What does a smart and savvy businessman have to do with an ancient city buried underground? Pankaj Rajput’s novel, City of Nine Gates introduces the readers to a man who seems much like an ideal dynamic and successful millennial, until they realize that there is much more to him. There is something special about him. He probably holds the key to unlocking the wisdom of ages.
For starters, Gyan’s name itself is the clue. Gyan, the protagonist is involved in a project that involves excavating an old site. Gyan means knowledge, and indeed, Gyan finds himself in a position where he has been chosen to uncover timeless knowledge of the ages that will benefit humanity.
The book follows Gyan on the path to knowledge. The journey is perilous and danger lurks around. The “hata-sena”, an army, is behind him as soon as he undertakes this mission, guided by an ancient compass that leads him to a wise sage, who initiates a learning process that will change his life forever.
“Something told him within that the sage’s strength was not courage but a deep unwavering faith in the unknown and his non-attachment from the known,”.
There are two parallel lines that cut across the novel. Readers experience the book at different levels. On one hand, there is the story of Gyan and his physical journey to the city. The difficulties that he encounters as well as the practical journey though time exist at one level. At another level is the philosophical angle. He not only meets sages, but other wise beings who guide him through his travel and deliver timeless knowledge from ancient Vedic scriptures, thereby satiating his curiosity and imparting wisdom that had been locked for ages.
Of course, one has to pay the price for wisdom and it does not come that easily! There are riddles and clues that Gyan has to decipher before he progresses in this mission. I found this clue ‘game’ played with the readers quite interesting! The names of the characters, for example, Gyan, Buddhi, Parth, Indriyas, Prana and so on are also derived from words that express or connote a particular philosophical thought. A wide range of concepts (including karma, duty, the chakras, maya, violence, devotion, moksha and so on) have been addressed as the book progresses.
There are many metaphors and allusions in the book. Readers will enter the human body and participate in a war with Gyan even as he transcends into someone much beyond the human form.
Since I am interested in philosophies that stem from ancient Indian treatises, I found the book to be quite a refreshing way to understand some of these concepts. The Bhagavad Gita also forms an integral part of the book and for me, that was the cherry on the cake! I feel in a sense that the book has opened doors to many thoughts and ideas pertaining to the meaning of life and what the path to a well-lived life.
Philosophy is best accessed through stories. It is also best understood gradually. The philosophical concepts presented in City of Nine Gates, come at the right time in the story, bit by bit. Where does this knowledge lead Gyan? How does it all end? Well, it’s for you to read and find out!
This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours. For details check: http://www.thereaderscosmos.com/