Title : PROPHET OF LOVE
Language : English
Author : Farrukh Dhondy
Genre : Fiction
Publisher : Harper Collins India( 2013 )
ISBN-13 : 9789350296677
ISBN-10 : 9350296675
Binding : Paperback
Price : Rs. 299 ( Buy from Flipkart.com @Rs.152/- ( 49%Off! )
Pages : 324
The Book Summary : A novel about sexual duplicity and intrigue with a charismatic godman at its centre. An ashram in northern India becomes the arena for a tale of love and intrigue, against the backdrop of communal Achants and exaggerated paraphernalia of public spirituality.
It begins with the appearance of a traumatized young woman, Diamond or Ma Vidhyadhari, at the doorstep of a rookie journalist, Farrukh Dhondy. She has been banned from the ashram, but her daughter, Sapphire, has been held hostage to ensure her silence. She seeks justice and the return of her child; he is an idealist who wants to get to the truth and help the woman in distress. Thus begins an adventure that pits them against the might and concealed horrors of a bigoted world where bodies and minds are equally dispensable. Will their quest end in triumph? Or will the writ of the guru prevail? Centred on the fictional Bhagwan Saket, this is a novel that dares to explore the corridors of spiritual power in India.
My Point of View ( P.O.V ) : Recent exposures of Asaram Bapu or the disclosures on Osho Rajneesh by his once disciple Sheela, has opened up a pandoras box on how some of these so called holy 'godmen' actually runs a sleazy business, under the garb of spiritualism - fooling millions of blind followers in the process. While the book 'Prophet of Love' has no connection with the former, it was interesting to learn that the story is loosely based on the latter i.e Osho. This revelation indeed sparks interest and provides fodder to bash these bogus spiritual institutions, that give hinduism and spiritualism such a bad name. Though I'm tempted, let me just concentrate on the book for now.
Though the name of the character is kept different i.e Bhagwan Saket; his description, appearance ( long white beard and black/white hair ), clothing ( crimson robes ), followers ( mainly western ), the sex, the meditation, the Rolls Royce & fleet of luxurious cars and of course his ashram in Pune etc screams loudly of Bhagwan Rajneesh for the striking resemblance. While the author in a DNA interview, claims that 14% of the story is true and the protagonist is himself; the rest 86% is imagined truth - it does raise your curiosity levels manifold. The story has two protagonists, with one being the author himself who takes the story forward, while the other is Chandrika ( an associate of the Spiritual Guru ) - providing the background of plot. The two narratives donot clash, hence, the story flows forward smoothly.
The story is a peek into the Spiritual Guru's Pune ashram and to get to the truth behind that cleverly 'cloaked' public image. Of course, it ain't that easy. The author's investigations into the “the religion of the lost children” hits the blank wall with no positive response from the commune ( except the obvious facade ), until he meets up with the banished sanyasin 'Diamond', a dissident. She has her daughter, whom she is trying to desperately take out of the ashram. Ultimately, along with the help of Farrukh's journalist friend Praful Surti, things move forward. Chandrika's narration meanwhile, takes us back to the Guru's past ( way back in the late 70's ), his struggles et al. As a child, he was left to die in a monastary in the Himalayas by his parents ( following a prophecy that he'd die on his 7th birthday ) and later saved by a benefactor - Chandrika ( a monk ), who eventually becomes his guardian. When he didn't die at 7, Chandrika was asked to kill him, but he escaped with the child instead to the city. Then the young boy proceeded on through life to ultimately become the Spiritual Guru 'Bhagwan' ( especially to westerners via his philosophy of sexual healing ) - this happened mainly after the duo's encounter with the two characters, Mr Bhavnani and Shanti that took them to their ashram in Pune. Saket had a natural gift of the gab, and in no time the ashram was thronging with filthy rich westerners, making him the wealthiest godman in India. The story fluctuates between past and present with these two distinct narratives.
Positives : Vividly described, suspenseful and a well narrated book with enough twists and turns to keep you hooked. With good humour, the story flows smoothly and you are taken into a different intriguing world - that you often read mostly in papers/media etc yet donot know of completely.
Negatives : None! though a Caution : It does have some abusive language to look out for.
Who will enjoy this? - Everyone!
Buy or Don’t Buy? – A Must Buy!
About the Author : Farrukh Dhondy is a screenwriter, playwright and bestselling novelist. Born in Pune, India in 1944 he went to school and college in Pune and then to Pembroke College, Cambridge. He graduated in 67 having read Natural Sciences and English. He went on to do a thesis on Rudyard Kipling at Leicester University and then taught in various London schools. He has written several books including The Bikini Murders which was on top of the Indian bestseller lists for three weeks, Bombay Duck, Poona Company and the screenplay of Split Wide Open among others.
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