Book Review

S. V. Subrahmanian svs_shankara at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 26 09:50:58 CDT 2000

Dear members (especially new to Vedanta):

I read the book "Wanderings in the Himalayas" by Swami Tapovan Maharaj.  The
original was in Malayalam called "Himagiri Vihar" which was later translated
into English by Chinmaya Mission and presented as "Wandering in the
Himalayas".  I would recommend it to students of Vedanta.  The highlights of
the book are:

1.  Written by a Swami who was both a Srotriya and brahmaniSta.  He had
committed his life to Vedantic study and preaching.  He spent all his
spiritual life in the Himalayas and if I remember right, after he went the
Himalayas in his 30's he never returned back to the plains.  I think
Srinagar or somewhere in Punjab was the farthest he ever traveled away from

2.  He was a perfect scholar in both Sanskrit and Malayalam.  He was a true
ascetic, who had (really) renounced worldly life and spent his life in the
contemplation of Divine.  He traveled to all places in the Himalayas
practically with no paraphernalia.  He is supposed to have weathered cold
breezes with just a blanket and survived many days with just one meal etc.

3.  He uses real life incidents as pretext to explain Vedanta.  Some of the
discussions I can recall are his explanation of the 6th Canto of Chandogya
ie., discussion between Swetaketu and UddAlaka, discussions of works of SrI
Harsha and others.

4.  He was a perfect example of the amalgam of Bhakti and Vedantic thought.
People who have confusion regarding the reconciliation of the two would find
in this book, a man who had a happy reconciliation in himself.  Also a
Vedantin by study, practice and achievement, he worshipped God through the
beauty of nature.  He is at his best when he describes the beauty of nature.

5.  He touches upon topics like : importance of Shastras, rituals, need for
Sraddha, nationalism, rejection of materialism (totally), severe in his
condemnation of Western influence in thought process, also discusses about
false gurus, decay of Vedic culture etc among other things.

7.  He seems to have truly loved God.

8.  We are only used to travel adventures written by Westerners.  Now for
those who thought so, here is a Swami who has written his travel adventures
- both gripping and well presented.

A good reading for all who have not read it yet.  Don't blame me if you fall
in love with either Himalayas or Vedanta after reading the book

Note: He was the Guru of Swami Chinmayananda.  The book is published by
Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai.

I am presenting here a brief synopsis directly from the cover page of the

In this book you read how a man of Divine vision beholds Truth everywhere.
Be it in the lifeless stones, or in the dumb trees, or among the singing
birds, in the roar of the animals, in the silent womb of the jungle, in the
bright expanse of the summer sky, or the whispering darkness - everywhere,
at all times, here is a master mind who detects and perceives the play of
the unseen in and through the seen.

Wanderings in the Himalayas gives poetic descriptions of places of
importance in the Himalayas, sacred in their cultural lore and in the
traditional faith of India.  And it is at once as many pictures that smile
forth their infinite beatitude - all captured and framed by Swami's mighty
pen.  The sincerity of the writer lends a secret charm to his words and
conveys truly the same feelings to the readers to enjoy the vision of the
Infinite that plays in and through every form.

Good luck for your reading.

S. V. Subrahmanian.

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