Picked up this book as a recommendation on a podcast. Had come across this book and its peculiar cover a few times on Amazon, yet it did not pique my curiosity enough to pick it up. On this second recommendation, I chose to give it a try.

Amazon.com gives it four stars. In hindsight, that should have been a warning sign. Amazon.com ratings are often a very good thumb-rule for me to short-list books to read. Normally, I avoid anything that is not above 4, thanks to the wisdom of crowds or some such behavioural goobledygook. But the draw of the unique plot line made me disregard the rating.

I found the opening chapters funny enough, but somewhere after the first 10 chapters, I lost all interest in it. The humour is too dry and sparse. The events are repetitive. Following is a typical example of what transpires in each chapter.

  1. Hitler demands/mentions something.
  2. The people around him assume he is in character.
  3. They laugh.
  4. And a case of convenient miscommunication ensures that the plot moves ahead.

The original book is in German, and I’m not sure if the English edition is a case of lost in translation. The author also chooses to use a first person narrative. This is always a tricky device. I wonder if the story would have been more engrossing if the author had used a more traditional narrative. But then of course, we wouldn’t be able to know what Hitler was thinking all the time. Making Hitler as the narrator and spelling out the obvious, the writing felt too amateurish. It quickly became a case of show less, tell more. And the premise itself, after its initial novelty, quickly becomes convoluted. Imagine Hitler, or for that matter any other leader, waking up and realises that it is after over 50 years that he was last seen on Earth. What would his first question be?

Hitler: Is the war over?

Passer-by: Which war?

Hitler: The one with the Allied forces – Britain and USA.

Passer-by: Yes it is. The Allied Forces beat the crap out of the Nazis.

End of novel.

Even if I suspend my disbelief for a moment and agree that the people around him were just assuming that he was an actor simply portraying Hitler, I would imagine that Hitler was smart and sensible enough to realise that after fifty years, he is a lost cause. Or was he?

In the end, I chose not to go ahead with the book as I felt the rest of the book would contain more of the same events happening over and over again. However if you’re interested in knowing what happens to Hitler, have a look at Look Who’s Back. I, for one, will probably watch the movie instead.

Look who's back
Timur Vermes
mobi, paperback, hardcover

Prior to this book, I have kept reading Osho off and on. His books are no more than a compilation of the talks that he gave when he was alive. And hence it is easier for most people to look up his videos on the Internet. I don’t think I have completed any other book of his from cover to cover. But a chance conversation with a relative led me to pick this book up for my next read.

I had heard from many people that Osho’s writings make you pause and introspect – about your thoughts, your philosophy of life, and your beliefs. People say he was one of the most intelligent observers and sharpest commentator on religion and spirituality. In his time, he was definitely a controversial figure, but many of his teachings were probably misinterpreted or twisted from what he originally meant.

I chose this book based on recommendations on Goodreads and Quora. Krishna – The Man and His Philosophy is a massive 850 pages long and by no means an easy read. You have to take your time with this one. Rushing through this book will be a waste of time. There are two reasons for that. First, if you rush through this book, you’re not likely to understand a lot given the denseness of his teachings. Second, as I mentioned above, your brain would want to slow down and introspect, as he demolishes the grand models of life that you’ve so carefully built over the years.

As the title suggests, the book is about Osho’s interpretation of Krishna’s philosophy. Osho refers a lot to the Bhagavad Gita, as a majority of Krishna’s philosophy can be derived from what he spoke to Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. However, Osho also touches upon other parts of Krishna’s life, mainly his youth. Many of the questions asked by his followers refer to the differing personality of Krishna painted in the Bhagavata Purana and in the Bhagavad Gita.

The book’s scope is so vast that you may not resonate with all of what Osho explains. There are some parts that you may want to gloss over, while others need to be highlighted in red. For example, the concept of advaita is still too abstract for me to visualize, let alone imbibe. In this humongous book, there have been many instances where the sheer monotony of the text wanted me to close this book and look for something more inviting. But every time I decide to read one more paragraph and the roller-coaster ride starts again. There Osho is again, with a new interpretation on things, hacking away at your marble palace.

Osho mentions in the book that what he is saying is his interpretation of Krishna. Yet, he encourages others not to blindly follow his interpretation. Instead, he encourages everyone to be independent and think for themselves. Another thing that Osho was known for was his bluntness. On a very contemporary topic – cow slaughter, he has a view that would probably not sit well with the right wing. Osho mentions that although he is against slaughter of any animal, cow slaughter is something of a necessary evil. He questions the motives of those who are protesting against cow slaughter, and even goes so far as to call them hypocrites  He mentions that although their motive is noble, their reasons are wrong. He questions whether the people who protest cow slaughter are in a position to provide better facilities for the animals when they’re still alive? Judging by the condition in which these animals live and by their health, it is unlikely. Caring is possible only when you are in a position to take care. Without the facilities and the wherewithal, caring is impossible. We have to be pragmatic; it is no use being sentimental. Also he mentions that the earth does not have enough plant-based resources to support the entire population. So what, according to him, is the harm of letting people prefer meat over vegetarian food? The cow cannot be saved when man himself is facing death. As I said, something that the right wingers would not take lightly.

It is all the more amazing when you realize that these sentences were first recorded sometime late in the 20th century. And they still ring true in an India that is wanting to stake its place in the global economy. But Osho speaks it like it is, not pandering to any religion or group. Another instance of Osho truly speaking from his heart, is when he claims that Mahatma Gandhi was a violent man. The only difference was that Gandhi used violence upon himself.

For example, Gandhi thinks fasting is a kind of right means to a right end. And he resorts to fasting – fast unto death every now and then. But I can never accept fasting as a right means, nor will Krishna agree with Gandhi. If a threat to kill another person is wrong, how can a threat to kill oneself be right?

Gandhi once undertook such a fast unto death to put pressure on Ambedkar, leader of the millions of India’s untouchables. And Ambedkar had to yield, not because he agreed that the cause for which Gandhi fasted was right, but because he did not want to let Gandhi die for it. Ambedkar was not ready to do even this much violence to Gandhi. Ambedkar said later that Gandhi would be wrong to think that he had changed his heart. He still believed he was right and Gandhi was wrong, but he was not prepared to take the responsibility for the violence that Gandhi was insisting on doing to himself. In this context it is necessary to ask if Ambedkar used the right means, or Gandhi? Of the two, who is really non-violent?

There are countless such moments in this book, when you’ll be forced to put the book aside and think – think hard – as you carefully collect the pieces of your thoughts that have been broken so effortlessly by this fearless man. Go pick up this book if you want to understand more about Krishna’s playful philosophy towards life and want to watch your mind get twisted by one bold badass of a guru. As of the time of writing, this book is available on Kindle Unlimited. Else buy the Krishna – The Man and His Philosophy on Amazon.

Krishna - The Man and His Philosophy
Religion, Spirituality
Jaico Books