Upon first seeing the cowl of Mystics and Sceptics, which options an beautiful paintings by the famend Himalayan painter Nicholas Roerich, I used to be instantly drawn in. Given my long-standing fascination with Roerich’s immortal depictions of the area, I knew surely that I merely needed to get hold of a duplicate of this e book.And then there may be the subject material itself — ‘Himalayan Masters’ — these superior beings of mild — half fable, half legend — who we might have heard of typically and but know so little about.
It’s in the very air of the Himalayas — a commanding mystical presence that even the most disbelieving amongst us can not deny. Mystics and Sceptics takes readers on a uncommon journey by time and area, providing them a glimpse of the religious and bodily expeditions of some of the Himalayan area’s most influential religious masters, each male and feminine. These revered figures have been profoundly formed by the mountains, which have served as a wellspring of religious perception and have performed a pivotal function of their particular person awakenings.
While providing you a sliver of the transcendent knowledge of these religious lodestars, the e book additionally urges you to ponder your personal religious paths as you traverse by its 25 chapters. The essays additionally contact upon the beliefs, legends, rituals, and divination practices noticed by individuals dwelling alongside the Himalayan ranges.No e book on spirituality can be full with out exploring the darker facet of the seek for reality. Mystics and Sceptics delivers on this entrance with firsthand accounts of encounters with charlatans and essays by disillusioned seekers as nicely.
The anthology has been skilfully edited by the completed Namita Gokhale, a author who has revealed works throughout numerous genres and has been honoured with quite a few prestigious literary awards.
The contributors to the assortment of essays embrace a various group of people, starting from poets, diplomats, and students of Buddhist research, to lecturers, journalists, authors and anthropologists. Among them are seekers, sceptics, and some who’re each, making a wealthy tapestry of views on the subject material.
In Makarand Paranjape’s essay on Swami Vivekananda, we uncover the Swami’s profound fascination with the Himalayas, his pilgrimage to Kashmir and Amarnath, and his complicated relationship along with his disciple Sister Nivedita. The Swami felt strongly about the Himalayas being the crucible of India’s religious heritage and he proclaimed, throughout a speech in Almora, that with out the Himalayas, non secular India would have little or no historical past to point out.
The revered Tibetan Buddhist grasp Milarepa, who by using black magic murdered 35 company at a marriage and ultimately got here to remorse his crimes, skilled with a Buddhist grasp to expiate his karma. He spent the relaxation of his life practising meditation and instructing disciples by his songs in seclusion throughout the Himalayan borderlands in southern Tibet and northern Nepal. Evan Wentz writes about his huge compassion not just for fellow human beings but additionally for the girl despatched to poison him.
There’s the excerpt from the extraordinary Belgian French explorer Alexandra David Neel’s life. A polymath, she was the first girl to journey throughout to the Himalayas at the age of 55 and write about her assembly with the thirteenth Dalai Lama in Kalimpong.
In a chapter about the mountain sojourns of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh, Navtej Sarna writes about Guru Nanak’s go to to mount Sumeru the place his assembly with 84 siddhas occurred “amongst them historic souls who possessed nice energy and nice knowledge”. Guru Nanak later documented his conversations with these enlightened beings in ‘Siddha Gosht’ in the Guru Granth Sahib.
During a dialogue with Rajiv Mehrotra about reincarnation and previous life, the 14th Dalai Lama tells him that, whether or not one is a believer of the karmic concept or not, what issues is that one must be a kind-hearted individual. ‘That is faith in itself,’ he says.
In his essay on Lal Ded, the wandering yogini of Kashmir, Ranjit Hoskote explores her life and her resolute dedication to the path in opposition to all odds, whereas Ramola Butalia delves into the siddha traditions. Madhu Tandon displays on letting go of attachments in a single’s twenties, and Alka Pande examines the Devi, or the Divine Feminine.
There’s additionally Tsering Dondrup’s riveting novella, The Handsome Monk, translated into English by Christopher Peacock that’s each humorous and tragic. This story offers a uncommon glimpse into the contradictions and ironies of a group largely unknown to outsiders.
Capturing the depth and breadth of one’s lifetime of insights and religious experiences in a single chapter is akin to making an attempt to know the boundless expanse of the sky inside the confines of one’s fist. And but, in her essay on the beloved Neem Karoli Baba, Namita Gokhale by some means manages to do this with exceptional ability and tenderness. She writes poignantly about receiving her guru’s blessings as a toddler and her transformative, typically silent, encounters along with his religious successor Siddhi Ma after his samadhi. Theforeword written by her in the anthology too evokes a vivid portrayal of her childhood spent in the spiritually charged mountains of Kumaon.
The line drawings by Siddhartha accompanying every chapter of the anthology are each meditative and creative and deserve a particular point out. With 25 chapters in the e book it’s inconceivable to do justice to all of them on this evaluate for need of area however each of them by their very own distinctive narratives and views contribute to the total theme and message of the e book.
Mystics and Sceptics shouldn’t be solely supposed for the religious seekers, but additionally for the curious-minded. Take the time to savour this e book by studying it slowly, permitting your self to totally immerse in the world of monks and mystics inside its pages. You shall be delighted, impressed and stunned by turns with the anecdotes and knowledge it has to supply.
Shunali Khullar Shroff is an creator and journalist primarily based in Mumbai, whose most up-to-date e book was Love in the Time of Affluenza
Mystics and Sceptics: In Search of Himalayan Masters
Edited by Namita Gokhale
pp. 336; Rs.699