Thursday, November 26, 2020

Nothing to Lose by Manbeena Sandhu (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


46th Book of 2020!


I have been on my spiritual path since 2015 and from 2018, it has only become intense and I enjoy listening to several perceptions and ideologies towards finding our inner self and realizing what we really are – a dynamic ball or nothing at all. This has made me read many texts of different people who talk on Spirituality along with following and reading about many religious Gurus or Godman such as Sadhguru, Swami Prabhupada, Om Swami, Shubha Vilas etc. I was always curious to know a bit about Osho or Bhagwan Rajneesh as he is someone who is always referred whenever spirituality is the topic and definitely, the most controversial too.


I finally got to know about a book written by Manbeena Sandhu named “Nothing To Lose” which is an authorized biography of Ma Anand Sheela who served as secretary to Osho and later, also became the face of the religion created by him. To my surprise, there is also an official autobiography announced by Ma Anand Sheela which is to come within a month still she went ahead and discussed her whole life with Manbeena for this book. Reading this one has been such an experience that I couldn’t feel myself throughout and could feel that I had become one of the sannyaasis myself staying in the ashram of Osho and observing things myself.


I have never read a biography with such detailing and written with so much of clarity and outspokenness that it seems to be nothing less than an autobiography. I liked how the author went ahead with an unbiased nature of describing both- Ma Anand Sheela as well as Rajneesh and didn’t try to provide clean-chit to anyone but just tell us whatever happened as it is. There are times when you will be shocked to read such accounts which will really make you question the people in power and their real nature towards their followers, fans or employees.


The author starts the book with the life of Sheela Ambalal Patel and how her teenage years was like, how she met Osho for the first time casually and fell in love with him, how she married for the 1st time and then book shifts from her usual life to her devotion towards Osho and finally her life as Ma Anand Sheela. After the first 100 pages, the way book moves forward like a bullet train telling us so many things about the Ashram and the culture of Rajneeshism that you will not want to believe many of them. This book, though being a non-fiction, has been narrated in such a simplistic yet thrilling way that as a reader you will feel you are going through a fiction tale.


The author has assured that while speaking about someone like Osho who had many celebrities residing in his ashram doesn’t end up disclosing their lives there and assured the right to privacy for them. She has only detailed about those who have already come in public about the religious guru. After reading this book, you will question yourself if what Sheela ended up being for Osho is right or wrong, the kind of acts she ended up performing was way too much or she should have raised the flag quite early, or what happened to her because of Osho is justified or not, or how she got into trouble even after serving her term in prison is acceptable or not.


There are many questions you will raise upon our beliefs for people whom we idolize and up to what extent we should get devoted for them. The book teaches us a lot about how spirituality and religion is used a tool by few to get what they want. This book is an eye-opener for sure and made me very angry reading about injustice met by people who believed in Rajneesh like God. Manbeena has just written a book that will always be a discussion point for centuries to go- this book is an eye-opener.


Now talking about the drawbacks, I must say that the first 100 pages are not written in an exciting manner which makes it harder for you to get into it initially but once you do, you are just into it. I found author skipping many years in between of Ma Anand Sheela’s life which I believe doesn’t give us the complete picture of the person in spotlight. Author could have also mentioned many spiritual speeches of Osho which moved Sheela but she has only shared few of them. Similarly, many conversations between them could have also been added to make us reflect more upon their relationship for such a long time.


Apart from few of these drawbacks which are definitely avoidable, this book shall serve you with an experience in its 330+ pages which is very hard to find in biographies these days. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. Please read it if you wish to go deep into the path of spirituality.






Thursday, November 19, 2020

Meeting Yama by Manoj V Jain (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!


45th Book of 2020

I don’t know what it is but I am regularly getting books based on the concept of Death and the topic is really fascinating me. It pulls me so much towards itself that I wish I can leave everything and move towards understanding the meaning of Life and Death and what it feels like knowing Death from closely along with knowing about the process of Afterlife. And this is what exactly happens with the three characters in the book I have just completed reading named “Meeting Yama” written by Manoj V Jain in around 240 pages. This book published by Notion Press speaks about how these characters are fighting with something so internal and basic to them that they have to get it clear before they can process their life further and hence they end up reaching to the land of Shiva and Death – Kashi, popularly known as Varanasi or Benaras.


The book is written in a very simple language and it is easy to understand for anyone reading this even if the person is not in the spiritual space. The book is full of concept related to spirituality, mythology, religion and meditation but it has been written so beautifully that you will love going through them even if you have not read about them before. Author has mentioned that this book could have been a non-fiction but because he knows people grasp things better when it is spoken in a form of a fiction or stories, he has chosen to speak about this concept of Death through a story format. And I must say it is so nicely crafted that you will feel this to be true.


I have recently read two books on Death- “Death” by Sadhguru and “Between Life and Death” by Dr. Kashyap Patel and I must say, along with those two books, this one is at par with them. Though the one by Sadhguru is quite in detailing but this book can become a beautiful starting for the people who are wanting to read deep spiritual concepts.


Talking about few points that fascinated and touched me, in the very initial chapters, the scene where mother of one of the characters die, it made me so emotional that I spent the whole day doing nothing but being close and near to my mother. Further, in the other chapter, how the telepathy worked for the character with one of his friends when he asked to guess the number made me jump and sit up. I just believed it to be true and the concept of telepathy intrigued me.


Further in the book, author talks about mythology and spirituality in detail such as why Varanasi is an auspicious land is detailed very vastly which actually makes me want to go and settle there leaving this materialistic world. We have always heard about the King Harishchandra but this is the first time I got to know about the tale which makes him so popular. Puri Jagannath is another curious topic for me as the temple always seems to be little close to me even when I haven’t travelled there. Author has beautiful explained about the temple and rituals performed there.


Few meditation techniques were new for me which were discussed in this book such as Tratak as I had never heard about it before. The tale of Lord Vishnuji and Yama is also very insightful. The tale of Markandeya is very fresh to read which makes Lord Shiva grant him longevity.  Why the places are named Manikarnika and Avimukta respectively is nicely explained which makes you understand the depth about our history or mythology – whatever you believe in calling them. In the end, the story of Yama is described along with reference of Bhau Beej which lets you know so much about the God about whom we know nothing except that he is “God of Death”.


Now talking about the drawbacks, I must say that rather than conceptualizing the book such that it is divided as per itinerary of the Varanasi trip of the characters, author should have named chapters on each tale or concept that he has talked about which could have made reading them more enjoyable as you become prepared of reading what’s ahead. Secondly, I must say that the climax is little too abrupt and I couldn’t find any emotional connect with the characters when they finally achieve for what they landed up in Varanasi. I believe it should have been given more pages and detailing. I got quite disappointed there. Thirdly, the meditational techniques are just talked upon as an overview rather than going into its depth. I was looking forward to knowing how meditation is done by the characters and what experience it brings to one or all of them. Lastly, the concept of death is also not covered with the kind of depth I was looking forward to. I wanted to read about what one feels in the moment of death and the afterlife process that we often hear in our ancient texts.


Overall, this is a nice attempt and you will enjoy reading this book as it delivers ample of knowledge about our history and mythology. I give this book 4.25* out of 5.







Monday, November 16, 2020

Tales from the Himalayas by Priyanka Pradhan (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!


44th Book of 2020


There is something about anthologies that just doesn’t allow me to go towards it but I picked the book “Tales from the Himalayas” because of the word “Himalayas” in its title. It has been a long time since I wish to go to the mountain and explore the meaning of life like several yogis. This book is a collection of 17 short stories written by an award-winning authoress- Priyanka Pradhan in around 157 pages. To start with, I must say, Rupa Publications have surprised me with little elements that they have added to make this book look special. The title and first initial of all the chapters are represented in red font with attractive styling. Similarly, all the chapters have an artwork associated with it which gives power to your imagination.


Talking about the stories, they are of the kind which generally grandparents tell it to their grandchildren while sitting alone. And that is the reason, in every story, you will somewhere find the magic of Ruskin Bond or Sudha Murthy or Rudyard Kipling. The order in which the stories are arranged is done very wittingly as you will find the stories getting better with each of them with few exceptions. The stories are based in the mountains and some of them really make you feel as if you are there itself and enjoying the aesthetics of the location yourself. Even when the stories are sweet and simple, they are able to resonate with you and make you enjoy them.


As I started this review with, the stories are based in Himalayas hence there are chapters which specifically talks about factors such as fierce Himalayan predators, poisonous snakes, scorpion and even the hostile tribes in Tibet. Author also mentions the famous “Chipko” movement in a story which was initiated by Gaura Devi in the village of Reni in Garhwal, Uttarakhand in 1974. In the latter part of the book, in one of the stories, author throws a light on Choliya dancers about whom I wasn’t aware before reading this book. Similarly, there are many such elements which are covered somewhere here and there in most of the stories.


Talking specifically about few chapters, “The Snow Leopard” tells us how animals also gives back the kindness if we are kind to them. The “Mischievous Teeth” chapter is very funny and I really enjoyed reading it. The climax of it was such a surprise. “The Villain” is an eye-opener for few of us as it speaks about how body-shaming affects a school girl but the way author took it towards positive ending is commendable. “The Biggest Gift” is also a very inspirational chapter where author talks about greed along with ensuring that the culture of wearing “Nath” in the Himalayas also goes together with it. Finally, the chapter “A Night in the Dark Forest” talks about my favorite topic i.e. meditation and its power. My favourite chapter has been “Pilgrimage” which describes how a traveling experience can teach us things from small incidents which can shape our mindset and lifestyle.


Now, talking about the drawbacks, from the title of the book, I had expected stories on people who go to Himalayas and get fascinated by its beauty and spiritual aspect of it but this is more about the locale already residing up there. Hence, in few chapters, you will find few chapters which are just normal short stories which has almost nothing to do with Himalayas. I felt mainly why Himalayas is a fascinating topic for us is because of the yogis and power that gets developed there but except one chapter, none of them talks about it. Lastly, all the stories are predictable which didn’t go well with me.


Other than the above points, this book will be loved by all- children and adults as there are points with which everyone can relate with. I give this book a fine attempt 3.5 stars out of 5.






Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Disappointing 5 by Bobanga (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!

43rd Book of 2020!


So, the festival of Diwali turned out to be great irrespective of the precautions and measures that we had to undertake due to the spread of pandemic around us. Every year, on Diwali, along with decorating my home, I also assure that I end up reading a little as this is the day when Goddess Lakshmi is expected to visit our home. And as we know, Goddess Lakshmi comes only where Goddess Saraswati is respected and adored. So, this time I completed reading the book named “The Disappointing 5” written by the debutante, Bobanga. This book is of around 240 pages and it is all about the teenage stories which are not published often these days.


The book talks about the lives of five teenagers who are also very briefly introduced in the synopsis of the book as well- Akash Malhotra, Dhruv Kapoor, Sunayna Mahapatra, Bindya Shah and Robin Alberto. All of them have some kind of secret or some pain that they keep hidden with themselves without sharing it with anyone – even with their best friend. This is what makes each of these characters interesting and make them protagonist in their own way. After a long time, I have landed upon a book which has characters formed and played so well that you will find each one of them having their own identity and none of them get overshadowed due to over exposure given to any other character.


I must say, characterization is the strength of this book which keeps you hooked to it as a reader. How all of them are fighting their inner battles talks about the kind of stress and mental health issues the modern kids have to deal with. This is more of a contemporary issue than just a story as every day, you will find teenagers and schoolkids taking extreme action due to the burden of their inner battles.


The book also talks about many issues or concerns towards which we should give our attention. The book starts with a girl describing her pain as to how everyone sees her just as an object and keeps her name only because she is beautiful and she has to say NO to multiple proposals she get in her school. How a boy gets bullied by a strong boy after his sexual orientation of being gay gets revealed. How painful it becomes for the person to live each day with a fear that what if this gets revealed. Also, the fight against parent’s view about this is another challenge which is also spoken in depth later on. The trauma of getting pregnant before marriage and legal age is also mentioned which I am sure must be happening with teenagers these days.


The book also highlights how children’s psychic gets affected because of the environment at home. How the role of parents and their toxic relationship among themselves or with child affects the whole mentality of the kid and shapes their character. In one of the chapters, we are also told as to how the patriarchy dissolves the whole aspiration of the women after marriage and she has to literally beg in front of her husband to be able to do something of her own will. The book also gives us light upon the issue of child trafficking and how it transforms the whole maturity level of the story in the book is applaudable. I am glad to see the author’s maturity in embedding this social issue with the story and basing the whole anti-climax and climax with it. Reading the whole part was such a roller-coaster experience.


The narration of the book is very simple and you won’t feel any difficulty in going through the story. The language is very simple and this shall be good choice for all the beginners to start their reading journey with. The 1st half of the book is a completely teenage thing which school and college going crowd will surely like whereas the 2nd half is more about the thrilling aspect which is interesting for people of all the age group. The latter part of the book is actually a page-turner and you would want to know what happens next. Author has written the same in very Bollywood-ish manner including the climax but as a desi, it worked for me as my imagination levels were breaking the roof time and again. Haha!


Now talking about the drawbacks of the book – I must say the biggest flaw of the book is its typos, grammatical mistakes and editing. You will find many such incidences which shall make your reading experience irritating at times. Secondly, the binding is done in such a way that you will find it tough to read the left-hand pages as last word of the sentences gets hidden in it. Story-wise, the book is fine and I believe author could have done more with the dysfunctional arrangements of the families which is not considered much even though it is one of the pointers in the synopsis.


Overall, this is a fine attempt and you can pick it up if you want to read something light yet effective. I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.






Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Between Life and Death by Dr Kashyap Patel (Book Review: 4.25*/5)


42nd Book of 2020!

Any book that talks about life and death intrigues me because I believe knowing about these elements is far more necessary to live a great curious life than knowing about current affairs. And this is the reason I got attracted towards the newly released book named “Between Life and Death” written by Dr. Kashyap Patel. The book is of around 220 pages and is published by Penguin Random House. The book’s cover page and synopsis have such a good feeling that you just can’t move over without having this book in your shelf.


Now, talking about the book and its subject, it is based upon the emotions a human being goes through when he comes to know that his death is near. Author has been a doctor himself who has treated many Cancer patients and has ended up experiencing many deaths in his life closely. This gave him the perspective which he couldn’t have achieved if he would not have been in his profession for years and seeing so many souls leaving their temporary bodies. Kashyap has just utilized the same and mentioned how sensitive the patients become when they find death standing close to them.


The book starts with one of the doctor’s patient, Harry, who realizes that he might not live much due to the spread of Cancer and he asks the Doctor to prepare him to leave blissfully. And from here begins the book which takes you through many experiences the doctor had starting with a young patient like Annie till the last patient covered named John. Reading about all these patients is such an emotional experience that in few of the chapters I was almost on the verge of crying. The vulnerability that a human being starts feeling along with a panicky situation with a will to still live makes them so weak and demotivated that they start seeing their Doctor as God, Life Coach, Role Model and what not. The relationship between a Doctor and Patient is so very beautifully covered in this book.


Apart from these experiences, author also covers many other knowledge about things associated with death such as the belief different religion and culture has about death. Author has descriptively tried to explain all of it without comparing them with each other. Patel also gives disclaimer when he talks about other religions citing that he might be wrong as he has limited knowledge about it as whatever he knows is only through his patients. How Death and its rituals were given duly importance in history is explained by letting us know about the Egyptian concept of mummificationHow embalming became a business scope in America after Civil wars for the purpose of funeral is nicely described. 


Then from the knowledge base, book gradually moves into the space of spirituality and I liked how author mentioned about Western culture finding the truth outwards whereas Eastern culture looking for the same inwards and the results turned out to be the same. The concept of meditation is given a light upon and author explains how it can lead to longevity as it actually does same structural changes with our organs. Along with this, author again explains what different religion and culture thinks upon the topic of resurrection, reincarnation and afterlife. It has so much information that you would be surprised to know such detailing. I had read Sadhguru’s Death few months ago where it covered only one practice but here author has talked about different rituals and beliefs which provides little more insights.


Talking about the climax of the book, the way Harry leaves us being the protagonist of the book will make you very sad. After reading this book, if you have never taken Cancer patient or any person who is aware of his death seriously, you will start taking so. You will become a big support for them. The kind of attitudinal change the author brings is phenomenal. You will also start seeing Death as just a part of your life rather than an end to it. Yes, this happens.


Now talking about the drawbacks- I actually couldn’t find much problem with the book as it only speaks what happens with us. But still I would like to point out few factors. I believe there was more potential for the author to cover when it came to a topic like this. Author could have gone into more spiritual depth in the later part of the book for which I was really looking forward to which I missed. Then, I believe author should have given more brief examples dedicating just one or two paragraphs to a patient and letting us know how many people decided to leave as here, we get to know about 3-4 patients specifically. Some photographs of the patients discussed would have added more personalized effect to the book.


Overall, this is a very feel-good book with great insights. I give this book 4.25* out of 5. Please do read it if you want to know what people go through after knowing that the death is closer.






Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel (Book Review: 4*/5) !!!


41st Book of 2020!


I have always been very scared of anything that gets associated with the subject of Commerce as I couldn’t handle even the basic Accounting subject in my college days. It’s another story that I wasn’t good even in Science which I had got enrolled myself in with my own interest. Therefore, every time, I get a book which claims to make Finance and Money easy, I just grab it. This is what made me pick up the popular book these days about which everyone is talking named “The Psychology of Money” written by Morgan Housel and published by Jaico Publications.


The book is divided into 20 different chapters where author has taken us through the logic as to how making money is not only about knowing finance but it is more about the person’s psyche related to it. Author tells how each one of us see money and stock market from our own experiences rather than through Excels and statistics that the Fund managers throw at us. The initial chapters are all about that and I really liked this angle because every time I have gone through a finance-related book, I only get to read jargons and author’s view about them whereas here, author, rather than talking about money and his views is talking about our relationship with money.


Author has given many real-life references to keep his points which makes this book a biographical account in many of the chapters. I liked how author also speaks about these real-life figures’ failures as openly as he does about their successes. Author has written every chapter independently yet how he has mapped them with each other in an orderly fashion ties the whole book together very nicely. Another USP of this book is that it not only speaks about money and finances but also about how to lead happy and peaceful life along with it. The way author has clubbed these two different topics from Self-Help genre and put into one book is really appreciable.


I enjoyed how author busted many myths so cleverly in simple language that I couldn’t help adoring such lessons and quotes. Like how he says that a person is financially good can’t be determined by the valuables he/she possesses. The book also discusses how historical factors are not considered while forecasting future based on past results. It was an eye-opener for me when author mentioned all the major incidents that has happened in the past which has affected economy like anything which is not considered at all while making future forecasts. Similarly, author named 7-10 individuals who have changed so much for the world that our living style is completely different from the past.


In another chapter, author explains how dynamic the concept of money and dealing with it is. It is elaborated giving the example of the most popular book on investment named “The Intelligent Investor” and how author had to change many things he stated with each edition just because the things change and with it, our relationship with money also changes. In the 15th Chapter, we are introduced to how tough it is for us to hold and sustain the long-term investments and how important it is to maintain it for a secured money gain. Another chapter on seduction of pessimism is my favorite chapter in the book. It discusses how we often overlook the positive news but get attracted towards the negative news which helps fund managers and channels to play with our money.


Overall, the book is like a podcast where a person is motivating us and explaining us to not take the money game very seriously as it’s not about the tough calculations but about our psychology how we want to live our life. Different person like and want different things in life hence one rule can’t be applied to all. Hence, author in the very last chapter, tells us simply about what he does with the money which is so easy to understand that you might feel if what we have been hearing all these days has been a false story altogether.


Now, talking about the drawbacks, I felt that author has spent most of the time telling us things and problems but not given as much solution as expected from the book from the reader’s point of view. Also, author has mostly given scenarios of USA which might not apply for someone like me based in India. Some chapters are just plain feelings of the author about what people think about something rather than giving some output from it. I believe the book is more about the psychology than finance whereas the cover page claims to talk more about money and the psychology related to it.


Overall, this is a very fresh read and I liked this new stuff. I give it 4 stars out of 5. Please read if you wish to know how to go ahead with savings and investment.






Monday, November 2, 2020

Main Aryaputra Hoon by Manoj Singh (Hindi Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!


40th Book of 2020!


I generally don’t read Hindi books because it takes me a little longer to finish it. I am a very impatient reader and just can’t see myself stuck with one book for a longer time. Haha! But because I had read one of the books written by Manoj Singh earlier named “Vaidik Sanathan Hindutva”, I thought of picking up another book written by him with a more interesting title and cover page named “Main Aryaputra Hoon”. As I have recently started reading a little more about my religion and culture, I prefer reading Manoj Singh because his contents on this topic are excellent with great insights.


Main Aryaputra Hoon can be said to be his best book till now due to its great content and the way he has handled the topic. There are many questions about who the Aryans were and what is their history. There are also many myths related with it which has almost become the true version of the story. Many of us tend to believe that they came from outside and were not primarily from our land. All these myths about Aryans is busted in this book very beautifully. Also, author has tried to take us to our ancient times and made us understand how Aryans are present since the stone age and were even the first civilization of the world. There are many such facts about Aryans which are eye-opening and insightful.


Author has chosen a concept like Bhagwad Gita where there are two characters where one seeks answers whereas another one is trying to help her with the facts, realities and answers. I liked this structure a lot as it helps you understand the context of the long explanations and sometimes there is co-incidence when the question asked is something you were also thinking at the same time. Author’s research is very well evident in each and every page. Author doesn’t skip any aspect of this topic and goes deeper into it with each chapter. I am glad that the chapters are small which makes it easy for you to read topic by topic without having to get confused with the length and seriousness of the book.


Author has regularly given references of our ancient texts such as Purans, Upanishads, Vedas, Geeta and what not which is again a good practise when you write on such topics as you get compilation from all these great books in one book itself as a reader. It is not easy for every person to go through all these texts hence the effort from the author does wonders for people who aspire to have knowledge from all these books on a specific topic. Author has also emphasized on the fact that the book is not a work of fiction but whatever spoken is a matter of fact which tells about his belief in his work. This 300+ pages book is a very difficult job to execute which I feel author has managed very vividly.


Talking about the drawbacks – there aren’t many of them but still there are few points I would like to mention. One, I feel author becomes too critical of people who speaks against the concepts he believes in. This is something I had noticed in the “Vaidik Sanathan Hindutva” and have noticed in this book also. Such great and beautiful topics should only spread positivity through the book. Secondly, few paragraphs that author writes continues for more than a page which makes it visually difficult for the readers to follow and understand the context. Author should work upon writing small paragraphs. Lastly, author’s command on Hindi language is remarkable. I have learnt many new good Hindi words and I must appreciate author for the same. But if author’s agenda is to ensure that his message and information about our culture reaches to as many people as possible, he should tone down his language a bit.


Overall, this is a very informative book which you would love reading and sharing the knowledge with your family and friends. I give this 4.25* out of 5.






About Me

My photo
Book Reviewer | Movie Reviewer | Bibliophile | Business Analyst