July 2016 By Punya Srivatsava A Fistful of Love: Wisdom and Humour from a Monk’s Bowl, By Om Swami, Jaico Books,INR 299; 197 pages You have so many freckles, there is no place to paint!” said a little girl to the boy ahead of her in the queue as they both stood waiting for their turn to get their face painted by an artist. Embarrassed and perhaps hurt, the little boy dropped his head. His grandmother knelt down next to him and said, “I love your freckles. When I was a little girl, I always wanted freckles. Freckles are beautiful.” The boy looked up, “Really?” “Of course! Why, just name me one thing that is prettier than freckles?” she asked. “Wrinkles,” he whispered, peering intensely into her face. This sweet story sublimely portrays the subjectivity of beauty, and is one of the many short tales used by Om Swami in this compilation of 50 posts sourced from his blog. In the times of listicles and social media posts freely distributing gyaan about love and relationship, Swami’s take on some fundamental flavours of life comes across as a whiff of sublime incense amidst a medley of artificial scents. A Fistful of Love is a succinct take on life, love and relationships – with self and others. He explains, in simple words, all the shades and aspects related to these themes. From life and its worth, to the individual’s role in the grand scheme of things, from love and attachment, to tolerance in relationships, these 50 posts cover many of the questions that people often seek answers to. By wielding a pen in which clarity of thought merges with authenticity of wisdom, he skilfully lends his writing a depth. Ever the storyteller, Swami has liberally garnished his insights with dollops of parables and tales. His writing is neat, precise and profound, shorn of unnecessary flair. Time and again he points out that what he propounds is his own truth, and urges readers to find their own. “For some, a handful of rice is their life’s worth; it is their whole world. And for some others, the whole world is worth no more than a handful of rice. It is a matter of understanding, a question of priorities, of perspective. What is yours?” he asks in the foreword.
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