The magic of the mystical Himalayas never fails to entice us. The snow-capped mountains tell the stories of unbelievable miracles and have always been the reservoir of spiritual enrichment. Mystics and Sceptics by Namita Gokhale is a collection of works by various authors who share their experiences as well as the biography of spiritual leaders on the mountains. How they came about, what mystical actions they showcase, and how they influenced others – the book is sure to put various so-called human Gods to shame. Because these are the lords of universal energy.
It is best, in one’s sojourns across the Himalaya, to be cautious in chance encounters, for one could well encounter a saint, a siddha, a madman or a charlatan. Mystics and Sceptics, edited by Namita Gokhale, comprises essays on all of these. This uniquely insightful anthology traverses the sacred geography of the Himalayan range, encompassing different cultures and religious traditions in its living legacy. Through myth, legend and anecdotal memory, it includes narratives of wanderers and seekers, gurus and enlightened souls, tricksters and delusionists. The spiritual seekers discussed here include Guru Milarepa, Neem Karoli Baba and Siddhi Ma, Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Rama, Guru Nanak, Swami Vivekananda, Haidakhan Baba, Yeshe Tsogyal, Lal Ded and Sri Madhav Ashish. Also discussed are the sacred traditions of the dhuni and chimta, the shakti peeths in the Himalayan region, trance runners of Tibet and Bhutan and the Khasi rituals of divination and prophecy.
The book confines the readers to mysticism and forces them to manifest the Enlightenment that authors have experienced. Some of them are anecdotes from the authors. For instance, the tale of Neem Karoli Baba. Some others like Milarepa’s are biographical accounts. How he graciously held his hand out to embrace his last moments is indeed a mystical reader experience as well as spiritual enrichment.
The readers get a chance to acquaint themselves with the enlightened gurus as well as tricksters.
While reading the book, any reader would think of how futile the human gods in front of whom we prostrate ourselves. When the readers are engrossed in the book, it sucks us deep into the multidimensional strata of human spirituality. To have a glimpse of this through the book itself is an achievement to revel about.