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Recommended Books
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><b>R's Journey - The Wounded Elephant by Maya Radj</b> </span>

I found Maya Radj's (free) online novel ‘R's Journey – The Wounded Elephant’ captivating. It can be downloaded (free) at www.mayaradj.com.
In the form of an entertaining story--a young Indian eager to migrate to the USA who discovers the value of his cultural, spiritual and philosophical heritage during a journey across Bharat (India) after an initial meeting with his guru--, this book is a contemporary crash course on Sanatan Dharm (Hinduism) -- its eternal way of life, values and philosophy.
I read it with my kids and we smiled as we recognized many pertinent aspects of Indian migration to the West. We were also carried away by Maya Radj’s clear explanation of key spiritual, philosophical and cultural treasures of Bharat, embedded within an emotionally gripping tale. My children now feel that they understand and can explain previously ‘mysterious’ aspects of our culture and values. Its glossary of over 200 terms is a treasure in itself.

From the novel's summary:
This is the story of a life-changing three-week period in the life of R. Sharma, a young graduate living in New Delhi in contemporary India. It is a story of ignorance and discovery, of illusion and reality.
After completing his undergraduate degree with high honours, R is still searching for a first job in the Indian capital. It is a deeply frustrated R that we discover at the start of this novel, a young man who has lost faith in his country and who begins to loathe it.
Fortunately, Mohini, his sparkling girlfriend knows how to cheer him up. Behind a mask of superficial frivolity characterised by a passion for Bollywood movies and their stars, she hides a clear agenda about her future and that of her boyfriend – they should leave India and emigrate to America—like her cousins, who are now enjoying a regal life there. Encouraged by Mohini, R begins to nurture an American dream. After all, his elder brother Ashok is now a successful computer programmer in a Los Angeles company.
R asks Ashok for help. Initially very reluctant,—much to R’s bewilderment—Ashok eventually agrees to help his younger brother. However, prior to R’s departure, Ashok demands that his younger brother visit their family guru, Pundit Yogish Doobay in Varanasi. Oddly, Ashok also asks R to hand-deliver gifts to five of his university friends. The young man, already daydreaming of Los Angeles’ attractions, grudgingly agrees to undertake what he feels will be a highly unpleasant three week trip across the poor and dirty country that he now despises. Unknown to him, this journey is part of a plan orchestrated by Ashok to open his younger brother’s eyes on the hidden treasures of their country of birth.
Indeed, at every step, the journey provides plenty of surprising discoveries for the young would-be migrant—through experiences that re-shape his thinking and will likely change his outlook on life forever.
R starts his journey in the mystical city of Varanasi on the banks of the sacred—and highly polluted—Ganges river. There, Yogish Doobay reveals some of India’s deepest philosophical and spiritual treasures: Yoga and Ayurveda, the stages and aims of life, Vastu, Maya and reality.
In Jaipur, the capital of majestic Rajasthan, R meets Colonel Singh, a direct descendant of Rajput kings who challenges some of the young man’s assumptions about Indian history and politics.
In Mumbai, the country’s economic powerhouse, as R watches the flow of poverty-stricken rural migrants flocking into the city, he reflects upon the social and political challenges facing India and Ashraf offers him an emotionally charged taste of Hindu-Moslem relations. To R’s surprise, the gift that Ashraf unwraps looks exactly like the Colonel’s, an elephant-shaped sandalwood paperweight that conceals a hidden message. But, like the Colonel, Ashraf does not wish to discuss the mysterious gift nor its contents!
We follow R as he visits Jeremy Souza in Goa, a popular seaside resort in Southern India. There, Ashok’s friend and R discuss a few controversial aspects of the region’s colonial past.
In the southern temple city of Madurai, R meets Nandan. The fourth of Ashok’s friends proudly shows off his new Ayurvedic clinic to the young man. He also explains why, unlike Ashok, he chose to return to his hometown after living and working several years in America. Nandan’s father, an expert Ayurvedic practitioner, introduces R to the fundamental concepts of this ancient science of healthy living.
On the last leg of his trip, R meets Gautam, the last of Ashok’s friends in Bodhgaya, a historic Buddhist pilgrimage site in rural Bihar. There, R learns from Radha’s about the different styles of classical Indian music and dance, and the fifth of Ashok’s friends reveals to R the astounding secret of the elephant-shaped paperweights…and that of the journey. It is a shaken young man who then hurries to Varanasi to seek advice from his guru! Along the way he begins to realize the influence that this journey has had on him.
Back in Varanasi, Yogish Doobay listens sympathetically to his young disciple, and helps R to see the light and find balance through some chosen teachings from the Vedants and the Upanishads.
‘R’s Journey – the Wounded Elephant’ is a novel of self-discovery that also outlines key aspects of the culture, philosophy, spirituality and history of India—the country hosting the world’s oldest continuing civilisation—, against a backdrop of contemporary socio-economic and political issues, at a time when more and more people are turning their eyes toward this ‘Wounded Elephant’ struggling to rise.
This novel also aims to stimulate some thinking about immigration and its causes: poverty, underdevelopment, and the growing expectations of the youthful population of the ‘developing’ world.


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Recommended Books - by Guest - 02-28-2008, 12:42 AM
Recommended Books - by ramana - 03-20-2008, 04:06 AM
Recommended Books - by Guest - 12-09-2008, 07:35 AM

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