It’s not easy to tell a story, an epic one, to readers. Because you already are aware of the fact that the plot is somewhat known to your readers and that maintaining all the authenticity you have to serve it in a quaint manner, makes the task all the more cumbersome for the author. Shubha Vilas has retold the story of one of the revered literary masterpieces of India, the epic, Ramayana, for modern readers with great finesse.
Rise of the Sun Prince by Vilas is primarily based on Rishi Valmiki’s Ramayana ,though the author also has gathered his inspiration from the Tamil Ramavataram or Kamba Ramayana. This book is the very first of the series of six books, Ramayana : The Game Of Life, which the author is intended to write to encompass the whole of the Ramayana. To my opinion this is a wise decision on his part for it’s not possible to frame the whole of the epic in one or two books and that would only put volume to the book and pressure to the readers. ( original Ramayana has seven ‘kandas’ or parts ). The first part, known as the Bala Kanda is the basis of the narration of the Rise Of the Sun prince.
Epics like The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, are not only books. They are deep philosophy and wisdom cocooned in the narration of royal dynasties. So it becomes the crux when Vilas describes this book as ” a way of life “. The story covers the birth of Lord Rama to his marriage. But it has not only focussed on the childhood and puberty of Rama, it portrays several mythological characters, of sages, demigods, demons and gandharbas who have, in some way or another, touched his life.
The striking feature of the book which appealed me most is that by ” Bala Kanda “ most of the versions of Ramayana refers to the childhood of Lord Rama and his brothers. Vilas has thrown a different light on it. He has made Rishi ( sage) Vishwamitra the hero of this book. Why him ?
” The answer lies in Vishwamitra’s journey of devotion or bhakti toward Lord Rama – from childhood and naivete to adulthood and maturity. “
Vishwamitra, though a great sage, was still to comprehend the true meaning of devotion. It’s through his close association with Lord Rama, who he knew to be one of the incarnations of Vishnu, he attained that maturity to understand the true process of bhakti.
It thus becomes Vishwamitra’s story too, as Rishi Satananda narrates Vishwamitra’s life to Rama and Laxmana during their stay in Mithila. Vilas also has strung several pearls to the garland by adding popular mythological stories, folk-lore and anecdotes. The story of Ahalya and her seduction by Indra, story of Maharshi Bhrigu and his wife, Khyati to that of the ancestral trails of Ravana and his siblings, all have been described in a simple and precise manner.
The foot-notes given by the author on almost all pages provide a great insight on each and every action of the characters. The book is thus, not a penetrating and meditative study of The Ramayana, it’s the epic re-told in a candid way with some occasional introspection, tailor-made for modern readers.
I like the multi-coloured, gorgeous cover of the book depicting the scene where Rama and his brother Lakshmana are fighting against the demons to save the sacrificial rituals of Rishi Vishwamitra and his disciples.
The only thing which left me unsatisfied is that there are certain incidents which simply have been described as celestial happenings or heavenly phenomena. A logical and modern mind demands some explanations for those happenings. And as myriad of symbolism have been used in the original epic, it would have really been appreciable on the part of the readers.
As a passionate reader of our great epics, I enjoyed the book and recommend it for all; though I think only readers who are interested in this genre of writing, will be able to appreciate it most.
From my side it’s 3.5/5
Leadership Seminars: Focus on relevant and vital themes: ‘Secrets of Lasting Relationships’, ‘Soul Curry to Stop Worry’ and ‘Work–Life Balance’
Believes: A good teacher sees learning and teaching as integral twin aspects of personal and spiritual growth.
A} Youth: Periodically interact with them in premier institutes like IISC, Bangalore, BITS Pilani, Goa, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Sydnem College. he aims to inspire them to live a life based on deeper human values.
B} Children: Guide towards teaching foundational values through masterful storytelling.
C} Individuals: Practical applications of the Bhagavad Gita; the Ramayana and Vedas in today’s world.
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