Keepers of the Kalachakra takes you exactly where Ashwin Sanghi is expert at taking you – the intersection of religion, philosophy, politics, society. He mixes the facts from all around you, this time from across the world. And mixes them well and adds a veneer of fiction to bind them together to tell you a thrilling story. I have enjoyed reading his earlier works – Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key, The Sialkot Saga.
He usually picks up one or two concepts or mysteries from ancient India and juxtaposes them to present. Sometimes it is a parallel story, sometimes it is a mystery to be solved and sometimes it is a search. In keepers of the Kalachakra, Ashwin has expanded his canvas to cover the entire world and what is troubling it today. His narrative takes you to a new place somewhere on the earth from New Delhi, to Turkey, to New York to Deep in the forests of Uttarakhand.
Keepers of the Kalachakra starts in the Sanghi style of two parallel stories that apparently have no link. But as you know we are all related to each other, if you believe in the theory of all-pervasive Brahman of the Advaita philosophy. So, the stories converge and we find ourselves meandering through many concepts of quantum physics and the way Indian Rishis understood it. In between, we get introduced to concepts like golden ratio. The story not just travels horizontally across latitudes and longitudes, it takes you for some time travel as well as we learn about the concept of relativity.
Quantum Entanglement & Quantum Twin
What may be new for many people are the concepts of quantum entanglement and quantum twin. Talking about this with reference to the story would be giving you the story. But it is an interesting angle to explore. There is an underground society that is trying to control the narrative of the world. By eliminating all those who do not fit into their scheme of things. There are twists and turns in how they operate, manipulate and get manipulated.
The story of the Keepers of the Kalachakra has too many characters and too many concepts. Every few pages there are concepts being explained in the true tradition of Vedanta as a dialogue between a knower and a seeker. Characters keep emerging, and it takes about half of the book before the connections between them start appearing. This can test the patience of the reader at times. Similarly, the explanation of scientific principles as well as philosophical principles sometimes seems like too preachy.
As a student of physics and a firm believer of Vedanta, I enjoyed them thoroughly. I am not sure if everyone will enjoy them as much. Or if they will be able to grasp everything that is being explained. Having said that, this weaving of these concepts into a thriller may be the best way to take it to the masses.
There is a parallel narrative to explain the evolution of Islam, its sub-cults like Wahabism and the problems it has led to. An Islamic voice tries to give a solution to the problems of Islam that seem very logical and easy to implement as a reader. But then simple things are sometimes the most difficult to implement. There is also a spy vs spy track where you never know who is on which side. That is probably the most thrilling part of any thriller.
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I see the story of Keepers of the Kalachakra in two layers. The first layer, especially in the first part of the book, is like reading the newspaper with names changed. You will feel a déjà vu when reading those parts. Another layer is at a metaphysical level, that takes you to causes that lead to results in the first layers. Another layer is philosophical that takes you to deeper questions and answers about the workings of the universe. There is a thread connecting all these layers.
Language is simple and easy to understand. The narrative moves at a steady pace except when the explanations come and it sometimes takes longer than a reader’s patience. The editing could have been a little crisp.
Overall, an interesting read, that will both entertain and educate you. It will make you think about the science in everything around you as well about the potential solutions to the current world problems.
Go, Read it.