Not quite terrifying.
The Tantric Exorcist draws from the tale of Vikram and Betal to weave a detailed account of possession by a vetal and its exorcism by a powerful tantric practitioner.
The story is not quite terrifying, but I’d still advise you not to read it alone at night. Certain horror elements like cawing crows and grunting demons with yellow eyes who climb up walls and turn their heads at impossible angles are not the best of images to have in mind before you go to bed.
The blurb on the back cover says that the details are true to life. If that is so, then readers are served a primer on Hindu tantrism. We learn about right-hand tantrism and left-hand tantrism, chakras, the power of sounds, the uselessness of ego, the ways in which energy can be harvested for one’s purposes, and so on.
Vikram, a college student, is possessed by a vetal when he reads a few Sanskrit verses in an old manuscript incorrectly. His friend, Tony, approaches a Sanskrit lecturer Ranganathan for help. He, in turn, asks his guru Chaturvasi (a powerful tantric) to exorcise the demon.
What follows is a terrifying account of Chaturvasi’s battle with the vetal, which is stronger than usual vetals because it is being fed by another tantric. There’s a hidden story about this other tantric that you’ll discover by and by.
Chaturvasi must use both his powers and his intelligence in a three-way battle of wits with the vetal and the other tantric. In the process, some lives are sacrificed and some others are convinced of the power of tantra.
What I Liked
The strength of this book lies in its detailed descriptions of tantric practices, use of the vernacular and the occasional humor.
I flew threw the first one-third of the book when the possession takes place and Chaturvasi sizes up his enemy.
However, the pace begins to flag in the middle of the book when Chaturvasi’s meticulous preparations for the exorcism are described. The narrative also loses its humorous undertone and takes a very serious turn here.
The final one-third of the book is essentially a war of will and strength–and it’s a fascinating read.
My takeaway from this book (apart from learning a huge amount about tantric practices) is that no matter how powerful you are, you must not get complacent, you must be patient and ever-learning and you must be prepared for every eventuality.
What Did Not Work For Me
I feel readers may tire during the middle of the book because it gets dense, somewhat obscure and is essentially a glorification of tantra. I had to put the book down at this point, clear my head and come back to it later.
Perhaps some of the detail could have been cut out here but it would probably sound rushed and incongruous with the tone of the rest of the story. I also felt that Chaturvasi occasionally contradicts his words by his actions i.e. he acts selfishly where it suits him.
Whether you believe in tantrism or not, this book is an interesting story about a fight between good and evil.
(I received a copy of the book from Juggernaut for a midnight readalong hosted by Sid’s Reviews.)
Publisher – Juggernaut
Publication date – 19 Feb, 2021
Pages – 328
Amazon India – https://amzn.to/3sbd73v