Title: A Man From Mandu
Author: Manoj Jain
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
First Publication: 2019
Narration type: Third Person
Setting place: Mumbai
Major Characters: Dhawal, the baba and Tarini
Book Summary: A Man From Mandu
A Man from Mandu is the story of Avishkar Baba, a new age Guru in town slowly gaining popularity. Instagram posts and WhatsApp daily quotes play pivotal roles in creating the hype behind this Baba. Slowly but steadily, his band of followers multiplies. He obliges his followers by meeting with them twice a month and keeps them mesmerised with his esoteric stories.
As a reader, you get the inside story on how a fraud is re-branded as a Sadhu of Stories by Tarini to win a high-stake wager. Tarini, one of the other protagonists surely has an axe to grind in promoting Avishkar Baba to this extent. This story of deception, faith and money makes for an interesting as we witness Dhawal, a simple man thrust into the world as Avishkar Baba. With news of Godmen having underhand dealings, quite rampant in India, this story is definitely one you can easily relate to.
Character List: A Man From Mandu
Dhawal: A man from a small town, humble beginnings who overcomes his odds and background to grow into Avishkar Baba and more.
Tarini: A Mumbai professional, unmarried, with a scandal of insider trading that makes her quit working life. Feels despondent till she meets Dhawal – is very focused and with a killer instinct.
Paulomi, also called Polly: She lives abroad and visits India once a year; best friends with Tarini and she sets up the wager with Tarini that gets the ball rolling.
Atul: He handles social media.
Giri: Paulomi’s husband in Silicon Valley – he can provide the escape route for Tarinis monotonous life.
Anil: A newspaper reporter from Lucknow.
Puneet: The man in charge of Logistics for Avishkar babas sermons and becomes a devout follower.
Book Review: A Man From Mandu
‘Godmen’ or religious gurus are often the charismatic rock stars in India. They have a high profile presence, thousands of devout followers, incessant wealth and are capable of influencing mass opinion.
Their followers are impressed by their Godmen proclamations of possession super natural powers that have the ability to heal and influence future events.
From a business perspective, India is the best market for a Godman. No other country provides the market which India does. No fancy degree required, low cost investment and no family influence. Because of their immense following, they are often courted by the nation’s top politicians to leverage their influence on the masses.
However, despite their demi-god status, they have been regularly criticized by certain quarters. Especially after the recent episodes of monetary fraud and sexual violence against their followers. However, going forward, it is unlikely that their influence will subside.
The spiritual gurus that are doing well have very well established and resourced teams. It’s not surprising at all that they’ve been able to organise around social media content
I read this book, A Man From Mandu by Manoj Jain, compulsively, two hours either side of a night’s rest. The writing of this book is crisp, not a word wasted. An average Indian may find this to be one of the funniest books ever written, seriously.
Pretty horrifying to think how one man and his Ponzi scheme could fool so many people in the name of God for so long.
The author, Manoj Jain, has done the research and comeup with the real look into the world of professional ‘Babas’. The book is balanced, truthful and an eye opener. Author through this writing can open the eyes of the scripturally blinds if they would read and understand what he has written. Author Manoj Jain doesn’t write over the heads of readers; it is so simple that a child can understand it all one has to do is read it.
This was an amazing, yet depressing book. It’s incredible how people believe in mythological being; but then to see how Earthly minions are willing to throw away their hard-earned money on charlatans is mind-boggling. Worst of all, politicians seek the favor of these so-called pastors of faith and the people buy into their nonsense.
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