Author : Amish Tripathi

Genre: Fiction

Amish Tripathi is an Indian author. He is known for his book series Shiva Trilogy and Ram Chandra Series, both becoming the fastest-selling and the second-fastest selling book series in Indian publishing history. His claim to fame is to beautifully narrate a very popular mythology (Lord Shiva or Lord Ram are the leading gods in hindu mythology, and every child has been told stories around them) in a rather scientific way (takes away the god bit, focusses on shiva the man and builds a fiction on how legends of godliness started). Even while depicting war, he balances the views of both sides making the reader feel – if only we had more empathy, there would be no war. The Yin and Yang, masculine and feminine, has been depicted beautifully.

Amish follows a very unique career path, doing his MBA from the prestigious IIM calcutta (top bschool in India), then a banker for 14 years and then a best-selling author. And now a film producer. His book was rejected by many leading publishers and his agent had to do self-publishing. Later the trilogy sold more than 5 million copies and generated in excess of Rs. 100 crore (USD15mn) revenues.

The Shiva Trilogy is an alternate story of Shiva, the God. Amish protrays him as a man, who the turn of events and his own heroics transform to the myths of the Mahadev, the God of Gods. The story – while obviously fiction – is written logically, even scientifically and makes it believable. It is chronicled through three books, The Immortals of MeluhaThe Secret of the Nagas & The Oath of the Vayuputras. Each book brings out Amish’s vivid creativity – taking ordinary characters like Nandi or Sati that every Indian household knows, but giving an alternate and believable story on how they are woven into Shiva’s life.

The first book sets the stage at 1900 BC. “In what modern Indians mistakenly call the Indus Valley civilisation.”

The inhabitants of that period called it Meluha. Amish cleverly sets the stage for a prequel (which he later writes) by showing this as the city set by Suryavanshi king Ram. But now the city is under threat. The growing attacks by neighbouring Nagas and Chandravanshis will lead Meluhas emperor Daksh to declare war. Shiva leads the army to defeat the chandravanshis and unwinds the question about him being the Neelkanth (a popular name for Lord Shiva because of his blue throat). The story is a perfect blend of indian mythology and fictional story. This book shows how the fate and karma of a man make him the gods of god. It also shows realpolitik – as rivers that feed nations dry up, wars are fought over limited resources and each side makes the other an enemy. The tragedy of a hero comes alive – the king he defeats is defiant and distraught as the legend in his country said that neelkanth would be their saviour and help them win against the suryavanshis.

The Secret of The Nagas picks up just from where its predecessor ‘The Immortals of Meluha‘ left. Shiva has led the Suryavanshis to victory over the Chandravanshis and has been married happily to the princess of Meluha, Sati. But later on, he realizes that it is not Chandravanshis who are evil, it was just a matter of perspective. Then begins his journey to discover what is really evil. Eventually, Shiva sides with the same Nagas he was taught to hate. It turns out that people born with deformities were abandoned by families, and these ended up becoming members of the Naga community. So Sati had a twin sister Kali but born with 2 extra hands and a previous son with the face of an elephant, and these were rejected by king daksh. Amish builds in some great philosophical debate on what is right and what is wrong, and indeed even what is life all about – without once coming out as preachy.

The Oath of the Vayuputras is the third book of Shiva Trilogy. Starting from where the previous installment left off, Shiva discovers what is the true evil in The Oath of the Vayuputras. It covers the Hindu mythology and especially philosophy of life and words of wisdom in the form of conversations (mainly the protagonist Shiva is involved in most of them) marvelously. So Shiva gets to know that the death of his beloved friend Brihaspati was actually untrue. One man’s somras (that gave long life to the meluhas) was another man’s poison (it created kids with deformities) and its waste created a plague in neighbouring cities. The real villain is now the Meluhan emperor Daksh! Ultimately Shiva launches a holy war against the use of somras.

Why should you read the book: Amish believes that “myths are nothing but jumbled memories of a true past. A past buried under mounds of earth and ignorance”. The triology is a fiction that feels like a work of history, even a work of science. Creating an entirely new world with popular characters but in an altered storyline requires huge creativity. Though the books are quite voluminous and need patience but the suspense keeps building up and engages the reader. One marvels at the huge imagination of the author.

Goodreads Link: Shiva Trilogy (Shiva Trilogy #1-3) by Amish Tripathi | Goodreads

[Written by Barkha Arora]