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The Immortals of Meluha - Expert Reviews
Author and Context
Contemporary writer, Amish Tripathi's first public writing came out as a huge hit, though unexpected and quite surprising. This one single book made him highly popular and well respected in the society. Born in 1974, Amish passed out from IIM C with a management degree, worked as a banker for almost 14 years before shifting to being a writer. As what he says, Amish was an atheist, but was surrounded by an extremely religious family. However, the book made him quite a believer. The Immortals of Meluha was rejected by many agents, which when was finally published, swept the bestsellers race. This book, which humanizes God and is the first out of the trilogy, was initially planned as a philosophy or evil, but then the writer decided to write about some God and finally chose Lord Shiva. The basic concept comes from the Hindu beliefs that all gods were for once humans, it was their good deeds that made them gods.
The story of the book revolves around the basic Hindu belief that all Gods were once human beings but it was their good deeds with clean and honest hearts that made them gods. The writer has called his base city Meluha, what today we call Indus Valley Civilization. Meluha is what best a city could be, among many other reasons, one being that it was created by Lord Ram. The rulers of this place have been called Suryavanshees in the novel. However, the prosperity of the city is seeing an end, for a reason of their mother river Saraswati drying up. They also face perils from Chandravanshees, which as per our Hindu mythology is another dynasty that descends from the moon as against the sun descending people, Suryavanshis. The Chandravanshees have supposedly joined hands with the Nagas, which, once again, is a set of mythological race, considered cursed and highly known for physical disabilities and deformities. The King of Meluha, Raja Daksha, sends his people to Tibet, which back then was a part of India, to invite the tribal people living there. Among those invited, is a sect Gunas, which is led by a brave, courageous, generous, benevolent, Shiva, who believes in protecting his people at any cost. On their way to Meluha, in Srinagar, they are welcomed by Ayurvati, who’s the Chief of Medicine of Meluha. However, because of some strange reasons, the whole tribe falls ill and suffers high fever, except Shiva, but his throat had turned blue. Thus, Shiva gets the name, Neelkanth! Meluhans now see him with great respect and honor.
From here, Shiva alone is then taken to meet Raja Daksha, in Devagiri. There, Shiva crosses Sati, a beautifully sad lady, who, he later finds out, is the daughter of Daksha. Sati, he shockingly and disbelievingly discovers, is a Vikarma. Vikarma as per the Meluhans is someone who because of past life misdeeds, becomes untouchable. However, Shiva flirts away with the idea of untouchable and falls in love with her. She, though remaining chaste and honest to her upbringing, rejects and shies away from all his advances. With some tough luck, Shiva wins her over. Much to be noted here is that Vikarma rules restrict any marriage. However, after declaring himself to be the Neelkanth and swearings to uproot any and all Vikarma laws. Amid much hue and cry and happiness flowing in the city of Meluha, Shiva and Sati get married with due blessings. All this while, Shiva realized the rift between the Chandravanshees and Meluhans … much detail and questions are thrown to him by Brahaspati, who is the Chied Inventor of the Meluhans. Brahaspati is gracious enough to invite Raja Daksha and family to visit Mount Mandara (relates to Hindu mythology), this is the place after much studies and research, scholars manufacture Somrasa with the waters of the dying Saraswati. Somrasa was the reason that his throat turned blue was what Shiva realized here. This potion, as Brahaspati tells him, can be deadly, but Neelkanth mysteriously remained unaffected. Also, Somrasa was what made the Meluhans live strong and long. Brahaspati develops immediate fondness for Shiva because of the inquisite nature. They soon bond in a strong friendship.
Few days after the family returns, Meluha is shaken by loud, scary noises from Mt. Mandara, soon to find out a huge section of Mandara been ruined and the scholars all killed. Brahaspati remains unfound. However, some strange signages make Shiva believe the culprit to be the Nagas, thus confirming the tracheary and insidous movements, about which Shiva was still in doubt. Once Shiva comes sure of it, he declares a war against Chandravanshees. With much discussions, bandying and consultations, Shiva, along with the chiefs, devises a war plan, according to which Shiva moves to Dharmakhet, Swadeep, place ruled by Chandravanshees. With quite a strong planning and army backing them, Meluhans win. Chandravanshee king is taken into capture and brought to face Daksha. However, the Chandravanshee king, rather than feeling remorse of his loss, enrages on seeing Neelkanth supporting Suryavanshees. Shiva comes to know that it’s not just the Suryavanshees who believed in Neelkanth, but the Chandravanshees too believed in the legend of Neelkanth, whom they expected to help them dilute the “evil” Suryavanshees to ashes. Shiva remains quite dumbstruck as he soon begins to realize that he did something wrong by hearing just one end of the story from Suryavanshees. On a trip to Ayodhya, which ironically is the capital city of Swadeep, he meets a pundit who guides him through his distress, the logics of karma, fate, etc. One thing that the pundit tells him, which is true and important not just for the current story, but also for the rest of the trilogy and also in the contemporary times, is that it is one’s karma that decides his fate, one’s choices in life that automatically will guide not just Shiva, but anyone in general. Shiva, once out of the temple, finds a man, a Naga, who had once attacked them, hiding and ready to pounce upon his wife, Sati. However, Shiva, attacks the Naga well in time. Here ends the first part of the trilogy.
There could be a long list of characters to be mentioned, however, we try to provide you with the gist.
Shiva: The protagonist. Chief of Gunas, hailing from Tibet (symbolism of Mansarovar, where Lord Shiva is supposedly resides). Becomes the Neelkanth as he consumes Somrasa. Meluhans, as per their beliefs, take Neelkanth to be their saviour from evil.
Suryavanshee: Suryavanshees are the ones who follow Lord Ram. Follow solar calendar, and believe in leading a life with full truth, duty and honor. They try to make their lives as idealistic as they can.
Chandravanshee: Chandravanshees, as legend, says descended from the moon, and believe in “Shringar,Saundrya and Swatantrata.” They are supposedly enemies with Suryavanshees.
Naga: Though, lot more can be said, but restricting to relations with this story, Nagas are the cursed people, though highly skilled warriors, with many physical deformations.
Sati: Daughter of Raja Daksha, thus the princess of Meluha. Extremely beautiful, and most careless about her beauty, we see her a brave swordswomen. Shiva falls in love at first sight with here. She too feels attracted, but has to reject his advances as she is a Vikarma, making here an untouchable and thus restricting her marriage. However, during the story knitting, she gets to marry Shiva, her love, and bears his child.
Nandi: Nandi captains the Meluha tribe, easily befriends Shiva, who often turns to him for suggestions. Shiva regards his opinions quite high.
Veerbhadra: Is close friends with Shiva and navigates his army, the Guna army. He marries Krithika with due permission from Shiva.
Brahaspati: The scientist, and later on friends with Shiva. Though a Meluhan, he has a strong disbelief in Neelkanth’s legends, but recognizes Shiva as being capable enough to show Meluha the right path and thus lead them to glory.
Daksha: Rules Meluha, deeply believes the legends of Neelkanth, is a staunch but not blind follower of Lord Rama. Highly appreciative of Shiva.
Kanakhala: The chief minister. Highly learned. Intelligent. Outspoken.
Parvateshwar: Heads Meluhan army and a staunch Suryavanshee, believer of Lord Rama, devoted to Daksha and no one else. Starts against Shiva, but after the war starts respecting him to great extent. Since, all that Parvateshwar really cares about is the well-being of Meluha, once he realizes and accepts that Shiva is the Neelkantha, becomes his follower.
Ayuvati: Another intelligent woman of Meluha. This Chief of Medicine is believed to be capable of curing any disease.
To write of a book that already is a bestseller, has sold more than 1,20,000 copies in the very first edition, what could be expected for critical acclaims! The most interesting rumor, which could work as acclaim for this book, is that it is soon to enacted upon by our very own Bollywood. Anyhow, though terribly rejected before being published, once published, the book got positive feedbacks from all around.
Few other are given below:
Anil Dharker, a lead columnist with several of Indian dailies, call the book to be “a definite page-turner.”
Prahlad Kakkar, the famous Indian ad and film director was “kept spellbound” by the book.
Sandipan Deb, who once was the Editor in Chief, found it to be a “Great adventure.”
Pradip Bhattacharya, The Statesman, says the "plot skips along at a brisk pace, the characters are well etched and the reader’s attention is not allowed to flag. It will be interesting to see how the trilogy progresses. One cannot but admire the creative drive that impels a finance professional to embark on such an ambitious odyssey on uncharted seas."
A layman reader call is “an enjoyable read.”
The uber magazine, Society, on appreciating the work said, “Reading this beautifully written creation is like plunging into the icy and venerable waters of the Manasarovar Lake. One can actually sense the beats of Shiva's dumru and fumes of intoxicating chillum. Simply unputdownable.”