A book that will leave your palms sweaty, fill you with fear and rage but which will then, also soothe you down and offer some answers via the word of the warrior Guru, on whose life and legend this is based upon.
A nine year old boy is brought the severed head of his father.
Guru Gobind Rai ascended the throne after his father Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded on the orders of the Mughal king Aurangzeb. The tenth Sikh Guru transformed the land of Punjab and through his touch the common men of the villages of modern day Northern plains became lions, Singhs.
The book, The Sacred Sword, follows the life and legend of Guru Gobind Singh. This fictional account of Guru’s life takes us from Chandni Chowk in Delhi, where the beheading of his father took place, to Nanded, where the warrior Guru breathed his last. In between we witness how he transforms into a great leader training his people for a war that was thrust on him, a gallant fighter who was an ace marksman and a visionary teaching his people to be fearless and equal.
The betrayal of the local kings of the hill states, Guru’s mystical side as he pens poetry and the treachery of the Mughal king Aurangzeb, which cost him his four sons, two as young as six and nine years old- have also been woven into the saga.
The Sacred Sword balances various aspects from the life of the Guru. I could almost see the Guru dressed in blue, with the plume of the blue heron in his turban, riding his blue steed majestically, a hawk perched on his shoulder. I could hear him recite the famous lines
‘Chidiyaan naal main baaz ladawaan
Geedadan to main sher banawaan
Sawa laakh se ek ladawaan
Tabe Gobind Singh naam kehlaawaan’
As I belong to one of the northern states and have keenly studied geography and history with I could visualise the areas the setting very well. Mr Sengupta does a fabulous job of recreating the ambience of the Hola Mohalla in his book as well as the gathering that must have taken place at Anandpur Sahib, on the day the Khalsa Panth was born.
He does manage to bring some fighting scenes alive with his words too but I can’t claim they were among my favourites.
All in all, The Sacred Sword touches important aspects of Guru Gobind Singh’s life, and the important people in it- from Mata Gujri to Banda Bahadur. At 219 pages, it is a very comfortable read and in my humble opinion does not drag, limp or stagger anywhere.
I would recommend The Sacred Sword highly if you are looking for a weekend read and history or legends are your genre.
Title: The Sacred Sword
Author: Hindol Sengupta
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Pages: 219Rating: 4/5