Shantaram By David Gregory Roberts

28 05 2007

“I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum security prison.”

When a book starts like that, you can’t help being intrigued. Shantaram of David Gregory Roberts piqued my interest the moment I held it between my hands and kept me engrossed till I turned the last page. This is one book that I never wanted to end.. To me, Shantaram serves as a deeply enriching and engaging testament to the indestructible nature of human spirit.

It describes the experiences of an Australian prisoner, who makes his lucky escape to India, and has his share of queer experiences like living in Slums, in Arthur Road Prison, Afghanisthan. Shantaram brings out the humane side of the Lin who couldn’t help but fall in love with innocence of people and led his life in abandon savoring each and every tide of life in his own stride. As his life entwined with engaging characters like Prabhakar, Karla, Didler, Abdullah, Khaderbhai, Qasim Ali, his journey delectably brings out the perseverance of human character against all odds, and his pathological optimism in humanity.

“That’s how we keep this crazy place together – with the heart…. India is the heart. It’s the heart that keeps us together. There’s no place with people, like my people, Lin. There’s no heart like the INDIAN HEART.”

Lin’s insight into the culture of India is quite perceptive and close to home. It made me reflect on Indian Values and how much essence we place on instinct, trust and the judgment of heart.

Here I don’t want to start a discussion on what part of that book is fiction and what part is autobiography, because even our life is a mixture of the experiences that we have and our perceptions of how they can be. This is one book that makes you cheerful and reflective at the same time. This racy, scintillating and engaging story is worth reading even if it’s a figment of fiction as those touching insights can’t be written if they are not felt in heart. How I wished Karla is real! Throughout the book, I was captivated by her meaningful and poignant observations on life.

Savor some of her quotes here…

“Loves are like that. You heart starts to feel like an overcrowded lifeboat. You throw your pride out to keep it afloat, and your self-respect and independence. After a while, you started throwing people out – your friends and everyone you used to know. And it’s still not enough. The lifeboat is still sinking, and you know it’s going to take down with it. I’ve seen that happen to a lot of girls. That’s why I’m sick of Love.”

“The world and I are not on the speaking terms. The world tries to win me back, but it doesn’t work. I guess I’m just not the forgiving type.”

“Men reveal what they think when they look away, and what they feel when they hesitate. With women, it’s the other way round.”

“You said it’s important to have freedom to say no, but I think it’s more important to have freedom to say yes.”

“Sometimes I think that’s what heaven is- a place where everybody’s happy because nobody loves anybody else, ever.”

“People always hurt us with their trust. The surest way to hurt someone you like, is to put all your trust in him.”

“I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us or our endless ability to endure it.”

“Mistakes are like bad loves, the more you learn from them, the more you wish they’d never happened.”

“The truth is a bully we all pretend to like.”

“I could never respect a man who didn’t have the good sense to be at least a little afraid of me.”

“Sometimes you have to surrender before you win.”

“Wisdom is just cleverness, with all the guts kicked out of it.”

I’d only give you advice if I didn’t care what happens to you.”

“If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you just don’t get the joke.”

“I take everything personally- that’s what being a person is all about.”

“It isn’t a secret, unless keeping it hurts.”

“Depression only happens to people who don’t know how to be sad.”

“Luck is what happens to you when fate gets tired of waiting”

Shantaram emerges as a shimmering tribute to the indomitable human character entangled in all its glories, and fallacies. Though his life takes him through nefarious lanes, he comes out decent, vital, enduring and oddly human!

There are so many insightful excerpts that I wish to share, yet I could collect only some of them. Do Enjoy!

Some Of My Favorite Quotes from Shantaram By David Gregory Roberts…

“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”

“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth. In the end that’s all we have – to hold on tight until the dawn”

“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.”

“A dream is a place where a wish and a fear meet. When the wish and fear are exactly the same, we call the dream a nightmare.”

“Fear dries a man’s mouth, and hate strangles him. That’s why hate has no great literature: real fear and real hate have no words.”

“You are not a man until you give your love, truly and freely to a child. And you are not a good man until you earn the love, truly and freely, of a child in return.”

“Be true to love where ever you find it, and be true to yourself and everything that you really are.”

Hope you are sold! 🙂 Rush to pick it up and be assured of an enticing and unusual insight into the adventure called life!


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27 responses

7 02 2008
rashmi

i am reading it..and its amazing…!!!

21 05 2008
CandidConfessions

I cant agree more! the book is rivetting to say the least. What amazed me was to the revelation that a person who commits crime too is not so different from us all. His words are most engaging and reflect deep thinking about the most banal thoughts and commonplace life. Yes, Iv been forcing my friends to read it too!!

7 11 2011
smriti

I agree with you on the fact that he makes even the most commonplace things sound deep and insightful. His growth throughout the book was not only brought about by the major incidents, but also through the little excerpts and observations of all the acquaintances and subsequent friends, he made along the way. As somebody who had committed every crime possible, he still comes across as someone one can empathize with

25 11 2008
yusuf

the most significant quote in the book is the one about the origin of the universe, readers dont seem to share my view. As i read the book i couldn’t help noticing the many references to the Islamic faith, and hardly any mention of Hinduism, wonder why? Consider that India is majority hindu.
great book good read.

30 04 2009
Brennan Geddes

by far the most inspiring and deep book i’ve ever read. i read this book while i was incarcerated and it changed my life. i recommend it to EVERYONE. Really..

11 05 2009
npp

karla is not real ?

12 05 2009
Brennan

yes, she is real. just not REAL as in REAL LIFE. she’s real in the book 🙂

12 05 2009
Brennan

IF YOU LIKE SHANTARAM….READ THE ALCHEMIST!!!

10 11 2011
Lauren

lol i did… wish i hadn 😉 go on yeh cant say shantaram is even one TENTH as gudd as shantaram !

16 05 2009
Me

Just finished reading it. Thanks for compiling the quotes, but there are a lot more. My favourite I guess is the one where Karla says,
“Sometimes the worst thing that you can do to a girl is to love her.”

30 07 2009
Monica

My favorite parts, besides Karla’s wisdom, were Lin’s conversations about religion. I love the explanation that religion does not seem possible and that is the exact proof of its existence. Not everything can be measured and explained. Brilliant. Makes you think, laugh, and cry. I couldn’t pick up another book for a while!

19 08 2009
Jaani

One of the greatest books that I have ever read. The descriptions of India and the Slums makes me yearn to tour the Sub-continent and experience it all myself. How I wish to have met lord Khaderbhai! To be in the company of him and Lin while having a chillum would probably be a life changing experience! 🙂

1 09 2009
...

Shantaram, is a great book and one that I wouldn’t hesitste to read over and over again. It is really amazing I couldn’t put the book down and to think that it is based on a true story is also incredible. David Gregory Roberts is definitely my new idol… 🙂

24 10 2009
LMS

please send me shantaram i need to read it…

11 01 2010
online stock trading advice

Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you. 🙂

I’m Out! 🙂

19 03 2010
DBY

I read this book well over 3 years ago, and it still resonates in my daily life. David is a true writer in every sense.

My friend is in jail for 90 days, and I mailed it to him. I have always told many of my friends and family they need to read this book. It will change your outlook on life.

15 07 2010
karan

this is in response to mr. yusuf….. really if you have read the book then you have not understood it, gregory in real life speaks about life and not religon so why mention which book the quotes are from and which religon is not included…. the author is an atheist and he mentions it a hundred times… in the book.. he does no view any one diffrent… i loved the book for the soul in it… and u should do the same…

7 11 2011
smriti

I agree, and moreover, his views on religion are not his personal views, they are merely part of a bigger discussion, with his self proclaimed father figure ‘Khaderbhai’, which explains the recurrence of allusions to the Islamic faith.

21 07 2010
sanjay hariramani

i’ve not read ‘many’ books, but i must admit, this book really grabs you (me) right from the first page. the quotes and expressions used, which you have collected here, are without a doubt, part of the greatest appeal, making me love this book even more. i like what Karan has said “I loved the book for the soul in it”.. same here

31 07 2010
hir95

haven’t read anything better yet..can’t wait for another part to come…
bt in simple words…its like seeing the world thrrough Gregory’s eyes!
after reading this books……. i feel He is an indian in true sence…..
after reading this book..i have just lost interest in other books…. nothing can be compared to this book 🙂

1 02 2011
vidushi

I think the one thing that makes this book so special is that its partly auto biographical. The characters in the book have been inspired from Gregory David Robert’s life. So to know such people through Shantaram is a pleasure!

25 02 2011
bajju

i have read it twice and i intend to read it every time life puts me down

31 05 2011
Earning the Future with Love | A displaced Libyan

[…] Libyan Just before the crisis in Libya erupted I had started reading a 900 page novel called Shantaram or ‘ Man of God’s Peace’ in English. I believe that God always gives us signs and […]

9 07 2011
Nitasha Hampton

This book is amazing. I am almost finished with it. Gregory David Roberts is a brilliant writer. His description of his story in India. Is a remarkably rare story. Of journey, conquer, and self strength.

10 11 2011
Lauren

gorgous book…. read ih wen i wuz 12, im 14 now nd evry 2 weeks i read ih again… ders always sumtin new i haven seen, r sumtin i missd… ih feels like im visitin an old friend 🙂 ihs incredible, still leaves me speechless 🙂

27 09 2012
Aamir

a happy victim of the book..how i wish it had never ended !!

28 04 2013
vintage stores

Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew
where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment
form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one?
Thanks a lot!

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