Bahubali-Before the beginning (Book Review)

Disclosure:-Free copy of  Anand Neelakantan's "The Rise of Sivagami" was received from Westland publishers for review.

The book seems to start from a early era ( not depicted in both the parts of Bahubali movie) and deals with the story of Sivagami - A girl who is orphaned because of the kingdom who goes all her way to avenge for her father's death.

The book deals from the phase where the girl moves from the village, deals with the adversities in her journey and moves on till she gets into a platform towards her life's mission.This story seems to set the foundation  for Part 2 and more in the series ( in a way creating a needed suspense for the next books in the series).

Apart from the main story line of Sivagami, there are various sub plots that deal the Kingdom of Mahismathi- the king, prince, slaves, minister, pirate, merchant,rebels and other interesting characters. Whether the kingdom/ king is evil or good, who is right , who is wrong, are vaikalikas the real villains, whats the kingdom's biggest kept secret?... these questions/plots keep the readers hooked to the story and make this book a page turner. While some of the questions are either fully or partially answered, some of these remain unanswered and are kept open - to be dealt with in the next books of the series.

This is first book of Anand that I have read. I am quite impressed with Anand's story telling abilities. He introduces a lot of characters, portrays them perfectly, uses them well in the story and takes the sub-plots cohesively to one direction.

Overall, if you are a avid reader of historical fiction, this book should definitely impress you. (Even if you have not watched any of the Bahubali movies)

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“Open eyed meditations” by Shubha Vilas

(Disclosure:- I received a complimentary copy of the book from blog adda  for review. I am a big fan of the author. So, my comments will be positively biased to the works of the author)

There are a lot of self-help books. But, “Open eyed meditations” by Shubha Vilas (author of the best-selling Ramayana – The game of life series) book stands unique and tall in this genre. The author has very meticulously and logically connected the stories of the past (from Ramayana and Mahabharata) to answer the needs of our current life situations. This book is all about reading about some life situations and thinking about them “open-eyed” and “open-minded”.

The author tries to address the needs/problems of individuals as well as corporate/social groups (especially, when he talks about topics like leadership) by taking us through some incidents from Indian epics.

The book is divided into 64 chapters. Each of the chapter addresses at least one aspect or dimension of “how we live our life” and the kind of rat race we are in I would recommend that this book should not be read like a novel at one go. Browse through the index, check for the chapter heading that you find is relevant for your situation and read through it. Take time to chew and digest it (Better try to practice the learnings during the day). Then you may move on to your next chapter. This way of reading through this book can become a great experience. This book is not for just a onetime read, but the book that you would want to keep referring back time ad again.

The book also brings to light that we often forget the very purpose of life and keep running after some illusionary goal (The golden deer!).
My favorite chapters (top 10) from the book, they are not necessarily in any particular order.
1.     Why don’t I make the right decisions in life
2.     Spirituality @ workplace
3.     Can your talent be your enemy?
4.     Has Ravana really gone?
5.     Are you angry against anger?
6.     How to deal with provocations?
7.     Leading without a title
8.     Do “likes” make my life?
9.     The science of how to let go
10.  Are you scared to be “offline”?

My favorite paragraph from the book –“In the bhagavata and Mahabharata, krishna was a leader with no title. Being a cowherd was no title, nor was being a driver. Krishna had no title either in Vrindavan, Mathura or Hasthinapura, three places that He revolutionized with His leadership.In vrindavan, though Nanda was the king, everyone was naturally drawn to Krishna for advice and help during calamities. In Mathura, though He killed Kamsa, He allowed Ugrasena to retain the title of king and remained his advisor. In Hastinapura, He took a vow not to lift a weapon during the battle and act as a driver of Arjuna. That vow indicated that Krishna preferred tittle-less leadership. He showed the world that you don’t need weapons (facilities) and positions to lead.”

The author keeps the readers interest intact through the book by keeping the chapters short, crisp and simple. “Open-eyed meditations” is a book that can cater to readers of all ages. I will strongly recommend this book for everyone to read.

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