I am one of those who believe that the idea of India having always been a kaleidoscope of contesting ideas, religion and people hardly needs any emphasis. Of late, however, I am frequently assailed by the fear that our tribe may soon be reduced to a hopeless minority. Manu Pillai’s Tales from Indian History assures me that India has seen worse days and has come out of it looking the better for wear.
His book is thus a beacon of hope. It covers a period about 700 years and speaks about some remarkable Indians. Kings, queens, concubines, saints, villains, gods, goddesses, poets, musicians, and soldiers spill out as soon as you open the book. It will be quite a task to house them in your memory. Even if you don’t, it has many stories which you can read and savour at leisure. This is certainly not a serious work of history. It, however, has a unity which is as bewildering as that of our country—real yet indescribable. The author himself says, “...in the end each reader must draw her own conclusions—the book seeks only to light the way.” In its light, we meet several characters and works, some well-known and some hardly known and freshly liberated from dusty records.