“Against the dazzling epochal backdrop of the Mauryan Empire in ancient India, celebrated for its liberal, humanist and free-thinking traditions, a gripping saga of love, betrayal, hatred and magical transformation sinuously weaves itself. Copper Moon relates the fascinating tale of Odati, daughter of Emperor Ashoka by stunning Urvashi, a Kalingan devadasi. When a great horror strikes, and Odati’s tender young life hangs in the balance, it is the Egyptian Kahotep, Grand Eunuch of Maurya, who risks his own life to spirit her to safety. Within his protective embrace, Odati disguises herself as Amunet and gradually grows into a singer whose angelic skill enchants the elite of Pataliputra. And yet, beneath her lovely façade lurks a cunning assassin waiting for the perfect opportunity to inflict hellish suffering on the man who drove her into the abyss of hell. Impervious to the luminous teachings of Gautama Buddha and other great sages, Odati relentlessly pursues her diabolic quest for revenge. Then, in another bizarre twist of fate, her evil is discovered and she is once again forced to flee for her life. It is now that the jewel-like wisdom she has so fiercely resisted begins to open the reluctant petals of her heart.”
When a sage is born, shining like a star in a noon sky, some are fortunate enough to encounter him or her personally and to directly absorb his teachings. But after he passes away, other elements take over, and these folks are rarely of the high caliber of their master. Gradually, sometimes over centuries, what was once a vibrant and liberating teaching often becomes a rigid and entrenched institution, guarded zealously by those who do not understand the true essence of what the sage originally taught.
Consider the fundamentalists of all stripes and religions today, who warp, distort and twist what their original teacher said to serve political, power or financial purposes. How, for instance, could the true teachings of peaceful and pure Jesus of Nazareth ever have been used to justify the unbelievable horrors of the Inquisitions that followed centuries later? We can come up with a thousand other such examples, of course, for no major religion is exempt from this madness.
One thing that really bothered me when I began my own spiritual quest is that a certain ilk of teachers would insist that, once you signed on for their teachings, that was it, you could not leave their fold. Yes, you owed them not perfect and total loyalty until you took your last breath! Some also insist that you tithe part of your income to them, and god forbid if you move on to another guru more suitable to your spiritual needs—then you are nothing less than a despised and fickle traitor. Continue reading
Anyone who has grown up in a traditional community knows that one is strongly urged to never speak about the skeletons rattling around in both individual and community closets. As for me, I was so open with strangers right from the get go that my conformist mother would warn me to hush. “Your big mouth will get you into trouble,” she’d say sternly. “There’s no need to tell everyone how you think or feel. If you continue like this, no one will marry you.” I would snigger, thrilled at the thought that this innate habit of frank communication would repel prospective partners who didn’t appreciate honesty. Life had thrown enough chains on me already—why on earth would I want one more?
My mother was wrong. My wildness drew people to me. But I had seen too much already to be dazzled by the usual courtship rituals and already horrified by what I saw happen to women who were outspoken and bold—the patriarchy crushed them, and the matriarchy colluded in this, for often it was mothers-and sisters-in-law who did their worst to make sure that any new woman who entered the fold was made to suffer dire consequences if she dared to rebel. Yes, I knew quite well that if I fell into that age-old trap of marrying into the community, driven by the twin needs of security and approval, sooner or later I would be in for 50 shades of hell. This is how I viewed the scenario anyway and it led me to marry out of my community and move to Manhattan; now that marriage did not survive either, because we were driven by different value systems—in simple terms, he loved money more than honesty and for me honesty always came first— but that is a story for another day. Continue reading
I am no scholar and frankly admit that my long years of immersion in Eastern Philosophy were driven solely by an obsession to destroy my own darkness. In my teens, I dived into esoteric teachings in an attempt to understand my angst, and while much I learned took me a little further down the road to peace, it was a Buddhist Geshe I met in Manhattan many years ago who finally helped me sort out the confusion I felt about the nature of reality; it was through him that I came upon the luminous Indian scholar Nāgārjuna, considered second only to Gautama Siddhartha in the context of his critical contributions to eastern thought.
Nagarjuna’s life is a bit of a mystery to us moderns since surviving accounts of his life were written, in Chinese and Tibetan, centuries after his death. Most likely he was born into a Brahmin family in South India and later became a Buddhist. Some say he was an advisor to Yajna Sri Satakarni, a king of the Satavahana dynasty who ruled between 167 and 196 CE, which places him around 150–250 CE. Nagarjuna is considered the founder of the Madhyamaka School; due to his efforts, the concept of ‘emptiness’ (shunyata)—which he focused on in order to refute the metaphysics of some of his contemporaries—became the central ontological concept in Mahayana Buddhism. Continue reading
How are you? I asked a friend in Manhattan. Oh, I’m just FINE, he said with a laugh—then proceeded to inform me that FINE was an anagram for Fuddled, Insecure, Neurotic and Egocentric. (Actually he used two hyphenated words for the ‘f,’ but I think I’ll leave what they are to your rich imagination.)
The fact is that almost every one of us is (or has been) fraught by a million insecurities—and who could blame us? Consider the world wars our species has endured, the concentration camps and gulags, the ugliness of misogyny and patriarchy that plague so many, in a nutshell, man’s inhumanity to man—all of which leave scars on the collective human psyche. Above all, consider our ephemeral nature, as fragile as a snowflake melting under a hot sun. No matter how big we are in the world, nothing can protect us from old age, sickness and death; yes, when Yama , Lord of Death throws his deadly noose around our necks to remove us from this plane of existence, no power on earth can stop him. Continue reading
Several friends living in India have written to me saying they would so appreciate being able to buy my novels (Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of tantra in Ancient India and Krishna’s Counsel, the first two books in The Moksha Trilogy) in India. Well, it gives me great pleasure to announce that this is now possible!
Recently we had an unsettling experience with Amazon.in (Amazon’s affiliate in India) concerning print quality. This has not yet been cleared up. As a result, we warned readers not to purchase print books via that link. However please note that their e-versions are fine. Subsequently my friend did some research and came up with a self-publishing site based in India: Pothi.com, which delivers great print quality at a great price.
Voila, here are the direct links:
Krishna’s Counsel – https://pothi.com/pothi/node/189597
Whip Of The Wild God – https://pothi.com/pothi/node/189598
So, if you live in India and love Eastern spiritual fiction, do check out these books and spread the word…the following link contains all links (print & ebook) specifically for Indian readers – https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/mira-prabhu-all-links/#indian
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a mountain of fire that burns all that blocks us from knowing that we are the immortal and blissful Self!
“The moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home: to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own government, his own culture. The more freedom the writer possesses the greater the moral obligation to play the role of the critic. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver…
That’s all I ask of the author. To be a hero, appoint himself a moral leader, wanted or not. I believe words count, that writing matters, that poems , essays, novels – in the long run – make a difference. If they do not, then in the words of my exemplar Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the writer’s work is of no more importance than the barking village dogs of the night. The hack writer, the temporizer, the toady, and the sycophant, the journalistic courtier (and what is a courtier but a male courtesan?), all of those in the word trade who simply go with the flow, who never oppose the rich and powerful, are no better in my view than Solzhenitsyn’s village dogs. The dogs bark; the caravan moves on.” Edward Abbey, The Writer’s Credo
I was seeing a talk therapist then, in an attempt to work through my general confusion. Simultaneously I dived into the liberating truths of eastern philosophy, trained as a teacher of Hatha Yoga, tackled my addictions head-on, and learned to cull out spiritual buddies from run-of-the-mill company whose negative energies were bringing me down.
This phase was far from easy or pleasant and my frustration grew intense. One Saturday morning I cracked up while cleaning my apartment: turning off the vacuum cleaner, I collapsed onto my wooden floor and wept for all my broken dreams. Then, with all the force of a hammer, it struck me that I had to make some solid decisions in order to dissolve this angst.
Grabbing a notepad, I jotted down all the things I was good at. Ah, I thought, as Joseph Campbell’s advice to ‘follow your bliss’ flashed across my mind—the problem stemmed from dispersing my energies in too many directions. To find sweet water, one must dig deep in one place; Jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none is a hard place to be for one who craves depth.
Two things in my list jumped out at me: music and writing. When I played music, or poured my heart out in words, relative time seemed to vanish; I entered a zone where nothing mattered but the soaring of my soul.
But music as a career I quickly dismissed: I had neither the training nor the thick skin I felt was needed to make it in the west as a singer/guitarist. Which brought it down to one: Writing. And it was on that oddly magical morning that I decided to focus on expressing my thoughts via the written word.
Encouraged by a friend, I began to write short stories. Each dealt with an Indian woman who battled terrible odds in order to resolve a difficult situation. My protagonists were of all ages, castes, incomes and educational levels; all they had in common was their courage in taking on a variety of goons. I titled the collection SACRIFICE TO THE BLACK GODDESS (the Black Goddess is Kali, the deity known to fight evil) and managed to get a good literary agent. Publishers liked the collection but all of them were unanimous that I should first write a novel.
But what to write a novel about? The answer came years later when I stumbled onto the exciting philosophy of Tantra. Easy to see that folks in both east and west thought Tantra was all about free sex, but I was becoming convinced that Tantra was a highway to heaven for even the celibate. In fact, masters such as the Dalai Lama and other mystics practiced Tantra—minus a human mate.
And so Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India was born. I finally published it after twenty years, and after at least seven major rewrites! Only then did I turn my energies to a novel I’d been dreaming about since the millennium—Krishna’s Counsel, still a work-in-progress. And then will come my third, Copper Moon Over Pataliputra, which I hope to finish before my spirit leaves this planet.
Edward Abbey spoke of the external battle that so many writers take on so brilliantly. But my battle (both as a person and as a writer) concerns the inner struggle against darkness. The subject of all three of my sagas concerns the fusion of finite self (mini-me/ego) with Infinite Self. And in this way I feel my creative work is in harmony with Abbey’s advice to the sincere writer—to be true to oneself, no matter what.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a sacred mountain, where the seeker of freedom is aided in the quest to be permanently free of desire and fear by the destruction of the ego!
America was a fabulous country for me to emigrate to mainly because it gave me the freedom to flower. Growing up in patriarchal and often repressive India, I’d often been punished for being a free spirit—but Manhattan appeared to reward those who dared to be different, and, in turn, I fell madly in love with the city that never sleeps.
Working freelance in Big Apple law firms introduced me to an array of corporate attorneys; over time, I made fast friends with some of them. Although I was a serf, and determinedly so—for I had no desire to compromise my artistic freedom for a few dollars more—they appeared to be far more relaxed with me than with their peers and seniors. I felt this was due to the whip of social and political correctness: these attorneys—who’d slogged for years to reach their exalted (or soon-to-be exalted) positions as senior partners—did not want to risk their ascent up the corporate ladder by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and being publicly crucified for speaking their personal truth. Their caution was perhaps justified because even the most influential attorneys could be raked over the coals for a variety of evils: sexual abuse, racial slurs, verbal violence, et cetera. And so they learned to wear their masks so well that rarely did one get to see the complex human being beneath. Continue reading
One day I happened to bump into my next door neighbor (we lived in a relatively small mid-town apartment building at the time). “It’s got to be you cooking all that Indian food,” he said with a friendly grin. “Spicy odors disturbing you?” I asked. “Oh no,” he said. “I LOVE Indian food…in fact my tummy growls every time I pass your apartment.” “Come get some if you’re hungry,” I said. “Plenty of leftovers.” And he did.
My new buddy turned out to be a writer who made his rent and food money working as a freelancer/temp on Wall Street and in the city’s many law firms. Under his guidance, I soon signed up with an agency that taught me the basics of WordPerfect—the software currently in use in corporate Manhattan. I had never used a computer before. In fact, the first time I hit the print button and saw a piece of paper rolling out of a laser printer with what I’d typed during my training at the agency, I shrieked with excitement—to me, a true lover of the power of words, this was pure magic! Continue reading