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Monday, May 20, 2024

MAUN : A powerful Journey of wordlessness and subtle experiences, amid the chaos of the external. A meeting with Silence


Published by Hay House in February 2024, Maun – A meeting with Silence is a hybrid memoir, which intertwines a contemporary Indian woman’s spiritual evolution with the material challenges she faces within a historically male defined religious environment. It skillfully weaves together a woman’s experiential journey of the spiritual self, her social dilemmas, the attached hypocrisy, and her dogged persistence, all in a gritty, down-to-earth story that will see you through many emotions of the world and beyond.

The author, Annie miller has compiled, translated, and edited the protagonist’s spoken words from Hindi, in a bid to revive native traditions of oral storytelling. The work presents an illuminating narrative of a spirited girl, Nirmala, who discovers extreme potential in an alternate world. She walks two parallel paths — the inner and the outer while attempting to grasp life’s complexities through prolonged silences. After a seventeen-hour brush with ‘unprompted quietude,’ twelve-year-old Nirmala leads herself on an uncommon path to understand the profundity in ‘silence’ or stillness. She grows to strengthen herself with psychology, sociology, astrology, the occult, ritual and the nuances of fire ceremony, all within her social environs. Demonstrating in-depth research, an extraordinary intent and resilience, she furthers her quest, questioning persistently and engaging defiantly. 

 The simplistic, coherent, and unobtrusive writing style maintains the reader’s interest and attention from the beginning. Starting with a quote, the book sets the tone towards instant and honest self-reflection: ‘One world for us all, yet each one’s world is different.’

The author effectively uses the natural power of stories to communicate complex underlying concepts like the world of thought, complexities of the mind, myth in the occult, and clarity in spiritual inquiry. Each chapter leaves a lasting impression, prompting the reader to discern between religion and spirituality, equality and gender divide, and redundant beliefs versus preserving tradition. As Nirmala says, ‘It is a complex situation. Ethic alone does not raise consciousness. Sanity stands on a thin wire swaying between believed ethics, historical practices, effort, and the destiny to lead.’

Throughout the work, analogies and anecdotes reflect upon existential themes of birth, death, heightened awareness, and liberation. The narrative emphasises on the individual growth of a universal being. Nirmala states, ‘A thought is as solid as stone. It has form, colour, weight, size, shape, and quality. It is a dynamic force generated through vibrations in the subtle consciousness.’ 

The author conveys Nirmala’s meaningful personal messages of balance, intent and resilience with clarity, tapping into part of what makes us all human. One such quote is – ‘If I am uncertain, I must allow doubt. I must question and enquire fearlessly without the garb of decorum and politesse. Words mean nothing without efficient context, historical relevance, and evidence. I cannot trust these words. Pretence breeds self-doubt, not self-confidence.’ 

The manner of writing in Maun is often poetic, soft and unassuming. The poetry at the end of each chapter reveals Nirmala’s depth and understanding of the common human and beyond. Maun hooks you unawares. It resonates deeply and when you are ready to put it down, it evokes you with direct questions. ‘Do the winds advertise their worth ever? Or does rain choose its destination through colour, creed, and caste? Does Mother Earth ever pull the plug on this abundant offering?’

An exhilarating read, the book drives one to turn yet another page while wondering – Will Nirmala carve a niche for herself or shy away in fear? I recommend this thought-provoking, perceptive book to absolutely everyone. If you have not read Maun – A meeting of Silence yet, it is available to buy from all leading bookstores and amazon.in 


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