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Last Updated 24.10.2019 | 9:35 AM IST
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Book Review: A Taste of Life

First things first. ‘A Taste of Life – The Last Days of U.G. Krishnamurti’ isn’t for the masses. It isn’t the kind of read that any and every person could be recommended. It is certainly not for those who believed that since it has Mahesh Bhatt as an author, it would have a filmy touch to it (I believed so and realized after 20 odd pages that I had to bring in a different mindset to read this 150 odd page book). Instead, this book is primarily for those who a) know who was U.G. Krishnamurti and b) have an interest in getting into the depth of philosophy of life and of course death.

This is where the book ends up having a very limited audience for itself. That’s mainly because it is only in the philosophical circles where U.G. Krishnamurti would be primarily known and a common man is not expected to be well aware about the man who prided himself for being an ‘anti guru’. But more about that later.

So what does ‘A Taste of Life’ primarily talk about? It actually takes a reader through a day by day account of the last journey of the self-realized Indian sage who was independent of any school of thought, philosophy or tradition. The man died at an age of 88 in 2007 but before he left, he made sure that he ‘romanticized’ his death and made it memorable for at least one man – Mahesh Bhatt.

A philosopher who wrote quite a few books, U. G. Krishnamurti made sure that he died the way he wanted; just like the way he lived on his own terms. Mahesh Bhatt takes the reader through those last days where one realizes that how U.G. refused any form of medication and instead chose to close his eyes when he wished. It wasn’t messy, it wasn’t too painful, it wasn’t too heartbreaking (well, at least U.G. made sure that any of this didn’t happen either to him or his followers) and when death eventually arrived, it was all peaceful.

While Mahesh Bhatt does go through a daily account (at places he even gets into an hourly description), he also lets the world known about what U.G. was in real life and what made him the man that he turned out to be eventually. He takes his reader though U.G.’s mini-biography which at places does come across as a little surprising, if not shocking.

The book explains how U.G. did have his own struggle to understood life and its true meaning for quite a few years before he decided to shun all theories that were either explained to him or he had self read. However, after a rather frustrating ‘spiritual’ journey of his, he decided to form his own opinion about the meaning of life and death.

As one turns around the pages, one gets a hint that U.G. by himself was nothing short of a paradox. He had his mood swings (though he seldom raised his voice) he wanted people around him to have their own interpretation about the state of affairs and didn’t hesitate in forming his own viewpoints when the interpretation didn’t suit his self. He could also be quite unpredictable, something that turns out to be the case, especially during his last days.

Coming to Mahesh Bhatt, one gets a clear idea around how attached he was to his ‘master’, something that he refers to at least a dozen odd places in the book. One can make out that Mahesh Bhatt was in clear awe of his mentor, his ‘guru’, his philosopher and was clearly charmed by his theories, thoughts and doings for last so many decades. He also gives a viewer a sneak peak into how U.G. got him out of the mess that had been created in his life due to his involvement with Parvin Babi. However, he doesn’t make it graphic or explicit enough that the focus shifts on him rather than his appreciation for U.G.

Talking about the book, it has a serious tone to it throughout its length, something that was expected in a subject that spoke about death. Though one would have wished (a wishful thinking though) that Mahesh Bhatt would spice up the proceedings a little to make it more ‘reader friendly’, that is not really the case since he keeps the narrative real, a little grim and definitely honest. Perhaps he realized that all dramatic antics are meant for the moments and when it happened to be a matter of final goodbye for his ‘guru’, the writing had to be kept true to it’s form and definitely simple.

Due to this very reason, the book keeps a linear feel to it throughout without any major ups or downs. You don’t see a sudden ‘twist’ or a situation that may give you a ‘jolt’ once the book flips from on chapter to another. Yes, because of this, ‘A Taste of Life’ does keep a grim mood throughout as the countdown begins for the last few days of U.G’s death. Still, there is no melodrama, no over done emotions, nothing that will give you that moment of ‘climax’.

In the end, it all turns out to be primarily a personal account of a disciple who wanted to pay his last respect to his mentor. While there is a good probability of a third person (outside U.G. and Bhatt) not really highly curious to know what transpired between the two in those last few days, for Mahesh Bhatt and those select few close to U.G., the book would mainly stand for sheer recall value of the years gone by.

Price: Rs. 225/=

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