Of Mughals and Marathas, spirituality and Calcutta (IANS Books This Weekend)

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New Delhi : Flick through a historical saga that brings to life the complex and ever-shifting dynamics between two arch enemies -- the Mughals and the Marathas; examine the nature of a spiritual search through a series of illuminating conversations between a teacher and a student; go through a compassionate take on the disparate lives that entwine over the building of a house in the city of Calcutta; and realise that your work does not need your youth as a sacrificial offering.

The IANS bookshelf has a bunch of interesting reads for this weekend.

1. Book: Frontiers; Author: Medha Deshmukh Bhaskaran; Publisher: Penguin; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 489
The massive armies of the Mughal empire and the allied kingdoms have been unleashed to crush the Maratha warrior Chattrapati Shivaji. What will happen when two of the biggest enemies in the history of Hindustan come face to face?

Aurangzeb has ascended to the throne in the North, leaving a trail of blood in his wake. His aim is to conquer the kingdoms of the Deccan and expand the great Mughal empire to include hitherto uncharted, rebellious territories. Unforgiving and relentless, he unleashes his violent rage against anyone who tries to tame his ambition.

Shivaji, a jagirdar from the hills of western Deccan, dreams of Swaraj and has raised his sword against all those who stand between him and his goal. He wins and conquers, escapes death traps through masterful strategy, unrivalled courage and intelligence to become a force to reckon with -- a thorn in Aurangzeb's flesh.

Theirs is a battle of wit and might -- one in which neither will give up.

2. Book: The Heartfulness Way; Author: Kamlesh D. Patel; Publisher: Westland; Price: Rs 299; Pages: 195
As we manoeuvre the many demands of relationships, career, property and health, we often sense a void, a feeling of alienation from our true selves. Is it possible for one planet to orbit so many suns? We have many centres in our lives, yet where is the true centre, the deepest centre that lies at the core of every heart?

Kamlesh D. Patel traces a seeker's journey as he examines the nature of spiritual search. Through a series of illuminating conversations between a teacher and a student, Daaji reveals the core principles of the Heartfulness practice and philosophy to Joshua Pollock, a Heartfulness practitioner and trainer.

From reflecting on the essence of prayer and yogic transmission to demystifying the act of meditation through practical tips, this book will enable us to live beyond the filters of our sensory limitations and discover unity within ourselves. To practise Heartfulness is to seek the essence beyond the form, the reality behind the ritual. It is to centre oneself at the core of one's heart and find true meaning and contentment there.

3. Book: The Escapists of J. Mullick Road; Author: Usha Ananda Krishna; Publisher: Speaking Tiger; Price: Rs 499; Pages: 385
In the aftermath of a bizarre confrontation with Kalol Mondala -- a small-time hustler and Party goon -- Pinaki Bose, a timid Bengali babu bumbles into the ambit of the savagely brilliant architect, Biren Roy. Dazzled by Biren's breadth of vision and utter contempt for the conventional, he commissions him to design a country house, committing the whole family's savings to it.

But Biren, paralysed by his grand ideals and his passion for perfection, is slowly sinking into a drunken torpor. And Pinaki, ignorant of the Party's involvement in all land deals, must endure not just Kalol Mondal's ominous presence while buying his plot, but more worryingly, his infatuation with Pinaki's young daughter.

Set in the bleak Communist Calcutta of the 1980s, "The Escapists of J. Mullick Road" is a wry meditation on a fabled city in physical and moral decline. Usha Ananda Krishna's subtly witty but compassionate take on the disparate lives that entwine over the building of a house is a tour de force of modern literary writing.

4. Book: My Beta Does Computer Things; Author: Sanjay Manaktala; Publisher: Harper Collins; Price: Rs 350; Pages: 179
If you've picked up this book, you and the author are probably pretty darn similar -- grew up in humble circumstances, listened to our parents and the society, graduated and joined the IT industry. So, why read a book that's going to explain an industry you might already be a part of? Well, frankly, to work smarter and not harder.

To make sure you know what you're getting into and what lies ahead. You want to make money and travel the world. You want to date and enjoy your twenties and thirties.

Your work does not need your youth as a sacrificial offering. The goal here is to get you to realise that. Corporations can suck but they can also be awesome. Many of us make money. Many of us enjoy our lives. Few do both. Let's try and join the latter, shall we?