I spotted this book a couple of months back at a bookstore in Bangalore. It caught my eye because it dealt with many subjects that interest me – Shiva, Indus Valley, river Saraswathi and real stories behind mythology. I read a couple of pages and found the style of writing very text bookish. I decided not to buy but instead borrow it from the library.
In the past couple of weeks many people wrote to me about this book. My friend Archana presented it for my birthday. On the same day my library delivered a copy. Another friend, Meenks wrote to me from the US recommending the book. He had read reviews of the book and thought I would like it. It was almost as if the entire universe was conspiring to make me read the book 🙂
All my friends were right, I loved the book. Although I was not mistaken in my initial assessment of the style of writing, I enjoyed it all the same.
It is the story of Shiva, a Tibetan immigrant who comes to Meluha (mainland India) to escape from the incessant tribal wars in his countru. In Meluha he is given Somras which makes his throat turn blue. Thus he becomes Neelkanth, who the Meluhan legend says would be their savior. The story is about Shiva’s discovery of his true destiny. In the course of the story we are introduced to many mythological characters in their new Avatar. Brahma the Meluhan scientist who invents Somras, the drink of immortality. Saptharishis are selected students of Brahma to whom Somras was first administered. Lord Rama, an ancient king who broke the caste barrier to the access to Somras. He laid down a social order which ensured that everyone got equal opportunities regardless of their birth. Sati, the daughter of the current Meluhan king, Daksha. Manu, a Pandya kind from the land of Tamil sangam!!!!
I know, I know. I can hear many of you are screaming in protest at the blatant disregard for actual historical facts
Amish, the author the book has the imagination of a child. It is innocent, idealistic and without boundaries. And just like a child his story is very simplistic. It lacks the nuance and depth of an adult’s book. Have you seen the cartoon network adaptation of Ramayan in English? This book gives you a similar feeling. Shiva comes across as a cool dude of the new millennium who loves marijuana and has modern views of equality, justice and democracy. Sati is the feminist of the last millennium, intelligent, well read and a warrior and yet willingly submissive to the rules of her tradition. She silently bears all the insults hurled at her and raises her voice only when someone insults Shiva. Towards the end Shiva resembles Ahoka, filled with grief for having fought a pointless war. There are also references to the ideological clash of communism and democracy. The book is the first of a trilogy and the climax is cleverly crafted to make you long for the next one.
The Immortals of Meluha is very much a children’s book at heart. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Those of us who are closet comic book readers, who can still experience the magic of Astrix, Archie and Bhagavatam will understand its appeal.