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Lord Shiva Myth Redefined in The Immortals of Meluha
About the Author - Amish Tripathy
Amish Tripathy is a contemporary Indian fiction writer. He shot to fame with his debut endeavor Immortals of Meluha. The book became a record-breaking bestseller making him internationally acclaimed author.
43 years old Amish worked in the field of finance and marketing for fourteen years before trying his hands in writing. His reinterpretation of Lord Shiva myth in his Shiva Trilogy has established him as a recognized author from India.
He has been awarded Society Young Achievers Award for his contribution in the field of literature and is declared as India's New Icon.
Shiva literally means the auspicious one. He is one of the three principal deities along with Brahma and Vishnu in Hindu religion.
Deeply revered by Hindus, Shiva is regarded as transcendental in form and a limitless absolute. He has many compassionate and ferocious depictions. In his gracious aspect, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Kailash Mountain as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children- Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspect, he becomes the destroyer and transformer. In this form he is depicted as evil demon slayer and destroyer of Evil.
Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, and regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts. One of the most enthralling gods in Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva signifies for passion and strength.
Lord Shiva in Meditation
Meaning of Meluha
Scholars suggests that Meluhha is the Sumerian name of the Indus Valley Civilization. Early texts seem to indicate that Meluhha is to the east, suggesting either the Indus Valley or India. Amish in his book The Immortals of Meluha describe similar terrains and landscapes resembling with Indus Valley.
Thus, Meluha as depicted in The Immortals of Meluha is a state or an empire which corresponds in resemblance with the north-western part of contemporary India and some part of today's Pakistan. To the east lies Swadeep and to south lies the vast territory of Panchvati and Dandak forest.Providing a historical bend to the novel the writer also reproduces a thorough map for the setting of his novel.
Map of Meluha and Ancient India
Plot and Setting of the Novel The Immortals of Meluha
Amish sets his story in historically ancient times of 1900 B.C. Meluha is a near perfect empire, created many centuries earlier by Suryavanshi clan leader Lord Rama. Once proud empire now is facing severe crisis as its primary river, Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction.
Meluha also faces devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis, who have joined forces with the Nagas, a cursed race with physical deformities. Now the only hope for the saving of Meluha is the prophecy of Neelkanth, the saviour.
The present king of Meluha, Daksha, in process of finding the Neelkanth, sends his emissaries to Tibet to invite the tribal inhabitants to come and live in Meluha. One such invited tribe is of Gunas, whose chief Shiva is a brave warrior and their protector. Shiva accepts the proposal and moves to Meluha with his tribe. They reach the city of Srinagar and are received there by Ayurvati, the Chief of Medicine of the Meluhans. Shiva and his tribe are impressed with the Meluhan way of life. On their first night of stay at Srinagar, the Gunas wake up amid high fever and sweating. The Meluhans, under Ayurvati's orders, carry on the healing process. However, Ayurvati finds out that Shiva is the only one devoid of these symptoms and that his throat has turned blue. Shiva is announced as the Neelkanth.
Here starts the fated journey of Shiva- from a mere tribal chief to a godly figure (Mahadev). Shiva is taken to Devagiri, the capital city of Meluha, to meet King Daksha. It is here, he meets his love of life: his would be wife, Sati. Sati is the daughter of King Daksha.
In Devgiri he also comes to know about somras (a miraculous potion), and its magical properties. He helps the Syryavanshis (Meluhans) against the Chandravanshis (Swadeepans) in a war. After victory he comes to know the truth and soon realizes his folly. But, he still is under the wrong impression that Nagas are solely responsible for all the Evil. He wants to destroy them.
List of Characters in The Immortals of Meluha
Based on Hindu Mythology, the novel deals with a large number of characters. The Indian readers are accustomed with some of the characters through their knowledge of Hindu Mythology. Author skillfully recreates these characters and colors them in a new picture with his great imagination. There are some other fictitious characters to whom author introduces the readers. These characters help in the progression of plot and strengthen the story.
1. Shiva- Shiva is the chief of the Guna tribe. He is the protagonist of the novel.
2. Sati – Sati is the daughter of emperor Daksha. Shiva falls in love with her and against all odds he succeeds in marrying her.
3. Veerbhadra ( Bhadra) – A close childhood friend of Shiva.
4. Kanakhala – The chief minister of Daksha's royal court, Kanakhala is an extremely learned and intelligent woman.
5. Parvateshvar – Head of Meluhan army, Parvateshvar is loyal to Meluhan King, Daksha. He eventually becomes a staunch follower of Shiva as he realizes Shiva's quality as a great leader.
6. Ayurvati – The chief of medicine, Ayurvati is an intelligent and skillful doctor. She is the first one to realize that Shiva is the "Neelkanth".
7. Brahaspati: A Meluhan scientist who becomes a very close friend of Shiva.
8. King Daksha: The emperor of Meluha.
9. Nandi: A captain in the Meluhan army. Nandi becomes Shiva’s most loyal followers throughout his life.
10. Bhagirath: The prince of Swadweep and the son of Emperor Dilipa. A pragmatic and brave man, whom we will get to know much more about in The Secret of the Nagas. He has an important role to play in the trilogy.
9. Anandmayi: The princess of Swadweep and the daughter of emperor Dilipa. Passionate, mercurial and intelligent, Anandmayi makes for the perfect Chandravanshi.
10. Krittika: Krittika is the handmaiden of the Meluhan Princess, Sati. She falls in love with Bhadra and marries him.
11. Kali: Sati’s hidden twin sister, the Queen of the Nagas.
12. Ganesh: Sati’s elder son, whose existence she does not know of.
13. Kartik: Shiva and Sati’s son, born in Kashi and named after Sati’s friend, Krittika.
Critical Analysis of the Protagonist Shiva in The Immortals of Meluha
The novel chronicles the transition of a man into Mahadev. Shiva as Neelkanth grows from a common man to an uncommon persona who fights against every kind of social evil. He is a loyal friend, a loving husband and father, a brave warrior, votary of equality and justice in society and clearheaded in his judgement. Like a true leader he inspires his soldiers to fight against all odds and propagates a slogan - ''Har, Har, Mahadev" which means everyone can be and is a Mahadev. Mahadev means the God of all gods.
Author skillfully directs Lord Shiva into a credible character. Shiva becomes a real person, one with feelings and faults, with a charisma and a logical mind. Characterization of Shiva is the soul of the book and whole story. Shiva searches for his destiny trying to do justice. He is curious, virtuous and respectful. He questions the unjust caste divisions in the society and the concept of vikarma which is distancing him from Sati.
One more quality of Shiva which makes him closer to mythological Lord Shiva is his impeccable dancing and singing skills. His dance symbolizes the unified rhythm of the cosmic with the human existence. Shiva's human charm in its perfection leads him on the path of becoming revered Mahadev.
Mythology surely plays in the background of the novel The Immortals of Meluha. Amish Tripathy with his abundant knowledge of Hindu mythology has shown his talent in recreating the superhuman charm of ancient times. As a skillful storyteller he gives his novel a modern zing by logically and scientifically interweaving all the events in the story. The novel can be categorized as an epic fantasy. Amish has been able to spur the wave of epic fantasy through his epic tale with a terrific mythological bent.