Shambala, a mystical and mythical kingdom, hidden somewhere beyond the snowy peaks of Himalaya… this was more than enough to make me curious! And here is the book review of The Shambala Sutras, a recent novel, written by an emerging novelist Aurijit Ganguli. The novel is a mythological fiction but it does not try to resemble either the style or the theme of any of the popular names in Indian English literature. Aurijit’s book comes with its unique identity. Let’s get it rolling!
Many of us might not be knowing about this place but it finds mentions in ancient texts including Hindu, Bon, and Buddhist scriptures. The mythological relevance of the place originates with prophecy in Vishnu Purana that it would be the birthplace of Kalki, the last incarnation of Lord Vishnu who will usher in a new golden age. According to the Buddhist myth of Shambala, it would be the ruling kingdom of Maitreya, the final Buddha. However, the ancient text in which Shambala is extensively discussed is the Kalachakra Tantra.
The Shambala Sutras is the debut novel by Aurijit Ganguli that takes you to the journey of this magical place and reveals, to the readers, the secrets or Sutras of healthy, happy and peaceful life which is believed to be lived by the people of Shambala. There is another alarming angle the author has brought which relates to an ongoing situation in our lives… I will not reveal much about it so that you find the exciting connection yourself when you read the novel.
The retelling of Indian history has now become one of the most popular templates amongst the Indian novelists. However, this book is no mere retelling of history, it is much more than that. Along with history, The Shambala Sutras encompasses all the essential elements that make a novel awe-inspiring. The book also conveys some of the key messages which, if absorbed and followed, help you to lead a life which would be free of all your troubles and worries. The novel is a perfect blend of history, mystery, entertainment and wisdom.
A glimpse of the plot & critical overview:
The plot of the book is set around finding out Sanjeevani Plant, the plant or booti that Hanuman carried to save the life of Lakshman when he was struck by Indrajit (Ravan’s son) in the battle of Lanka. The book has limited characters and, believe me, this is one of the beauties of this book. You don’t have to keep your mind occupied in reminding yourself about the characters from time to time. The prominent ones are – Arjun, Lisa, Sara and Vijay. All the central characters are carefully planned and beautifully grow as the story progresses. Arjun is an Assistant Curator and has finished his PhD under the supervision of Dr Sara, who is a well-known figure in the same field. Lisa is a Chef and co-owner of the Fusion Future restaurant along with his uncle. Lisa and Sara got in touch through social media. Lisa admires Sara a lot for her ideas on contemporary social and educational issues. Vijay Tripathi is a professor at Banaras Hindu University and is a good friend of Sara.
The story of the book begins in a hotel room in New York where Sara is discussing with Arjun and Lisa about the Sanjeevani Plant. She offers them some leaves of the plant to inspect which Vijay has sent her via courier a few days back. After a long discussion about the plant, Sara eventually convinces Arjun and Lisa to go to India to find more about the plant, its peculiarities. In India, Vijay receives them, feeds them with all the details and outlines a plan for the mission. Apart from the details and plans, Vijay also shares with them some notes that contain information about Shambala, its enigmas and the secret incomplete mission (search of Shambala) which he was perusing with two of his friends. During this mission, Arjun and Lisa learn many facts, including their fathers’ connection with Shambala and their death. Will Arjun and Lisa find the Sanjeevani booti? Will they reach Shambala? Who will guide them to locate the way to Shambala? What is the mystery associated with the place? Will they live or die? Will their mission get over successfully?
The plot has been fairly drawn with angles sharply pointing at the hints, suggestions and intriguing ideas the novelists wants his readers to witness. It will keep the readers conscious, curious about the progress of the novel… and excited to know the ‘next’. The simple language of the novel and reading satisfaction to the readers, in terms of offering the events in a straightforward manner, are certainly appreciated. And that is why modern readers will not only appreciate the intriguing plot but also an interesting way to deliver it to the readers.
You should know:
Shambala Sutras also takes you to the quick tour through the compact and narrow lanes of Kashi to the Ghats of Ganga and provides glimpses of the world-famous Ganga Aarti. Visuals are described in precise, fitting and wonderful words so that a perfect word-sketch of the events being described can be offered to the readers. This practice is rarely seeing in the novels by modern Indian novelists and that is why I needed to mention it here.
The dramatic momentum of the story makes you glued to it. There wouldn’t come any moment when you feel to leave the book without finishing it. Narrated in the third person, The Shambala Sutras has everything to engage, entertain and enlighten every reader. So, when are you planning to read the novel?
Review by Nidhi for Indian Book Critics
The Shambala Sutras by Aurijit Ganguli – Book Review
- IBC Critical Rating
A novel that offers entertainment with a glimpse of enlightenment and a brief breeze of Himalayan wisdom…