Monday, 11 August 2014

Book Review: Ramayana (The Game of Life) -Rise of the Sun Prince

Series:Ramayana-The Game Of Life
Book Name: Rise of the Sun Prince
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishers
Price: Rs.250

My interest in mythology was first stirred when one of my teachers enthralled me with mythical tales of Indian deities; he would come to teach me Hindi and entice me with wonderful tales of Lord Ganesha, Lord Rama and legendary sages so powerful that I would listen amazed and surprised. For me, laying my hands on this epic masterpiece Ramayana was the beginning of a journey that I had wished to peruse for a long time. Shubha Vilas retells this Indian epic for the modern audience who but recounts vague and myriad versions of this tale handed down through the generations as tales retold by their great grandparents, grandparents and teachers.

The story begins with the luminous Valimiki muni who seeks to understand the true qualities that make a hero. Can a hero be virtuous and at the same time powerful, grateful, determined, truthful and compassionate? Can he display exemplary conduct and benevolence, wisdom and competence, self satisfaction and courage? Can such a person be radiant in beauty and at the same time free from vices? The book begins with the quest for a hero who is all-perfect and enlightenment dawns as the all-encompassing Lord Rama. So when Lord Brahma manifests himself to entrust Valmiki with the responsibility to render the saga of Lord Rama in verse, the epic Ramayana is born.

What makes the saga truly fascinating is that it traces the lives of all its characters; their vices and penances, their tragedies and salvation. The infamous Ratnakar who finds peace chanting ‘Mara’ and becomes the spiritual master Valmiki (and yet goes on to shape the epic Indian saga Ramayana), the bereft Lava and Kusha who traverse the lands singing praises of their father Rama, the lonely Rama who listens to their ballad unaware that they are his own sons recounting his glory start off the story enchantingly and we are transported to the celebrated days of Dasaratha as Lava and Kusha narrate the Ramayana.

Book One of the six volume Ramayana-The Game of Life draws inspiration from Valmiki Ramayana’s Bala Kanda. So does Bala Kanda trace Rama’s childhood? Is he the central hero of Rise of the Sun Prince? The answer is no. The hero of this book is Vishwamitra, the imperfect sage who fights his inner battles and rises from an angry sage (bala) to a purposeful spiritualist. The imperfect teacher, whilst mentoring Rama and Lakshmana, discovers true devotion under Lord Vishnu incarnate Rama.

Dasaratha fights his own inner demons as father and king while Sita walks a thin line between love and convention as the ever-abiding dutiful wife. The footnotes in the book decode the eternal wisdom of this saga and its thought-provoking directives. The narrative is gripping and I’m unable to find flaws in the story for Ramayana is in our blood and we can read this saga again and again without exhausting the wisdom and resources that are to be gained from this epic.

So what makes Ramayana-The Game of Life so different from other tales retold time and again? For me the difference lies in the insight that the author takes time to reveal through the characters and their deeds in the story. For me the difference lies in visualising Vishwamitra as the hero under the overpowering presence of Lord Rama. And most importantly, the difference to me lies in the perception and knowledge that I have gained from the story. Till yesterday, Ramayana to me was a saga; today, it is a pot brimming with wisdom.

Do take time to read this book for what can be more fascinating than reliving your history? What can be more fascinating than the Ramayana that has enthralled us yet time and again?

Verdict: Do read it! Its worth it..

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


  1. Well written review, Anusree. I have been seeing this book in couple of place and was wondering how it would be like :) I guess I shall have to wait for the rest of the series before buying it as I hate reading just one and being left hanging.

    1. Haha.. Ya wait for the series!! I'm waiting too!! :* ;)

  2. Quite a number of reviews about this book. Yet to read this, Anu...
    The Ramayana is definitely a must-read.

    1. Yes it is Anita.. Do read it! Its awesome.. :)


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