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Books and Me: Shakti Mantras

Book Title : Shakti Mantras

Author       : Thomas Ashley – Farrand

This book caught my attention at one of the airport book stores while I was scanning the shelves, to pick something to read during the journey. The attractive cover design and the title made me pick the book. Though I am now used to seeing a lot of western authors write about ancient Indian history and scriptures,  the combination of Mantra’s and a western author made this book very intriguing.  A quick look at the back cover clarified any lingering doubt,  as it declared that the author was a vedic priest and an American expert on Sanskrit mantras with over 30 years of experience.

Being a person brought up in an environment where hearing and chanting of mantras is almost a daily affair, my inquisitiveness increased to understand the interpretation and usage of these by a western vedic priest.

The book beautifully captures the difference between the western approach  of (our father) with the eastern approach  of (divine mother). The author also introduces the various manifestations of the divine mother as worshipped in the world. For those who have not read the puranas the rendering of the stories would be gripping.  But if you are one who has read the Bhagavatam and the likes, the retelling of the stories is bound to bring a smile to your face – due to both their superficial simplicity and the hidden subtle messages.

The story telling behind every form of the goddess being worshipped, is of high quality.  While many of the stories, were reaffirmation of my existing understanding, few of them have expanded my horizon and created a thirst to know more. While the chapters on Saraswati, Parvati, Lakshmi, Durga and Chamundi, Kali, Lalita, Radha were of goddesses whose names I was conversant with, the two eastern goddesses namely Kuan Yin and Tara were absolutely new. Apart from stories, I have been deeply influenced to read further on the long form of the Gayatri  Mantra and the Lalita form of the goddess.

The author has taken efforts to introduce some mantras at the end of very chapter with phonetic guidelines for easy pronunciation.  Personally I enjoyed the book, it was almost unputdownable from the word go.

While many people may  be given the freedom to question the sanctity of choosing certain mantra and receiving appropriate results, one thing is certain as Sri Ramakrishna often used to suggest – taking any name of the goddess and calling on the divine mother is a sure shot way  of receiving her grace and experiencing her protection.  Even as you read the book, you will realise that number of times your mind creates images about the various forms of the divine mother – leading to those rare moments of inner peace. I am sure that even a quick reading will bring some change in the reader.

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