
There are past indiscretions and mistakes to be paid for. There are past benevolences to be rewarded for. Both these weave the complex web of life.
'Shattered Dreams' simplifies the many secondary stories of Ramayana, which are necessary if one wants to understand reasons for what happens through the course of the life of Rama.

I found out a lot more about this period of Ramayana than I did before. Either it was not part of the TV version, or my young eyes didn't understand the intricacies and depth of it.
It also included the story of Ravana, of what he was, before the path of his life crosses with that of Rama.
Was Ravana all bad? I have read/heard of accounts that claim that Ravana was a learned scholar. This book clarifies that he was always proud, cruel and a mercenary.

'Shattered Dreams' is not an easy, casual read.
Marriage, family, siblings, anger, arrogance, pride - 'Shattered Dreams' has lessons in all these and more. Actually, Ramayana has messages in these varied subjects, but Shubha Vilas' version of the epic explains each incident in terms that doesn't let the reader miss out on the implied perceptions.
Just reading the footnotes of 'Shattered Dreams' is a joy.

"The prominent rasa or mellow in the Ramayana is karuna rasa, which means crying in compassion for others. The unique feature in this epic is that no one  cries for himself or herself, everyone cries for the suffering or inconvenience of others."

(Text in italics are quotes from the book.)

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© Nimi Arora


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