Stand Strong (Ramayana The Game of Life – Book 4)
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Price: Rs 350
‘The Ramayana is not a story. It’s a way of life. It’s the game of life..’ are the most defining sentiments of spiritual seeker and life coach Shubha Vilas’s latest book Stand Strong. The book, which is a fourth in the Ramayana series by the writer, is a modern retelling of the Kishkinda Kanda of the Valmiki’s epic.
Describing the central theme of the book, Vilas writes, “I have introduced a dialogue between Hanuman and the vanara Taru. After Rama abruptly walks out without killing Vali, everyone is disturbed by his action. In the original Ramayana, ther e is no specific clarification about why Rama does this. However, I have taken the liberty of throwing light on the matter, with a view to clarifying Rama’s actions.”
The book, in its essence, is the Kishkinda Kanda and talks about all the events happening in the monkey kingdom of Kishkinda. It deals with one of the most misunderstood sections of the Ramayana, which is the killing of Vali. There is also a broader message and life lesson that the book speaks of, while narrating the episodes from the epic. It focuses on how life is a constant reminder that nothing is permanent. The endless cycles of change can truly get to us if we are unprepared to face them as realities. However, we often see these changing times as problems larger than they really are. Many issues in life when perceived with fear result in pain; but when perceived with clarity, they end up being liberating.
Stand Strong reminds us through its eternal stories, such as the tale of the brothers Vali and Sugriva, that life is like a high-risk treasure hunt. One often has to walk through a maze of confusing paths while being chased by dangerously complex dilemmas to find the hidden treasures of wisdom. The book, which offers a myriad of dimensions to battle the odds in life, draws not just from Valmiki muni’s Ramayana, but also is inspired from the Tamil epic Kamba Ramayanam, written by the Tamil poet Kamban in the 12th century.
With regard to the creative liberties in weaving dialogues between characters and reinventing episodes in the epic, Vilas clarifies, “I have taken some creative liberties to keep the narration riveting and gripping. But these are extremely minimal and do not, in any way, impede or supersede the original work, or the divinity of the epic and its characters.” According to the author, each character in the book is a hero in his own way, and has the power to grab the reader’s attention in different ways. He assures how that the readers would be introduced to a range of characters, which would enhance their understanding of life and human psychology.
The book is indisputably a racy read, replete with lessons on morality and spiritual wisdom. The greatest take-away of the 328-page volume is the bundle of erudite teachings that every page unfailingly provides. That makes sure that the book doesn’t remain confined to a narrative alone, and also successfully outdoes it scope as a mere mythological piece of work. It enters the realm of self-help and motivational literature, and that adds to its heft.
Nonetheless, the only downer is the fact that the book assumes a certain amount of orientation from the reader, which can only be acquired after a fundamental understanding of the original Ramayana and its central characters. Although that may not be a tall order for a regular Hindu, Indian reader; it may be slightly challenging for the readers from other religious preferences. Barring the little impediment, Stand Strong is rather swell and unputdownable.