Shubha Vilas is a noted author and spiritual seeker who brings us the teachings from the Ramayana in the form of Stolen Hope, where he explores the dynamics of human relations.
|Book review Stolen Hope|
Stolen Hope is the third venture in the series of writing on the Ramayana.
Have you ever had to make a life decision - one that would alter the course of your existence forever?
|Stolen Hope Book Review|
This precious collection has given me time and footnotes to retrospect, pause and change perspective at a crucial juncture in my life. The book has been sitting with me since the beginning of this year.Time and travel took me to places where I thought I'd never be this year. I came back and found myself lost after the journey. The book naturally fell in to my lap and I have been sitting with it, thinking and reading while it's been pouring outside.
Nine chapters beautifully elucidate the journey of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita leaving Chitrakuta on exile to traverse through the mighty forest, Dandakarnya. Starting with the story of Danda and his lust, the author depicts how power when embezzled to harm a weaker person can destroy everything that leads up to itself. Amidst the aura of austerity, the trio pace their journey to their newly allocated humble abode where destiny starts to unravel the expectation of Rama's arrival. An aura of purity and austerity welcomed the trio. The practices performed by the sages have been described in detail along with the spotlessly maintained exteriors that helped them develop a sparkling and uncluttered atmosphere. One is led to understand how maintaining these practices help in perfecting one's life. Meditation helps enhancing inner vision, thereby removing one's dependence on external vision which can be deceptive at times resulting in endless complications.
The stories of several sages are retold- one which struck me is an example of Sage Mandarkini whose years of focused attention when comes in contact with a few moments of inattention, led to years of distraction, which inadvertently happens to the best of us.
While Rama and Sita adapt to the ways of the forest, Lakshmana's devotion is exemplary, encompassing the three qualities possessed towards a divine master - bhavajna, kritajna and dharmajna. It is pivotal to note the brothers' have been portrayed as sensitive and emotional beings who are very receptive to the plight and pain of others, hence undertaking dangerous ventures in superseding the attempts of many demons who disturbed the peace of Panchavati; which invariably leads us to the account of Surpanakha. She is highlighted bringing to light the behaviour of those who are insensitive and selfish, an embodiment of most of what is happening in present day society; that is treading over innocent and docile people to achieve all their selfish wants. Surpanakha, basically catalyzes a blood-filled massacre which is accounted in great detail. Rama demolishes the demon outpost in Janasthana single-handedly, leaving Akampana to escape to recount the tale whimpering to Ravana. Surpanakha, again, is responsible for the events that lead to Sita's abduction.
The separate entry on Sita had my undivided attention . There is a detailed description of the significance of the blade of grass.
On further reading, there are also notes on dealing with hurt in relationships. Lakshmana's tale is such, how he wisely teaches to deal with such conflicts in a relationship.
All the footnotes made me think and imbibe structured learning but I am still going to list a few here :
A deer pursued by a tiger cannot be in a state of mind to think about grazing peacefully. Peace is a priority when the mind is stable; amidst turbulence, however, the priority is to seek mental stability.
Extermination of other's opinions is demoniac life. Coexistence of opinions is saintly life.
Virtues and vices coexist in each individual. When vices try to exterminate virtues, then Rama needs to come in.
When negative forces drive fear in us, instead of focusing on spiritual upliftment, we shift focus from inward evolution to outward resistance/aversion.
When hope is a launch pad, even a blind man can soar to the moon.
I will conclude this review on a slightly funny note, my own comedy of sorts. I've been concerned with the development of a third eyelid of sorts, call me a hypochondriac if you will. On reaching page 289 of the book, there was this footnote :
To handle a dust storm a camel has three eyelids. Similarly to protects one vision from the storms of confusion, one needs vision to see beyond the layers of ignorance.
So, I'm all camel-eyed now :)
And blessed to be able to talk about this beautiful book. I am a little partial to my reading of The Game of Life , nevertheless Shubha Vilas took me on a magical journey and I am elated to have completed Stolen Hope which I am sure will be a great read for all the knowledge seekers out there.
SEEK COURAGE WHEN EVERYTHING INCLUDING HOPE, IS STOLEN