This is the third installment of Shiva trilogy. Where the first two parts were about character building, weaving of plot with mystery and secrets, setting momentum of story narration, historical, geographical and religious associations – all riding on the iconic personality of Shiva. This part delves much deeper into the recesses of the greatest debate in the world – the definition of good vs evil. I can’t say I understand now what is good and what is evil. But this book makes a sincere attempt to put a perspective with due respect to ancient scriptures not only of Hinduism but other ancient religions.
This book ends well – a thorough and logical finish to what Amish started 3 years back. It opens the locks and connects the loose ends, giving a very apt ending to the epic of Shiva and the war between good and evil. The story so old that you can’t really differentiate between those written in the scriptures, narrated through folk tales and retold through word of mouth. It gives relevance to the legends and stories of Ram Rajya, Nagas, Vayuputras, Vasudevas, Karthikeya, Kali, Sati, and Ganesha. The connection of geography to history, changing of the course of rivers, emerging of the holy river Ganga, Somaras the drink of the Gods, the discreet but strong links between Persia as Pariha and Bharat as India, Asura and Ahura and Dev and Devil.
Amish does a wonderful job of combining mythology, fiction and Hindu scriptures. He is not just a popular fictional novelist but an author and philosopher in true sense. The quality of writing and story formation has improved over the past two books. The most surprising element of the book was Amish the War strategist. The way he created and described the war scenes is actually remarkable. The strength of numbers, the fortifications, type of cavalry, foot soldiers, advantage of height and timings, placement and positioning, ship size and speed, strategists, warriors, informers, spies and bird carriers. Every tool, network and weapon of war was evaluated, explained and used to the best by the author. He has definitely come a long way from ‘Immortals of Meluha’ and is bound go a long way to become one of the best authors India has produced lately. Though I have certain issues with some strategy and calculation mistakes in war strategy but they were necessary for the plot. After all a war is not won or lost by men and weapons but with strategy, planning and blunders.
Also the love scenes between Shiva and Sati were still a bit filmy, playful and amateurish. I could not relate to the fact that two such learned leaders, warriors and public figures can be mushy lovers too. But I think I can live with them knowing that it’s not the only thing that defines these characters. Also the author did not touch upon the age old wife burning tradition of Sati which is tagged to Sati and Shiva.
There were many intellectual debates in the book, the highlight being the discussion between Shiva, the leader of Vasudevas - Gopal and the leader of Vayuputras – Mitra. The age old adage of ‘What is good for you is bad for me. Every good ultimately becomes evil! And many more were tested and thrashed in the implications of death, war, mortality, God, kingdom, duty and principals.
But there are questions which still bother me - Was the destruction necessary? Was the war necessary? Was enough done to sort things out peacefully? Was it fair to kill thousands for the life of ONE? Wasn’t it just revenge and anger? Is this why Shiva known as the Destroyer? Was then Shiva only human and not God? Can Gods be ever wrong?
The author has tried to answer and justify the deeds, but nothing can ever justify killings and destruction except the mysterious human mind which believes in good and evil – its definition, timings, its limits and its end. All religions across the world have concepts of good and evil. Anything which does not meet the discipline of the religion is considered evil. The continuous war between Good and evil continues. In our daily lives we try to be good, and each wrong just takes us a step back. But each wrong also brings us closer to being good as we learn to be good in a better way.
So then there is no end to evil – it is the only way to be good. The good is recognized only against evil – otherwise it has no identity. God is remember only against devil – Goodness is remembered only against evil deeds – good times are only cherished when we fall into bad times. So aren't good and evil the two sides of the same coin. We humans create something good, then turn it into evil, then destroy that evil with something good, till this new good becomes the new evil. Each new invention by humans is considered a big step for mankind and then it starts showing its evil side – whether its transportation causing pollution and global warming, social media causing disintegration of society and families, space travel causing space debris.
Well it's a never-ending saga – and the Gods will be reborn again and again to bring an end to evil and lay the path for next evil or should I say – create good and lay the path to the next Good.
Refer review of other two books here: