I rarely do book reviews but since I absolutely love reading as it is one of my favourite pastimes that I indulged in the wee hours of the night with a picturesque moon hanging outside my skies, I have decided to actually share some of the books that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Come along now, and if you adore historical accounts, biographies and philosophical thought, politics as well as religion, well now, don’t be shy and follow me on this blog!
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
A young man and the son of a Brahmin in ancient India, Siddhartha was unsatisfied with the way he was living his life and one day found inspiration from a group of people called the “Samanas” who were making their way through the town. They were people who rejected physical pleasure/desires and the pampering of one’s bodies for they believed that is how one could seek enlightenment. This intrigued Siddhartha to embarked on following such a path for the teaching of his religion and from his father, though he has performed all the rituals did not give the enlightenment that he was seeking and his friend Govinda decided to join him as well as they embrace this newfound path.
“I have always thirsted for knowledge, I have always been full of questions.”
He was quick to adapt to the ways of the “Samanas” and the lifestyle that he had been brought up with as a Brahmin enabled him to learn to free himself from the earthly attachments / trivialities of life and his need for what we would call essentials such as land, clothes, anything that is excess and sustaining on just the very bare minimum to survive and found it possible to reject the world and its pleasures. However, even though his friend Govinda was impressed by the lifestyle, morality and teachings of their newfound path, Siddhartha was nevertheless, restless and unsatisfied “…and the vessel was not full, his intellect was not satisfied, his soul was not at peace, his heart was not still.”
There was certainly more and he continued on his path to seek his enlightenment. Throughout his journey, he was exposed to the wisdom of business, the art of love as well as the deeper levels of spirituality. It is a mesmerising book that makes you reevaluate your life thoroughly, even the dusky corners of your heart, cannot be hidden from the spotlight of your mind anymore.
“Most people…are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path.”
2. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov as a young man led a life of debauchery and eventually married twice. From his marriages, he sired three children and did not pay much attention towards them as they were sent off to relatives and friends to be raised when his wives passed away. The eldest Dmitri from the first marriage grew up to be a soldier and returned to the town of his father to seek his inheritance from his mother and thus his presence displeased Fyodor Pavlovich for he wanted it for himself. Inevitably, this led to Ivan the second son of the second marriage, an intellectual but an unempathetic one to be called in to settle this conflict. Alyosha the third daughter of the second marriage as well, who kindhearted was roped in to help and as a student of the monastery of Elder Zosima, she agrees to arrange for Zosima to meet with the quarrelling parties, however during the meeting, heated words were exchanged and a realisation that their quarrels were more than just money but also included a lover of which they both were vying for.
The conflict escalates and is quite chaotic ( for the lack of a better word ) as it bounces of themes such as murder, court room dramas, forgiveness, as well as the yearning of faith and a lesson to not judge one another too quickly and harshly. The book definitely has an ongoing theme of faith and religion, and the author Dostoevsky definitely sides with faith, hence not quite a neutral stance when it comes to religion and thus one needs an open mind to embrace this 700-page book. My favourite chapter is chapter 5, “The Grand Inquisitor” which is a poem by Ivan, which includes a cardinal arresting Christ in a town in Spain during the 16th century because His works were supposedly against the teachings of the Church. Ironically, in bibical terms, Christ is the Church, whereas here there is a clear distinction that the Church and Christ are separate entities. The Grand Inquisitor then proceeds to tell Christ where He did wrong and that when the Church took over the Roman Empire, it was not evil because it was ensuring what is best for mankind and free will just isn’t it. A very thought-provoking book that still manages to kick a punch even if you aren’t familar with the intricacies of Christianity and gets the gears in your head turning.
“Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to the passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself.” (Elder Zosima’s speech to Fyodor Pavlovich in Book II, Chapter 2)