Book Review: 'Lotus In The Stone' Is A Long And Lyrical Journey Along The Sacred Map Of India

Book Review: 'Lotus In The Stone' Is A Long And Lyrical Journey Along The Sacred Map Of IndiaBook cover - Lotus in the Stone
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  • This book looks at India as sacred geography connected by temples and places of worship that act as spiritual nodes pulsating with sacred energy.

Lotus In The Stone. Anuradha Goyal. Garuda Prakashan. Pages 206. Rs 350.

When I received a review copy of ‘Lotus In The Stone’ by Anuradha Goyal, I assumed it would be a compilation of her travel blogs about temples, many of which I had already read. I put it aside to read some other day and then misplaced the copy.

As they say, there is an opportune time for everything. I found Anuradha’s book just as I was leaving on one of my own spiritual sojourns to the temples of Tamil Nadu. I carried it with me to read on the flight. As I opened the book, I realised this was no ordinary travelogue, or even a ‘How To’ guide to visit the temples of India.

The book is a long and lyrical journey along the sacred map of India. It takes the reader along on a journey as well, a journey that is as much internal as it is external. I finished the book in one go, so riveting was the narrative.

Lotus in the Stone by Anuradha Goyal is a book that looks at India the way Indians have looked at their motherland for thousands of years, with love, respect, understanding and devotion. The book is a moving first-person narrative that looks at India as sacred geography connected by temples and places of worship that act as spiritual nodes pulsating with sacred energy.

Anuradha’s insights are deeply personal and yet, universal in their appeal. This is not a scholarly treatise that would sit in the reference section gathering dust, even though it provides several interesting insights into our scriptures. Lotus In The Stone is a well written, lucid account of sacred journeys that the writer has undertaken across the length and breadth of India that connects and resonates with the reader.

The book is divided into 11 chapters. Each chapter dwells on an interesting topic. The chapter on Shri Krishna talks about how He is worshipped in different parts of India in different forms. In Vrindavan, He is worshipped as a child, in Dwaraka, as the ruler of Dwaraka, in Kanchipuram, as the emissary to the Kauravas, the Pandavdoota. I found it extremely insightful when Anuradha says,

"when you join the dots, you understand that people of these ancient cities are celebrating what their ancestors must have seen during their lifetimes."

The book touches on several aspects related to temples, the philosophy behind temples, the engineering behind the temples, our Deities and their Leelas, the history of temples, but above all, it celebrates the simple faith of the people of India, the faith that made them not abandon their sacred sites even in the face of extreme religious persecution and destruction of their most sacred places.

The author has travelled across the length and breadth of the country and shared her journey with the readers in an engaging, easy-to-read style that is also peppered with startling spiritual insights. Each sacred place she has visited has taught her something, and as a reader, you can not only witness that spiritual growth, you can connect with it easily. The beauty of this book is that it makes the reader feel like she is on a journey too.

Lotus In The Stone provides the reader with a gaze with which to appreciate the sacred geography of India. The author, Anuradha Goyal, is a travel writer and founder of IndiTales. She is also an entrepreneur, a writer and a popular book reviewer.

Lotus In The Stone is a non-fiction book that takes us across the length and breadth of India in a journey that has the potential to be life-changing. The book is a joyous Yatra, a pilgrimage that celebrates this sacred land called Bharat!

Published by Garuda Prakashan, Lotus In The Stone would make a great gift to young Indians who want to understand their own motherland.

The writer is a freelance writer and newspaper columnist based in Pune.
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