Book Review: The Immortals of Meluha

The Immortals of Meluha is the first book of the Shiva trilogy penned by Amish Tripathi. The book is a spectacular blend of history, philosophy and mythology. The simplicity of language and the intriguing narration make it a must read for everyone interested in the ancient Indian thought.

The book depicts the journey of Lord Shiva, the hero of the trilogy, from the pristine surroundings of the Mansarovar Lake at the foot of Mount Kailash to the country of Meluha, described as a Heaven on Earth. The book portrays Shiva as the chief of a tribe named the Gunas. He receives an invitation from the kingdom of Meluha to immigrate along with his entire tribe. Shiva accepts the invitation in order to safeguard his tribe from the continuous onslaught of the Prakrits, an enemy tribe. Amish portrays Shiva as a human, who is always ready to protect his people. Shiva achieved his godliness by fulfilling his destiny of working for the betterment of mankind.

The description of places like Kashmir, Meluha, Karachapa, Swadweepa and Ayodhya is so spectacular that the readers are transported to the beautiful and well-planned cities of ancient Bharat. The fast-paced writing touches upon many aspects like the reason why Shiva became the Neelkanth, how Nandi, a Meluhan Captain, became the trusted aide of Shiva, the origin of the world-renowned Om (ॐ) symbol and so on. A number of characters like Daksha, Sati, Ayurvati, Chitrangadh, Bhadra, etc., all of whom are from the Shiva Purana, are introduced into the story. Each character is well defined, thus enabling the readers to easily connect with them.

Amish carefully describes a number of warrior clans that we often read about in Indian history and mythology – the Suryavanshi clan (the Sun clan), the Chandravanshi clan (the Moon clan), the Nagas (the Snake clan), and many more, whereby each clan has its distinctive characteristics and symbols. The interpretation of the different kingdoms and the politics between them is interesting to say the least. The Suryavanshi clan expects Mahadev to fight the Chandravanshis and protect their river Sarasvati from extinction and the Chandravanshis lure him to their side in order to annihilate the Suryavanshi rulers.  Mahadev is forced to look at the bigger picture and understands that both the clans have their own ways of living and the differences between two different lifestyles cannot be labelled as good or bad.

The book has good explanations of the different philosophies that collectively make up the beautiful mosaic of Indian culture. The depiction of the origin of the Saptarishis (the Seven Sages), the Varna System, the Somras and its efficiency, and the concepts of universal energy, karma and dharma are put forth in an interesting manner.

Amish uses the mythological stories and the legends of ancient India (Bharat) as the basis for his novel. The narrative technique he has used is a third-person account of the happenings. The impartial writing gives the readers enough space to study the plot and form their own opinions about the virtues and vices of Shiva’s times.

The Immortals of Meluha is a softcover book containing 410 pages. The interesting tales are broken down into 26 chapters, with a map at the beginning and a glossary at the end. Readers will find it hard to keep the book down, because of its immersive and imaginative writing.