I got my first taste of Ramayana (like most 80s kids!) from Sagar's televised version. Arun Govil is my Rama when I close my eyes. Well, the impact was huge.
So when I started reading Shubha Vilas's interepretation of Ramayana, my protogonist is stil Arun Govil :D Ramayana isnt only about Lord Rama and Sita and the villainous Ravana. It has got multitudes of mini-stories within and thats exactly what the author tries to tell us. The focus is on the main characters but then we are told about many other things that happen around.
The author tries to show us that even though the story is really old, It is very relevant in today's times too. I refrain from viewing the book as a religious one. I saw it as a book that tries to advise how life can be lived with reference to the mythological characters.
I ,particularly, am always intrigued by Sita. She is the most dutiful wife who follows her husband through everything including the exile. But still she got tempted by a deer inspite of having been warned by Lakshmana. This is very humane quality and very relatable. You can be very intelligent and smart but temptations can exist and we can be susceptible.
The key highlight for me in this book is how the author define relationships especially between the husband and wife. This delicate relationship is shown very nicely.
Rama is shown to be the leader and how a leader should be. How he makes his decisions and how he weighs his pros and cons as he makes them, are things to be learned by anyone who aspires to be a leader too.
Sita is shown as the princess who has never seen any problems in her life,always had all the luxuries in life, is suddenly faced with exile. She is suddenly thrown out of her comfort zone. How she deals with it , is an inpiration for all of us. She isnt a doormat. She doesnt do things just because she is a dutiful wife. She has a logic and reason for everything.
I also particularly like the relationship showed between Lakshmana and Urmila. Afterall, he chose to follow Rama into exile and Urmila doesnt. She also has her own reason and which is very interesting read.
Overall, the author does manage to tell an inspirational story with lot of footnotes. He doesn't get preachy or too religious which is what is expected out of any mythology read.Shubh Vilas is an spiritual and motivational speaker and the book shows it. I am thoroughly impressed by the way he puts forwards his thoughts but really doesn't seem too imposing.
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