Sunday, September 15, 2019

Book Review : City of Nine Gates

This blog has been mostly dead due to lack of bandwidth. And the era of text blogging has diminished, and now it is the era of visual story telling, and hence people are more glued to Facebook and instagram worthy content, and Youtube for longer form storytelling. Therefore, I even contemplated shutting down this link a few months ago. I post more regularly on the Facebook and Instagram Pages linked to this blog - so come follow me there to stay in touch with the latest stuff.  My mental health oscillating between bad and worse did not help the case either. Anyway things are better now, and this opportunity to review a book came to me via BlogAdda, so I decided to breathe life into this blog again through this.

Book Review : City of Nine Gates by Pankaj Rajput
Philosophy in the guise of Fiction

The phrase Navadwarapuri meaning the city of nine gates is a metaphoric phrase used in Hindu spiritual discourses. It refers to the human body and is the starting point to explaining the deeper philosophical concepts of Sanatana Dharma.

So, when I picked up this book, I was very curious to know how the author tied this idea into a mythological fiction which is the genre of this book.

 The philosophical part of the book is set in a fictional opening. An atheist entrepreneur who also has an interest in archaeology is the central character of the book. The story takes off when this person is on the stage at an award function his entrepreneurial success. At this award function he gets a vision and what he sees in that vision forms the contents of the book.  The book covers all the fundamental concepts that are covered in yogic Philosophy of Sanatana Dharma also popularly called Hinduism. The author personifies concepts to explain how the human body is envisioned in Yogic tradition. Not only this, other aspects of the Hindu philosophy are visualised as people as well. And  using this as back drop, the path to Moksha or Liberation from one’s Karma phal and Vasana are portrayed as a war with the Mind, Intellect, Ego, Memory and Inherent knowledge of the Supreme on one side and the powerful Desire and the army of Thoughts and Emotions on the other side.  The Samkhya and Advaita schools of thought are also depicted as sages who seek the central character Gyan’s help to understand the approach to Moksha – the way to break the cycle of birth, death, misery and despair that is part and parcel of life as we human beings know it and it all ends with Gyan giving a sermon about his entire experience in the City of Nine Gates that he just liberated.

Frankly, what spiritual aspirants spend a lifetime to understand, this book tries to cover or at least tries to touch upon in 288 pages, due to which there is always too much going on in any given page. Nevertheless, the author’s extensive research and detailed knowledge of the subject shines through the entire book. However, I strongly believe that this book could have been shaped much better had the author written this as a direct philosophy book that aims to put deep philosophical concepts in the language of the millennials rather than attempting a mish mash of a (fictional) story. Once classified as a fiction, one does look for a plot or a storyline which this book severely lacks. But let that not take away the fact that this is a brilliant retelling of spiritual concepts and is worth perusing through a couple of times just for that.