Book: Common Prophets of the Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus
Author: Bharat Jhunjhunwala
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: 320; Price: Rs 140
I read years ago in one of the books written by the US novelist James Baldwin: ‘Finance and philosophy; Economics and Esoteric can go hand in hand adroitly, provided the juggler knows how to juggle seemingly opposite subjects masterfully.’ Reading Bharat Jhunjhunwala’s Common Prophets, I was immediately reminded of Baldwin’s apposite quote. It seemed as if he observed that with Bharat Jhunjhunwala on his mind.
Jhunjhunwala’s foray into religion and divinity with this book reestablishes his credentials as not just a perceptive observer but also a humane analyst who analyses overlapping similarities in different faiths with the equanimity and equipoise of a dispassionate sage. Nowhere in the book has he tried to put his foot down and adamantly spoken of the perceived superiority or inferiority of any religion and its Prophets.
He sagaciously described the innumerable common events and similarities among the Prophets and their lives. His book underscores Sri Aurobindo’s famous lines in his poetic book, ‘The Life Divine’: ‘One Universal soul resides in all/Whether you’re big or small.’ The same applies to the chequered lives of all Prophets. The stories and legends associated with their lives have an uncanny common streak and strain running through all Prophets’ lives and works.
Not just the startling similarities related to the Prophets’ lives, the author of this book has also presented the legions of similar phenomena present in all civilizations. These are really masterful observations and must have had Jhunjhunwala’s time and energy to produce a tome of lasting (academic) importance.
Here’s an example that will leave the readers spellbound and wondering:
‘Abraham’s Descendants Settled near the Khyber Pass’ (Abraham or Ram, page-145)
The Bible says that descendants of Ishmael settled at Shur. The Quran says that Abraham and Ishmael built a House of Prayer near a mountain highway. We suggest these places were located near the Khyber Pass. These statements are parallel to a son of Bharata settling near the Khyber Pass as well show in section “Rama’s descendants Settled near the Khyber Pass” (Page 169).
The meticulous pieces of evidence leave the readers stunned. One more example to buttress the point: Holy Ash and Locusts, Page-201:
‘The ash thrown by Moses to bring the sixth plague of boils matches with the ash of the holy fire burnt by the Hindus, and the plague of locusts matches with the Indus Valley being the breeding ground of these insects.’ Amazing, to say the least! The common, primordial practices of all faiths, civilizations and communities with some permutations show the seamlessness of human beliefs and a single spirit flowing through the mosaic of human civilization.
The author’s endeavour is really laudable and his erudition deserves fulsome praise. His sweat hasn’t gone in vain. Jhunjhunwala has attempted to bind all faiths together and succeeded in his mission to a great extent. Common Prophets will equally appeal to the scholars as well as the common readers, who read for fun. The price of the book (Rs 140) is an icing on the cake for the readers who’ve to shell out big sums on books that don’t deserve the ridiculously exorbitant price tags.