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Title – Aghori – An Untold Story

Author – Mayur Kalbag

Type – Nonfiction converted to fiction / Autobiography-Like

Reading Prompt – #13 – A book with a face on the cover

The book suited the prompt. Moreover, the title intrigued me. I possess limited knowledge about the Aghoris. So I geared up for an enjoyable and (maybe educational) read. 

As the title suggests, Aghori: An Untold Story promises to tell us tales of the Aghori sadhus. Mayur returned from a spiritual journey to Kailasha & Manasarovar in 2001 and took to writing adventure stories. The book narrates the happenings in the Aghori sect through the eyes of the narrator Subbu.

I wish I had enjoyed the book. 

Typos marred my reading experience. It hurts to see ‘arm’ turning into ‘ram’ or even ‘am’. Yes, you read that right. The team of editors didn’t even spare names and Hindi phrases. For some weird reason, Siddha baba became Sidha baba, and Jagruti transformed into Jaugruti. I almost chuckled aloud when the narrator decided to ‘much’ on something to satiate his hunger. 

Since the Aghoris spoke to the narrator in Hindi, the English translation follows the Hindi dialogues immediately. Some readers aren’t familiar with vernacular languages. However, when conversations form the bulk of the narrative, it makes sense to write them in English. 

Some gems held my breath longer than was necessary. 

There was one particular taxi driver who asked me why I was so keen to go to the village that was known for infamous for being haunted.

Although there wasn’t much space for the both of us to sit I still did not mind and that is because I had a lot of questions to ask him and was also getting a better view of the journey compared to when I was seated behind amidst the haystacks. 

In that dream I saw both the same Aghori Babas who I had encountered at the roadside in the middle of nowhere. 

I started all more anxious when he said that to me.

He was explaining something to the other Aghori Sadhu, who’s name I still did not know.

[Grammarly protested as I inserted these examples and insisted that I rectify these errors. I had to dismiss it.]

The writing is, at best, average. The narrative could have been a brilliant opportunity for Show Don’t Tell, but the author lost it with his inconsistency. I wonder which person addresses a fellow traveller as ‘Dear XYZ’ and begins a conversation. Come on, even formal emails nowadays start with a ‘Hello’. 

Apologies if this review sounds like a rant. But I can’t help it. The only icing on the cake was that the ordeal was over within 140 pages. 

My rating? Forget it!

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