I picked up the book last week, because I heard a lot about it. The idea of Mythology + Fiction did not seem too exciting, but I was in for a surprise. Amish Tripathi places the book at a breathtaking pace. The story is about a man Shiva who as per legend is the savior. If you are looking for a review, I found a good one here.
Last 3 chapters – “A Stunning Revelation”, “Island of the Individual” and “The Question of Questions” are by far the most gripping ones and pass on several messages. I started to narrate this story to my 4 year old who insists on hearing bedtime stories and on reflection I find that the book all along the way holds several messages that are resonate with how the world is today. I found another blog that talks about the fusion of faith of fusion being a best seller and also bring into notice the work by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code on these categories. On the whole I agree with the author but there are subtitles where I will disagree. I am not a reviewer as the author may be, so I am going to stay away from that discussion. However, I will bring out the messages that I found relevant to our current society.
Please note that these are my interpretations of the book. Also, the following literature has quotes/extracts from the book itself so it may be a spoiler.
Skills and Respect go hand in hand
Book highlights the Maika system. I heard about this a few weeks earlier from Devdutt Patnaik as I was watching the Business Sutra. The whole concept of caste system always seemed dubious to me, until a few months back and now again in this book when it became clear how our ancestors and the literature intended it to be be. It also shows that overtime, people forget the original leanings and adopt what is convenient. While in Business Sutra, I heard about the problem of the caste system and how it went into a Spiral that we see today in India, Amish actually bring out a system that can solve the problem. Of course in the society we have today, what he suggests is not possible, but a system nevertheless that can be adopted in organizations today to build a capable system.
If we all do what we do best, then there is little place for egos and inherited wealth/power. Everyone feels justified for what they are doing and respect people for what they have done. The most common reason for one not respecting is when he/she feels that they do not deserve the position they are on. Today, there are lobbies in the organizations and we see a lobby of people moving in the same direction – either vertically up or horizontally in another organization. This takes away any opportunities for others to grow and places people in positions they may not be qualified to be in.
Emotional Transactions are the basis that either makes or breaks you
I have to quote some lines from the book to make this meaningful.
The situation is where Shiva is in love but does not understand the woman he loves. A Pundit describes the “theory of transactions” to understand someone. I quote (pages 215-216)
“Transactions are interactions between two individuals. It could be trading good, like a Shudra farmer offering grain for money from a Vaishya. But it could also be beyond material concerns, like a Kshatriya offering protection to a society in return of power.”
Shiva nodded in agreement. “Transactions are about give and take.”
“Exactly. So going by this logic, if you want something from someone, you have to give that person something they want.”
After a couple paragraphs, we continue….
“Remember, in a transaction, you give something because you want something in return, She is accepting an unfair law without trying to make anyone feel guilty about it. And most importantly, she continues to use has talents to contribute to the good of the society whenever she can. What do you think a person who is giving all this in her transactions with society wants in return?”
“Respect” answered Shiva
“Respect her. And she will feel irresistibly drawn towards you”
For a moment this looks like a scenario which is specific to the context in which this has been written. If you think about this in context of your life, you see how this would relate to most of your encounters with people around you. This is so ridiculously simple. I can relate this with my wife or my parents, my family.
I can even relate this to my colleagues in the past. Either they expect respect or money or growth in their careers. The ones I have come to respect over time are those who may expect something in return, but they do not stop at performing their duties even if I fail to give them what they asked for.
Importance of Balance
I have to quote a few lines again before I make my point.
Anandmayi turned towards Shive with a low bow. “The truth has just come to me, my Lord. I am sorry about my sullenness earlier. But i was deeply troubled at the time. Your being on the sire of Suryavanshis can have only one of two explanations. Either we are evil. Or you are not who we think you are and the legend is false. Accepting either of these explanations would destroy my soul.”
“But i realised only now,” continued Anandmayi. “The legend is not false. And we are obviously not evil. It is just that you are too naive. You have been misled by the evil Suryavanshis. I will set it right. I will show you the goodness of our path.”
How often we hear one side of the story and make up our minds of what action we have to do. I have read only a couple leadership books, but in several discussions I have had in office with my leaders, I have heard them speak of this and sadly yet I have seen them do just this. Forget office, at home, we hear what our near and dear have to say and we immediately we start judging people. Amish so simply tells that no one is evil, there are differences in culture and we do not try to understand the other person’s culture and philosophies and trade mark them to be wrong/evil. And it is this battle we continue to fight for ever.
Freedom. Freedom for the wretched to also have dignity.
In the book, Amish portrays a land Meluha where government does everything to ensure their people are well taken care off. They have the system of Vikarna, where if someone has ill-luck, they are considered as bad luck to the society and are banned from all good things. Yet, the government does everything they can to support the bad. While in another land Swadweep, a poor is left begging and even when he is starving to death, no one cares. Yet, this beggar chooses to have pride. With himself starved, he has the freedom to chose to offer his food to another man.
When I read this, my thoughts go back a few months when Mr. Anna Hazare ran a nation wide protest against corruption. Almost everyone was in support of Anna who wanted the political leaders to pass a bill for them to stop corruption. And there were debates from all sides saying there can still be corruption. While the problem to the solution is simple and Amish just said it – we have to take pride in what we do. If we stop paying bribes, what will officials do? Why do we need laws to help us? And then, when we are in a position to provide help, we think doing something for someone will help them. We forget that we should enable them and not cripple them.
- Shiva Trilogy 1:The immortals of Meluha – Amish (ireach.wordpress.com)