9 May 2022 | By: Writing Buddha

Gods in Shackles by Sangita Iyer (Book Review: 4.75*/5) !!!

 2007th BLOG POST

11th Book of 2022

 


Many of us keep seeing videos of human kind torturing animals – generally with dogs, cats, monkeys etc. All we do is like the video and scroll to the next one. We never feel the pain that an animal must be going through during such physical and mental trauma on daily basis by some wicked soul. Few of us are really caring who go a step further and try to save the animal from such owners or criminals and gift them a new life by making someone among us adopt and give them a better livelihood. And then there are few like Sangita Iyer who make this a purpose of their life. I am numb after completing her book named “Gods in Shackles” which basically talks about what elephants can teach us about empathy, resilience and freedom and her journey with them.

 

Before writing this 300-pages book, Sangita had also created a 90-minute documentary based on what elephants have to go through in India – majorly in the state like Kerala. This book speaks about her journey towards identifying with this problem and then the challenges see faces in order to speak about the unjustified treatment towards elephants by temple authorities as well as zoo keepers. I had got this book in my shelf from sometime but I was skeptic about if I would enjoy it or not considering that it spoke about animals. Somehow, I thought of giving it a chance and after reading, I just feel that we, human beings, don’t deserve the kind of privileges we are provided over other beings on this planet.

 

Sangita makes you feel the pain an elephant suffers when it is taken into custody for the first time and tortured for next 72 hours and even more at times so that the mighty creature just gives up and surrenders. The way they are tortured with sharpened weapons and incessant thrashing and beatings make you move uncomfortably in your bed. Elephants are then kept captive by tying them with strong shackles made up of iron and metal. Sometimes, the size of the shackles is so small that it tears up the flesh of their ankle skin but no one ever tries to treat the wound or provide them with a comfortable shackle- even if the agenda is to keep them captive. They are made to stand throughout the day within those shackles under scorching heat all alone. When I say alone, I mean to say away from their breed which eventually makes these elephants fall into depression.

 

Many of them end up suffering with arthritis because of standing regularly without a minute of relaxation. Even if they do, the shackles are so strong that they end up hurting their skin, flesh and oozes blood out. Similarly, they go through lot of physical hurt when they are loaded/unloaded while taking for a festival in temples etc. They are not provided even 20% of food and water as per their daily requirement and made to do stuffs like standing at a temple regularly in scorching heat to make devotees feel excited or make 2-3 people sit on their spine and give them a walk – imagine doing all of this while being undernutrition. They are made to sit and stand on their urine and excrement without anyone cleaning it for them. They are sometimes not even taken to lakes for bathing for months. Many elephants are always found in tears under such atrocities but they have no other option than spending their life in such unjust environment. During festivals, there is fire and sound around them against which elephants are very allergic but unfortunately, they have to suffer all of these getting scared every minute. Author talks about this in detail while speaking about Thrissur Pooram – the festival celebrated in Kerala.

 

These are just few pointers I have mentioned out of 100 such problems Sangita has mentioned in this book that we have created for elephants out of our selfishness and commercialization. She touches your heart with her politeness towards elephants and the way she finds attachment with each one of them whenever she is on visit for this mission. I liked how she calls every Elephant using their name such as Lakshmi, Shiv Sundar, Rana etc. She treats them just like us – in reality and even when she writes about them. It tells how harmoniously she has worked on their documentary and this book. Every page is a reflection of it otherwise the pain of elephants would not have transferred into our hearts while reading it. I just couldn’t manage to complete more than 30 pages daily because of how traumatic, corrupted and ashamed I felt after reading about how we just think about ourselves on the planet and no one else.

 

Along with atrocities of the elephants, the last one-third of the book is majorly about author’s struggle with creating the documentary on this topic, taking requisite permissions and finally getting the access of having this being screened not at one place but multiple places. Her hardships when it came to finding members to work on this or the challenges where the whole day effort got wasted when the camera couldn’t adjust to the new environment and all videos got blurry or how the computer systems couldn’t support the large media files recorded for the documentary. Iyer also shares how she felt gratitude towards Universe at it helped her during the whole journey by joining the broken pieces which she couldn’t have done by herself alone if these invisible energies didn’t support her.

 

Overall, I would say that this book is an experience which will change your perspective towards how we live on this planet – how we treat others and what we think of ourselves after letting all of this happen in our presence. You will also be able to relate a lot with your conditions in your life the way author was able to relate it with women issues in India where they are suppressed to express their emotions due to patriarchal upbringing. Though I felt author generalized this issue as it isn’t like that anymore in most household as women are given as many opportunities as men otherwise such great women achievement stories wouldn’t be coming out every now and then. Secondly, I feel author could have cut short the book by at least 70-80 pages with more crisp chapters or arrangements. Otherwise, this book is very beautifully written which serves the intention and purpose with which it has been brought together. I give this attempt 4.75 stars out of 5. Yes!


PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE

 

Thanks!

 

WRITING BUDDHA 



3 May 2022 | By: Writing Buddha

Is changing the Trigger Point of Dopamine Rush possible?

2006th BLOG POST

 


I remember five years back, no one even spoke about things like dopamine or adrenaline rush. People didn’t even know if something like this existed but in the age of these clickbait articles and social media, everyone is aware about it. I really get confused if knowing about these elements is really useful for us in terms of living life in discipline or happiness. I see that rather than using this information in our favour, many of us have started giving excuses pointing our fingers on terms like these. You ask a youth why do they spend so much time on their mobile – either on Instagram, Reels, Snapchat, Youtube or playing games, they blame it on dopamine rush rather than accepting that they are in bad addiction. In our times, we used to just listen all our parent’s complaints about our time wastage but never had a justification to that but surprisingly, kids, today, have an answer for something as obviously wrong as this.

 

I think it’s time for everyone of us to know – majorly who are in 20s and 30s that this is the time when we are building our career and money. Any time wasted now comes with ill consequences which stays with you for a long time until you really perform something miraculous which can take away the after-effect of all your past goof-ups. Life isn’t that fair to any of us and we know it better now. At least, many of us know. Some people are still living in their own bubble to realize how life is playing with them. They will unfortunately acknowledge once it’s all over for them. Spending these years in productive mindset can do wonders to our present as well as the future.

 

Talking about the terms I was discussing above, what triggers dopamine rush within you can be easily manipulated by you. Yes, it’s possible and I have experimented with this. We just choose wrong things for triggering these emotions and chemical reactions within us. If you start doing a productive task with happiness and curiosity, you start feeling the same vibes you get when you do something on your mobile. For e.g. when I began my walking/running and healthy eating habits, it was tough initially. But because I had this goal of healthy medical report in my mind, every time, I ditched a junk food and ate something protein-rich, I started getting the same push from my body and mind which I got previously whenever I enjoyed unhealthy food. You can call this as shift of trigger points for activating this rush within you.

 

Similarly, as you all know the kind of reader I am. Until and unless, I don’t end up reading at least 30 pages, I feel there’s something incomplete about the day.  As soon as I find myself in the company of a book or books, I start feeling the same rush I get which people experience when they keep on scrolling reels after reels. Though, I still end up getting addicted to something on Mobile but the moment I realize that I am allowing my mind to get thrilled with a stupid activity, I tend to replace that activity with something else. And mind you, it’s possible.

 

A year back, I started getting excited whenever I watched any motivational or growth-oriented Youtube videos. I also considered this a good habit for quite some time as I felt I was indulged in a no-nonsense thing. One day I realized that I am just watching these contents for hours but not implementing anything. It is then that I realized that if you don’t pause or stop watching the very first motivational video and get back to work, the video is not working at all for you. It is not motivational but just an entertaining feel-good video. It is like watching a movie or Cricket match on television and nothing else. And then I got into the habit of ensuring that I find the same pleasure in getting back to work by opting out of the very first motivational video I would watch. And now, the dopamine rush I get is by ensuring that I watch Podcasts or Interviews only on Sundays to give myself the enthusiasm which we generally start losing from Friday on wards so that I can start my Mondays with positivity and energy. From daily consumption of multiple hours, it has gone down to 2 hours of viewing once in a week. That’s the whole time on Youtube I spend now. Can you imagine? Even I can’t but well, yes, it’s possible.

 

Hence, please try to work on what makes you excited as it can never be the other way around. It is always our decision and makings. If you make yourself focused towards entertaining contents to feel happiness every day, then that is what you will run towards but if you train your mind to feel excited doing things which grow you in the process – either personally, academically or professionally, then you can’t live without performing them at least once in a day. Like, it took me sometime but I have made the dopamine rush enabled for myself when I work on recording and editing my Youtube videos otherwise doing something like that would have never been possible as I am a very shy and conscious person. I can’t even take a selfie without getting nervous; leave talking on Camera for 8-15 minutes continuously without taking a pause. Hope you get my point. Please mail and let me know if you are also able to shift the trigger points of your dopamine rush like I did. Looking forward to hearing back from you.

 

Thanks!

 

WRITING BUDDHA 



25 April 2022 | By: Writing Buddha

The Stories We Tell by Devdutt Pattanaik (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!

2005th BLOG POST

10th Book of 2022

 


Discussing Indian mythology has become my new favorite thing. To discuss, you also need to know about it which has made me incline towards mythology books. There are only few authors who write on this in non-fiction genre trying to state facts as it is without shying. One such author is Devdutt Pattanaik who has become quite popular for retelling mythology from different perspective. He also faces certain criticisms for diluting some facts but it is inevitable to get through this because the topic is sensitive and some people genuinely get hurt if they don’t find things written the way they know about it. I am just done reading Pattanaik’s latest book released by Aleph named “The Stories We Tell” having a tagline that says “Mythology to make sense of modern lives”.

 

This 212-pages book discusses 72 different topics/tales which speaks about different kinds of mythology not only associated with Indian culture but other cultures and establishments too. Devdutt tries to widen our vision about how some stories are retold in different texts and cultures with the names of every culture’s respective Gods or Kings. The similarities between these stories were really surprising as the cultures are widely separated by the geography yet they speak almost the same thing. I kept on getting astonished in terms of how stories pass not only from one generation to another but even from one culture to another.

 

There are tales not only from Ramayan and Mahabharat but other vedas and puranas too. This really makes this book unique because the kind of stories and characters we get to know are generally not spoken about in other mythology books. It initially became really overwhelming for me to understand which character belongs to which phase of mythology but it makes you surf Internet to better your knowledge base. It actually helped me understand many different aspects of our Indian culture. There are few chapters which closes with moral or question or author’s perspective on the tale. In any case, it makes you think and realize what did the whole thing mean and that’s the magic the book does with you.

 

There are few pointers that stayed with me which I would like to mention as bullets below:

-          Author tells how Vishnu’s avatars are shared on social media which relates with the Human evolution theory but Devdutt gives it new outlook based on the caste system which I really found interesting.

-          Different versions of Kartikeya’s birth tells us of India’s diverse and complex layers in its culture.

-          The chapter on “Two Epics One Theme” tells us many similarities between Ramayan and Mahabharat which is surprising. Author also discusses few differences to give the complete view of it.

-          Surpanakha’s chapter was interesting for me as we only know about her from the moment she finds Ram in the jungle but here we get to know about her history before that incident which was a new learning for me.

-          Author clarifies the difference between Asuras and Rakshasas in one of the chapters which I believe is very necessary for people to know because generally we categorize them as the same kind of people.

-          “Hara and Hari” tells us the difference in personalities of Shiva and Vishnu yet author discusses how they are portrayed completely different in their images.

-          I never knew about Goddess Lakshmi’s sister, Alakshmi and even a Diwali ritual dedicated to her made me feel quite ignorant. Haha!

-          Another chapter on prominence of Numbers in our history and vedas is nicely described using which author also explains why he stopped at 72nd tale in this book.

-          The relevance of few animals such as Fish or Horse is dedicated a chapter which makes us understand why we often keep seeing or hearing about them in almost every mythological tale.

-          The difference in versions even in Abrahamic culture is catchy to read because people often say that Hinduism has multiple references whereas other religions doesn’t.

 

These are just few takeaways from the book otherwise there are many points which you would like to learn and keep in your mind so that you can have enough insights about our stories and culture. I wish I had a great memory to store a wonderful book like this in my brain forever. The chapters are short which makes it easy for you to read 4-5 of them every day and consume them slowly. As Devdutt has put it in his previous books, I would have loved to have him make us understand these stories through some hierarchical diagrams or images because few chapters had so many characters and their relationships explained that I would lose the link again and again.

 

Except that, this book is a good company to have while traveling or before sleeping every day. I give this one 4.5 stars out of 5. A very knowledgeable and well-researched piece of work.


PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE

 

Thanks.

 

WRITING BUDDHA