My Review: Ramayana – The Game of Life – Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas – published by Jaico Books

After reading Shattered Dreams by the author, I was very curious to know – What next? What led to turn of events for Rama – Sita – Lakshmana in the fag end of their exile? My mother, an avid reader of Ramayana, who remembers entire Tulsidas Ramayana by heart, the book would be a prized possession for her. I, who grew up on inputs / anecdotes from Ramayana, love it beyond measures, my daughter, young & peppy teenager sub-consciously knows Ramayana.

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This is one EPIC which is loved across generations. Author Shubha Vilas’s interpretation of Ramayana has applications in day –to-day life for all of us, irrespective of the generation we represent. The ‘footnotes’ (interpretations are life line of author’s book) which are so practical, applicable, enlightening and strong that these could transform one’s life – if applied in our day- to- day lives or while dealing with crisis situations. The colourful & poetic rendition of the book takes you through the times prior to Rama, synchronizing one happening with the other. How stories of Sati & Shiva, King Nahusha, Shabari, Maricha, Jatayu, Sarupnakha, Saint Agastya, his beautiful wife – Lopamudra, Ravana’s Wife Mandodari, Vali, Valmiki, Kadamba, and Akampana have impacted lives of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in exile keep the readers hooked to the book. Reading their stories, my belief is firmed that all of us are here to fulfill a purpose and our deeds impact us not just in this life but in many more lives to come.

Subha Vilas has taken us through the physical and emotional journeys of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita’s in the evil labyrinths of the Dandakaranya forest where human values are subject to harsh tests. They visit so many hermits, rishis on penance, and fight demons of different forms; till Sita is abducted by Lanka King Ravana and this is when righteous Rama’s all hope is stolen. It seems whatever happened was destined to happen which was written / happened many years ago. The description of Vanvas is vivid, where Sita instead of complaining about leaving it all in Ayodhya is actually happy that she gets to spend time with her husband. Their love actually blossomed here in the confines of forest, which would not have been possible with Rama dispensing his duties as King of Ayodhya. This is the novel interpretation of love, with which all of us connect well. For the first time, the romantic encounters / connect between Rama & Sita is so well portrayed that I was forced to remember the old adage – Ram Sita ki Jodi for describing a compatible couple. Their love was unflinching; not even harshest of the adversities could shake it.

Indeed the book presents angles of extreme love and extreme deception. Lakshmana’s character is well-etched and presents him in an entirely different light particularly in crisis situations. Lakshmana describing four good reasons to elder brother Rama to prevent him from taking any rash action are applicable to all of us, even today. The book deeply explores the dynamics of human relations – father & son, husband & wife, brothers & sisters, devotees & lord, teachers & disciples, ruler & ruled and the complexities it brings forth even in most simple situations. However, Sita’s outburst on Lakshmana as described by the author is difficult to absorb going by Sita’s nature and demeanor.

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Some illuminating footnotes would be:
• At the altar of ambition are often sacrificed the finer emotions of love.
• A followers level of motivation is directly proportional to the leader’s level of involvement
• Difficulties are nature’s speed-breakers that prevent us from driving too fast in life to be able to gratefully appreciate the beauty it has to offer.
• By acceptance, pain transforms into will power to fly and by non-acceptance into a helpless cocoon to die
• The currency of glorification cannot be exchanged with the currency of criticism. The exchange rates are exorbitant.

Which youngster would not like to know in which context these were interpreted? Not only in content and narrative, book by Jaico Books is very well-illustrated and is pleasing to the eyes of the reader. For its over 300 pages, books narration is quite gripping, so much so that in the end, I was like – Oh! The Book is over. Only solace was to know that next in the series is in the offing…

This is the story from one the most read epic in the world which was written centuries ago but is as relevant today as it was then. Every action / development has some invaluable underlying implication which author Shubha Vilas has brought to the surface.

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Author Shubha Vilas is a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker. He helps people in dealing with modern day life situations through the teachings of Bhagvad Gita, Ramayana and other dharmic traditions.

Recommended reading for one & all in the family!

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