I have read the author in his columns published on Sundays in newspapers, and have found his take on our Hindu Mythology quite intriguing. I liked his style of writing, and so I looked forward to reading "7 Secrets of Vishnu".
Basically this is about the seven avatars of Vishnu. These are Mohini, Matsya, Kurma, Trivikrama, Ram, Krishna , and Kalki, and the various stories that are associated with these in our Mythology. It is interesting to learn, that due to the variety of regions, societies, and cultures followed in our country, there are interesting variations on the basic stories; in the sense that stories that I heard in my childhood 50 years ago, are heard with a slight variation, by someone else , say in the deep south, and maybe eastern India.
The author looks at these avatars and the various stories, as something that teaches us values: Spiritual aspects and Material aspects; what is essential for our proper growth and development as a society and as human beings; and what happens when we do not follow things . There are many stories one may have heard earlier or read earlier about, but here the author goes to the trouble of explaining what it is trying to imply in the way we give importance to the development of our spiritual and material lives.
The number of different characters introduced in the initial chapters are large. It becomes a bit difficult to remember who is what. And one tends to turn back the pages to check things out. It becomes difficult to digest all the happenings. Then there are a few clarifications. One always thought that "Devas " were Gods who could do no wrong. The author explains that Devas and Asuras are brothers . Then again, Vishnu is defined as representing the material aspect of living, while Shiva represents the spiritual aspect . Laxmi , the consort of Vishnu (as known to us from childhood) has an intriguing role to play, that representing the materialistic aspects of life, while Saraswati , the other consort (I didn't know that; always thought she was by herself) emphasizes the spiritual facets of living. Both are needed, and excess of any has its own consequences.
One admires the author's ability to corelate our basic repetitive functions of farming, sowing and harvesting to births and deaths/killings, and rebirths.
A few questions on Lakshmi, and her flitting from the side of Indra, to the Asuras, and then to the side of Vishnu. Where one gets the impression, that she is smitten with Vishnu, but her being there or not is just fine with Vishnu. This treatment is a bit disturbing.
What is very new for me, is how the author describes the various Yugs, Krita Yug,Treta Yug, Dwapar Yug, and KaliYug, and shows a correspondence with the four stages of our lives on earth. It is also very interesting to learn of the earth/Prithvi, being looked upon as a cow, standing in different balance modes corresponding to the Yugas. The most balance on four legs, during KritaYug, and the least balance on a single leg during KaliYug.
The author, in the course of the various chapters also elaborates on how some names have come about, which is very interesting, eg. the name Prithvi for earth.
There is so much that one can write here, and so much the author has written. It is difficult to assimilate all this in one read. You need to refer to this book again and again. The book is illustrated with some amazingly marked intricate figures, where the author takes the trouble of explaining the specialities of the particular God in a particular pose or avatar.
The chapter I enjoyed the most , was that about Krishna, as an avatar of Vishnu. The childhood, the mischief, the humanness of Krishna, the maturing and departure for Mathura/Vrindavan, the firmness and stoicism about leaving his nurturers behind, the amazing mixture of tough philosophy, advice, and guidance given during the Kurukshetra war, his sense of justice at comforting Gandhari at her loss of 100 sons , and listening to her curse him. One can go on and on.
One gets a bit overcome with the sheer number of characters, human, half human and animal type in the book. One reading of this book is not enough. Going back and reading a particular part again, would possibly enhance one's understanding in a nonlinear way.
I think older folks will enjoy this book more, than say folks in their late 20's.
Its an amazing book. Though I dearly wish, they had provided an index at the back for quicker reference.