God is a constant presence for millions of people throughout the world, and there are many visible ways in which they express their faith to their deity. Author Scharada Dubey’s culturally rich book is an account of the pilgrimages (spiritual yatras) undertaken by her to various worship places of Shiva, and the various pilgrims she met and interacted with in these journeys. Through these interactions she’s brought out the several interpretations of Shiva, and the several actions assumed by people to please this untamed God. The diversified facts and ideas presented adds to the cultural economy, and the profusion of detail massages the reader’s insight. The visuals created while reading the book were beautifully complimented by the few photographs that decorate the book’s middle.
Amish may have added the cool factor to Shiva in his Shiva Trilogy, but this travelogue tries to explore the other segments where this God could be celebrated. Though this book has a major inclination towards Hinduism, this somewhat autobiographical account could be enjoyed by people regardless of their religion. It’s not the religion or the God, but the experience that counts, though I must add that taking Shiva out of the equation would dull all the magic up.
The author has also stressed upon the point that even after the recent Uttarakhand floods, where several pilgrims lost their lives and the Kedarnath Shivalinga was almost completely submerged, thousands of worshipers were already themselves for the next yatra in those very regions. She’s also colored this message on a political note, saying that those elected should deliver as promised, just as Shiva delivers to his worshipers. As is obvious to her- “The spiritual is political.”
For the sheer magic the spiritual travels induce, I’d recommend you all read this book/travelogue.
Overall Rating: 4/5
About the author:
Scharada Dubey was born in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh and showed an early aptitude for writing, winning First Prize in an essay competition conducted by the Royal Commonwealth Society across the Commonwealth countries for her essay on the Indian farmer in 1973-74. She graduated from St. Xaviers College, writing articles for various magazines and newspapers and working briefly in the publishing industry. She has also briefly lectured in Sociology after her post graduation. She began writing stories for children as Scharada Bail shortly after the birth of her daughter in 1986 and these appeared regularly along with other articles for children in the Young World section of The Hindu. She won the Travelogue category of the National Competition for Writers of Childrens Books conducted by the Childrens Book Trust on three consecutive occasions. These prize winning entries were then published as her first three books, Footloose on the West Coast, Malwa on My Mind and a Necessary Journey. She has published several titles after that, including Portraits from Ayodhya: Living Indias Contradictions and profiles of the Presidents and Prime Ministers of India, all published by Westland. She is also a popular practitioner of Tarot.