From January 14th through the 19th, our family went on a pilgrimage to three divine places – Dwaraka, Somnath and Porbhander. The following image is that of Sree Krishna in Balka Mandir. Behind Him is the tree (still preserved, they say) under which He was sitting when Jara the hunter mistook His toe for the beak of a bird and shot Him. This incident was supposed to have happened on 18th February, 3012 BCE.
Instead of falling into despair,
Why not fall at His Lotus Feet?
Instead of sinking into oblivion,
Why not sink into the Bhagavad Geet?
Both my daughters, Anaga (16) and Ananya (12), are avid table tennis players. They love the game, take it as seriously as possible and try to never miss a practice session or a tournament. Well, at least most of the time :-). Of course, I would not classify them as top notch players, but they do their best and that is the most I can ask of them.
It was sheer coincidence that I read both the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown over the same weekend. I had 2 dental, 1 x-ray, 1 blood test, 2 pediatrician visits, and 2 gynec visits all in the space of 4 days and had plenty of time while waiting for the Doctor to read both of them end to end! No, we are all fine, but it was time for our annual family medical check-ups.
Now for the similarities – both are about searching for a treasure on a physical level and searching for inner meaning and happiness on a metaphysical level. Both dip into the vast wisdom of the ages – the Koran, the Gita, the Bible, the Vedas for infinite wisdom and to explain why things are the way they are. And finally both the books try to explain a complex and complicated concept in simple terms.
This is where the similarity ends. The Alchemist is pure wisdom, while The Lost Symbol is pure drivel! Dan Brown seems to have lost his creativity, his innovative research, and his power of persuasion. I have read every book he has written and while Deception Point and Digital Fortress appeal to me the most, some credit has to be given to Demons and Angels, and to the Da Vinci Code. But what in horror’s name is the Lost Symbol?
On the other hand, the Alchemist survives the test of time even after 25 years. The story is simple, the characters human, the hero is heroic without any major antics or idiosyncracies, and the story setting is elemental. Each word leads to the next with nothing lost “in translation” and the story moves powerfully and magnetically to the right climax without any false moves. Everything is explained simply and correctly. The conclusion – if you have a dream or the power to dream, everything in the Universe will conspire to help you achieve it.
Wow. Double Wow. Sure, thousands of self-help books and gurus are telling us the same thing. But the Alchemist says it in a way that is deeply touching. And compelling. So go ahead and buy this book and start reading it. Often. It ranks up there in the “Top 100 books to have in your book shelf when you retire” list. As for the Lost Symbol, I would recommend you sell it along with your bunch of old newspapers and at least recover some of the money you wasted buying it.
Keep dreaming and stay the course.