Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hounds of Shiva by Preetha Rajah Kannan

I know "Hound" means "Hunting dogs" but don't go by the literal mean. As cover, blurb, and prologue suggest here Preetha has taken stories of Shivagana or famously known as Gana or Bhutgana. This the third book in Siva series by Preetha. Though she or publisher have never claimed these books as series you can easily categorize them under one. The first book was "Shiva in the city of Nectar" which was based on Shiva's stories in and around Madurai. The second book was "Son of Shiva" which was based on Shiva and Karthikeya. And this book is based on Shiva again. 

Book Blurb
As its mahout goaded the mammoth royal elephant to the open space where Navukkarasu was held, the beast trumpeted in fury, knocking down walls and ornamental arches in wanton aggression. The earth shook under its tread and the crowd surged back in fear.
Navukkarasu fearlessly stood his ground asserting, “The Cosmic Dancer who wears a garment of elephant hide will protect me.”
The animal charged forward - only to stop short before the saint. In an instant, all aggression leached out of the beast. As docile as a lamb, the elephant circumambulated Navukkarasu, clumsily fell to its knees, and raised its trunk in homage to him. Lumbering to its feet, it then carefully backed away from its intended victim.
Hounds of Shiva is a treasure house of tales with impassioned, heroic acts of sacrifice, devotion and service in the lives and times of the Nayanmars – the sixty-three Shaivite saints who were exemplars of bhakti. Kannappa gouges out his eye to heal Shiva’s wound; Punitavati renounces her youth and beauty to follow the Lord as an emaciated ghoul; Siruthondar sacrifices his own son at Shiva’s command; Iyarpahai gifts his beloved wife to another man; Samandhar raises a boy from the dead; Poosal builds an intricate Shiva temple in his heart.
But the book’s hero is Lord Shiva, who assumes myriad disguises to sport with his devotees, blessing and testing them. Filled with astounding miracles, Hounds of Shiva is an untold tale of the Blue-throated Lord and a feast for the mind and soul.
Preetha Rajah Kannan is the author of Shiva in the City of Nectar, an enthralling collection of stories based on the revered Tamil text, Thiruvilayaadal Puranam. She is also the editor of Navagraha Purana, a translation of the eponymous Telugu work on the mythology of the nine planets, by celebrated author V. S. Rao. Kannan has contributed extensively to newspapers and magazines, such as The New Indian Express and The Express School Magazine. A homemaker and a mother of two boys, she lives with her family in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
The difference between 1st and 3rd book (Hounds of Shiva) is the central them. The 3rd book is dedicated to solely devotees of Shiva. Thirty-seven stories covered are of such staunch devotees of Lord. Shiva has directly/indirectly tested their devotion. Their devotion and love towards Shiva undaunted by difficult tests of Lord. They were blessed moksha and given place in Shivaloka among Lord's Gana.

Preetha's writing style is magical. She writes short stories with full conviction. You can feel her devotion towards Shiva through her words. Each story starts with a place, a devotee and a beautiful narration. the author set the stage and deliver a wonderful story in just 4-6 pages. If you are fed up with Mytho-fictional made up stories those are hitting market currently, then check this book. It has maintained the same touch of our old religious stories. Instead of criticising lord like current trend, stories here show his importance.

This book can be gifted to middle graders to people in their eighties or nineties, due to the simplicity of language, narration, and subject.

A worthy read. Talking about ratings
  1. Cover - 4/5
  2. Content - 3.5/5
  3. Concept - 3.5/5
  4. Overall - 4/5
The book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads


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