Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review : Holy Cow : An Indian Adventure

Title : Holy Cow : An Indian Adventure

Author : Sarah ManDonal

Publisher : Random House

ISBN : 978-0-553-81601-3

Twenty one years old Sarah MacDonald visits India and to say the least she simply hates her experience in the country and vows never to step her foot on this land again. But destiny does bring her back after 11 years, making an Indian beggar's prophecy correct about her. This time she comes to India leaving her dream job in Sydney for the love of her life, who happens to be posted in New Delhi.

Claiming to be an atheist, she finds herself in a totally alien territory where faith, belief and religion define a part of who people are and not just that, there is so much more to India and the people than she could ever have imagined or expected. She embarks on the journey to unravel the mysteries of India and Indian-ness and flows with what each day unfolds in front of her.

Being in the most polluted city, observing people very closely, she wonders why so many foreigners keep trying to figure out India when in fact this whole exercise is pointless, India is one country which is beyond any understanding, any statement, for anything one states about India, the opposite is also true. It's rich, its poor, spiritual and material, cruel and kind, angry and peaceful, ugly and beautiful, smart and stupid. It's all the extremes.

She observes, experiences and tries to understand the faiths, beliefs and religions of different people and what these mean to an Indian. To immerse deeply and to partake all flavors, she first takes the calming Vipassana course in the small town of Dharamkot, pays visit to the Vatican of Sikhs - the Golden Temple, travels to Kashmir and closely observes the Muslims and their ability to surrender and sacrifice, spends some days in Buddhist Monastery, gets introduced to beliefs of the Jews and Parsis of India, marvels at the unbelievable simplicity and self-perfection of Jain faith, gets awed by the orderly organisation of Sathya Sai Baba anshram in Bangalore, appreciates the Hinduism for showing innumerable ways to divine and peeks into the lives of Indian Christians. After having experienced faith from different angles, she realizes that she has made a start along the path to personal transformation and inner peace.

The charm of India was such that despite having to endure a lot of irritants like - the unending trail of beggars which gets exceptionally bigger behind a foreigner, various people charging exorbitantly for the basic services, lecherous gestures of men, to just name a few - while leaving India this time, she is glad 'to be reborn as a better person, less reliant on others for her happiness and full of a desire to replace anger with love.' And, she has gained another home - the home of her spiritual rebirth.

I really liked the author's play with words - simple and perfectly apt, witty and intelligent. To give a slice of her writing style, just a few pages into the book she writes about the Indian traffic and the road sense -

'Pedestrians are on the bottom and run out of the way of everything, bicycles make way to cycle-rickshaws, which give way to auto-rickshaws, which stop for the cars, which are subservient to trucks. Buses stop for one thing and one thing only. Not customers - they jump on while the buses are still moving. The only thing that can stop a bus is the king of the road - The Holy Cow. '

On a personal note: I guess being Indian, we see such huge diversity right from the moment we open our eyes that we have always considered it as part of who we are without consciously registering as much, but actually if we watch India from afar, not as someone part of it, I think India is too intriguing, overwhelming and awe-inspiring and has been a complex topic for many people. The fact is, India is beyond all definitions and statements and that is precisely the uniqueness of this country.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Review : The Giver

Title : The Giver

Author : Lois Lowry

Publisher : Harper Collins

ISBN : 978-0-00-726351-6

This is a story of a young lad Jonas, who is eleven now and is quite apprehensive about the upcoming ceremony where all Twelves of the community will be assigned an occupation, a job, a position in the community. Jonas is a member of a 'perfect' community where everything is same, in order, under control, as per the rules in the great rule book - the only book accessible to people of the community. The houses are exactly the same, the dresses of people are alike, each family unit comprises of a mother and a father and they can apply for one male and one female child. The community is unaware of any kind of emotions or feelings - happiness, sadness, sorrow, love, affection, suffering. They have not even heard of things like hills, mountains, snow, sunshine and even colors. This is because long back, the people of this community had chosen 'sameness' for themselves.

Even the terminology in the community is fixed and cannot be changed - children younger than one are called 'newchildren', same age children are 'groupmates', and weak, elderly, diseased or people who break rules three times are being 'released'. There is a set pattern to everything. The children at eight begin their volunteer hours where they are observed by the elders who later assign the children their roles in the community at Twelve. On the crucial day of assignments, Jonas is selected as a new 'Receiver of Memories'. He gets this unique responsibility owing to his intelligence, integrity, courage, wisdom and capacity to see beyond. The elder Receiver becomes the Giver now and needs to pass on the memories of the past, of all the feelings, emotions and truth to Jonas.

While on the journey to receiving memories from the Giver, Jonas as an intelligent student realizes that their 'perfect' world is not so perfect in reality. People have no freedom of any kind - what to wear, what to eat, which profession to chose or even selection of a partner - everything is decided or assigned as part of the community rule.

Through his training as Receiver of Memories, he experiences how there is so much more to the world and to the life which has been completely eradicated from their worlds. After having experienced the best of memories of being loved in a family setup to the painful memories of war and sufferings, Jonas decides that he must do something to bring in the change for himself and for his people. He sets on a journey to the 'elsewhere' land with whatever little reserve of memories he had received from the Giver over one year.

I really liked the subtle way how Lois Lowry described the perfect world yet bringing the feeling of uneasiness about the whole setup. The narrative had a wonderful flow to it but found one thing lacking in it - the Giver never mentions why exactly people chose the 'sameness' for themselves and how it happened. The end is a little mysterious leaving the readers wanting for more. A wonderful and completely out-of-the-box plot and executed with excellence.

Many controversial topics are being touched in the story - infanticide, suicide, euthanasia, sexual arousals (stirrings), concept of surrogating (separate group of females assigned the work of mothering). These issues have made this book a little controversial and I understand that in some US states, this book was banned for some years but now it is part of sixth grade curriculum in some schools. I feel there is a lot of scope of discussion about these issues through this story and good way to understand how young adults feel about the differentness, uniqueness and sameness.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review : Planetary Transformation

Title : Planetary Transformation

Author : Imre Vallyon

Publisher : Sounding Light

ISBN : 978-0-909038-61-8

Review written for BookPleasures

Through his book 'Planetary Transformation', the author Imre Vallyon introduces the readers to a potential higher awareness and unprecedented transformation which is about to dawn on our physical planet. This transformation has the potential of tremendous opportunity in store for the Mankind. To make use of this opportunity we need to understand this process first and equip ourselves to arise, awake and absorb it positively.

Imre begins by first educating the readers about the cyclical nature of the Sun and the solar system through various zodiac signs.

Our solar System is journeying right into the path of a much higher energy stream, which means that our Solar Logos and all the planets could be swamped with a huge tidal wave of high-frequency energy that they have never encountered before. Some slight changes are already being observed ever since 1857 which are slowly gaining momentum and will peak in the coming hundred to thousand years. If these astrological changes are referred to as 'horizontal' changes then he talks about another form of 'vertical' changes which can be initiated by higher energy descending from higher dimensions, from the Inner World.

How these cosmic energies and higher-frequency streams will impact our Solar System, our Mother Earth, our coming generations and humanity in general is an interesting topic of research and learning.

The next few generations are blessed to be getting this amazing chance to cooperate with the Divine plan by first being aware of the immense possibilities thrown open in front of them. The humans will have a choice to either help the planet enter into a Golden Age or push it to be another failure due to ignorance and non-cooperation with the cosmic changes. We all can choose to elevate our awareness from the basic physical to astral level where there is Divine unity - past, present an future are fused into one knowing Consciousness and Oneness. This means we can awaken into a higher dimensional awareness and can be a walking Buddha or Christ.

Our planet is getting ready for this enormous transformation, and the onus is on us to prepare ourselves to be in tune with ourselves, our planet and with the Cosmos while keeping an informed eye on the stumbling blocks on the path.

After having discussed this upcoming transformation in the lives of our future generations, Imre then walks the readers through some of the guided meditation techniques and chanting routines, following which, we can hope to raise the consciousness in line with the Divine vision and participate actively in the whole transformation process.

A prophetic book which very succinctly offers many interesting revelations about the cosmic world, our future, what to expect and how best to approach the future turbulent times to bring in peace, love and eternal happiness for all.

About the author : Imre Vallyon is the visionary author of The Magical Mind, Heavens and Hells of the Mind, The Sedona Talks and The Art of Meditation. He was the Aston Wylie Award winner in 2008 and a Living Now gold medalist in 2009.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review : Fun of Dying

Title : Fun of Dying

Author : Roberta Grimes

Publisher : Greater Reality Publications

ISBN : 978-0-9802111-1-5

Fun of Dying is about the one issue which has intrigued humans since time immemorial, the main reason being lack of knowledge about the afterlife and what to expect when we exit this world. Roberta Grimes attempts to put some of such anxieties to rest through this interesting book. After having researched so much on this topics, she educates us with authority that death is an easy and enjoyable transition quite unlike what most of us anticipate in our minds. It doesn't hurt and it's not frightening. Our present seemingly solid reality makes it hard for many of us to believe that an equally solid and real afterlife is possible.

She first points out that there has been two modern bastions - mainstream science and mainstream religion. 'Mainstream scientists believe that there is nothing after death to discover, while mainstream clergymen are sure that there is nothing more to know.'

Well supported by the research on death, afterlife, reincarnation and out of body experiences, she further elaborates that there are abundant afterlife evidences which consistently bring out the same results. 'The experience has been like reading hundreds of accounts by a century's worth of travelers to Fiji. They had widely differing experiences but clearly they were all describing the same complex and fascinating place.'

She describes how people may feel during the time of pre-death and post-death, primarily based on the experiences of people themselves who are successfully reached during those phases. The author virtually takes us to the other world and talks about the reception time when folks one knows keep turning up in the prime of their life, immaterial of when they died and at what age. (This part reminded me of 'Five People you Meet in Heaven' by Mitch Albom.)

And eventually everyone must encounter the review of the life that he/she spent on Earth. The hardest part of the life review process is that of forgiving oneself for umpteen number of times some cruel things were said and the number of times the person ignored or missed the chance to do an act of kindness.

After having clearly explained the feeling that one experiences while the whole life flashes through him/her, she proceeds on to explain how the knowledge about the afterlife makes and should make us realize that we are here in this world for a purpose, which is - to learn to forgive and learn to love others universally.

Overall an interesting book about the topic which has been researched a lot but nothing can be said about it with authority because while here we can not have the perspective to even view the other world even though people from afterlife describe their experiences vividly.

The book provides enough stimulants for the readers to do more research on this topic. It surely sparks the curiosity to know more, and does satisfy some anxieties.

However, some of the things that are mentioned in the book may seen inconsistent with other written literature on death but if the book manages to motivate the people to learn to love and to forgive while here, I think the job is done.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Related Posts with Thumbnails