Friday, 17 August 2018

Hounds of Shiva by Preetha Rajah Kannan: a review

Two years back when I was reading Shiva in the city of Nectar, I remember falling for the book head over heels. Today, as I wrap up reading Preetha Rajah Kannan's latest offering- Hounds of Shiva I cannot help but sit and marvel at the wonderful way the authoress describes the deity and his stories. Shiva, as my readers and friends might know, has a very special place in my heart and this made me pick up this book without any thought. The blurb, strengthened by feeling.

About the book- As its mahout goaded the mammoth royal elephant to the open space where Navukkarasu was held, the beast trumpeted in fury, knocking down walls and ornamental arches in wanton aggression. The earth shook under its tread and the crowd surged back in fear. Navukkarasu fearlessly stood his ground asserting, “The Cosmic Dancer who wears a garment of elephant hide will protect me” The animal charged forward - only to stop short before the saint. In an instant, all aggression leached out of the beast. As docile as a lamb, the elephant circumambulated Navukkarasu, clumsily fell to its knees and raised its trunk in homage to him. Lumbering to its feet, it then carefully backed away from its intended victim. Hounds of Shiva is a treasure house of tales with impassioned, heroic acts of sacrifice, devotion and service in the lives and times of the Nayanmars – the sixty-three Shaivite saints who were exemplars of bhakti. Kannappa gouges out his eye to heal Shiva’s wound; Punitavati renounces her youth and beauty to follow the Lord as an emaciated ghoul; Siruthondar sacrifices his own son at Shiva’s command; Iyarpahai gifts his beloved wife to another man; Samandhar raises a boy from the dead; Poosal builds an intricate Shiva temple in his heart. But the book’s hero is Lord Shiva, who assumes myriad disguises to sport with his devotees, blessing and testing them. Filled with astounding miracles, Hounds of Shiva is an untold tale of the Blue-throated Lord and a feast for the mind and soul.

These stories are taken from mythology and are very similar to reality. Thus, making the whole journey of the book all the more worthwhile. It brings in a sense of calmness throughout the mind of the readers. Divided into chapters that tell the story of each Shiva bhakt and their tyrsts with people, further uniting with God himself, all of then has a moral to teach.

One of the key things that I've consistently liked about the author's books is the way she writes and narrates. Her narration is completely up to the mark making it all the more a smooth ride. This book is for the current generation as well as the bygone generation because the stories and the way it connects can bind both the generation together.

There are very few to no grammatical errors which makes this book a wonderful read. Also, at the end of the book is a glossary of all the terms that might be unknown to you while you're reading it. Speaking of glossaries, you also get small information boxes in almost all chapters that explain you the meaning of the bigger unknown words. What did not work for me in the book was the fact that it is too long a book! If it would've been cut down to a few less chapters then this book would've been my personal partner for a long time. For me, always looking forward to more from the author, this was 4.5 out of 5.