The Immortals of Meluha deals with an interesting premise: What if Shiva was a person who lived around 1900 BCE in Tibet and migrated to the Saraswati-Sindhu region? In Amish’s novel, Shiva is a blue throated warrior from Tibet who is fed up with frequent battles in his region and decides to move his tribe to the land of seven rivers.
This region, called Meluhha, was created by Lord Ram and follows the dharmic way of life. The Suryavanshis who live there are immortal due to the consumption of somaras — a magic potion created by mixing few things with the water of Saraswati. But there are few problems: Saraswati is dying putting the somaras production at risk; there are also frequent bold attacks from the Chandravanshis who have allied with the Nagas.
The books follows the Hero’s journey template: The Suryavanshis are waiting for the neelkanth, but the cannibis smoking hero is not so sure if he is Neo. He spends time wooing Sati and rectifying few faults he sees in the Ram Rajya. But soon he realizes that he has to become Mahadev and save the world.
The book generated ripples of mirth for one reason. Even though there is material evidence of yoga, fire altars, the worship of the peepal tree, worship of the serpent, worship of the linga etc in the Harappan region, there is no scholarly consensus on their religion. The moment you utter the word, Hinduism, scholarly and not so scholarly arrows start flying all around. But Amish does not succub to political correctness and that makes the book refreshing to read. His Meluhha is a proper dharmic society.
Now, writing historical fiction is hard because you have to worry not just about the story, but about recreating the atmosphere. So when you find the units depicted in kilometers and when the characters utter “Son of a bitch” in their conversation, it feels like modern India rather than 1900 BCE. I had just finished reading Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke and Sea of Poppies where the amount of research he has done is mindboggling and the the atmosphere he creates is immersive. Amish has to read few such books to recreate the Harappan period.