December 2017 Pilgrimage on the Path of Love by Barbara Ann Briggs Roundfire Books, Paperback, Rs 1,359; pages 320 So many times, we look outside, searching for a perfection which already exists inside us all the time. I realised that each moment contained all we could ever seek to know, to feel, and to believe. Each moment contained perfection. I remembered who I was—a simple child, an aged pilgrim, a Mother of Creation, a human being made in the image of the Eternal Being, That One, unbreathed upon, ever giving life to all, ever reborn, ever the same,” says Shantila Martin, the protagonist of Barbara Briggs’ book Pilgrimage on the Path of Love. Written lucidly, this book is the perfect amalgamation of spiritual awakening and self-discovery. The protagonist found herself by connecting with her inner Divine, at every challenge she faced in the new land. Coming to India to get her first book published, Shantila expected to be hosted by her publisher, who later refused to let her stay with him. Looking for shelter, she eventually becomes a guest at a Buddhist Center in Delhi. Surrounded by lamas, she finds herself nestled in Divine love. Seeking solace in this very Divine love, she travels to Manali, Manikaran and finally, Ladakh. Travelling through the northern landscape of India, she meets strangers who become channels of Divine love for her—a love she had set out to seek in India. As she experiences spirituality through paths like Buddhism and Sikhism, Shantila’s faith in the Divine begins to strengthen. What stands out in the narrative is her utmost optimism and unshaken faith in God. When faced with difficulties, she surrenders herself to Him and derives energy from her firm belief that the right path will be illuminated by the Creator. The book is also filled with vivid and detailed descriptions of Shantila's transcendence during meditation. While meditating, she delves deep within to reflect on her painful past. This helps her understand the true nature of the unfulfilled love she had experienced in her life. In understanding its true nature, she is provided with a strength to move ahead on her path of spiritual fulfilment. Written eloquently by Briggs, the book paints a vivid picture of Indian landscapes, temples, and even ordinary bustling roads, enabling the reader to journey with the protagonist. Her astute description of life in India and its people can make anyone fall in love with this land and its healing grounds. The ordinary character of Shantila becomes extraordinary because of her zeal to grow and seek the Divine. Having read a few books on esoteric spirituality, this book came to me as a breath of fresh air, with its simple narrative and profound spiritual insights. Pilgrimage on the Path of Love introduces the spiritual ethos of India to the world, and even to Indians who have forgotten the sacred presence of Divinity in this land. -Muskaan Sharma
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