Sunday, August 06, 2006

Title: Summer Snow
Author: William T.Hathaway
Publisher: Avatar Publications
ISBN: 0-9738442-3-X
Genre: Fiction/War/Religion/Sufi
No. of Pages: 208

Summer Snow is a fiction by William T.Hathaway, a US war veteran and now a peace activist. The story takes place in Kyrgyzstan, which has borders with several other countries including Afghanistan, China and..... A nuclear bomb is stolen and it is suspected that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations could be after it for inflicting extensive damage on US property and life. A group of Sufi women try to bring the story to a peaceful end through Transcendental Meditation, popularised by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi.

The story is told in an interesting way. The book is special in the sense that there is no hero. Jeff Madsen, the American veteran, who is dragged into the mess, is not the typical hero. The heroes if any are Djamila and Cholpon, the Sufi Master and her main Chela (disciple).

The novel is a good blend of war, religion and philosophy. Djamila integrates Sufi Islam and the TM of Hinduism. The peace which radiates from an advanced meditator is not fiction and can be experienced even today in some of the Ashrams (Hermitages) of India. Though in the story, Djamila fails to resolve the theft of the nuke peacefully (because the meditation is below the critical threshold and the sudden entrance of Al-Qaeda throws the process out of gear), the author succeeds in interesting the reader sufficiently to try out the meditation techniques described as instruments of peace.

The love scene between Jeff and Cholpon is described rather too vividly but it serves the purpose of highlighting the importance of sex as a breaker of the ego barrier albeit very briefly. The ending is tragic yet not contrived. I felt that the burying of the nuke is a too simplistic solution and a Master like Djamila should know that modern science has enough gadgets to locate even deeply buried nuclear weapons. She should have handed it over to her Government. Otherwise, the story is well told and holds the attention of the reader.

I enjoyed reading the book as a physicist and also as a student of spirituality. Though I don't practise the meditation techniques described in the novel, I know that they are real and potent. I recommend the book to all the readers who are interested in peace at personal, national and international levels.

Note: Though I am spiritually inclined, I am not a Yogi or Sanyasi (Monk). And you too need not be one to enjoy the book. I also apologise to the other authors and publicists for taking up this book ahead of their books, since this was the second of the two books which were at hand when I was hospitalised and did not have access to the previously received books. Now also, I am not yet sufficiently strong to take the several serious non-fiction books and so will finsih some more novels which are pending. Thanks for understanding.