Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review : Kamandalu - Shrikala Warrier

India is a geographically diverse country with various rivers flowing through its lengths and breadths. I was completely unaware about the history, myths and the actual logical reasoning of the existence of these rivers and I am sure that I am not the only one. Just as I mentioned that India has many rivers flowing throughout the country, most of them are being worshiped and are considered sacred. But what's the actual deal?

I recently read Kamandalu - The Seven Sacred Rivers of Hinduism and as the title suggests it is about the seven sacred rivers of India, namely Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Sindhu/Indus, Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri. Just like me, everyone of you would have heard about these rivers and studied a bit of them though only for scoring some marks in the school exams. The book is not only about the seven sacred rivers, but it is also about the belief, the faith, the mythology and their existence on earth itself.

Kamandalu Book Review

Kamandalu - The Seven Sacred Rivers of Hinduism not only made the realize the importance of these rivers, but also their importance from a scientific and research perspective and how glorified are they in Indian mythology. It is only after reading this book that I have accepted some facts which we tried ignoring in the name of modernization and age old beliefs. A couple of things that this book made me realize are as follows

  • Taking a dip in Ganga helps you get rid of all your sins - This is explained with the helps of the Vedas and the Puranas but is it there any scientific evidence? Yes, it is scientifically proven that Ganga has self-purifying quality which leads to oxygen levels 25 times higher than any other river in the world. Though, it doesn't help you get rid of all your sins, but taking a dip in Ganga on a regular basis has health benefits
  • The Kalash or a Kamandalu must be present while offering Puja or Yajna - It is because the Kalash or Kamandalu comprising of the water in a vessel, leaves and coconut represent how the world is formed and the Yajna is done in its presence
  • We celebrate Guru Purnima as the Indian version of teachers' day, but in reality it is celebrated as Veda Vyasa's birthday as well as the day the original Veda split into 4 books
The book also takes you through different places, specifically in the vicinity of the rivers, that are designated as the tirtha sthaan and the reasons behind their worship as river goddess.
The book is written by Shrikala Warrier, who is an anthropologist and is the dean of the Mayur University in London. According to me, she has done a great work compiling the information. The thing that makes the book different to me is the references that it gives and is not a work of assumption or fiction.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing India from a perspective that is usually ignored. I would also suggest not reading the book at one go because it has a healthy overdose of information. Read the book, one river at a time.

Other details:
Copyrights: Shrikala Warrier
ISBN: 978-0-9595679-7-3
Cover Design: Helena Rosas, Gopi Warrier, Gayatri Vadagama and Sarah Morritt
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