Friday, June 9, 2023

Bridges Across Humanity by Akhil Gupta (Book Review: 5*/5) !!!


19th Book of 2023

I remember the days when I stayed in hostel with around 99.99% Muslim population. Naturally, I had mixed experiences staying in such an imbalanced environment. As it is said that you always learn something out of every phase in your life, I never knew how importantly few people take their religion until I stayed there. When I saw Muslims commit themselves towards praying their God 5 times a day regularly, I couldn’t believe it. In lockdown, I started reading my religion and learnt so much about Hinduism. When I would see the commonalities in practices followed by both the religions, I always wanted to speak about it. Surprisingly, I found this book named “Bridges Across Humanity” written by the author, Akhil Gupta. This 425-pages book published by Rupa Publications also has a tagline: “Different Religions, Similar Teachings” exactly something that this book speaks about.


Author, Akhil Gupta, deeps dive into 5-6 widely-followed religions in the world and tries to find out what exactly are they trying to speak. He then discusses how these different religions formed during different phases and era speaks almost about the same goal-end. Author goes on discussing that despite having multiple similarities and same destination, people shed blood on the name of religion just to prove that the one they’re following is the righteous whereas the Holy book talks only about inclusion, acceptance and forgiveness.


Akhil has displayed immense maturity in writing on this topic as there’s a very thin line difference - crossing which could result in public outroar but his intent is crystal-clear that he wants to preach a purpose rather than gain any kind of unwanted publicity. The book is divided into 55 different chapters where each of them is based upon a topic and what different religions opine about the same. Author, then, gets into detailing about how the same context is being spoken or explained in holy books in distinct manners. It is really refreshing and exciting to know about the fact that even the smallest detailing pertaining to a philosophy across diverse religions is so similar.


Author also tries to explore a possibility through his theories that there may be a fact in all of these being just a mythology without any God or Prophet ever walked upon the Earth. He feels that most of the tales spoken in the religious texts may be metaphorical without having any reality attached to it. E.g. He says that he is very sure that Lord Krishna never spoke the whole Bhagavad Gita but the religious knowledge has been imparted by different human beings who walked upon the Earth for several years and kept on adding their inputs in the text. Similarly, he feels the same has happened with all the other religions too. That is also one of the reasons why there’s almost similar theories in all the religion as there must be an era when all humanity was together and started getting divided but said the same thing in different manners.


I was astonished by one of the chapters where author talks about the reference of shepherd being given as an example or story in almost every religion. Similarly, the birth or death of many prophets walked upon the Earth has the similar story attached to it. Gupta explains about the fact that every religion mentions about non-violence, peace, humanity, oneness, love, minimalism etc. yet the society ends up thinking that a religion promotes violence whereas people from the very same religion also thinks the same because they are being preached by distorting the facts. Author has purposefully quoted those texts from the Holy book and provided clarity upon this controversial topic. He has emphasized on how no religion promotes anything that can disrupt nature and peace.


Generally, I make comments whenever I find any book above 300 pages whereas this book crosses even 425 pages but I must say, it’s very engaging and keeps you interested as the intent of the author reaches the reader’s heart. The book is a perfect page-turner despite being a hardcore non-fiction. In fact, I wished if author could have covered many more aspects. I would love to read 2nd part of this book. Author’s research work screams through every word, sentence, page and chapter. I just couldn’t fathom the amount of work author must have put in bringing this compilation out to us. It’s tough to even go through one religion completely and he ended up studying multiple diverse religions in such a short span.


Towards the ending, Akhil speaks about how society ends up adding their belief systems upon us which corrupts our original version of humanity. He insists upon us to be authentic without losing our character rather than following the societal rules. The last chapter speaks about what does the whole book teaches us in particular which we should take away with us as key points. The chapter is really effective and the right manner in which the book needed a full stop. It motivates you to see the world and people differently. It helps us realize that the whole world has 99.9% of the DNA similar with just that one bit of difference which makes us all part of one big space with our own unique identities. Author highlights that we need to come together, bring the specialties, similarities and differences of our religion and create something spectacular than fighting over the minute differences for no beneficial reason.


Talking about the drawbacks, there’s actually isn’t much. I just wished if book also covered the aspects such as veg vs non-veg debates etc. which could help people understand what’s the theory behind certain religions promoting vegetarian lifestyle whereas some promoting killing animals as well. Similarly, I wanted to know about the wedding rituals of different religions and why certain things are followed particularly. There are many such popular topics that I was hoping for the book to cover but no complaints at all. Author has already covered enough and adding more would have made this book thicker than all the Holy books brought together. Haha!


Overall, this book is a necessity in today’s world where we are reaching different planets and accessing heights of scientific evolution but yet fighting on peculiar and minute topics which doesn’t even need our attention. I give this book 5 stars out of 5. Yes! Recommended for each and everyone.









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