The Reluctant Family Man: Shiva in Everyday Life

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Item Code: NAQ700
Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Nilima Chitgopekar
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9780143443216
Pages: 198
Other Details 8.00 X 5.00 inch
Weight 150 gm
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Book Description
Back of the Book
He's the destroyer of evil, the pervasive one in whom all • things lit. He is brilliant, terrifying, wild and beneficent. He is both an ascetic and a householder, both a yogi and - a guru. He encompasses the masculine and the feminine, the powerful and the graceful, the Tandava and the Laasya, the darkness and the light, the divine and the human.

What can we learn from this bundle of contradictions, this dreadlocked yogi? How does he manage the devotions and duties of father, husband and man of the house, and the "demands and supplications of a clamorous cosmos?

In The Reluctant Family Man, Nilim life and personality of Shiva-his self his balanc% his detachment, his co lessons that renders can practically apply to their own lives.

With chapters broken down into distinct frames of analysis, she defines concepts of Slavism and interprets their application in everyday life.

Us. We exist. We live in a quagmire of messy lives. We suffer through physical and emotional struggles. We propagate hurtful biases. We sully every compliment with suspicion. We brood, we fester. We resort to sarcasm liberally. We are miserly, we hoard, and we wait endlessly for the perfect occasion. We never own up to being wrong. We rarely appreciate a gift. We wait for others to call. We are petty. We make do. We remain stuck in ancient regrets. We feel superior with inadequate knowledge.

We are directionless. We find daily lives drudgery. We find fault with everyone and everything. Not today, not yesterday, not now and then, but always. We are completely convinced that this is going to be the story of our lives.

Them. They don't react when someone is rude to them; you rarely see them shout or slam doors. Even when confronted by a major setback, they withdraw, calibrate and turn the reversal to their advantage. They don't blame anyone for their misfortunes. Their compliments are genuine. They seldom make you wait for them. They know when to move away from an argument. They don't keep reminding you of the time you were mean to them. They forgive. They are curious about you. They don't go on and on talking about themselves. Even if you are to vent uncontrollably about someone, they will filter your conversation. They don't relish seeing you get in trouble. Their smiles, almost always, reach their eyes. They can laugh with complete strangers, they can make anyone laugh, and they can laugh at themselves. They find fulfillment in things they have been doing every day. They seem to have lightness about them.

Everyone would agree that there is a lot worth improving in the way we live and the way we experience the world. The moment of epiphany is when we realize that even we can become 'them', with studied effort. That we can remodel parts of ourselves and thereby change our lives. Yes, if we want, we can tweak this life. Merely believing this fosters hope and inspires us into action. This is a crucial acknowledgment that vast numbers of people are oblivious to. The very first step is to have the willingness to embrace a typology or, better still, a philosophy of change, to become open to change. This would mean to validate change by initiating self-transformation. In this regard, there are two main types of change. One involves familiarizing ourselves with certain characteristics within that are doing us harm. We can try to eliminate, transform or modify them. The second comes about if there is a sudden occurrence, good or bad, in one's life, and refers to the change that is required to live with these altered circumstances. Both types of change entail a proactive role to be played by the individual. This is a crucial life skill to adopt and embrace as it is increasingly apparent that those who adapt quicker, to either one of these changes or to both, can soften, if not eliminate much agony in their life.

For many years, I found it intriguing to see the way our divinities are depicted while coping with struggles in their godly lives. There are different ways to explore this: through their appearance in iconic representations, literature, scriptures, rituals and myths. The source I have used in this book is mythology. Pithily, it is often stated that biography is about the life of humans and mythology is about gods. This is far too simplistic an observation. In actuality, myths are generally associated and have a symbiotic relationship with society. They are like a connecting chain, where communication between people from different ages is through stories embodied in the myths. In other cultures, myths are often relegated to a distant past. At best, they are used polemically to indicate an erroneous belief, or romantically to suggest an archaic or even sacred mode of discourse. However, myths, in the Hindu tradition, are very much alive and part of the ethos. They are narratives that endorse and empower our search for meaning through the ages. They are also simple and inviting stories that weave magic into the lives of people and creep into their very being, into their very essence, to be passed on from one generation to the other. Even though they are idioms of the imagination of the inner world, yet they bind, preserve, create a continuum-religious, social, philosophical and historical. The individual revelatory experience is also validated by getting incorporated into mythology.

Undoubtedly, some myths look like they are either meant to entertain or to symbolize a historical event. It seems that ultimately fantasy, history, reality and thought merge to create mythology.

Hindu mythology is humungous to the point of sometimes being unwieldy, partly because of certain unique traits it possesses. It is not static but dynamic, akin to a living organism, amoeba-like, growing and sometimes changing radically. Layer upon layer of history seems to have got assimilated in myths, which preserve traditions. Different myths mutate over the passage of time, with barnacle-like additions being made to them or truncations taking place in big and small measures. This is an inherent feature of the oral tradition, which evolves out of many combinations. This includes the Brahmin cal and the non-Brahmin cal voices. This gives birth to outstandingly curious and fascinating stories, which are constantly getting revamped. Since very little seems to get discarded, the result is a large storehouse of myths. The same myth may also have different versions geographically, with each region tossing out its own version of a story. This grand and yet inchoate nature of Hindu mythology could render one diffident in attempting to make sense of this veritable trove. Moreover, it is also true, when commenting on any Hindu myth, that there is always the risk that the opening of one vista may involve the closing of another. Yet, despite all these paradoxes, it is my understanding that mythology is a vast cultural resource for our perusal, free and easy to access. Anybody attempting to fathom aspects of the Indic ethos should make a beeline towards mythology. For this evolving tradition of myths is the intuitive, collective outcome of an ageless, nameless and diverse thought process. They are the keepers of our soul, so to say, and the keepers of many cultural traits.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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