Shiva Trilogy - Amish Tripathi

Acknowledgements

They say that writing is a lonely profession. They lie. An outstanding group of people have come together to make this book possible. And I would like to thank them.

Preeti, my wife, a rare combination of beauty, brains and spirit who assisted and advised me through all aspects of this book.

My family: Usha, Vinay, Bhavna, Himanshu, Meeta, Anish, Donetta, Ashish, Shernaz, Smita, Anuj, Ruta. A cabal of supremely positive individuals who encouraged, pushed and supported me through the long years of this project.

My first publisher and agent, Anuj Bahri, for his absolute confidence in the Shiva Trilogy.

My present publishers Westland Ltd, led by Gautam Padmanabhan, for sharing a dream with me.

Sharvani Pandit and Gauri Dange, my editors, for making my rather pedestrian English vastly better and for improving the story flow.

Rashmi Pusalkar, Sagar Pusalkar and Vikram Bawa for the exceptional cover.

Atul Manjrekar, Abhijeet Powdwal, Rohan Dhuri and Amit Chitnis for the innovative trailer film, which has helped market the book at a whole new level. And Taufiq Qureshi, for the music of the trailer film.

Mohan Vijayan for his great work on press publicity.

Alok Kalra, Hrishikesh Sawant and Mandar Bhure for their effective advice on marketing and promotions.

Donetta Ditton and Mukul Mukherjee for the website.

You, the reader, for the leap of faith in picking up the book of a debut author.

And lastly, I believe that this story is a blessing to me from Lord Shiva. Humbled by this experience, I find myself a different man today, less cynical and more accepting of different world views. Hence, most importantly, I would like to bow to Lord Shiva, for blessing me so abundantly, far beyond what I deserve.

The Shiva Trilogy

Shiva! The Mahadev. The God of Gods. Destroyer of Evil. Passionate lover. Fierce warrior. Consummate dancer. Charismatic leader. All-powerful, yet incorruptible. A quick wit, accompanied by an equally quick and fearsome temper.

Over the centuries, no foreigner who came to our land – conqueror, merchant, scholar, ruler, traveller – believed that such a great man could possibly have existed in reality. They assumed that he must have been a mythical God, whose existence was possible only in the realms of human imagination. Unfortunately, this belief became our received wisdom.

But what if we are wrong? What if Lord Shiva was not a figment of a rich imagination, but a person of flesh and blood? Like you and me. A man who rose to become godlike because of his karma. That is the premise of the Shiva Trilogy, which interprets the rich mythological heritage of ancient India, blending fiction with historical fact.

This work is therefore a tribute to Lord Shiva and the lesson that his life is to us. A lesson lost in the depths of time and ignorance. A lesson, that all of us can rise to be better people. A lesson, that there exists a potential god in every single human being. All we have to do is listen to ourselves.

The Immortals of Meluha is the first book in the trilogy that chronicles the journey of this extraordinary hero. Two more books are to follow: The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras.

CHAPTER 1

He has come!

1900 BC, Mansarovar Lake (At the foot of Mount Kailash, Tibet)

Shiva gazed at the orange sky. The clouds hovering above Mansarovar had just parted to reveal the setting sun. The brilliant giver of life was calling it a day once again. Shiva had seen just a few sunrises in his twenty-one years. But the sunset! He tried never to miss the sunset! On any other day, Shiva would have taken in the vista — the sun and the immense lake against the magnificent backdrop of the Himalayas stretching as far back as the eye could see. But not today.

He squatted and perched his lithe, muscular body on the narrow ledge extending over the lake. The numerous battle-scars on his skin gleamed in the shimmering reflected light of the waters. Shiva remembered well his carefree childhood days. He had perfected the art of throwing pebbles that bounced off the surface of the lake. He still held the record in his tribe for the highest number of bounces: seventeen.

On a normal day, Shiva would have smiled at the memory from a cheerful past that had been overwhelmed by the angst of the present. But today, he turned back towards his village without any hint of joy.

Bhadra was alert, guarding the main entrance. Shiva gestured with his eyes. Bhadra turned back to find his two back-up soldiers dozing against the fence.