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ISSN: 0974-892X


July, 2017



The Immortals of Meluha:  Humanizing the Hindu God of Gods

Rajni Gupta, Department of English, PRC (PG) College, Bahadarabad, Haridwar (UK)

The Shiva’s trilogy of Amish Tripathi, comprising The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of The Nagas, and The Oath of The Vayuputras, is a beautiful amalgamation of religion and literature.  The trilogy is the story of Meluha and  Swadeep created by Amish Tripathi.  The   creation of  Meluha covers the entire North-West of the Indian subcontinent, stretching from Gujarat in the South to Kashmir and Afghanistan in the North, Punjab in the East and Sindh in the West. Meluha is based in the areas of the modern Indian provinces of Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and the whole of Pakistan. It also includes parts of eastern Afghanistan. Meluha is the empire of the Suryavanshis, also known as the land of pure life. In the Immortals of Meluha, one keeps meeting people and places that sound familiar. There is a famous city in Meluha called Harriyappa and another called Mohan Jo Daro, on the banks of the mighty Indus. Mohan Jo Daro apparently means “Platform of Mohan”, and is named after the great philosopher-priest Lord Mohan.  Similarly the creation of Swadweep comprises the modern Indian provinces of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya and all of the country of Bangladesh, besides most parts of Nepal and Bhutan. Dandaka Forest is located in the modern Indian province of Maharashtra and parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, Dandaka is a dense and treacherous forest where the Nagas stay, at their capital Panchavati. Swadweep  is the empire of the  Chandravanshis, also known as the island of the individual.  Here Amish Tripathi intermixes the mythic clans of the Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis, descendants of the Sun and Moon respectively, into this mystery, represented by the people of the Kingdoms of Meluha and Swadweep. He also goes on to put the Nagas, a species of humanoidal snakes, as the antagonists, and so sets the stage for an epic conflict that has some interesting and far-reaching. In Meluha and Swadeep Tripathi employs mythical characters and humanises them. He   believes that "Myths are nothing but jumbled memories of a true past, a past buried under mounds of earth and ignorance" ( From this point of view the trilogy is an account of Shiva, the Adistrota of so many arts of the world, the yogi to empower the world, whose  third eye is the symbol of Knowledge and Anger.

The Immortals of Meluha takes Shiva from Indian mythology and portrays him as a man.  It has taken into account the web of legends, Puranas and folktales sum to mingle into a cohesive pattern to give us a glimpse of a time when the earth was ruled by old values and battles were fought for pride.  The Secret of the Nagas which starts exactly where it’s prequel Immortals of Meluha ended. This explains how all the feats fables that have supernatural elements in the Indian mythology. Lord Shiva has been shown as a hero of on his quest to end evils like caste discrimination (the deformed and condemned tribe of the Nagas), women discrimination (Parvati and Kali). The descriptive narrative style dealt with takes the reader to ancient India as the author slowly and steadily reveals truths behind customs and rituals modern Indians follow without questioning their origin or reason. Finally The Oath of the Vayuputras , the third part of the Shiva Triology,  paints  ancient India in a very appealing modern way where men and women fight side by side for their country and every woman is  respected.  A reviewer Rana Mukherjee  puts it in the following way:

Though the story tries to redefine the nomenclatures like virtue and vice from the very beginning of the story, the web of legends, Puranas and folktales seem to mingle into a cohesive pattern to give a glimpse of a time when the earth was ruled by old values and battles were fought  for pride. It was the time when oracles used to turn the wheel of fortune and kingship was seen as an order of divinity, a time which we believe never existed in reality but only in epics and mythologies. (


Herethe story of Shiva, the Destroyer, is a much hailed and praised God from the Hindu Trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh. It is basically a testament to the power and leadership of the great Lord Shiva, without hearting any religious sentiments. Categorized under fiction, the novel is a gripping tale that tells about the life of Lord Shiva, in a modern and enjoyable way. It portrays Lord Shiva as a human of flesh and blood. It is based on the belief that perhaps the actions, the deeds and karma are the only deciding factors in transforming an ordinary man to Mahadev - God of gods. The present paper focuses on  The Immortals of Meluha with an aim of  giving the idea of a God  being nothing more than a common human with common flaws, by   gauging the journey of  Shiva, a tribal from Tibet with his share of insecurities, his problems, his fears, his love for beloved, his desire to get her, and even his mischievous sense of humour, often laced with a subtle sexuality  and a clear-thinking and  rational mind becomes Neelkanth then uplifts to the revered title of Mahadev—the God of gods.

As has already been referred to, The Immortals of Meluha is the first novel of the Shiva trilogy series by Amish Tripathi. All mythical characters are humanised in it. Shiva, the main character in the story,  is a Tibetan immigrant to Meluha and the chief of the Guna tribe. Nandi is a captain in the Meluhan army. A loyal devotee of Shiva, who is often considered for his opinion and suggestions by Shiva Veerbhadra is a captain of Shiva's army and his close childhood friend. He was later renamed as Veer Bhadra, a title earned by once defeating a tiger single-handedly. He also asks Shiva's permission, the leader of Gunas, to marry Krithika. Brihaspati is the chief Meluhan scientist who becomes Shiva's good friend. Daksha is the Emperor of the Meluhans, he is appreciative of every effort that Shiva does to save his country. Kanakhala is the chief minister of Daksha's royal court, Kanakhla is an extremely learned and intelligent woman. Parvateshvar is  Head of Meluhan Army and is a dedicated man to Daksha. He eventually becomes an avid follower of Shiva as he realizes that Shiva could actually lead them to victory and finish Lord Ram's Unfinished Task. He is a good follower of Lord Ram. Ayurvati is the Chief of Medicine, Ayurvati, another intelligent woman. She is the first one to realize that Shiva is the "Neelkanth", their savior. Besides these characters, there are following races. The Suryavanshis are followers of Shri Ram and the Solar Calendar and try to lead a life that is as ideal as possible. The Suryavanshis believe in Satya, Dharma, Maan—Truth, Duty, and Honor. The Chandravanshis are followers of the Lunar Calendar. Traditionally the Chandravanshis and Suryavanshis are enemies. They are democratic dynasty  who believe in Shringar, Saundarya and Swatantrata (passion, beauty and freedom). Naga is a cursed race of people who have physical deformities. They are extremely skilled warriors.

 The story is set in the land of Meluha and starts with the arrival of the Shiva. The Meluhan believe that Shiva is their fabled saviour Neelkanth. They believe that a person whose neck turns blue after drinking Somars, will be Neelkanth, the saviour. Shiva is identified as Neelkantha when Brahaspati invites Shiva and the royal family on an expedition to Mount Mandar, where the legendary Somras is manufactured using the waters of the Saraswati river. Shiva learns that the potion which makes his throat turn blue is actually undiluted Somras, which can be lethal when taken in its pure form. However, Shiva is unaffected, which is the first sign that he is the Neelkanth.  The response of Shiva to this   and Meluhans’ conformation is worth noting in this regard:

‘Om Brahmayenamah.Om Brahmayenamah.’
‘What happened? Is it serious?’ asked the worried Shiva.
‘You have come! My Lord, you have come!’
Shiva was bewildered from this reaction.
‘Ayurvati just pointed at Shiva’s neck. Nandi looked up. The neck shown an eerie iridescent blue. With a cry. . . .Nandi collapsed on his knees. ‘My Lord! You have come! The Neelkanth has come!’
The Immortals of Meluha 23

In his conversation with Daksha, Shiva asks: “But how do you know that my blue throat makes me the genuine Neelkanth?’ asked Shiva. ‘For all you know, there may be many Meluhans with a blue throat waiting to be discovered”(IOM, P116). Shiva has a terrible feeling that when people come to know that he is a Neelkanth, his every action and word would be interpreted and over-analysed. Shiva has been described laying emphasis on his human form. He is not shown to have any supernatural powers, though towards the end one sees him deflect arrows with his sword.

Even Chandravanshis also believe, as told by Chandravanshi Princess Anandmayi, that they too had a similar legend that the Neelkanth will come forward to save their land by launching an assault against the "evil" Suryavanshis.  Once when Shiva visits the famous Ram temple of Ayodhya, the capital of Swadweep, with Sati, he comes to know by a priest also about his karma, fate and his choices in life, which would guide him in future.

Being against all evils of life, he tries to set them properly. He seeks to turn some gender, societal and cultural norms on their head. Shiva's non-hierarchical mindset works, the way he treats others beneath and above him with tremendous dignity and sense of equality . He takes up the evils like caste discrimination (Naga tribes), women discrimination (Parvati and Kali), and physically handicap discrimination (Ganesh). Also, he has endless questions about everything and a scientific, logical approach to problem solving, which convey to us more about his personality. Any kind of blind faith repels Shiva. He irons out the  creases that exist in near-perfect Meluha even. He was not convinced by the system which is not convincible.  Many centuries before Shiva arrived on the scene, when Lord Brahma was in charge of affairs, people could become Brahmins only through a competitive examination process. Later caste became rigid and hereditary. It was Lord Ram who straightened things out. He introduced the Maika system, where children are to be brought up in common nurseries. Under the Maika system, all pregnant Meluhan women must travel to a camp when they are ready to deliver babies. Children are brought up in the Maika without knowing who their parents are. At the age of 15, a comprehensive exam is held, on the basis of which castes are allocated. After such allocation, there is one more year of training, this time, caste specific. Children are then adopted by parents from the caste allocated to them at the Maika. It is informed there that under this fantastic system, over time, the percentage of high castes actually went up. At the time of this story, the Maika system continues to flourish, with the only difference being that the rulers and nobles have stopped putting their children in the Maika. In addition to the Maika, Lord Ram also created the Rajya Sabha, the ruling council, consisting of all Brahmins and Kshatriyas of a specific rank.  Shiva set the system right. The Vikrama system, which even Lord Ram had endorsed, is the main object of Shiva’s fury. Vikramas are those who suffer ill-fate in life, such as having a still born baby. He constantly questions the concept of caste divisions in the society.

There is an episode which shows how Shiva is against any kind of discrimination. Here Sati is a vikrama and so cannot attend yajñas. She is to remain away.  When he teaches Sati how to dance, he walks quickly towards Sati and touches her elbow to move it to the correct angle. Sati immediately recoils in horror. Shiva instantly realizes that something terrible has happened. ‘I am sorry’, says Shiva, with a look of sincere regret that he is just trying to show her where her elbow should be. Sati says that Shiva should go or a shudhikaran otherwise she will never be able to forgive herself if something are to happen to him. Shiva says that nothing will happen to him and he is sorry if he has broken some rule by touching her. He says that he will not do it again and it is not a big deal.

Shiva’s falling in love with Sati at first sight confirms Shiva as a human of flesh and blood. While staying in Meluha, Shiva and his comrades, Nandi and Veerbhadra, encounter a beautiful and mysterious woman, who has a look of penance on her face. They later come to know that she is Princess Sati, the daughter of Daksha and is a Vikarma, an untouchable in this life due to sins committed in her previous births. Shiva falls in love with her but cannot marry her because of a law that considers her to be a Vikarma, an untouchable. Vikarmas are people who bear misfortunes in this life due to sins of their past births. She is a skilled swords-woman and is very brave since childhood.  Shiva tries to court her, but she rejects his advances. Ultimately Shiva wins her heart and they decide to get married.

In fact, Shiva has been portrayed as an ideal man. This is accounted in a review by Kunjika Rawat in the following way:

He treats everyone around him (either above or below) with dignity, respect and a great sense of equality. He constantly questions the concept of caste divisions in the society. He understands the futility of war and when he sees the imminent danger to his clan, he decides against it. Despite a rough exterior, Shiva manages to win the heart of the woman he loves.
The youth may not connect with the conventional depiction of Lord Shiva, but the novel presents him almost as a contemporary. Shiva is the “cool guy” who swears when the situation demands, smokes pot, and has a non-hierarchical attitude towards his subordinates. (

Shiva’s war on the Chandravanshis also confirms how an ideal human being is Shiva. He teaches a lesson to Chandravanshis to mend their foul and treacherous ways. During his stay in Devagiri, Shiva comes to know of the treacherous wars that the Chandravanshis are carrying on the Meluhans. He also meets Bŗahaspati, the Chief Inventor of the Meluhans. . He also learns that Somras is the reason why the Meluhans live for so many years. Brahaspati and Shiva develop a close friendship and the royal family returns to Devagiri. One morning, the whole of Meluha wakes up to loud noises coming from Mount Mandar. Shiva and his troops reach the hill to find out that a large part of Mandar has been blasted off and many of the inventors have been killed. There is no sign of Brahaspati, but Shiva finds the insignia of the Nagas, confirming their involvement in the treacherous wars of the Chandravanshis. Enraged by this, Shiva declares war on the Chandravanshis. With consultation from the Devagiri Chief Minister Kanakhla and the Head of Meluhan Army, Parvateshwar, Shiva advances towards Swadweep, the land of the Chandravanshis. A fierce battle is fought between the Meluhans and the Swadweepans in which the Meluhans prevail. The Chandravanshi king is  captured .

The idea of becoming god is vey important in the book.  Shiva himself explains the idea of god. Before the battle begins, Shiva himself explains to the already-egalitarian Suryavanshi soldiers that 'Har Har Mahadev' means each and every Suryavanshi is a Mahadev. He says:
‘I am a Mahadev!’ bellowed Shiva.
I am not the only one! For I see a hundred thousand Mahadevas in front of me! I see a hundred thousand men willing to fight on the side of good! I see a hundred thousand men willing to battle evil! I see a hundred thousand men capable of destroying evil!’ (IOM, P, 344)
Shiva adds that
Har ek hai  Mahadev!’
‘Har Har Mahadev!’ bellowed Shiva.

Here the idea of a God is nothing more than a common human with common flaws. Shiva is a normal man like an average Indian male with his share of insecurities, his problems, his fears, his love for beloved, his desire to get her, and even his mischievous sense of humour, often laced with a subtle sexuality and a clear-thinking and  rational mind. He is a man, a passionate lover, a perfect dancer, a fierce warrior, an expert swordsman and a fair and honest human being. In fact, he even has a troubled past, as someone who ran away from a call for help. The trilogy celebrates the victory of human faith and beliefs and is a nice attempt at trying to make our Gods more accessible and lively by making them one of the man, rather than the glorified stone idols. In essence, the novel traces his transformation from a mere mortal to the Immortal God. The novel celebrates the victory of human faith and beliefs and is a nice attempt at trying to make our Gods more accessible and lively by making them one of the man, rather than the glorified stone idols.

Thus Amish Tripathi has given us a new vision to see our gods as they are, not mysterious or super powerful since their birth or having some extraordinary powers. They were like us, with all strength and weakness of the character; at least we could imagine them as human beings. The novel is the journey of a man becoming Mahadev or God of Gods. It is the story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary destiny.  Shiva is a passionate lover and it is visible in this tale of transformation also. Shiva is a person who woos his love, feels excited seeing the dance of Sati and then shows her his charismatic dance—one form of his dance we know today as Natraj. These kinds of works can inculcate the habit of reading in today’s generation too. Here Shiva is not a God but a unique individual within society and  he redefines the entire society and culture when He comes  into His own after facing numerous adventures and trials`. The theme makes one believe that one can become God only by actions and nothing else. The whole concept of “Har Har Mahadev” reinforces that there is a God in everyone. A man becomes a Mahadev, only when he fights for good.


Works Cited

Tripathi, Amish. The Immortals of  Meluha. Chennai: Westland Isd, 2010. Print.

Tripathi, Amish. The Secret of the Nagas. Chennai: Westland Isd, 2012. Print.

Tripathi,Amish.The Oath of the Vayuputras.Chennai:Westland Isd.2013.Print.