Because sometimes it takes a story to get a message across….

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Turiya Tales: Lost Wisdom of the Swastika by Ajay Chaturvedi

I have a confession to make. I got my hands on this manuscript well before it became a book and have been itching to write a review ever since. The last time I felt this compelling need to write with a first book (I get it ever so often with the wise old ones) was with the Immortals of Meluha! As usual, I’ll leave the plot summary to the book jacket (copied at the end of this review) and the online bookshelves and move straight to the reason behind the itch.

Some books are meant to be read. Turiya Tales isn’t one of them. This is a book that you experience, every step of the way and therein lies its beauty.

Some may claim that the book is spiritual – it does explore the meta-physical, others that it is self help – because it enables you to understand yourself. I wouldn’t touch either with a mile long pole. I like learning things through my own experiences and through the world as it enfolds before me; drawing my own conclusions. And I finished this in one sitting. That is why I can comfortably say that this book is neither. Instead it is a journey. From 9/11 to the floods in Uttarakhand you travel along with the protagonist, you listen to the conversations, make sense of them, imbibe what appeals and move on. No preaching, no shoving of age old wisdom down your throat. No dos and don’ts. Simply a journey that enables you to see the everyday from a different perspective.

And the protagonist? He could be you or me. Just like his questions are yours and mine. Curious, yet somewhat self-pleased; perturbed, yet confident of his Harvard-Wall Street-Wiki honed ability to make sense of the world. The conversations between the 110 year old Maharaj ji and the thirty something Zian are pure joy – and though they delve into the meta-physical, they are not about some abstract concepts. Instead the discussions are about the everyday, about the here and now – about caste, religion, globalisation, internet, selfies, even test tube babies. Not only can you almost hear them happening in front of you, but you can easily imagine yourself offering the same arguments and counter-arguments. And then shaking your head when you realise what it is that you were missing! Because it is so basic. For instance, to quote one of my favourite lines from the book: He who wrote the first book, hadn’t read one.

Oh there is ample gyaan in there- the demystification of mythology and everyday symbolism, the concept of vipassana and the chakras of the human body – every page in the later chapters is loaded with it. Only, it is given in a manner that is so subtle and so gentle, that you do not even realise that you have been steered. As any work of fiction, it tells the tale and then – unlike most works of fiction – it employs it to make the point.

Read the book, not for its literary value (it gets a little verbose and just that teeny meeny bit pedantic at times), its language (the editor in me does cringe in a few places) or style – though the writer has used an interesting plot line and the end reveals a remarkable twist- but because it is so honest, so heart felt and so potent that it stays with you. Experience it!

Plot summary from the jacket of Turiya Tales:

Zian is a seemingly happy and successful investment banker. Following an enormous personal tragedy, he sets out on an introspective journey to the Himalayas. He is questioning the purpose of life when he comes across a mysterious 110-years old man. Thereby starts a journey of learning, unlearning and un raveling the secrets of ancient Indian wisdom that teach you how to live a blessed life. Among them, is the quest to find the inner swastika -one that holds the truth of the physical, the metaphysical and beyond. WRITTEN AS A WORK OF FICTION BUT BASED ON A TRUE ACCOUNT, Lost Wisdom of the Swastika IS AN ENGAGING STORY OF A MAN TRYING TO FIND HIMSELF.

Gunjan Veda

Gunjan is an author (Beautiful Country: Stories from Another India; Harper Collins), development consultant and entrepreneur - she is the founder of INDIAreads- but she likes to describe herself as a nomad with an insatiable wanderlust and a compulsive bookaholic. Someone who is happiest when surrounded by mounds and mounds of books, a crisp wind and some happy birdsong!

2 Comments Added

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  1. sarika.baheti@yahoo.com'
    Sarika Baheti August 25, 2015 | Reply
    Intriguing! Evokes a wish to read the book in solitude.nn1
  2. mnshdubey@yahoo.com'
    Manish December 15, 2015 | Reply
    I complement Ajay for writing such a brilliant and captivating book. I read it in one straight go. We are so troubled in life and run for finding the real meaning. The Indian history and epics have written and covered all aspects for us to read. Ajay has done a tremendous job in narrating these facts in the simplest of form. He has addressed /connected the concept of senses, yugs, epics/books, chakras and swastika in the cycle of life, in a simplistic manner. Indeed a great piece of work. Hope the author plans to translate in other languages too. Wish him the very best.

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