Shantaram- craving peace and love

“One of the reasons we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.”

Holidays are over and I’m struggling to set a routine and do my work. However, something that has kept my spirit lifted is the reading of the novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Shantaram is a novel about the life experiences of an Australian man in India after escaping a prison in Melbourne.

This novel is written in first person and its protagonist is Lindsay called Linbaba or Lin. Lin arrives in Bombay and hires a tour guide, Prabaker, to show him the city. This is the beginning of an enduring friendship and a life changing experience for Lin.Prabaker does not only show us the places, but we are subemerged into the sub-worlds of the city, into the different layers of India, the India that goes beyond touristy brochures. Little by little we see how Lin does not only get to know the city,but how he is transformed and shaped by this culture and view of life.

The narration is so vivid, that it feels as if  you are just there walking around Bombay. My senses are challenged with the colourful descriptions of people, food, aromas, clothes and customs. The events told are not only described in an amazingly fashion, but they are usually accompanied by Lin´s reflections on what he is seeing, sensing and living there. These reflections make the book unique.

The first part of the book is awesome. It is a fast read that has kept me awake for long hours at night. One of the chapters that I loved the most is one of the last chapters of the first part. It narrates the life in Prabaker’s village,and how Lin confronts himself s as he gets into the life of  rural India. Village People smile all the time, do yoga, pray, eat dhal, rotti and rice, have a siesta and above all,  they see the best of Lin. He is accepted, appreciated and respected in the village. Lin  is baptised as Shantaram, man of God´s peace. At that moment, Lin realises that he can be a good man, a better man. This is an illuminating moment.

I have started the second part of the book and Lin´s life is immersed in one of Bombay’s slums. I keep on reading every night craving my own peace. Looking for answers that are not in the book, but that keep my spirit lifted. I´m grateful to have the chance to reflect about my own life through reading about other people’s experiences. Sometimes I feel my life is so shallow that reading Shantaram gives me hope to want for more, to dare and keep on fighting.

Shantaram is  a journey of living and reflecting about happiness, poverty, justice, religion spirituality, survival, karma; essentially about the meaning of life.

These are some quotes from the book. Enjoy them!

If you could be happy, really happy for just a while, but you knew from the start that it would end in sadness, and bring pain afterwards, would you choose to have that happiness or would you avoid it?

Truth is a bully that we all pretend to like (Karla)

I dont know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it (Karla)

Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything exept tears. In the end that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth. In the end that’s all we have – to hold on tight until the dawn

Some of the worst wrongs, were caused by people who tried to change things (Karla)

It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.

One of the ironies of courage and why we prize it so highly, is that we find it easier to be brave for somone else than we do for ourselves alone

The tendency towards complexity has carried the universe from almost perfect simplicity to the kind of complexity that we see around us, everywhere we look. The universe is always doing this. It is always moving from the simple to the complex.


About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.
This entry was posted in Australian, Life-meaning, Love, Reading, Shantaram and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Shantaram- craving peace and love

  1. Pingback: Goodbye my dearest Shantaram | En la rayuela, o en la vida vos podes elegir un día.

  2. Pingback: My passage to India | En la rayuela, o en la vida vos podes elegir un día.

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