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Updated: August 20, 2012 16:05 IST
BOOK WORM

Walking with great lives

ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN
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History need not be dull. It can be brought alive with good writing and fascinating facts. And that’s what this book does.

Sitting with your history books, have you ever wondered how it would have been to have lived in that particular era? Pavithra Srinivasan's Back to the B.C.'s gives you an opportunity to do just that.

Dates and names that you may find difficult to memorise come alive as this book bring facts and fiction together.

Into the past

The narratives usually begin with the detailed description of the place. This is highlighted specially in the story “The City of the Dead” — how a cluster of mud huts grew into a great city that boasted sophisticated sewage and drainage systems and even a hot bath — the city came to be known as Mohenjo-Daro.

The description of the market place adds colour to the lifestyle — the food, the dress, the ornaments in use, as well as the games children played. The narration of Aba’s wedding shows the different types of make up the brides wore — forerunners of the lipstick and mascara.

Through the eyes of a Sumerian merchant we watch the growth of Sumeria. We learn of the rich trade and commercial relationship between countries.

Be it the capitol of the Tritsus, Saptasindhavah or the making of King Parikshit the first Kuru prince to rule Saptasindhavah after the Mahabarata war, each story gives us an insight to the rule and the lifestyle of its king and people.

Let us now walk in the times of the Buddha — “The Tunnel of Light”. King Ajasatru incognito walks among his people to learn what's happening in his country and what people think of his rule and his wayward son. But the King also has his dark secrets that bear down heavily on him. His physician and confidante Jivaka persuades him to meet Gautama Buddha so that his sins may be confessed and his heart lightened. The king reluctantly agrees. The king reforms and humbly says “May the lord accept my transgressions as transgression alone, so that I might be more restrained in the future.”

The author introduces Archarya Vishnu Sharma who believed that one should “weave your lessons into a story” so that children will not be bored. His stories are now known as the Tales from Panchatantra.

The book concludes with “A meeting of two minds”, where two travellers, Ayyan and Vishnu, meet. Later we realise that they are Tiruvalluvar and Chanakya, whose works are Tirukural and Arthasastra.

The illustrations by Lalithaa Thayagarajan, add richness to the narration. The detailed pictures portray the lifestyle of the times. Each story follows with a “Leaves from the past”, which gives us nuggets from history. This book is a compulsive read that makes history come alive and therefore unforgettable.

BACK TO THE B.C.'S: LITTLE KNOWN TALES OF WELL KNOWN TIMES, Pavithra Srinivasan, Helios Books, Rs.200

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