The Immortals of Meluha
By Amish Tripathi
We know that the Indus Valley Civilization still retains an aura of unsolved mystery with their strange seals and un-deciphered language. The term Meluha is attributed to this civilization, hypothetically what the Sumerians called them. Amish Tripathi, one of the many b-schoolers turned writers, sets his first novel in Meluha, in 1900 BC.
Tripathi pulls strands of Hindu mythology into a kind of an Indus Valley setting and creates a computer-game-like world, filled with action and love, heroes and kings, good and evil. Of course, this is neither history (the IVC is the perfect land conceived by the maryaada purush Ram?) nor mythology as we have read it. But in a strange wonder-filled way, Tripathi creates a racy read, one that will stand you in good stead these days if football is not your thing.
Shiva is the hero. The writer conceives of him as an ordinary mortal, a rough chillum-smoking, battle-scarred Tibetan tribal chieftain who through the vagaries of fate ends up leading the Suryavanshis of Meluha, the people of Ramrajya, against what he thinks is evil – the Chandravanshis of the neighbouring Swadweep. There is love in the form of Daksha’s daughter Sati (remember your mythology?), a seemingly perfect society (painfully similar to Plato’s Republic) mixed with undercurrents of injustice (outcastes in the form of Vikarmas and Nagas), magic potions (the Somras of the Vedas) that grant longevity, and a dharmayudh. It is the archetypal hero’s (in this case, a god’s) journey and just as in the archetype, self-doubt and the questioning of the goal is a critical phase. In this book, part of a trilogy, the culmination is this phase – where Shiva is left questioning the morality of his actions and the nature of good and evil.
This is not anything deep or informative or meaningful. Enjoy it as a light-hearted romp through a fantasy world of heroes and pop-philosophy, pseudo-science and re-written mythology. Finish it in one sitting on a plane or a lazy Sunday. And look forward to the next instalment whenever Amish Tripathi decides to write it.