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Myth Magic Mystique
Sep 12, 2023 05:20 PM 386 Views
(Updated Sep 25, 2023 05:42 PM)



With due respect to one of my favourite authors, I finished his latest book The Magicians Of Mazda with great difficulty.

In fact, I got stuck so badly that neither could I switch over to another nor could I proceed with this one.

In the meantime, I had purchased more which I was itching to read. So, yesterday mid morning when I at last laid it down I was surged with relief. There was also a teeny bit of sense of achievement of finishing a job against an overpowering feeling of discontinuation.

With all its flipsides, Sanghi is quite a puller. But this one somehow failed to take me along. Why? I will give the reasons one by one:

Thin Storyline

Jim or Jamshed Dastoor is a Parsi Scientist settled in America with his scholarly wife Linda. Jimmy has been handed over a mystical substance in a closed box by his father. The box with its content is a kind of inheritance which, as per family trend, goes to the rebellious one in the next generation. Here rebellious means the one who does not take interest or part in the family business and chooses a path of his own.

Now, here is the gap. Jim has never set eyes on what is inside the box. But he has heard a lot about it from his French grandmother. He is researching on this magical substance called Hamzaa Dura(HD) as a cure for all human ailments. The name has been given by his much smarter wife - an anagram of Ahura Mazda which means The Wise Lord(in Avestan).

When the kingpins of pharmaceutical industries come to know of HD they are not only curious but also hanker after it. Finally, Jim is abducted along with his prized possession. Soon the CIA, Mossad and R&AW jump into the foray for Jim's safety which is seemingly a highly sensitive international intelligence issue transcending geographical borders.

Linda willingly and actively participates in the search along with Dan, Jim's Partner. They secretly enter Iran with the help of a local driver and reach out to Jim through a man called Tariq Hydari and a rebel Parsi named Soroushpur. However, unknown to Linda, Soroushpur is also after HD which he thinks is the mysterious Athravan Star! Dan too has an axe to grind of his own.

In the middle of'Find Jim' Operation, Abbasi, a Mossad agent, inches into the Party and later proves to be quite indispensable.

The Party goes globetrotting from fleeing Iran with the help of a Baluchi mafia lord, entering Afghanistan, getting caught by the Talibans, paying them off for their freedom, reaching the evacuated American Air Base and thereon to Delhi and later Kashmir and ultimately to US of A. Inbetween they narrowly escape several coups to terminate them. Quite a journey for novices!

Although HD is kind of a family secret but it seems all the crooks, political activists, persecuted Parsis in Iran, know about it and want to possess it.

History Overload

Ashwin Sanghi's fetish for history is well known. Whatever, research he does is regurgitated in his books resulting in information overload.

The narrative is intercepted by chapters charting the exodus of persecuted Parsis from Persia after the Muslims took over to reign on the land. Those Parsis who fled carrying with them their sacred fire of worship - the Iranshah - landed first jn the island of Diu and subsequently settled in Sanjan and later in Navsari(both in Gujarat).

Dastoor's family is said to have played a major role in transporting the sacred fire from Persia to India. Those who stayed back in Iran had a hell of a tortuous time as they refused to be forcibly converted to Islam. Force gives birth to rebels. The rebellious Parsis considered what belongs to their community should stay with them - the Iranshah and the Athravan Star.

The book also traces the path taken by Zarathustra for preaching the tenets of Zorastrianism - the religion of the Parsis.

Sanghi's unnecessary focus on the effects of fundamentalism on world history - Islamization of Iran, Talibanization of Afghanistan, the ostracization of the nomadic Balochs and other jehadi factionalism gives the book a motivated purpose.

Stretching the roots of Zorastrianism back to the Vedas and rewriting history by the conquerors of Iran are nothing novel as it's a known fact that(i) Hinduism is the mother of many religions world over and(ii) conquests have always resulted in tarnishing history.

To establish that Parsis came back to their roots from where the journey of their religion started is an attempt at trivialization. Though a close and diminutive community, Parsis have a distinctively rich culture and astute business acumen. India has a lot of respect for them. They have not only strengthened our economy but also paid back in various ways to the country which sheltered them.


Sanghi always leaves issues open-ended. Does he wish his readers to carry on with the trail?

What is Athravan Star?

Why is everyone after it?

What is Hamzaa Dura?

Will the course of history be changed if these are found?

Ashwin Sanghi claims that he is more a fiction writer than a historian which is a safe bait because most part of his work is conjectural and not factual.

There is less gore which is a cause for kudos to him.

Retention of so much history is difficult. It should be toned down and expertly woven into the storyline.

A fiction should read like fiction and not like a docu series.

So Mr. Sanghi points to ponder upon before embarking on your next ambitious writing project. Right?

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The Magicians of Mazda Paperback - Ashwin Sanghi