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When Life Cartwheels By Raj Supe | Book Review

We refer to the current world as the modern world. But, are we really modern? Or, let me ask this; do you think our ancestors were way modern than us in many aspects? Well, the answer may not be easy to find, but, you certainly have your view on this, right?

There are various cliches we do follow rigorously and we often believe in that very strongly. In the Hindu way of living 4 segments of life are elaborated. They are known as Ashrams (or Ashrama). They are Brahmacharyasham, Grihasthashram, Vanprasthashram, and Sanyasathashram. They are well defined stages of life. And, they all are equally important. Of course, everyone is free to choose the flow of his/her life. Some people may hear an inner calling to renounce the material world at a very early stage in life. Well, if you are mature enough and you want to do something you believe in, and it is not harmful to the others, and is not illegal in any way, then why not? But, what after choosing a path you reach a stage where you think that you may need to take a turn and go another way? Again, if you believe in it and it is not harmful to others, then why not?

Raj Supe wrote an interesting book on the philosophy of “making choices at various stages in life”. He named it When Life Cartwheels. We are thankful to Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd for providing us a review copy of the same. From our team, I got a chance to read this book, and here are my unbiased and uninfluenced views for the same.

Book Title : When Life Cartwheels
Tumultuous Love Story Of A Sannyasi
Author :
Publisher : Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd (19 July 2019) [Imprint: Platinum Press]
# of Pages : 368 (Paperback)
1632 KB; 380 (Kindle EBook)
# of Chapters :
Purchase Link(s) :

Let us take a look at the book cover.

Book Cover:

I strongly believe in not judging a book by its cover. But, at the same time, I also acknowledge the importance of the book cover. Being an entry point to the “world of words”, it creates the first impression of the book, and thus, is responsible for many purchase and/or reading decisions (both in the positive and the negative ways).

When Life Cartwheels: Tumultuous Story Of A Sannyasi by Raj Sure | Book Cover

When Life Cartwheels: Tumultuous Story Of A Sannyasi by Raj Sure | Book Cover

The book’s title itself is quite interesting. And the tagline “Tumultuous Love Story Of A Sannyasi” is also interesting. It reveals a lot about the book. We come to conclude that: It is a love story, the protagonist is a sanyasi, and the love affects the flow and direction of his life highly. Well, the female protagonist is a classical dancer. The wristband made with Rudraksha represents the male protagonist and the classical bangle with embroidery represents the female protagonist very well. And by entangling both these ornaments, the love between them is represented effectively. The milky white background reflects purity. Overall, a well thought a cover page with the best combination of cheerful and peaceful elements.

I like the cover page.

The Plot:

Let us take a bird’s eye view of the story.

Shaman aka Shaman Da aka Dr. Shamantak Srivastava is living his life in a peaceful manner. He runs a book shop named El Dorado. When Indraneel Barua visits him, they meet like lost friends. During their long and detailed conversation, the love story of Shaman and Shambhavi explored.

Shambhavi is a no-nonsense, intelligent, and brave girl. She is emotional yet practical. Her life taught her some important lessons in quite a harsh way. Maharaj, the head of an ashram located near Sangam took her into his wings. She was eventually sent to Bangalore (Bengaluru) for her studies. She is one of the favorite students of Chandrahasini who is otherwise a tough taskmaster.

Shaman is a well-educated person who left his job at Harvard as a professor and living in the ashram with Maharaj. It was his inner calling which made him take this important decision. Maharaj is a close friend to Shaman’s grandfather and that is how they came to know each other. Shaman, nowadays is the right hand of Maharaj. Many people within and outside the Ashram consider him the heir of Maharaj.

How, Shaman and Shambhavi, who are complacent to each other in some aspects and opposites like chalk and cheese in many other aspects; admired each other and became good friends over the course, is better explore by reading the book.

Will their story take any other turn? How Shaman ended up running a book store (wasn’t he a disciple of Maharaj and was detached from all material stuff)? So many questions. All of them are answered in the story where you also meet Prof. Kumud Roy, Chandni, Manohar, Kanhaiya, Lakshman, Keshava, Kishenlal, and many others.

Views And Reviews:

Raj Supe is a devoted fellow to Hare Rama Hare Krishna faith. His knowledge of ancient Indian literature, various Vedic and spiritual practices, and the importance of the same are really worth praising. More importantly, he has reflected these elements quite convincingly in this book.

It is tough to merge “love story” and “spirituality” altogether. The author balanced the things in these aspects very well. I consider it a positive aspect of the book.

The author is really good at exploring scenes. The natural beauty is explored in almost every chapter. And, not a single time you will find the description is repetitive. Actually, the author’s love for the nature is evident in his writings. Be it the sun rising or sun setting scene or Shaman’s routine to visit the Sangam early in the morning to perform his daily ritual, or Shambhavi’s escaped is the hilly area or their visit to a temple hidden behind the fall; the scenes are so convincingly written that they will remain with you even after you finish reading the book. The author is good at small descriptions too. Here are a few examples from the book:

Madhusudan joined in the laughter at Teddy’s expense.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
They made their way in companionable silence.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Shaman welcomed the dark peace and silence that engulfed his being as he let himself flow away.

Actually, the first chapter is not that interesting. Shambhavi’s tragic dream sets the thrilling tempo and then the reader is taken into the world of the Ashram. Eventually, things start falling in place. The conversation between Chandrahasini and Shaman about Jayadeva (the author of Geet Govind) is not to be missed. For me, it is the first scene from where the characters are started being explored in the context of the main story. And yes, it has some lines with sarcasm too.

It all depends on where you are setting your post. Einstein isn’t pre-eminent among wrestlers, is he?

The author represents some beliefs in a matter-of-factly tone by sounding logical.

A physicist is a good physicist whether he is a debauch or a drunkard; it doesn’t take away his scientific ability. But a holy man must practice what he preaches. If you are a householder, you cannot give tall sermons on renunciation.

And, at the same time, he comes up with logical counter-arguments to some popular concepts as well.

You see, the west is shit scared of death, so death is macabre to them. But in India, death is nothing, just a breeze. in fact, it is auspicious. The Lord of Death, Yama, is also Lord of Dharma.

I like the way the author has elaborated on some attributes of the characters in the book. Here is an example:

You know, I have never noticed what people are wearing. But strangely, I always notice what people are reading.

And, he came up with something unexpected yet interesting in the same aspects:

Before him stood a man with remarkable resemblance to the famous cricketer, Vivian Richards.

I like the way the author has explained the logic behind various customs and rituals. Here are two examples:

During winter, our body suffers from cough and cold, and the skin becomes dry. When the sun moves into Uttarayana its rays act as medicine for the body. During kite-flying, the human body is continuously exposed to the sun’s rays. It eradicates infection and insanitation.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
… the entire purpose of sadhana is to be able to do just that – to remember God continually.

And it is not only about spiritual stuff and wisdom lessons. The author has paid a proper attention to present the things with details. The book also contains a reference to the famous classical song Aadha Hai Chandrama from Hindi film Navarang.

See the iconic steps in the movie where you see the heroin, Sandhya, has 7 earthen pots on her head. The author also reveals the fact that it is known as “Bedaa Rass” and Sandhya flew to Rajkot, Gujarat, to learn it. It was a famous Raas performed during Navratri in Rajkot. Such minute details make you overwhelmed while reading the book.

As expected, the book has some life-lessons and wisdom messages too.

When the timing is wrong, even diamonds have the same value as mud.

We have to make choices; but unless we are happy with what we have chosen, there is no point.

Because destiny, as you know, is not a stranger. It is our own karma.

We can’t hope to live well without being peaceful and blissful.

Just because the body is gone, do you think the trouble has ended? They have not. There is no escape – our karma and our life are inescapable. We must face it and get through.

If I am asked to pick one line from the book, I will definitely settle for the following:

It’s not strange for a child to feel hungry when his mother is around, especially Annapurna.

Another aspect I like in the book is the characterizations. The characters are not ideal, they have their human flows. And, that makes them real. At the same time, they all are stronger and unique in their own aspects. Those who consider uttering cuss words and having sexual freedom as an attribute of women-empowerment, should witness the female characters in the book. For example, Chandrahasini will not hesitate a bit in representing his point against anyone and yet she cares and loves the people she found worth the same. Shambhavi is no fragile girl, she has the ability to even save the life of the male protagonist when he was bitten by Cobra. Her presence of mind in such a situation, her on the spot decision to take Cobra with her in a bag to the hospital shows her courage and intelligence both. So, while the male characters are stronger, female characters are the same. And, that is called gender unbias. See how progressive Maharaj and Saman’s grandfather are. These are the kind of people you want to see in the society.

The book has a large number of footnotes to explain some terms which may require explanation. Some readers may skip them, but, it may come helpful to many.

I have tried to avoid spoilers at the max, however, as you can understand some of them are unavoidable. Also, the quotes from the book must have given you a fair idea of the kind of content you expect from the book.

The book is quite pricey and I think it will affect the response. It is a long book so the price is justified in that aspect, but, as far as I know, buyers will go for it, only during a book promotion.

Summary:

A no-nonsense, straight-forward love-story which has a dose of spiritual lessons also. If you can read with an open mind, can explore a little heavy read, and want to read something meaningful, you will like to go for it. You should watch out for good book promotions to buy it at more affordable cost.

ThinkerViews Rating

Around 7.5 to 8 stars out of 10.

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Over To You:

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