“The only qualification they needed to have was an intense dislike for each other.” – Rajiv Mittal
Hey there, readers! This week, I had the pleasure of reading a very unique book. It is called The Panchtheertha and it is the first part of the series by Rajiv Mittal.
Let us get into the review, shall we?
The Panchatheertha (five pilgrimages) is an outrageously funny, satirical revision of sections 1 & 2 of The Panchatantra, the masterpiece Vishnu Sharma wrote between 1200 BCE to 300 CE. The stories are primarily about statecraft and full of wisdom and morals. Despite that, youngsters found them very entertaining. In the tales, animals act and speak on behalf of human beings. The series begins with a parent story that unfolds story after story; each strung to the other by a narrator.
Vishnu Sharma’s reincarnation Shiva Varma has, in this redraft, revived the ancient Indian tradition of parampara (continuation of knowledge from one guru to the next). In his excitement, he forgot the younger age group of his shishyas (students). His characters now try to explain the motives for their actions, also express their feelings; something The Panchatantra had cleverly avoided doing. Within its pages, animals are still made to think and behave like human beings but have not otherwise been harmed in any way.
The Panchatheertha was considered lost but the discovery of two altered strategies ‘The Loss of Friends’ and ‘Gaining Friends’ should create hope within the large and growing community that has had considerable success with the first and complete failure with the second. Those wanting to meet Shiva Varma are hereby informed he dislikes economists, preferring astrology. He is in samadhi (seclusion / deep meditation) and not in hiding.
There are many intriguing characters not known to Vishnu Sharma in this adaptation; from a sex consultant plying his trade in the locality Ajilundpenodhoka in district Makasam… to a devadasi (courtesan) wanting to conduct the temple prayers because she is bored… to Sage Narada Muni !!
Bibliophiles are urged to read the original Panchatantra (which Shiva Varma did consider including as an appendix), to truly appreciate the extent to which history gets distorted when it is made to explain itself. Historically, the appendix has been viewed as a vestigial organ with no real function. This is why Shiva Varma chose not to include it… or so he claims.
What I love about the title is how catchy it is. Though it is only one word, it holds a deep meaning to it and is quite a good idea by the author. With the meaning ‘five pilgrimages’, this title is apt for the story line and is perfect.
Title Rating – 5 / 5
I am not a huge fan of the cover, mainly because of how bright and distracting it is. It is difficult to read the title and the author’s name – but this is just my personal opinion. I wish it would have been more mellow or at least less blaring.
Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5
“The range of emotions which this created in the general public was evenly balanced between euphoria and despair.” – Rajiv Mittal
Within the first twenty pages of the book, I realized that this read was going to be a roller-coaster journey. Starting from the style of writing to the character portrayal, the author has done a splendid job in sketching a brilliant story.
“He thought all eunuchs were the creation of the devil.” – Rajiv Mittal
Just like in the author’s debut novel, the language is fluent and simple to understand. The humourous lines and the sarcasm loaded into each paragraph makes this read utterly enjoyable. One of the strongest traits that the author possesses is his ability to create a continuous flow from start to finish. I particularly loved the involvement of the animals in the tale.
“So whenever he wanted to restore harmony in life, which was often, he would go to the temple.” – Rajiv Mittal
Overall, the read is pleasant and breezy. It leaves you with a good feeling the moment you are done with the last page.
Plot Rating – 4 / 5
- The Satirical Writing Style
- The Conversations
- The Beginning
- A Better Cover
- More Descriptions of Scenes
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Verdict: Worth A Read!
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