The Iron Will of Vishvamitra by Sukhi Ram Rawat
The Iron Will of Vishvamitra by Sukhi Ram Rawat takes you to the Vedic era in the land of five rivers – Punjab. That incidentally is divided into many political entities today. Kings and tribesmen were ruling this land in that era. When the rivers used to flow from one kingdom to another and everyone used the waters for irrigation. And for other day-to-day needs. However, once one kingdom discovers the technology to extract gold out of the river, it leads to greed. The king wanted all the water to himself so that he could become rich by extracting all the gold.
Here comes the role of Vishvamitra the saint advisor of the king. Sage advises against the greed and highlights the fact that people who are using its waters need it for their survival. The Golden greed blinds the king and he lets go of the Sage. The Sage crosses the river and offers his services to the federation of tribal kings and then onwards the story is a typical story between good and evil intentions and finally how the good wins over evil through just means.
To me, Iron Will of Vishvamitra by Sukhi Ram Rawat highlights two things. The role of spiritual leaders who advise the kings or political leaders. They need to be above the wishes of the kings and they need to be able to take a stand for the mankind irrespective of which side of the table they stand. By putting two sages as advisors of two sides, the author brings out the value of good intent versus the bad intent. The second highlight is quite contemporary as much as it is ancient. The division of water it seems has always been a bone of contention. Water demands the respect it deserves and in the absence of that respect, it becomes the reason for wars. Do we not see it all around us even today?
The dialogues between the sages and the kings are a good discourse. Mahabharata seems to have inspired the war at the end of the story. The author also gives insight into the war rules. And the armies broke these rules to win the war. The author explores the erstwhile geography of Punjab well. Most of the places mentioned are still living places and you can see them in a very historical perspective. The role of women in this story is negligible. The women are the daughters who can be given in marriage to a potential ally or his son. Then moving on to putting Tilak on the forehead of the husband who is going out for war. And occasionally put forth her views as advice that the king may choose to ignore at any time.
You can see the passion of the author for conserving our rivers. The author repeatedly mentions the virtues of preserving. with examples of disasters in the past when it was not followed.The reader tends to lose interest as it is repeated many times and in many words.
The Iron Will of Vishvamitra by Sukhi Ram Rawat is overall an interesting read, like reading a folk tale.