Sunday, April 16, 2017

Don't Believe in God Till You Experience Him by Frog Books

Title:  Don't Believe in God Till You Experience Him.
Author: Mukul Kumar
Publisher: Frog Books

Genre: Religion

Date:  2017

Price: INR 275/134.40 (Kindle)

Pages: 266

I thought this would be an easy book for me to review, given that I myself have traversed this phase – or rather, am traversing this phase – a hunt for the truth of existence. Little did I know then that this would be one of the hardest books to review – and one I could not back out of, as I had given my word. Aur diyaa huaa shabd main waapas nahi letaa; sachhaa Sanaatan Dharmi jo thhe heraa. I still believe in the promise, the spoken word, given that I have seen, used and felt its power in Modern Business in India, where the word, shabd, promise still is paramount even in deals for crores, from personal experience!

Is the book that bad? That it isn’t; most certainly. I rate it 3 stars; shorn of my bias, it is easily 4-stars. This is an excellent work, and if it is fiction – repeat – if it is fiction; then it qualifies for 4.5 stars unbiased, & 3.5 stars from my personal POV. This comes across as a real-life story; at no point does this seem like fiction. And yet, I have come across nothing anywhere that tells me this is a real story. And that is the major point of this book : the top-notch use of words and language!

This is a story about one man’s life from his childhood till his approaching 30s, a story about his life, his trials, his experiences. I would not rate this as a fully spiritual book; but that is my POV entirely. This is the story of a boy from a not-so-well-off family; not poor, but decidedly not middle class either. This boy is just at the right socio-economic stage where materialism is just tantalizingly within reach so as to make it desirable, and just out of reach to make it frustrating. And that is the beauty of the story; this made an instantaneous connect with me.

This is the story of an imperfect person, like all of us; someone you can instantly relate with. A person from a joint family, with his parents and especially his mother being picked upon regularly, a person who goes through a less-than-ideal childhood. Not bullied in any way, but sadly exposed to bullying of his mother, and the family troubles that leave a deep impression. A child of a second marriage, and all that it entails; this is riveting stuff, and has been superbly dealt with.

This is his story- and how he grows from toddler-hood to childhood to adolescence, and onwards; the struggles he goes through for an education, and how his family and he manage to scrape through. This is the story of how he goes what I call wayward, and how circumstances and his conscience manage to get himself to correct himself, and make it to a good college for a decent education. This is the part of the story that is truly riveting, and deeply connective on an emotional level.

And then this boy, or young adult goes what I will prefer to call astray. He gets hopelessly entangled in the web of an occult group, when he should be either focusing on his studies exclusively, or enjoying college life. One gives knowledge, the other develops experience and openness, both of which are vital for success in the Modern World. Our genius does neither; and goes headlong after a wild-goose chase into the unfathomable waters of the mystical. And from this point onwards, the book slowly loses steam, till eventually losing connect with me in some 15% of the book, before turning around once again into riveting stuff in the last 10-15 pages.

This brings me to the main and indeed only reason for me docking a star in my rating; the shift into what I call the occult, and what others may prefer to call Spirituality  - could have been handled much better; it comes across as abrupt. It is this lack of a proper connect which causes the story to lose some steam. The overall characterization tones are in keeping with a spiritual bent on mind; that I grant. But it seems to abrupt when it does come about. Having been in an intensely personal spiritual hunt for 2-3 years myself now, I realize that it can indeed  be abrupt; but the background for the shift has to be there, and a trigger has to be present.

If I look back at myself, I can readily see both the abruptness of the switch; as well as the triggers. I first read the Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta in my teens; the hero {or anti-hero} of the novel got his first experience with meditation in the teens as well. So far, so good. But this chappie gets attracted to the meditative side when he should be excited for the new and rich phase in his life, which I personally call the Occult, being a daily reader of the Upanishads & The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta; being a person who has read a minimum of a dozen ancient texts, and several more books on them in my hunt.

Now that set-up requires either a trigger, or a personality trait, habit that can logically drive a person towards that path.  In my case, I am a voracious reader; have read and reviewed 155+ books; have a personal collection of over 500; deeply into non-fiction, in a long {now in its 8th year} hunt for Colonial Reality and Independence Historical truths; and went through a tough phase in life, besides always wondering on the nature of life in general and our purpose on it, as my writings of the past 10 years tell. Thus, it was simple enough to get attracted to ancient texts in the Geeta Press Stall I came across. That is what the story lacks; a sufficiently deep and logical reason that can fully explain the shift. I concede shifts can happen; I myself am living proof.

The second part of the book is all about a frankly dark, mysterious experience with an ever-increasing foray into the side of the Occult, as this anti-Hero quits his life, his steady job and goes headlong into this hunt for peace, something which my spiritual understanding tells me is plumb wrong, since so long as one is in this body, one cannot ignore its needs, and indeed duties. You don’t just quit and run. But the biggest plus is what emerges here, paradoxically; as the story surprisingly comes together in the end, to make it sound almost logical. For that, read the book; it is good enough for a read, and more!

I will not make any comments on the title, or the Author’s Goodreads blog contents; whether or not you choose to believe in God is your own decision. I have my views; you have yours. That is my outlook on this. The past 2-3 years, my studies in this field, and my experiences have all led me to believe in my path; let us leave it at that. As regards the book, this is an excellent work of fiction, with a riveting story – and never mind its one flaw, which you can overlook.

About the Author: 

"Mukul hails from a small historical town, Rajgir in Nalanda district in the state of Bihar. Coming from a humble background, he gained rich experience as he traversed through different phases of his life. Due to poor educational infrastructure back home, he was forced to travel, first to Patna and then to Delhi, for higher studies. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delhi University. The search for excellence that started with his pursuit for education, continued with his professional career. Mukul joined the IT industry as he came out of college, and has been travelling across the globe working out of client locations. A man with many unfulfilled dreams and no regrets, Mukul likes to pursue writing, reading, introspection, meditation, traveling and understanding human psyche."


The book review has been written by Vishal Kale. He has an MBA in Marketing with 16 years of experience in Sales, Marketing & Operations across various industries, with end-to-end specialisation in telecom sales and marketing. 

He is an Indian Top Blogger {on ITB Website} for the past 2 years and counting; Nominated in top 5 Political Bloggers by Blogadda in Win-15 & Among the top 200 bloggers worldwide on Invesp. He specialises in deep politico-economic analysis; Books off the beaten track, and a value & fundamentals-based approach towards the Indian Economy, Corporate India - And Especially Indian Colonial History"


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