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Book Review: Looking Within- Life Lessons From Lal Ded

Looking Within: Life Lessons From Lal Ded
Editor: Shonaleeka Kaul
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Rating: 3.5/5

Lal Ded or Granny Lal was a Shaiva mystic saint who shared her wisdom through vaakhs (sayings) which were originally in Kashmiri. These adages have been used in as hymns, rhymes and proverbs. Looking Within offers these life lessons in the form of short verses that highlight the futility of materialistic pleasures and the emotions that are associated with these tangible things- greed, wrath, pride and sloth.

One of the lessons elucidates the vanity of ‘moulding your oars of sand’, for you cannot row the boat with them. Another one talks about the unfortunate paradox in which the learned crave for more while the affluent deny making hay while the sun shines. Lal Ded stressed on the importance of discovering self and not abandoning oneself for the sake of temporary things- ‘You are so lost in greed and attachment to things, I weep for you’. Looking Within traces the journey of self-discovery in four steps- first, Life of Illusions; second, the Search; third, the Way and fourth, the Realization.

Life of Illusions describes the uncanny connection that Lal Ded used to feel between God and herself. She quotes this in this verse ‘As the realization of oneness with You and others elude me’. ‘The Search’ is a section where the emphasis on looking within is evident.

When the light lip up within me,
Off went the light outside.
In the darkness
I seized Him and held Him tight.’

In one of the verses, she mentions that it is just a matter of time- once you begin dwelling inside yourself, even the unbearable taunts cause no grief. The third part- Realization– is focused mainly on the search for God which is actually the search within. The last part- The Way– is quite interesting because even at that time, when beliefs were given the utmost important, Lal Ded advocated the inefficacy of rituals like fasting and dressing up to find God. The real way is to contemplate the true self, get rid of the sins and achieve the state of pure consciousness.

Reflective composition and lucid translation will help the readers understand what it takes to find God and achieve the state of peace and calm.

Best wishes to the editor!

Buying link: Amazon

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