I was a bit apprehensive when I picked up ‘Immortals of Meluha’ by Amish, as the name sounded too unfamiliar. But a quick reading of the blurb on the back cover of the book was enough to attract me. This novel is the first in Shiva Trilogy written by a debutant novelist Amish Tripathi.
And once I started reading it, I was totally enamored by the unique storyline and a very novel attempt to blend mythology, fiction and history. It is a rare combination of thriller, myths and action.
The story begins in Tibet Region in 1900 BC, with a fierce battle between tribes of Gunas and Prakits. The leader of Guna Tribe is none other than the most popular lord of us Indians God SHIVA. However, he is presented in a totally different light as a brave but ordinary mortal fighting to protect his tribe’s interests.
Impressed by his bravery, the Suryavanshi King Daksha invites Shiva to his country Meluha – a perfect country in the sacred land of Seven Rivers. The Suryavanshis are continually terrorized by their neighbour Chandravanshis and are looking for a Hero- The Neelkanth who would destroy the evil and bring peace.
Shiva finds it hard to believe that he is the much anticipated Hero. In essence, the novel traces his transformation from a mere mortal to the Immortal God, all made posssible because of immense faith of Meluhans in their saviour. The novel celebrates the victory of human faith and beliefs and is a nice attempt at trying to make our Gods more accessible and lively by making them one of the man, rather than the glorified stone idols.
Amish tries to present a perfect society in Meluha, where there is equality, honesty and harmony all around, in essence, a Ramrajya or Utopia. His Meluha supposedly exists in 1900 BC in Mohanjedaro and Harappa regions, but is surprisingly modern in technologies and hygiene, using soaps and proper toilets and flushes. I feel the author got a little carried away and instead of creating a perfect ancient society, ended up presenting the Meluha as an ultra modern country. However, I must say that the battle scenes and the techniques used in war impressed me by their sheer novelty and simplicity.
The novel brilliantly resonates with the modern politics, even taking digs at the often failed diplomatic missions between India and Pakistan, or the superiority complex felt by Americans to reform the people of poor countries. It prominently brings into question the human tendency of branding unfamiliar events and customs as evil without delving into details, whereas the Nature always believes in the existence of duality, equally honoring its positive and negative energies.
In short, this novel only uses the mythological names such as Shiva, Daksha, Sati and Nandi and very cleverly places them in our current situation. If we forget for a moment that the main protagonist, presented as an uncouth immigrant, is actually Shiva the God, the novel can be enjoyed without any bias. However, since I am a Shiva devotee, I was a bit irritated, when Amish makes him swear again and again. Barring this small irritant, the novel was good and I am looking forward to the next two books of this trilogy.