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Title: Ramayana - The Game of Life : Stolen Hope
Author: Shubha Vilas
Genre: History, Indian, Mythology
Publisher: JAICO Books
* This is a requested review *
After the second book, namely Shattered Dreams, Shubha Vilas has come out with the third installment in the Ramayana series. This book is called Stolen Hope. I was so very kindly approached by the author for a review. It is always an honour to be sent books for reviews and having read the previous book, I was only eager to participate in the ongoing story which the author has so mesmerisingly conveyed.
The story continues as Rama, Sita and Lakshmana enter the Dandakarnaya forest, seeking shelter in ashrams, meeting and learning from different sages when finally the trio meet the super sage, Agasthya. The learned sage had expected their arrival and he takes them to the location where they would spend the final days of their exile. During the course of their stay, Rama and Lakshmana vanquish demons and remove obstacles that interfere with the peace and welfare of the forest life and that of themselves. Sita, in particular, is very happy with the forest life. Although, she doesn't have the riches she is accustomed to, she is content. Because only here in the forests can she have her husband all to herself. Both Rama and Sita enjoy their talks and time together and Lakshmana spares no effort in making sure that their life is as comfortable as possible.
But a brutal attack on Surpanakha, the arrogant sister of the Lanka king Ravana, turns the tables on the trio. As a plan to avenge his sister's insult and to possess the beautiful Sita, Ravana kidnaps Sita and whisks her away in his pushpak vimana when Rama and Lakshmana are tricked into going deeper into the forests by Ravana's cunning uncle, Maricha. En route to Lanka the vulture bird, Jatayu, tries to save Sita but in vain. Ravana continues his journey and reaches Lanka where Sita is sheltered in the beautiful Ashoka Vatika. When Rama is back to their dwelling in the forest, he is devastated to find Sita missing. As the brothers go looking for her in the forests, they find Jatayu who explains what had happened and passes away peacefully in Rama's lap. With heart full of anxiety for Sita and anger in his eyes for Ravana, Rama moves on. The book ends with Rama being handed a map by Shabari, who asks him to follow it in order to reach the wonder monkeys. They would surely be able to help him find his Sita.
The narration is smooth and it successfully manages to teach the reader about the many facets of the life and duties of human beings in a manner that can be easily related. Just like the previous book, this one too has little footnotes, somewhere passages, embedded within the story that has explanations for the current events happening in it. So with an event to compare, the reader understands the essence of what the author is trying to convey. Our epics are based on the struggles and obstacles faced by humans but also reveal how to deal with the same and live one's life ideally. But not everyone can comprehend it due to it's complex nature. When explained in such simple manner, as is done in this book, it not only achieves perception but also opens our eyes to the hidden meanings in them which we should be applying ourselves to lead a happy life.
Shubha Vilas has exceeded the reader's expectations once again. The Ramayana series could be used as reference, especially for those who enjoy spiritual lessons. But for the others, this book is equally good and can teach a thing or two about our age old but precious wisdom.
Overall, it is an insightful and practical book where the strategies mentioned can be used till date. Highly recommended for all.