When the gurus speak, it is pure wisdom (Book Review)

Title: Conversations with Dada Vaswani; Author: Ruzbeh N. Bharucha; Publisher: Penguin Ananda; Pages: 288; Price: Rs 299

Title: The Prophet of One World; Author: S. Mohandas; Publisher: S. Mohandas; Pages: 488; Price: Rs 1,000

Author of the best selling Fakir trilogy, Ruzbeh N. Bharucha, transports Dada Vaswani, a guru to millions, into every reader's heart, as only Ruzbeh can with his characteristic mix of spirituality and humour. This is a book of 288 wisdom-filled pages, one you can read over and over again.

Over several sessions with the author, Vaswani, who turned 98 in August 2016, opens his heart on several issues related to spirituality, ranging from karma and ideal lifestyle to guru-disciple relationship, from meditation and mind control to prayers and from divine grace to envy and gratitude.

A disciple of the revered Sadhu Vaswani, Dada Vaswani tells Ruzbeh that spirituality is about cultivating awareness and an attitude to life. It is essentially a quest for self-discovery. Envy is an offence against God because it shows we are ungrateful for His many gifts while we pine for what we don't have.

Dada Vaswani doesn't say anything that is dramatically revolutionary or which others haven't spoken about. But it is his style of explaining some of the most complicated areas of spirituality in layman's language that makes this a compelling read.

The book helps one understand the difference between the gurus who are embodiments of divinity and those whom one can see on Page 3. One may seek out a guru for guidance and he may even show the path but the devotee will have to move on his own steam. And none except the guru can come between karma and an individual. Guru Kripa or grace, in other words, is the amazing protection the guru offers to his disciples.

Ruzbeh has never disappointed spiritual-minded readers. This book falls in the same category.

There are innumerable biographies of Narayana Guru or Sree Narayana Guru. Born in 1856, the son of an Ezhava peasant led a reform movement in Kerala rejecting the traditional caste order and promoting new values of spiritual freedom and social equality.

This is a magnum opus of sorts, 488 pages long. For author Mohandas, a doctor with spiritual values and a sense of serving the poor, the book is a combination of a biography, a reference book, a commentary and an anthology.

Mohandas details how Narayana Guru spread his influence as "a celestial genius, a wandering mendicant, a visionary and a Gnostic all rolled into one". At home in Sanskrit, Malayalam and Tamil, Narayana Guru wrote prose, poetry and songs as he gathered followers against great odds. He was also a master healer with a firm grasp over Ayurveda.

The impressive narrative would have been better off had the author kept away his impressions of Jawaharlal Nehru and his fears that secularism faces danger when a society has a non-Hindu majority. The point is not whether these views are right or not. The fact is Sree Narayana Guru was above all this.