‘Mahabharata’ has had a major impact on me since childhood and this fact has been mentioned in my previous reviews as well. So, to accept a copy of the book ‘The Secret of God’s Son’ by Usha Narayanan that is based on the great epic was very natural to me! Apart from the review of this book, I have also added my very own analogy and interpretation of the story in this post…
Book Review: The Secret of God’s Son
The book cover is a perfect teaser engulfing in it the secret to be unravelled in the pages by just showcasing ‘The Peacock Feather’. so synonymous with ‘Krishna’ with a title as conspicuous as the cover. Post-reading, while trying to recollect my thoughts – I felt that the book cover signals the eternal existence of Krishna transcending time right into the dark ages of the ‘Kali Yug’ and also beyond it! Just a ‘feather sans a figure’ conveys that the story and the glory of Gita carry on in spite of Krishna’s absence.
The blurb supports the book cover and is as follows:
The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka.
People will forget your name and your Gita!
May the world perish!
May the world perish!’
With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga.
It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. He must journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. And to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back–his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts– and lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery.
Unbeknownst to him, and there is one powerful weapon still, one that could bring victory within his grasp — the secret surrounding his origin. Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm?
In the answer to this question lies the destiny of all humanity!
Writing Style and Narration
The language used by the writer is simple and lucid, yet poetic. Be it the scenes of battle descriptions, conversations between Pradyumna and the other characters or the monologues of ‘Pradyumna’, the language used – brings out the imagery, beautifully and so distinctly, that, one is transported to the ancient times as if witnessing the scenes in person.
The narrative technique employed is befitting of an epic which usually employs the nested frame of storytelling encompassing a story inside a story/multiple stories.I strongly believe that this technique makes a book all the more intriguing and interesting. Though, while employing this technique, modern writers often grapple with multiple characters, I see that Ms.Narayanan has sailed through the storytelling with ease.Whenever a character is introduced or spoken about, the writer has dutifully given the background story of that character making sure the reader is not caught unawares.
As far as the story is concerned, I don’t remember reading in any of the books by other authors anywhere, about Pradyumna’s efforts to save his clan ( My ignorance, maybe!) In most of the versions of Mahabharata and stories surrounding the epic, it has always been mentioned that Pradyumna met his final moments at Prabhasa and nothing more is added . So, to read a different perspective of the post-war story was in itself encouraging and refreshing.
The writer gives a kickstart to the story by enlightening the readers on the triggers of the Kurukshetra war, the happenings on the battlefield and the post-war scenario in the initial chapters and slowly moves on to Pradyumna: who gets to meet Yama-wins over him, gets to meet Shiva-triumphs over him all the while seeking ways to protect the future of his clan as well as to preserve the ‘Celestial Song’. He also stumbles upon secrets connected to his existence and his past, while on his quest for the solution and all these events help the story to move forward. The writer has to be appreciated for not tampering with an epic like ‘Mahabharata’ all the while adding a twist to this tale and making this story very much plausible.
The best aspect of the characterisation is- even though one gets to read about lots of Gods and Goddesses in the book, one discovers while reading that they too have human traits like fear, aspirations, insecurity and are vulnerable to their weaknesses which sort of reassures us- mortals, that if the immortals can face testing times, we are after all mere mortals! We too need to go on this journey called life with positiveness and win over the obstacles.So, I can very well say that the book elevates a reader to a level where one is compelled to ponder and understand the true meaning of ‘Karma’ and ‘Dharm’!
Literary devices abound
The literary devices in the form of metaphors, similes and monologues that stand out for me from the book are as follows:
“We are bound by our destiny, living out our lives inside a circle formed by a snake holding its tail in its mouth”
“Always at odds with her situation.Always unhappy”
Another interesting aspect is the role of Women in the story.The writer has re-emphasised the importance of women’s existence in this universe through very strong characters of the story like Maya, Gandhari , Kaali , Rukmini et.al. Some of the lines that lash out at this patriarchal society, question it and sends a strong message to both men and women are:
” Men tend to regard us as natural victims and use us as pawns to satisfy their greed and lust, or to vent their malice and impotence…However, we are equally at fault, having stayed silent for too long and allowing ourselves to be sacrificed to men’s whims, desires and dreams of greatness”
“Women are central to dharma…..They are molested and brutalised and their children slaughtered befit their very eyes.If somehow they survive, they are carried off as plunder, to be used as slaves”
Personal thoughts and takeaways
Reading this story, I was again reminded of the lines from ‘Mahabharata’- Dharmecha arthecha kaamecha mokshecha bharatarshaba Yadhihasthi tadanyatra yannehasti na tadkvachit : Meaning, “What is found here may be found elsewhere. What is not found here will not be found elsewhere.” And this is exactly what this story from the Mahabharata too does – conveys about everything that is happening around us!
Many of the characters are a close manifestation and personification of our own virtues and bad qualities. If I had to draw an analogy between the story and today’s situation in India, then it has to be based on Pradhyumna and Samba both born of the same father, yet, as different as chalk and cheese.Very similar to India and Pakistan born out of the same Mother ‘Bharatam’. Thus like Samba who breeds evil and supports Kali, a section of Pakistan has been supporting Kali in the form of ‘Terrorism’ that is slowly destroying our world. Now, what has to be done about this Samba and Kali? Well, do read the book to form a conclusion!
Yes, some of you might find many of the chapters preachy or repetitive, however, I suggest you read through them to understand the essence of this new perspective on ‘Gita’ and especially, the last chapter should not be missed. Of course, while reading, do overlook some printing errors which I so wished did not exist in the book.
Like ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ that has a message hidden in it for all times, for all situations , for people of any profession transcending ages, this book too has got numerous messages hidden in it- to parents who bring up their sons with a patriarchal mindset, about the evils of alcohol, lust and greed and moral values in general.We can say that this book is Part-II of ‘Kurukshetra War’ with its own ‘Gita-Part2’ but this time around is rendered by Pradhyumna after the onset of Kali Yug. So, grab a copy of this book to read an all refreshing perspective of the Gita and to know the story post-Kurukshetra war.
I give this book a rating of 4 / 5!
I received this book from the author through TheBookClub in return for my honest review.