A seemingly random selection of heads of state are struck down like flies by unnamed killers who work with the clinical efficiency of butchers. Except that they leave no trace of their methods. Welcome back to the shadowy and addictive world of Ashwin Sanghi.
After The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key and The Sialkot Saga, Ashwin Sanghi returns at last with another quietly fearsome tale—this time of men who guard the ‘Kalachakra’ or The Wheel of Time.
Sanghi describes a world of people at war with one another—a boomeranging conflict of faiths that results in acts of such slow and planned human cruelty that they defy human imagination.
Caught in the midst of this madness is Vijay Sundaram, a geek scientist who is only dimly aware that the wider sky outside his laboratory is stretched taut and close to being torn apart by forces that he wants simply to have nothing to do with.
But events conspire to propel Vijay into the labyrinth of Milesian Labs, a centre of research deep in the forested hills of Uttarakhand. What he stumbles upon is a primordial clue to a galactic secret that could accelerate the downward spiral of humankind. Trapped and wholly unaware of his actual foe, Vijay races against time to save humanity—and himself.
Zigzagging from Rama’s crossing to Lanka to the birth of Buddhism; from the origin of Wahhabism to the Einsteinian gravitational wave-detectors of LIGO; from the charnel-grounds of naked tantric practitioners to the bespoke suits of the Oval Office; and from the rites of Minerva, shrouded in frankincense, to the smoke-darkened ruins of Nalanda, Keepers of the Kalachakra is a journey that will have you gasping for breath—but one that you cannot abandon till all the pieces of the jigsaw come together.
Till you come up gobsmack against an end that you simply did not see coming.
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If you’ve read Ashwin Sanghi, then you are well aware that his books weave science, mythology, and religion intricately. In typical fashion, this book too has multiple stories running parallelly, panning out across the globe — India, Russia, Syria, Turkey, China, Tibet, Australia, America, among others.
Vijay Sundaram, a straightforward scientist reluctantly takes up a job with Milesian Labs, only to find himself getting sucked into a mess that he can’t comprehend. His stint at the lab situated in a secret location in Uttarakhand’s forests sets him on a trail that unravels ineffable secrets, and with it jeopardizes his life. He’s perpetually watching his back while on his research in quantum physics and conducts secret meetings with his Russian colleague Mikhailov, whose revelations about science and life leave Vijay dumbfounded, so much so that he starts to question the fellow’s sanity.
The plot digs into vexed issues of the clash between several faiths, radicalization, terrorism, and polarisation. The views of the main characters around Islam, Islamophobia and world politics are intriguing. While it’s justifiable for a writer to be descriptive, the detailed accounts of scientific and mythical phenomena are boring.
The story trails back to the time of the Ramayana, when Buddhism was established as a religion and when Nalanda was raided. It plays around the remnants of the Buddhist tantric practices today and a few who don’t want these practices don’t fall into the wrong hands. While the parallel stories progress at a slow pace, the end is hurried and the climax, leaves you baffled.
About the author:
Ashwin Sanghi—entrepreneur by day, novelist by night—has all the usual qualifications of an Indian businessman. Schooling at the Cathedral & John Connon School, a B.A. (Economics) from St. Xavier’s College, and an M.B.A. (Finance) from the Yale School of Management. Besides being a businessman, Ashwin manages a parallel career as a writer of fiction.
Ashwin’s first novel, ‘The Rozabal Line’ was originally self-published in 2007 under his anagram-pseudonym—Shawn Haigins. The book was subsequently published by Westland in 2008 and 2010 in India under his own name and went on to become a national bestseller.
‘Chanakya’s Chant’ is his second novel in the historical-fiction genre. The book has remained on AC Nielsen’s India Bookscan Top-10 for all of 2011. It won the ‘2010 Crossword-Vodafone Popular Choice Award’ in September 2011. UTV has purchased the movie rights to the book and a film based on the story is expected soon. Dr. Shashi Tharoor released the novel in Mumbai calling it an “enthralling, delightfully-interesting and gripping read with historical research that is impressive.” The Hindustan Times has called it “a cracker of a page-turner.”
Ashwin is currently working on his third novel, as yet untitled, that explores business strategies in ancient India. Ashwin is also working towards a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Bangor University in Wales. Ashwin lives in Mumbai with his wife, Anushika, and his eight-year-old son, Raghuvir.