As a writer of popular fiction, Ashwin Sanghi deftly combines mythology, philosophy, science and historical fiction to present a concoction of a tale that often takes the reader on a wild goose chase. His latest offering, Keepers of the Kalachakra, the fifth book in the Bharat series, is no different.
The book starts with a researcher at IIT-Delhi delivering his last lecture before moving to the corporate sector. In another part of the world, the Canadian prime minister falls into a coma mysteriously while addressing a gathering of officials. The events that unfold lead to a roller-coaster ride, where several world leaders are dying mysteriously in highly secure environs and four secret service agents from China, India, Russia and the US are working together to resolve the mystery.
The storyline works at different levels—terrorism, religious fundamentalism, philosophical notions—but its basic premise rests on quantum physics and the existence of a quantum twin. Sanghi takes his readers through the realms of science, religion, mystical practices, questioning fundamentalism. The book also provides some insight into various religions and the forms of violence that existed in the past. Numerous pages are devoted to Rama’s crossing to Lanka, the birth of Buddhism, what existed in the smoke-darkened ruins of Nalanda and the origin of Islamist movements in several countries. While the first 250-odd pages of the book are compelling, the storyline resembles more of a Bollywood film towards the end. Often, Sanghi is compared to Dan Brown and it is not without reason, as the style of writing and narrative of his latest book seems inspired by several of Brown’s books. However, the laborious research that goes with the book could have been edited tighter to keep the narrative succinct. Irrespective of that, the book can’t be put down till all pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are put together.