Kaivalya…A Fire Within

The old saying goes: “As we sow, so shall we reap.” What the writer of this quote probably didn’t know was that it holds true for all lifetimes of a life and not just one. What we sow in one life may need to be reaped in another. In the end, finally, the balance is immaculate. Life has no scope for errors and miscalculations. The karmic ledger is flawless as it is the ultimate test for the end point of the quest for Kaivalya.

Kaivalya…a fire within authored by Ekta Saigal Pandit, revolves around its protagonist – narrator and script writer – Mansi who works with the television channel, ‘Our Planet and Beyond’.

Mansi’s work takes her to desert locations and raw wilderness in remote destinations, all over India. As she and her co-worker, Surya, gather footage and mystical stories from the wild, Mansi realises that something strange is happening to her. She is experiencing her past lives, one after another, as she travels.

Her journey begins from the town of Pushkar, Rajasthan. She continues to travel through the jungles of Tadoba (Maharashtra), Sundarbans (West Bengal), the sacrad town of Pragbodhi (Bodh Gaya, Bihar), Pilibhit-Dudhwa forest (Uttar Pradesh). Each time she closes in on a new destination that is in proximity to where she has lived a past incarnation, she begins to have vivid visions and insights about her past life.

To her bewilderment, she has been a murderer, a womaniser, a poacher, a deceived husband and many more personalities in her previous lives. She has taken several actions during each of these lives and has set the karmic wheel spinning. Now, she is in the clutches of cross currents of actions and reactions.
She soon realizes that each action that she has ever taken, has been locked inside her as an energy which she carries within her from one lifetime to the next. The energy needs to be balanced by an equal amount of energy that she needs to put out. Irrespective of the lifetime the action was performed, the energy remains locked within her, until balanced.
Will these energies ever be balanced? Will she play her way out of the web she finds herself entangled in? Will she find the respite, rest and freedom that she fervently wishes for?
Through her past life experiences, she gets the answers that she has been seeking. She begins to understand how she has drawn certain circumstances to herself during these lifetimes and what the karmic cycle all about.
The story carries a ring of suspense and enigma, as each incarnation is uncovered and blends in a lot of travel, description of destinations (remote forests, deserts, places of spiritual significance) where the protagonist is headed.

Concepts such as Rebirth, Samsara and Liberation are common in Indian households. However, these are never explained clearly to anyone. They have a mysterious ring to them, and are generally left unaddressed. They are not discussed enough to even generate a thirst to delve deeper. If at all, the facts are garbed in hard to believe mythological tales and lie hidden in abstruse Scriptures.

The book attempts to address these questions with practicality, and explore the repercussions of actions of one life in another. Through its fictional format, the reader can read and grasp the concepts without feeling like someone is giving them unwanted advice or gyaan.
The narrative takes the reader through a unique thought process. It unveils a dimension that one does not invest time and energy into, whilst embroiled in the complexities of negotiating the grind of daily life.
The story takes place against the backdrop of the British Raj and ends in the post-independence era of India. Various historical time periods, spanning almost 300 years are captured in the narration in fine detail. It takes the reader into an exciting, nail biting journey through the alluring and mystical deserts and jungles of India.
One can clearly see the spark in Ekta’s eyes when she says, “Writing, for me, is a way of personal growth and writing Kaivalya…a fire within, has been personally rewarding. Sometimes I lived through my characters and at others, they lived through me. I progressed with every story that I wrote. Kaivalya…a fire within, is a story with seven intricately connected stories. I have lived seven lives through it. I have grown tremendously through it. I have cried through it. I have laughed through it. I have lived it and loved it. Like me, as you read it, I hope you too will find yourself coming closer to Kaivalya.
Overall an interesting read for those who want to exhale the exhaustion of the Netflix binge watch and inhale some fresh air full of serenity and solace.