Book Review: Stolen Hope

Here’s a book, Stolen Hope, that integrates Ramayana with our lives..

I opened Stolen Hope with a note to me by the author Shubha Vilas, and on the basis of that note only I started my journey with the epic Prince Rama, Lakshamana and Sita.

Stolen Hope starts with the time when Rama, Lakshamana and Sita were camped in Dandakaranya forest during their fourteen year exile. Together they undertake a journey to unravel mysteries related to sages and their powers. Wherever they went, it was like sages were waiting for Rama only to come and set them free of their plight. They meet and hear stories of Sage Agatsaya, the sage who combined humor with his rigorous lifestyle and an intelligent mind like no other. Agatsaya then guides them to live in Panchavati forest, where they can spend last few years of their exile.

In Panchavati, the trio come across Jatayu, who watches over the skies and a lasting friendship begins between humans and a celestial being. But a day comes that marked the doom of Rakshasa clan and a period of pain for Rama and Lakshamana. Supranakha, Rakshasa King Ravana’s sister comes across Rama and Lakshamana in the forest. She starts drooling over Rama’s beauty and declares her love for him. Mockingly, Rama directs her attention towards his single brother Lakshamana, but Lakshamana also turns her down. Realizing that both brothers were mocking her, Supranakha tries to attack Sita so that she could have Rama all for herself, but Lakshamana intervenes and cuts off her ears and nose.

Insulted and brutally hurt, Supranakha goes to her brother Khara to deal with the trio. Khara launches an army of fourteen thousand rakshasas to kill the trio. But Rama extinguishes the whole army single handedly. Tired of defeat and insult, Supranakha pays a visit to Ravana and instigates him to capture Sita for his harem. Ravana, blinded by lust, uses his uncle’s powers to divert Rama and Lakshaman’s attention away from Sita, and captures her..

We all know the story, but do we know the lessons and small stories hidden in this epic tale? Stolen Hope is like a breathe of fresh air for readers. The best part about the Stolen Hope is the small lessons that each chapter of the book leaves with you. Shubha Vilas has taken a lot of effort to integrate lessons of Ramayana in our life, and it reflects in the way Stolen Hope has been written.

Lessons from the Supranakha episode;

”Such people can only smell their own sweet desire and do not allow good advice to enter their ears. So Lakshamana had to cut open her nose and ears to open them to smelling other’s needs as well as hearing good advice.”

Akampana advising Khara to back off and reconsider the war between him and Rama;

”The telescope to analyze our decisions should be fitted with an extra lens, not just of enthusiasm but also of realism”

Lessons like this are all around the stories mentioned in the Stolen Hope. It’s not just a book, it’s a reservoir of life lessons that we ignore when we read this epic tale, whether in the fictional or non-fictional form.  A reader may read it as a regular Ramayana story or read it carefully, trying to learn a lesson or two from the stories mentioned, nonetheless, Stolen Hope is a really good book and something that you should devour into.



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