Shiva in the City of Nectar sweeps across Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, narrating the exploits of the mysterious and powerful blue-throated god. One after another, the tales unfold the follies of ancient devas, asuras, sages, men and mythical beasts. And through them all, Shiva blithely takes on the guise of beggar, saint, monarch, merchant, fisherman, hunter, warrior and woodcutter; walking through the three worlds to slay rampaging demons, perform his Dance of Bliss and embrace good and bad alike.
Shiva is portrayed in all his multi-faceted mystique – the tender lover who woos and weds Goddess Meenakshi; the eternal Guru who dispenses wisdom; the fierce avenger whose third eye flashes fire; the generous benefactor who showers blessings on his devotees; and, above all, the gentle prankster who embodies the essence of Vedic faith.
Thoughts : Shiva in the city of nectar is a book of short stories about Lord shiva and his various antics, adventures and rescues. Ranging from flash fiction sized stories to longer, 5 or 6 page short stories, this speaks of the Devas and the Asuras and everyone/everything in between and their adulation for lord Shiva.
For those that don’t know Lord Shiva is part of the trinity in Hinduism, i.e., Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He is supposed to be the destroyer with immense power. While he is quick to anger he is also said to be the most compassionate god and his worshippers believe that if you are his devotee, no harm can ever come to you. You can see why he is so loved and why there are so many brilliant books written about him.
My cousin and I used to spend our summer holidays at another cousin’s place. That cousin was much older than us but my aunt used to tell us stories about Shiva and the other gods (my grandma was a Vishnu devotee and mostly told us stories about his incarnations) that make up out most famous epics and scriptures. These stories are all very familiar to me and I zipped through them in no time! My only gripe is that the women in the story, goddesses I mean, are written about like those “my wife sucks” jokes. For example, everytime Parvathi gets annoyed with her husband’s actions, the author makes a dismissive statement about how annoying wives are as if women are “like that”. And other stories where the men teach their wives a lesson because they are being unreasonable. (They aren’t being unreasonable). Apparently even our goddesses aren’t exempt from male chauvinistic jokes. I was not expecting that from a female author and it annoyed me quite a bit.
The stories are written in a brief manner, like those stories that are told in Bakthi channels. Written without any flowery language, to the point and simple, these are an easy read for anyone who is looking to learn a bit more about Shiva. But do note, you have to know something about Hinduism and it’s stories, particular south Indian Hinduism, to be able to follow them otherwise you’ll be left wondering who each character is and what significance their actions hold. The portion that I loved the most is about Lord Shiva and his marriage to the reincarnated Parvathi, in the city of Madurai. Having been to Madurai a couple of times to visit the Meenakshi temple, these stories felt particularly close to my heart.
Unlike other short story collections, this cannot be read in a random manner. While some stories are standalones, others follow one after another, each story being about a different incident about the same thing. For example, there are a few stories about the wedding portion in Madurai, right from her yagna to how the food was distributed and the difficulties they encountered. So just read one after another and you’re enjoy this, particularly if you’re reading it out loud to a younger audience. Read this if you know how stories in Hinduism go, and if you enjoy that style.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.