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Immortals of Meluha

Amish Tripathi

  Praise for

  The Immortals of Meluha

  ‘Shiva rocks. Just how much Shiva rocks the imagination is made grandiosely obvious in The Immortals of Meluha... Shiva’s journey from cool dude... to Mahadev... is a reader’s delight... What really engages is the author’s crafting of Shiva, with almost boy-worship joy’

  — The Times of India

  ‘The story is gripping and well-paced. An essentially mythological story written in a modern style, the novel creates anticipation in the readers mind and compels one to read with great curiosity till the end. The end however is a cliff-hanger and leaves one thirsting for more.’

  — Business World

  ‘Amongst the top 5 books recommended by Brunch... the story is fascinating.’

  — The Hindustan Times

  ‘...has philosophy as its underlying theme but is racy enough to give its readers the adventure of a lifetime.’

  — The Hindu

  ‘Amongst the list of favourite holiday books of 2010. A fast paced story, you are bound to read it cover to cover in one sitting.’

  — The Deccan Chronicle

  ‘Much before the box-office verdict on Rajneeti and Raavan became apparent, Indian readers gave a thumbs-up to The Immortals Of Meluha. Its author Amish, an IIM graduate, created a delightful mix of mythology and history by making Lord Shiva the hero of his trilogy. The first part has been on the Indian bestseller charts for quite some time now.’

  — The Indian Express

  ‘ me, The Immortals of Meluha is a political commentary with messages for our world and a hope that since they flow from the Mahadev himself, they will find greater acceptance. Be it the interpretation of Shiva’s battle cry — Har Har Mahadev as Every man a Mahadev or the valour of Sati who fights her own battles — every passage is rich in meaning and yet, open to interpretation. Therein lies the strength of this book.’


  ‘...wonderful book, replete with action, love and adventure, and extolling virtues and principles... The author has succeeded in making many mythological figures into simple flesh and blood human beings, and therein lie(s) the beauty and the acceptability of this book.’

  — The Afternoon

  ‘The author takes myth and contemporises it, raising questions about all that we hold true and familiar. The book is (a) marvellous attempt to create fiction from folklore, religion and archaeological facts.’

  — People

  ‘The Immortals of Meluha... sees Lord Shiva and his intriguing life with a refreshing perspective... beautifully written creation... Simply unputdownable for any lover of Indian history and mythology.’

  — Society

  For detailed reviews, please visit

  westland ltd

  Venkat Towers, 165, P.H. Road, MaduravoyaLChennai 600 095

  No.38/10 (New No.5), Raghava Nagat, New Timber Yard Layout,

  Bangalore 560 026

  Survey No. A-9, II Floor, Moula Ali Industrial Area, Moula Ali,

  Hyderabad 500 040

  23/181, Anand Nagar, Nehru Road, Santacruz East, Mumbai 400 055

  4322/3, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110 002

  First published by Tara Press 2010

  Published by westland ltd 2010

  Copyright © Amish Tripathi 2008

  All rights reserved

  Amish Tripathi asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual person living or dead, events and locales is entirely coincidental.

  Cover Design by Rashmi Pusalkar.

  Photo of Lord Shiva by Vikram Bawa.

  Photo of Kailash Mansarovar by Silvio Giroud.

  Typeset in Garamond by Manju

  Printed at Manipal Technologies Ltd., Manipal

  This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by any way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the author’s prior written consent, in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser and without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews with appropriate citations.

  To Preeti & Neel...

  You both are everything to me,

  My words & their meaning,

  My prayer & my blessing,

  My moon & my sun,

  My love & my life,

  My soul mate & a part of my soul.

  Om Namah Shivaiy.

  The universe bows to Lord Shiva. I bow to Lord Shiva.



  The Shiva Trilogy

  Chapter 1 : He has come!

  Chapter 2 : Land of Pure Life

  Chapter 3 : She Enters His Life

  Chapter 4 : Abode of the Gods

  Chapter 5 : Tribe of Brahma

  Chapter 6 : Vikarma, the Carriers of Bad Fate

  Chapter 7 : Lord Ram’s Unfinished Task

  Chapter 8 : Drink of the Gods

  Chapter 9 : Love and its Consequences

  Chapter 10 : The Hooded Figure Returns

  Chapter 11 : Neelkanth Unveiled

  Chapter 12 : Journey through Meluha

  Chapter 13 : Blessings of the Impure

  Chapter 14 : Pandit of Mohan Jo Daro

  Chapter 15 : Trial by Fire

  Chapter 16 : The Sun & Earth

  Chapter 17 : The Battle of Koonj

  Chapter 18 : Sati and the Fire Arrow

  Chapter 19 : Love Realised

  Chapter 20 : Attack on Mandar

  Chapter 21 : Preparation for War

  Chapter 22 : Empire of Evil

  Chapter 23 : Dharmayudh, the Holy War

  Chapter 24 : A Stunning Revelation

  Chapter 25 : Island of the Individual

  Chapter 26 : The Question of Questions



  They say that writing is a lonely profession. They lie. An outstanding group of people have come together to make this book possible. And I would like to thank them.

  Preeti, my wife, a rare combination of beauty, brains and spirit who assisted and advised me through all aspects of this book.

  My family, a cabal of supremely positive individuals who encouraged, pushed and supported me through the long years of this project.

  My first publisher and agent, Anuj Bahri, for his absolute confidence in the Shiva Trilogy.

  My present publishers Westland Ltd, led by Gautam Padmanabhan, for sharing a dream with me.

  Sharvani Pandit and Gauri Dange, my editors, for making my rather pedestrian English vastiy better and for improving the story flow.

  Rashmi Pusalkar, Sagar Pusalkar and Vikram Bawa for the exceptional cover.

  Atul Manjrekar, Abhijeet Powdwal, Rohan Dhuri and Amit Chitnis for the innovative trailer film, which has helped market the book at a whole new level. And Taufiq Qureshi, for the music of the trailer film.

  Mohan Vijayan for his great work on press publicity.

  Alok Kalra, Hrishikesh Sawant and Mandar Bhure for their effective advice on marketing and promotions.

  Donetta Ditton & Mukul Mukherjee for the website.

  You, the reader, for the leap of faith in pi
cking up the book of a debut author.

  And lastly, I believe that this story is a blessing to me from Lord Shiva. Humbled by this experience, I find myself a different man today, less cynical and more accepting of different world views. Hence, most importantly, I would like to bow to Lord Shiva, for blessing me so abundantly, far beyond what I deserve.

  The Shiva Trilogy

  Shiva! The Mahadev. The God of Gods. Destroyer of Evil. Passionate lover. Fierce warrior. Consummate dancer. Charismatic leader. All-powerful, yet incorruptible. Quick wit, accompanied by an equally quick and fearsome temper.

  Over the centuries, no foreigner who came to our land — conqueror, merchant, scholar, ruler, traveller — believed that such a great man could possibly exist in reality. They assumed that he must have been a mythical God, whose existence could be possible only in the realms of human imagination. Unfortunately, this belief became our received wisdom.

  But what if we are wrong? What if Lord Shiva was not a figment of a rich imagination, but a person of flesh and blood? Like you and me. A man who rose to become godlike because of his karma. That is the premise of the Shiva Trilogy, which interprets the rich mythological heritage of ancient India, blending fiction with historical fact.

  This work is therefore a tribute to Lord Shiva and the lesson that his life teaches us. A lesson lost in the depths of time and ignorance. A lesson, that all of us can rise to be better people. A lesson, that there exists a potential god in every single human being. All we have to do is listen to ourselves.

  The Immortals of Meluha is the first book in the trilogy that chronicles the journey of this extraordinary hero. Two more books are to follow: The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras.


  He has come!

  1900 BC, Mansarovar Lake(At the foot of Mount Kailash, Tibet)

  Shiva gazed at the orange sky. The clouds hovering above Mansarovar had just parted to reveal the setting sun. The brilliant giver of life was calling it a day once again. Shiva had seen a few sunrises in his twenty-one years. But the sunset! He tried never to miss the sunset! On any other day, Shiva would have taken in the vista — the sun and the immense lake against the magnificent backdrop of the Himalayas stretching as far back as the eye could see. But not today.

  He squatted and perched his lithe, muscular body on the narrow ledge extending over the lake. The numerous batde-scars on his skin gleamed in the shimmering reflected light of the waters. Shiva remembered well his carefree childhood days. He had perfected the art of throwing pebbles that bounced off the surface of the lake. He still held the record in his tribe for the highest number of bounces: seventeen.

  On a normal day, Shiva would have smiled at the memory from a cheerful past that had been overwhelmed by the angst of the present. But today, he turned back towards his village without any hint of joy.

  Bhadra was alert, guarding the main entrance. Shiva gestured with his eyes. Bhadra turned back to find his two back-up soldiers dozing against the fence. He cursed and kicked them hard.

  Shiva turned back towards the lake.

  God bless Bhadra! At least he takes some responsibility.

  Shiva brought the chillum made of yak-bone to his hps and took in a deep drag. Any other day, the marijuana would have spread its munificence, dulling his troubled mind and letting him find some moments of solace. But not today.

  He looked left, at the edge of the lake where the soldiers of the strange foreign visitor were kept under guard. With the lake behind them and twenty of Shiva’s own soldiers guarding them, it was impossible for them to mount any surprise attack.

  They let themselves be disarmed so easily. They aren’t like the bloodthirsty idiots in our land who are looking for any excuse to fight.

  The foreigner’s words came flooding back to Shiva. ‘Come to our land. It lies beyond the great mountains. Others call it Meluha. I call it Heaven. It is the richest and most powerful empire in India. Indeed the richest and most powerful in the whole world. Our government has an offer for immigrants. You will be given fertile land and resources for farming. Today, your tribe, the Gunas, fight for survival in this rough, arid land. Meluha offers you a lifestyle beyond your wildest dreams. We ask for nothing in return. Just live in peace, pay your taxes and follow the laws of the land.’

  Shiva mused that he would certainly not be a chief in this new land.

  Would I really miss that so much?

  His tribe would have to live by the laws of the foreigners. They would have to work every day for a living.

  That’s better than fighting every day just to stay alive!

  Shiva took another puff from his chillum. As the smoke cleared, he turned to stare at the hut in the centre of his village, right next to his own, where the foreigner had been stationed. He had been told that he could sleep there in comfort. In fact, Shiva wanted to keep him hostage. Just in case.

  We fight almost every month with the Pakratis just so that our village can exist next to the holy lake. They are getting stronger every year, forming new alliances with new tribes. We can beat the Pakratis, but not all the mountain tribes together! By moving to Meluha, we can escape this pointless violence and may be live a life of comfort. What could possibly be wrong with that? Why shouldn’t we take this deal? It sounds so damn good!

  Shiva took one last drag from the chillum before banging it on the rock, letting the ash slip out and rose quickly from his perch. Brushing a few specks of ash from his bare chest, he wiped his hands on his tiger skin skirt, rapidly striding to his village. Bhadra and his back-up stood to attention as Shiva passed the gate. Shiva frowned and gestured for Bhadra to ease up.

  Why does he keep forgetting that he has been my closestfriend since childhood? My becoming the chief hasn’t really changed anything. He doesn’t need to behave unnecessarily servile in front of others.

  The huts in Shiva’s village were luxurious compared to others in their land. A grown man could actually stand upright in them. The shelter could withstand the harsh mountain winds for nearly three years before surrendering to the elements. He flung the empty chillum into his hut as he strode to the hut where the visitor lay sleeping soundly.

  Either he doesn’t realise he is a hostage. Or he genuinely believes that good behaviour begets good behaviour.

  Shiva remembered what his uncle, also his Guru, used to say. ‘People do what their society rewards them to do. If the society rewards trust, people will be trusting.’

  Meluha must he a trusting society if it teaches even its soldiers to expect the best in strangers.

  Shiva scratched his shaggy beard as he stared hard at the visitor.

  He had said his name was Nandi.

  The Meluhan’s massive proportions appeared even more enormous as he sprawled on the floor in his stupor, his immense belly jiggling with every breath. Despite being obese, his skin was taut and toned. His child-like face looked even more innocent asleep, with his mouth half open.

  Is this the man who will lead me to my destiny? Do I really have the destiny my uncle spoke of?

  ‘Your destiny is much larger than these massive mountains. But to make it come true, you will have to cross these very same massive mountains.’

  Do I deserve a good destiny? My people come first. Will they be happy in Meluha?

  Shiva continued to stare at the sleeping Nandi. Then he heard the sound of a conch shell.


  ‘POSITIONS!’ screamed Shiva, as he drew his sword.

  Nandi was up in an instant, drawing a hidden sword from his fur coat kept to the side. They sprinted to the village gates. Following standard protocol, the women started rushing to the village centre, carrying their children along. The men ran the other way, swords drawn.

  ‘Bhadra! Our soldiers at the lake!’ shouted Shiva as he reached the entrance.

  Bhadra relayed the orders and the Guna soldiers obeyed instantly. They were surprised to see the Meluhans draw weapons hidden in their coats and rush to the villag
e. The Pakratis were upon them within moments.

  It was a well-planned ambush by the Pakratis. Dusk was usually a time when the Guna soldiers took time to thank their gods for a day without battle. The women did their chores by the lakeside. If there was a time of weakness for the formidable Gunas, a time when they weren’t a fearsome martial clan, but just another mountain tribe trying to survive in a tough, hostile land, this was it.

  But fate was against the Pakratis yet again. Thanks to the foreign presence, Shiva had ordered the Gunas to remain alert. Thus they were forewarned and the Pakratis lost the element of surprise. The presence of the Meluhans was also decisive, turning the tide of the short, brutal battle in favour of the Gunas. The Pakratis had to retreat.

  Bloodied and scarred, Shiva surveyed the damage at the end of the battle. Two Guna soldiers had succumbed to their injuries. They would be honoured as clan heroes. But even worse, the warning had come too late for at least ten Guna women and children. Their mutilated bodies were found next to the lake. The losses were high.

  Bastards They kill women and children when they can’t beat us!

  A livid Shiva called the entire tribe to the centre of the village. His mind was made.

  ‘This land is fit for barbarians! We have fought pointless battles with no end in sight. You know my uncle tried to make peace, even offering access to the lake shore to the mountain tribes. But these scum mistook our desire for peace as weakness. We all know what followed!’

  The Gunas, despite being used to the brutality of regular battle, were shell-shocked by the viciousness of the attack on the women and children.

  ‘I keep nothing secret from you. All of you know the invitation of the foreigners,’ continued Shiva, pointing to Nandi and the Meluhans. ‘They fought shoulder-to-shoulder with us today. They have earned my trust. I want to go with them to Meluha. But this cannot be my decision alone.’

  ‘You are our chief, Shiva,’ said Bhadra. ‘Your decision is our decision. That is the tradition.’

  ‘Not this time,’ said Shiva holding out his hand. ‘This will change our lives completely. I believe the change will be for the better. Anything will be better than the pointlessness of the violence we face daily. I have told you what I want to do. But the choice to go or not is yours. Let the Gunas speak. This time, I follow you.’