…in my view, the above combination makes for rich literature.
The author, Shubha Vilas Prabhu forces your eyes to read laterally and vertically at the same time. Every incident has its parallel interpretation and insight as a footnote.
The narrative ,in a non-linear sequence goes through Rama’s childhood up to his marriage. Delightfully , the latter half focuses on Vishwamitra. His repeated attempts, failures and sheer perseverance to become Brahmarishi is a beacon of hope for every person who loses heart at failure in life.
There are slivers of refreshing details: like Ayodhya following the rainwater harvest system; why Ayodhya means unconquerable; how Saraswati tongue-twisted Kumbhakarna into deep slumber; why Kaam dev is called Ananga( thus implying that Lust is merely a state of mind). Why Rama snapped the Shiva bow instead of merely stringing it; there is a lucid clarification for it too.
There are nuggets of sharp one-liners in the footnote:
Personal favorites include 1. To make mistakes implies lack of foresight; not repeating mistakes is a sign of intelligence 2.The mind is a connoisseur in converting trivial puddles into bottomless oceans. 3. A good leader knows the art of delegation. He himself carries the most demanding role- of being Inspiration 4. Most people want a mentor who will tell them exactly what they want to hear. The process of mentoring the mentor 5. The most vulnerable time to commit mistakes is when victory is close at hand 6. The degree of insult is inversely proportional to the size of the entity causing it.
Such countless gems scattered across the book warrant encores and re-re-rereads.
My only grudge would be making the marriage age of Rama as 12 years. Especially as there is love at first sight and Sita’s feverish feelings for Rama’s broad shoulders. At age 12?
A few questions: If Parshuram, Rama and Krishn were all reincarnations of Vishnu;
1. How did Parshuram coexist with the latter two? Parshuram was a Brahmin who annihilated Kshatriyas, while Rama & Krishn were Kshatriyas.
2. If Rama gave up Sita to uphold his citizens’ doubts over her purity; Krishn married 16,000 women to uphold their doubtful purity. Isn’t that a study in contrasts?
I am confident the author will take up the gauntlet and provide us with lucid clarifications in his coming series. I have attended his sessions on Bhagwad Gita. He is extremely eloquent and articulate.
That aside, Book 1 makes one anticipate Book 2 for more interwoven tales, fresh perspectives, well-researched details and of course, that treasure trove of insightful footnotes.Congratulations!
Here is Book 2 review link!