Ramayana – Stolen Hope is a third in the series of books named The Game of Life written by spiritual leader Shubha Vilas. Like the previous two books, this book makes for very easy reading. One can read the book just for the story or get a lot more from it with the notes on each of the stories and how we can apply them during our daily lives. While there are interpretations of the Ramayana, this series covers in parts, both the Valmiki Ramayana and the Kamban Ramayana which makes for an interesting juxtaposition.
The story -
Most of us do know the story of the Ramayana, so I won't really elaborate on it in this blog but here is a gist of what is to be expected in this book.
The story takes off from its previous version ‘Shattered Dreams’ where Ram, Sita and Lakshmana continue their exile journey into the vile Dandakaranya forest. The story delves into their adventures with the various ‘Rakshasas’ (Demons), their meetings with various sages and people during the journey– my favorite was the story of Agastya and Shabari who they meet towards the end of the book and most importantly the abduction of Sita.
The turning point in the story as we all know is when Surpanakha, the demoness sister of the King of Lanka Ravana, sets her eyes on Rama and wants him for her own. As Lakshmana proceeds to mutilate her, off she goes to her powerful brother Ravana vowing revenge. Ravana proceeds to kidnap the Sita using guile and Ram is left disconsolate.
What I liked
The human laments of Ram who has just lost his love, of Sita who regrets her desire for the deer and Lakshmana’s emotions after Sita gets abducted make for some interesting reading. Relationships – be it between the husband and the wife, brothers, teacher-disciple, father and son, and our own relationship with God, have been well explored in the book and can help us apply these in real life.
What I also enjoyed are discovering some new stories that I was not aware of earlier. The story of Agastya Muni, some dark tales of Ravana, the story behind the forest of Dandakarnya and the eighteen curses on Ravana kept me riveted.
While the story is a light read, since most of us are pretty familiar with the story of the Ramayana, reading through the notes and absorbing the philosophies behind the story, may not be that easy even as the author has provided examples and analogies for easy understanding. But worth it!
What could be better -
While the writing is fairly lucid, it is a little too elementary for me. While I do like to read stories for the love of the stories, the love of the language makes me long for books that have good vocabulary, and are better written.
That being said, I will still look forward to reading the next in the series where one of my favorite characters Hanuman makes his appearance. Overall, I will give a 3.5 on 5 stars for this book.
You can buy the book at key stores or online at Amazon and others.