Book Review - Ramayana - The game of life - Shubha Vilas - Radiate confidence

Sundara kanda is the fifth kanda of the ramayana and is also the most read of all the kandas ( or sections) in Ramayana.

But the Sundara Kanda, the fifth book in the Game of Life series , covers just five days; and more than three-quarters of the book covers a two- day period when Hanuman lept to Lanka.

The author covers three aspects in the book very well:-

1) First is the narration of the story, which is very true to its original and told in a very gripping way.

2) Spiritual meaning behind the events in the story as told by traditional acharyas.

3) Life lessons relevant for today's world from the story ( essentially as foot notes in each of the pages).

The key lessons from the story are 1. Be- confident 2. Say- no to distractions ( the author very lucidly explains that distractions may not always come in terms of trouble but may also come in the form of comfort!) and 3. Know - your rivals.

Hanuman is the hero of the book, His strength combined with humility and willingness to do devotional service to Rama is brought out very lucidly while going through the story line. The story begins when there is great despair and loss of hope ( in mission to find Sita), but due to brave exploits of Sundara ( Hanuman), the story turns around completely to a positive mood at the end of the book setting the stage for Yuddha kanda.

The author  very clearly brings out why Hanuman is rightfully called as Sundara. He is not only Roopa Sundara but also Vag sundara (Master of communication). The way Hanuman changes his communication depending on the situation is clearly explained.

This book series is a must read not only for those who are seeking to read Ramayana in simple English, but also for spiritual aspirants who want to understand the finer nuances and for the reader who wants to take the lessons to day to day usage.

Shubha Vilasji is able to keep up the great expectations and maintain the standards of rendering the story that he has built up over the series. Reading this book is definitely set to uplift your spirits and scucced in your ongoing mission. Jai Sri Ram!

( The book is published by Jaico and a copy of book was sent to me by the publishers for review)

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.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

"Agniputr" by Vadhan- Book review

Disclosure:- Complimentary copy of the book was received from the author for review

What happens when you mix tantric mysticism with concepts from quantum physics? What happens when you try to tie a mystery that is a few centuries old with latest technology of modern times? Can every mystery be scientifically explained.

" Agniputr" by  Vadhan broadly dwells on these areas. The first few chapters of the fiction moves back and forth in time and also in geography. 

The core focal point of the story comes to the fore when SRK is introduced. When you start thinking that SRK is the hero of the novel, there is a sudden twist. Now, we meet the real heroine of the book  ( SRK's female boss). Initially the character comes across one that is too boring and uninteresting.

But when the heroine meets the real hero from Andhra (Royal "Surya"), the story switches to top gear. The secret behind the burial ground, the "sutram" becomes the core of action. The politician from Rajasthan also enters the scene. 

Teams are split between the CSIR officer, Royal lineage vs the power hungry politician guided by the tantric. Both of the sides fight out their best. one tries to stop the "Sutram" from harming the world while the other wants to get "unlimited power" from it. The story also has an element of surprise after the action is over in Andra pradesh! Read the book to know more...

Vadhan vividly presents before the readers different flavours of India very diligently ( From Rajasthan to Haryana to Telengana/Andra). Along with the core mystery element, quantum physics, etc, Vadhan also brings in elements of law ( given his background) into the story line. Overall , this novel is definitely a page turner. You really cant wait for the next riddle to unlock,the novel keeps your interest going till the end.

A good attempt to mix science and superstition with suspense.

#NPS Tier-2 account- Ambiguity on #tax treatment at the time of withdrawal of funds

Recently saw an article of Value research online about ," how one should use Tier- 2 account" of NPS as an alternate to mutual funds. 

While NPS is definitely a low-cost product, there is lot of ambiguity over taxation rules at the time of withdrawal.

For those who are not aware, NPS Tier-2 is an optional account over tier-1 which has no withdrawal restrictions like tier-1.
For investment allocation in tier -2, you can choose your investments to be in active choice mode or auto choice mode to be split across across Equity, Corporate bonds and Government bonds. (NPS Booklet)

Articles from the web on tax treatment at the time of withdrawal  of funds from Tier-2 account.
  1. Tax Treatment of Tier II Account is similar to that of Debt Mutual Fund: On taxation front, as per the views from various CAs and tax consultants, the tax treatment on proceeds from Tier II NPS account would be similar to debt mutual funds. Indexation benefits can be availed of. (source)
  2. Valueresearch article says, the taxation is the same as any other fixed income or debt alternative.
  3. Tax angle from Mint  A crucial difference between the two accounts is the tax treatment. Says Rani S. Nair, executive director, PFRDA: “Since Tier II does not have any lock-in period, it does not qualify for a tax deduction under section 80C.” However, right now, the pension regulator is divided on the tax treatment of the amount withdrawn. Says Nair: “We are yet to hear from the tax department on the tax implications.” Going by the product structure, withdrawals will attract capital gains tax. Withdrawals before one year will attract short-term capital gains that is taxed at the marginal rate (the highest tax rate on your income slab). For withdrawals after one year, you will have to pay long-term capital gains—10% for debt funds and nil for equity funds.
Some articles talk about
  • Treatment of the whole amount as "debt"- while others talk  about 
  • Separate tax treatment for withdrawal from equity and debt portion of tier-2 account. ( Tier 2 withdrawal request online on CRA NSDL provides the option of  lump sum or scheme wise withdrawal- so you can actually withdraw from Equity or Corporate or Government units specifically)
So, as another article says
The problem is the ambiguity over taxation. "There is no clarity on tax treatment of Tier II NPS returns. It is very subjective and different people have different views on the matter.
So, Lets keep our fingers crossed till any formal judgment is out. Please leave a comment ,if you have any valid input.


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