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Monday, June 02, 2014

Book Review : ‘Path of the Swan; The Maitreya Chronicles' by Charu Singh

There is so much mythology to read of nowadays, and most recently I got to read about Shambala, a hidden monastery and its mysteries in ‘The Avatari’. But more recently, I was reintroduced to it in ‘Path of the Swan’ by Charu Singh. Singh introduces it differently from Srinivasan’s ‘The Avatari’.

Her book, ‘Path of the Swan’ is the first part of what she terms as ‘The Maitreya Chronicles’. This book is the start of a journey, wherein two monks from a monastery answer the call from Shambala, to visit and learn from it. The Lama Ozer receives a message, when he is in a trance and he sets off with his acolyte, Tashi to answer it. Battling the cold in Sikkim and Tibet, the two fight through evil forces with the help of the mythical bird Garuda’s feather before they reach the Silver Fortress in western Tibet. 

At Shambala, they shed their worldly forms before being led towards the divine beings, including a wisdom goddess, Yeshe Nam Lha, the daughter of the Goddess Tara, Prince A-KarO, heir to the Lha Empire, and Prince Narasimha, heir to the Rigdens and the Shambala legacy and various other Bodhisattvas; the higher gods of light, Lha, and also various Taras.

Here the two of them are put under training; the Lama is given texts to study while Tashi is trained as a warrior under A-KarO. They are to leave with Yeshe, princes A-KarO and Narasimha when the training period is complete. Yeshe is prophesised to be the mother of Maitreya, who was to be the enlightened or the perfect one on earth with one of the princes as her consort.

Just as they are about to leave, at one of their gatherings, Yeshe is abducted by the Asur Prince, Arden. How she manages to live those few days in the Asur kingdom, what the princes would do to lead her to safety and what eventually happens form the rest of the story.

The story began very well, as we are led through the adventures of the Lama and his acolyte, though of course one does feel bad for Tashi at the start, considering his misadventures and the repercussions of them, and as we reach Shambala, one does have a feeling of peace (guess if must be the Tibetan symbols of peace), this was very well described but, that is also when the story loses its grip. One is lost, due to the various gods and goddess, who are described in the book, it becomes a little much, as are the ways of Shambala.

However, one is driven back into the main story once the Asurs arrive on the scene. Definitely, worth a read if one is a little too much into mythology (like me). Also, for its action oriented scenes in the first half and the last quarter and its portrayal of peace make this Tibetan-Buddhism fantasy, definitely worth its while.

Author: Charu Singh
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 9789350096734
Price: Rs 499/-


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