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Zara’s Witness: A Soul Journey Into the Nature of Being

Zara’s theme (via Qpute.com)

ZARA’S WITNESS: A SOUL JOURNEY INTO THE NATURE OF BEING Author: Shubhrangshu RoyHay House Publishers India/ 204 pages

It is not very often that business journalists weave a story around Indian philosophy and its various manifestations, narrating a tale that is worth telling. Yet, Shubhrangshu Roy ‘Zara’s Witness: A Soul Journey Into the Nature of Being’ does exactly that.

Presented as a letter from a father to a daughter, it is not the usual bunch of homilies that daddy hands out to his little girl. Instead, this original novel uses fantasy, myth, science, music and poetry and stream of consciousness to commmunicate deep insights on the nature of inner reality.

Daughter Zara begins her journey up in the lap of mother nature, the rivers and the mountains. She poses the most eternal question, common to many philosophical strains, but asked nowhere more ardently than in the Indic traditions – Who am I?

The answer that she receives comes from the creatures of the forest – a frog, a lizard, an elephant, a hyena and a turtle – the elements and the river.

Zara confronts the question of being and identity and learns that willing renunciation – the most profound of concepts in Hindu thought, one that has launched a million ideas – is the essence of bliss. Zara’s Witness, therefore covers serious philosophical and existential issues through parables and Vedantic reflections.

As Roy the author points out, quoting Wendy Doninger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternate History, the conversation is the centrepiece of the book, for which the narration is merely a frame. The book deploys several tools used in other crafts and science such as literature, poetry, theatre, classical Indian and Western music, cinema and quantum computing to narrate Zara’s inner theme.

The complexity of the book lies in it being part parabolic and part fable. A parable is usually a simple lesson, whereas fables employ animals, plants and inanimate objects to tell a story. This book is didactic, in verse that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles.

Zara’s Witness remains a philosophical fantasy where Zara’s story is told through the four ashramas of life, which guide a human towards fulfilment, happiness and spiritual libertion. The book, quite simply, is aimed towards anyone who is trying to find their purpose in life. If you appreciate the finer nuances of life, it can help you go on a journey of self-discovery and rumination.


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