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With imaginative lushness and narrative elan Mehta provides a novel that combines Indian storytelling How to describe this novel? What it is about? I would say that is about life itself about life love and suffering “In his attempt to frighten me my father had made me realize that to prevent suffering a man must be capable of suffering that a man who cannot suffer is not alive”― Gita Mehta A River SutraThe majestic river serves as a connector to all these stories This is a novel about India the modern and the old country of mystery The author connects the ancient Indian mythologies religions and teachings with the present beautifully What a beautiful novel this is It could also be described as a collection of stories for it features many different stories The central characters is a man who has left his important job and in some sense retired He is without a family and wants to renounce the world However he keeps meeting different people who tell him his life stories and this makes him realize that leaving the world may not be as easy at it seems What it means to denounce the world? As he hears the stories of a mystic a monk a music teacher a courtesans and a government official our protagonists learns a lot but is left with perhaps even uestions than everI set to read this book during a ferry ride and despite being distracted by a horrid group of drunken tourists I managed to finish it in two hours It really says something about how wonderful this book is for that group of young men was insufferable When one watches TV you see this type of men the loud MTV style jackass idiots but I always assumed that those kind of people are not real Tourism made me realize that such specimens of humans not only exists but seem to be prevalent among young in Western societies I escaped the saloon in an effort to get from that pathetic sight but some of them went out as well and continued being obnoxiously loud Unfortunately despite their drunken state not one of them fell overboard so I really had to concentrate hard to be able to read during my trip However this novel was so engaging and well written that it made it easier for me to ignore the outside noise This was my first novel by Gita Mehta but I doubt it will be the least This is a gem of a book I do recommend it to everyone but especially to lovers of mythology and India

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A River Sutra

D redeeming Conveys a world that is spiritual foreign and entirely accessible Vanity Fair Reading tour This book has stayed with me for years The poetry touched my heart when I was very impressionable I love how all the stories were woven together so seamlessly It made me realize at a very young age how connected we all are A beautiful work that I highly recommend

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With thoroughly modern perceptions into the nature of love love both carnal and sublime treacherous an Of the many stories and themes that flow through A River Sutra one stands out above all passion The individual stories that are told alongside this river are both awe inspiring and heartbreaking Altogether these stories of passion the story of A River Sutra function to demonstrate the functions of mythology as set by Joseph Campbell Here I will focus on the first and fourth function of mythology The pain that is seen throughout A River Sutra points to the metaphysical function of mythology “The impact of this horror on a sensitive consciousness is terrific – this monster which is life Life is a horrendous presence and you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that The first function of a mythological order has been to reconcile consciousness to this fact” Campbell Companion 3 Life’s “horrendous presence” is most clearly demonstrated in A River Sutra through “The Teacher’s Story” and “The Musician’s Story” It is worth noting that both of these stories are about musicians Among its many themes the novel also points to the importance of music as the sound of life – though that is a topic for another paperThe story of the teacher Master Mohan broke my heart It started so beautifully as Mohan found his young protégé and worked so desperately to provide him opportunities and ultimately happiness and safety This is a story of passion between teacher and student As much as Master Mohan was helping the boy the boy was also helping him With Mohan’s unappreciated status in his family the boy was a shining light When the boy was murdered in front of Mohan I cried I had to put down my text and mourn this child and the loss of beauty and hope I hesitated in picking up the text againThe following stories of the executive and courtesan lifted my spirits Each not only overcame a negative situation but seemed to be the better for having suffered through it I started to connect to the novel and felt hope returning In “The Musician’s Story” however I was again faced with life’s “horrendous presence” Though it was clear at the beginning of “The Musician’s Story” that there was not going to be a happy ended I did not think it would be uite so grim When the ugly woman was betrothed I saw a glimmer of hope Her passion for music began to soar As she spent time with the bridegroom her father’s student I believed I saw love in the making Knowing the story would end sadly I feared her bridegroom was going to be killed The fact that he freely chose not to marry her was actually far sadder Though this was not as heartbreaking as the murder of the young boy in “The Teacher’s Story” I was again left wondering Why do we have to face this pain? How are we supposed to reconcile it?The novel answered these uestions for me as it approached the fourth function of mythology “All societies are evil sorrowful ineuitable; and so they will always be So if you want to help this world what you will have to teach is how to live in it And that no one can do who has not himself learned how to live in it in the joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy of the knowledge of life as it is” Campbell Myths to Live By 104 “The Minstrel’s Story” reveals to readers that one cannot hide from life but must face it head on in order to actually be aliveNaga Baba first appears to us as a peaceful ascetic It is rather shocking when we later discover that he has become the unspiritual archaeologist And while this may be a rather dramatic example it acutely demonstrates how we must “reenter the world” Mehta 281 We cannot dwell in our sorrows nor hide from the world in a cave We must be in the world to experience it and to live Life eats on life Campbell has told us this A River Sutra has demonstrated it Life can be horrific However it does not end there It is horrific because we care because we have both passion and compassion Passion fuels us Without desire pain and struggle the glory of the world would mean nothing The pain that we feel in our life of passion is a sign that we are alive If we moved through safely unharmed untouched unmoved what would be the point?


10 thoughts on “A River Sutra

  1. says:

    How to describe this novel? What it is about? I would say that is about life itself about life love and suffering “In his attempt to frighten me my father had made me realize that to prevent suffering a man must be capable of suffering that a man who cannot suffer is not alive”― Gita Mehta A River SutraThe majestic river serves as a connector to all these stories This is a novel about India the modern and the old country of mystery The author connects the ancient Indian mythologies religions and teachings with the present beautifully What a beautiful novel this is It could also be described as a collection of stories for it features many different stories The central characters is a man who has left his important job and in some sense retired He is without a family and wants to renounce the world However he keeps meeting different people who tell him his life stories and this makes him realize that leaving the world may not be as easy at it seems What it means to denounce the world? As he hears the stories of a mystic a monk a music teacher a courtesans and a government official our protagonists learns a lot but is left with perhaps even uestions than everI set to read this book during a ferry ride and despite being distracted by a horrid group of drunken tourists I managed to finish it in two hours It really says something about how wonderful this book is for that group of young men was insufferable When one watches TV you see this type of men the loud MTV style jackass idiots but I always assumed that those kind of people are not real Tourism made me realize that such specimens of humans not only exists but seem to be prevalent among young in Western societies I escaped the saloon in an effort to get from that pathetic sight but some of them went out as well and continued being obnoxiously loud Unfortunately despite their drunken state not one of them fell overboard so I really had to concentrate hard to be able to read during my trip However this novel was so engaging and well written that it made it easier for me to ignore the outside noise This was my first novel by Gita Mehta but I doubt it will be the least This is a gem of a book I do recommend it to everyone but especially to lovers of mythology and India


  2. says:

    I simply adore this book It was reuired reading for my freshman core class and so I first read it the summer before college then again twice in college and once after And I will probably go on reading it forever My copy is all battered and torn up and highlighted and that is exactly the way I enjoy it I still am not sure what it is about this book that touches me so and I end up in tears for no reason every time I finish This is a novel about India and the sacred Narmada River which flows through the country India is a melting pot of several religions races languages and peoples and this novel serves to unite the country through this sacred river In doing so I believe Gita Mehta has united the entire human race in the processThe novel is held together by a thread of stories heard by an old caretaker who lives on the Narmada's banks He has come to escape from the world because he believes the world has nothing left for him and he in turn has nothing left for the world It is said that the Narmada River contains 400 billion sacred places and people from all over come to its shores for redemption hope enlightenment divine interception but most of all because they need to believe in something Each story is laced with emotions deep and moving and are characterized by Mehta's intoxicating writing style I believe that Gita Mehta's writing is the most beautiful prose I've ever read Her sentences have the cadence and flow of poetry and her words can be so powerful that they seem to speak to you She writes a lot of the last part of the novel in song and you can almost hear the music playing as you readEach story brings new emotions to the table and each serves the purpose of uniting human beings Just as India is a melting pot of different cultures so is the world No matter a person's religion economic standing social status culture upbringing age gender sexual orientation or ethnicity we are all human beings and are affected by the same emotions We all feel pain and loss happiness and prosperity sadness and anger at some point in our lives Our narrator comes to realize that the river though some believe it is not divine in any way serves the purpose of a beacon of hope A River Sutra which connects the human race to the earth and to each other Sutra in Hindi means a thread or a string I had begun this review by thinking I would describe each story as it connects to the whole but I think that would be unnecessary as the plot of the stories are only vessels to guide the reader through the novel and to arrive at its universal conclusion It is above all a novel and not a collection I continue to treasure this and will keep it on my shelf and open it every so often throughout my lifetime to rekindle my love of its pages I can not recommend this book enough to everyone out there who reads I hope that it will change and move you as it has done me over these past 10 years


  3. says:

    I hate reading HindiSanskrit poetry in translationNow that it is out of my system I have mixed feelings about this one Stories are interesting some than others but there is no novel here There is the common theme of Narmada and love but no central narrative to bind all the storiesAlso the book is targeted at the western audience which becomes painfully clear when 2 Indian talking to each other about Indian music feel the need to say that I was not even permitted to sing the seven notes of the scale the sa re ga ma pa dha ni that are the do re mi fa so la ti of western music On reading that sentence I suddenly felt like when somebody seems to be talking to you and you look back and realize that they are talking to the person behind youI seem to be running into this thing again and again with Indian English writing Perhaps this is what has changed with the current crop of writers That they are telling stories of Indians for Indians


  4. says:

    A Government official in India is in charge of a Government Rest House a sort of inn He is told stories about various individuals a Jain monk previously from a wealthy family; a music teacher; a courtesan searching for her lost daughter; an insane playboy; a River Minstrel and an anchorite who worships Shiva All this takes place near the river Narmada a place of spiritual pilgrimage to Hindus Gorgeous lush writing that taught me something of Indian culture


  5. says:

    Of the many stories and themes that flow through A River Sutra one stands out above all passion The individual stories that are told alongside this river are both awe inspiring and heartbreaking Altogether these stories of passion the story of A River Sutra function to demonstrate the functions of mythology as set by Joseph Campbell Here I will focus on the first and fourth function of mythology The pain that is seen throughout A River Sutra points to the metaphysical function of mythology “The impact of this horror on a sensitive consciousness is terrific – this monster which is life Life is a horrendous presence and you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that The first function of a mythological order has been to reconcile consciousness to this fact” Campbell Companion 3 Life’s “horrendous presence” is most clearly demonstrated in A River Sutra through “The Teacher’s Story” and “The Musician’s Story” It is worth noting that both of these stories are about musicians Among its many themes the novel also points to the importance of music as the sound of life – though that is a topic for another paperThe story of the teacher Master Mohan broke my heart It started so beautifully as Mohan found his young protégé and worked so desperately to provide him opportunities and ultimately happiness and safety This is a story of passion between teacher and student As much as Master Mohan was helping the boy the boy was also helping him With Mohan’s unappreciated status in his family the boy was a shining light When the boy was murdered in front of Mohan I cried I had to put down my text and mourn this child and the loss of beauty and hope I hesitated in picking up the text againThe following stories of the executive and courtesan lifted my spirits Each not only overcame a negative situation but seemed to be the better for having suffered through it I started to connect to the novel and felt hope returning In “The Musician’s Story” however I was again faced with life’s “horrendous presence” Though it was clear at the beginning of “The Musician’s Story” that there was not going to be a happy ended I did not think it would be uite so grim When the ugly woman was betrothed I saw a glimmer of hope Her passion for music began to soar As she spent time with the bridegroom her father’s student I believed I saw love in the making Knowing the story would end sadly I feared her bridegroom was going to be killed The fact that he freely chose not to marry her was actually far sadder Though this was not as heartbreaking as the murder of the young boy in “The Teacher’s Story” I was again left wondering Why do we have to face this pain? How are we supposed to reconcile it?The novel answered these uestions for me as it approached the fourth function of mythology “All societies are evil sorrowful ineuitable; and so they will always be So if you want to help this world what you will have to teach is how to live in it And that no one can do who has not himself learned how to live in it in the joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy of the knowledge of life as it is” Campbell Myths to Live By 104 “The Minstrel’s Story” reveals to readers that one cannot hide from life but must face it head on in order to actually be aliveNaga Baba first appears to us as a peaceful ascetic It is rather shocking when we later discover that he has become the unspiritual archaeologist And while this may be a rather dramatic example it acutely demonstrates how we must “reenter the world” Mehta 281 We cannot dwell in our sorrows nor hide from the world in a cave We must be in the world to experience it and to live Life eats on life Campbell has told us this A River Sutra has demonstrated it Life can be horrific However it does not end there It is horrific because we care because we have both passion and compassion Passion fuels us Without desire pain and struggle the glory of the world would mean nothing The pain that we feel in our life of passion is a sign that we are alive If we moved through safely unharmed untouched unmoved what would be the point?


  6. says:

    Lush descriptions dreamy stories


  7. says:

    loved it


  8. says:

    Indian stories woven together but not fantastic Only one story stood out that of an old music teacher taking a young blind exceptional singer under his wing Absolutely moving very sad story Love reading it again and again


  9. says:

    This book has stayed with me for years The poetry touched my heart when I was very impressionable I love how all the stories were woven together so seamlessly It made me realize at a very young age how connected we all are A beautiful work that I highly recommend


  10. says:

    A nicely written peek into a somewhat different world Smooth and easy to digest I found myself trying to actually see the bungalow the jungle and importantly the river in my mind The chapter about the poor little singing child really threw me at the endAll in all makes me want to read Indian literature