Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book Review: Rise of the Sun Prince- Part 1 of Ramayana: The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas

One of the most revered tales that is a part of Indian mythology, folklore and history is that of the Ramayana. This tale of Prince Ram has been handed down through ages and is considered to be one of the greatest love stories and the most dramatic stories of good versus evil.

I have read several interpretations of the Ramayana. Some of my favorite books on the Ramayana include those by the very popular C Rajagopalachari and Kamala Subramaniam. However, I am always looking for new interpretations that provide me with more answers and new stories and am happy to say that I have found yet another version that I quite liked.

Shubha Vilas who is a spiritual leader and a motivational speaker has done justice to the Ramayana through this first volume called as the Rise of the Sun Prince in a six part series called as “Ramayana, the Game of Life”.

I was quite happy to receive an autographed copy of the book that provided a lovely message – “With this book I wish to share traditional wisdom to deal with the twists and turns of life. I hope this book will bring you a new perspective on living a progressive life.” And that is exactly what the book seeks to do. The Author has included not just the story but also interpreted it with reference to our everyday life and the life lessons we should get from the various chapters of the book.

The first book of the Ramayana details the story of Lord Ram, prince of the Ikshvaku dynasty, the descendants of the Sun God (and therefore the name of The Sun Prince). In this book you will read about Lord Rama’s birth, his young exploits in guarding the sacrifice of sages led by Vishwamitra against feared demons Taraka and Maricha, the freeing of a stony Ahalya from a curse and ends on a very happy note of Rama’s wedding with Sita. The book also has a substantial part devoted to the famous sage Vishwamitra. 

As most of the Ramayana story is well known, I will not get into more details of the story. But particularly interesting are some nuggets that the author has imparted throwing light to some questions we have on this epic tale. To cite an example, I always wondered why Lord Rama’s childhood was not as extensively covered as was Lord Krishna’s childhood in our scriptures. The author provides a note –

“Lord Rama’s childhood is underplayed in the Ramayana, with the entire childhood occupying merely 10 verses. In comparison, Krishna’s childhood has been elaborated extensively. Lord Rama is called Anusthana Pradhan, meaning the One who has descended to teach human lessons on discipline and morality. Lord Krishna is called Anubhava Pradhan, meaning the One who has descended to impart fascinating experiences.  Because Lord Rama had manifested to impart discipline, His childhood was kept low key.”
Let me provide an example of the lesson that he has provided on the Sage Vishwamitra’s enmity with the great Sage Vasishtha –

“Often in life, like Vishwamitra, we are so busy pursuing our short-term goals, that we do not find any time to pause and reflect on the direction we are heading toward. Life gives us many hidden doors, which become visible only if we pause. Most people live their lives by the clock, running at a frantic pace. A balanced individual needs to use a compass from time to time to check if one is running in the right direction. Else, the faster you run in the wrong direction, the farther you stray from your goal.”

I also don’t however know how true some of the stories are although I am sure the author has done his research. For example, I had no idea Dashratha, Rama’s father had 350 wives apart from the four we know of commonly, and had married them to escape the axe wielding hermit and Kshyatriya hater, Parshurama. Apparently, Parshurama had vowed to kill all the Kshyatriya kings except those who were getting married. 
But well, it may be true too.

All in all, an interesting book with some good interpretations.  However, I have found more compelling narratives in other books. That being said, I am glad to see a book in mainstream publishing that carries more than a story and also provides readers with a way of life.

My verdict:
I will give this book 3.5 stars out of five.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. When we were kids, we were mandated to read Ramayana for 30 minutes each day without fail. We had several Ramayans in our homes, some interspersed with interesting episodes (called khseppak) otherwise missing from the regular tomes. It is true there is so little about Rama's childhood in Ramayana while Krishna's childhood has been beautifully depicted in Sura Sagar. Nevertheless, I tend to recoil from novels based on Mahabharata and Ramayana. You have capably presented the gist of Part I, however.

  2. The footnotes provided at the bottom would make it an interesting read for the intellectual comprehension i guesss