Saturday, August 8, 2020

Janaka and Ashtavakra by Ashraf Karayath (Book Review: 3*/5) !!!

25th Book of 2020!

The spiritual people generally read only the texts from religion. The hardcore readers generally read thrillers, romance, biographies etc. but very rarely do they read books on spirituality. Hence, someone like me who is both into reading and spirituality finds it hard to discuss books that speaks about spirituality. I had got to know about the Ashtavakra Gita while having one such communication with the Founder of my previous organization with whom I had lot of spiritual discussions. Just before that I had also gone through Sandeep Maheshwari's audio available on his Youtube channel in 26 different videos where he speaks with us on Ashtavakra Gita. Since then I was always curious as to how I have never heard about this part from anyone even though Ramayan has been discussed with me by many. I heaved a sigh of relief when I got to know about the book named “Janaka and Ashtavakra” written by the author, Ashraf Karayath, in around 225 pages which is published by Rupa publications.

I started reading the book with great expectations as I was sure I shall get to know about spiritual perspective which I haven’t got to know yet. The book begins talking about Ashtavakra and his background and for the first 50 pages there isn’t much in the book that shall make you excited as the story moves very slow. And then it shifts towards Raja Janaka and his contemporary world during that time as now both the characters have to meet where Ashtavakra wishes to meet his father whom he has never met whereas Raja Janaka is looking out for a figure who can give him all the spiritual knowledge which shall help him get the answers he is looking out for.

The meeting scene of both the characters is very well articulated and it is the scene that is actually the biggest point of the book. How the realization starts dwelling within you right from that scene as it talks about judgement people make just by someone’s physical appearance. Ashtavakra is laughed at in response to which he laughs louder than anyone else and does until everyone is not done laughing. The characterization of both the main characters and all others such as Kushadwaja, Sunayana, Mahosadha etc. are done very well as you are able to understand their state of life and mind clearly. I liked how author is able to also take the story ahead along with the spiritual and philosophical knowledge and conversations that is being discussed in the book.

There are few enlightening sentences and paragraphs which surely makes you think about yourself and the amount of stress and unwanted tension you have been taking which actually shouldn’t have been part of your reality. I liked few of those sections. The last question that Janaka asks Ashtavakra and the response of the same is what gives this book a befitting end. I really liked how the complete war scenario has been inter-related with the spiritual knowledge that Raja Janaka was getting in parallel. It gives us the answer of many such unwanted future that we keep on imagining in our mind. An untold story of what happens just before Sita’s swayamwar is told very extensively in this book which shall help you learn about this part of Ramayan too.

Now talking about the drawback- even though the book has been summed up within 225 pages but still I felt it to be very slow in terms of story as it felt to be stuck at one point for many segments in the book. Even the start of the book is very slow for the 1st 50 pages which gives a negative impact to the reader. Talking about the spirituality and philosophical conversations that I was excited for – it is too less and something that is very basic. I was expecting a lot of depth from it. The Ashtavakra Gita has many such theories and concepts to tell that amazes you which this book doesn’t even give an overview of. Hence, somewhere in between balancing both- the story of Mithila and the spiritual part- author couldn’t do justice to either of them. That is all I have to say. I give the book 3 stars out of 5.




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