Today, I’m talking about a book, Anusual: Memoir of a Girl Who Came Back from the Dead, written by India’s First Supermodel and Aashiqui fame star Anu Aggarwal.
Plot of the Book
Anusual is the story of a girl, who was a gold medalist in sociology at Delhi University. She went to Mumbai on a ten-day holiday before joining a German NGO to work for women’s empowerment; but somehow, missed her returning train and became India’s first supermodel. Soon after that, became a star from her debut movie, Aashiqui. With stardom, problems began to arise in her love relationships. There were many break-ups and patches. Lovers changed but everything else remained the same. The same old story: Doubts, confusion, blaming one another, unhappiness, mistrust and break-up.
After getting bored of all those affairs, she enrolled herself in an ashram in Uttarakhand. By seeing her hard-work and dedication, the Head Swami asked her to take Sanyasa. That threatened the position of the person who was next to head of ashram. She was thrown out of the ashram when the head was out of the town. When she returned to Mumbai, she met a deadly car accident and remained in coma for 29 days. While recovering, she was visited by one of her boyfriends. He was the only boyfriend whom she introduced to her family.
Did she marry him and bear children? Or, did she return to ashram and take Sanyasa? Or, did she do something unusual?
Well, to know about that, you’ll have to read the book. 🙂
About the author
Anusual: Memoir of a Girl Who Came Back from the Dead isn’t a piece of fiction but a memoir of heartthrob of late 80s and early 90s, Anu Aggarwal herself. Apart from social activist, model, video jockey, and actress, she’s also a trained kathak dancer and an amateur power-lifter. She has competed in many power-lifting competitions. In India, terms like Supermodel and Brand Ambassador were first attributed to her.
Style of Narration
Author’s narration is vivid, articulate, crisp, stylistic, and a bit narcissistic. The tone of writing is clear, bold, and enlightened.
I’m highly impressed by the manner Anu introduced herself. The art of character introduction can be learned from the book.
Also, the way she described the nature of sound and tone of voice in her writing, I rarely see in other writer’s work. You’ll get the idea of what I’m saying by this sentence: “Her laughter was deep-throttle, a bit boyish.”
I’d like to recommend the book to any aspiring author who wants to learn an impressive writing skill.
Excerpts from the Book to Show Author’s Thought Process & Word Selection
The Bombay sun caught my eye when it descended to the hallucinogenic edge of the sea. The colour in the troposphere moved rapidly from a vague gold to pure orange, and I heard a declaration: ‘Come live here.’
And suddenly, a silver lining emerged from the sky and lined the rays of the setting sun in a mesmerizing hue.
Butterflies in the stomach disappeared; freshness and excitement of a new horizon in the offing got a beating; I was growing at a faster pace, and skyrocketing in the glamorous starry sky while my man was still finding it tough to get the sole of his feet off the ground. In a desperate act of possession he’d foam: ‘You are mine…just mine…only mine.’
Anu Aggarwal and Amanda Palmer
There’s a line in the book, “It came from my belief that instead of being dependent on the man, girls need to be independent first. And then, it would help do away with the lies and false game-playing in a relationship.”
There’s also a woman who believed like Anu regarding the independency and self-sufficiency of woman in relationship. She is Amanda Palmer. Both are comfortable with their body. Anu bared all in ‘Cloud Door.’ Amanda used to stand naked in front of their fans after her performance and let them scribble on her naked body.
Both advocate financial independency in relationship. The difference is Anu didn’t give money to her boyfriend while Amanda didn’t take money from her husband.
In her memoir, ‘The Art of Asking,’ Amanda described why it was initially difficult for her to ask money from her husband when he was willingly offering it to her.
Both, Anu and Amanda, have some sort of liking for Buddhahood but in very different manner.
From Buddha, descended two streams: One moves from Mahakashyap to Bodhidharma and Zen is born and another moves from Buddha to his son, Rahul Bhadra, and from Rahul Bhadra via Sri Kirti to Saraha and that is the Tantra stream of Buddha, called Vajrayana. On the basis of linguistics, historians believed that Tantric practices of Hindus which are developed by Gorakhnath and others in northern plane are derived from Vajrayana. It is debatable because some also believed that Tantra is very old and was practiced during Indus Valley Civilization, much before the birth of Gautama Buddha.
Amanda was fed Zen stories while Anu practised Tantra. In Anusual, it’s mentioned that Anu learned from masters of different streams of Tantra like Naga and Aghor but there’s no mention about Vajrayana in her memoir.
Well, I’ll talk about the contrasting characteristics of two ladies some other time.
Anu Aggarwal and Tantra
In her book, Anu shared her experience with Tantric Sex, which she had with the Head Swami while living in the ashram. She also quoted Vigyan Bhairav Tantra:
At the start of the sexual union
Keep attentive on the fire in the beginning
And so continuing
Avoid the embers in the end.
Before going further, let us understand: What is Tantra?
Tantra isn’t philosophy. The word ‘philosophy’ is made up of two Greek words ‘philo’ meaning ‘love’ and ‘sophia’ meaning ‘wisdom.’ There is a difference of opinion in the exact translation of Greek word ‘sophia.’ Its meaning varies from ‘knowledge’ to ‘wisdom.’ A general consensus has been made to interpret it as ‘know thyself.’ So, ‘philosophy’ means ‘love for knowing thyself.’ It is often interpreted as ‘thirst for knowledge or wisdom.’ Note that it is just a thirst for knowledge, not knowledge itself.
In Eastern culture, we have the word ‘darshan’ which means ‘I see.’ Darshan is not any thirst for knowledge but knowledge itself. Darshan is not some intellectual talk about Truth but actual seeing of Truth.
Tantra means technique – The technique which makes us see the Truth. And after seeing the truth what has been noted down is called Sutras. Tantra literally means ‘loom’ and ‘Sutra’ means ‘thread.’ Tantra is the technique that makes the cloth of Darshan, of which Sutras are threads.
The word ‘tan’ also means ‘physical body.’ Tantra, therefore, could also be understood as a way of transcendence through physical body. Tantra doesn’t condemn anything physical, even sex. Tantra is about acceptance and utilization of the available resources to the best. Tantra is about transmutation of sex energy for higher purposes. The question is: How?
The answer lies in the verse, which Anu quoted in her book. It is the 48th technique mentioned in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. It says that at the start of sexual union keep attentive on the fire in the beginning, and so continuing, avoid the embers in the end.
What does it mean?
It simple means be attentive of the bodily sensation. Feel it. Don’t fantasize or think. Just be there and enjoy. Don’t get excited. Let the sensation overwhelm you. When you remain no more, answer is revealed.
Excitement is not present but future. You are excited – Excited for what? You are excited because you’re expecting something and you’re thinking that you’re going to get it soon.
Remember, thinking is also not present. You either think about past or future. You cannot think about present. The moment you start thinking, it passes and becomes past. There could not be any thinking in present. There could only be living in present.
Excitement is nothing but thinking about future. You can be amazed in present but cannot be excited in present. Excitement is future and amazement is present.
Shiva is saying to remain with your bodily sensation and enjoy moment by moment without getting excited about the end. When you’ll be able to do it, you’ll know what it means to be an enlightened one.
Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
Vigyan Bhairav Tantra is one of the oldest scriptures preserved till date. It is a conversation between Shiva and Shakti. Shakti asks, “Oh Shiva, what is your reality? What is this wonder-filled universe? What constitutes seed? Who centers the universal wheel? What is this life beyond form pervading forms? How may we enter it fully, above space and time, names and descriptions? Let my doubts be cleared!”
And note that Shiva isn’t going to give the answers directly because Tantra isn’t the philosophy. Shiva is telling about 112 techniques in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra; by practising them, one could know the answers himself.
Your thirst won’t be quenched by talking about water but by drinking water. Shiva isn’t talking about water but telling whereabouts of water, how to get water.
Note that Shakti isn’t asking the answer of her questions but asking Shiva to bring peace in her life, to clear the doubts arising in her mind. She understands that the problem is unstable mind; the questions are just the indication of instability. She knows that answer isn’t the solution. If these questions are answered then they will be replaced by other questions. Question will continue to come till the mind remains unstable.
This is the reason when a female is complaining about something and a male tries to placate her by logical answers, she reacts, “You don’t understand.”
But Shiva understands; that’s why, he isn’t giving her intellectual answers but the techniques to get rid of her mind. Yes, the basic nature of mind is instability. That is why, in Hindi, we call, “Mann chanchal hota hai.” You cannot pacify a mind. You have to get rid of it. You have to transcend the mind to become peaceful.
The case is not same with Krishna. He has to reason out with Arjun to make him understand that answer isn’t the solution. Arjun is asking question after question and Krishna is giving the answer of each question patiently. Arjun doesn’t satisfy with the answer and goes on asking again and again and Krishna is also replying to those questions. Finally, Arjun understands that this isn’t going anywhere and answer of the question isn’t the solution. Then, Krishna starts to reveal techniques to Arjuna.
This difference in male and female understanding was known to the inhabitants of Indus Valley Civilization around 7000 BC, much before the publication of Men Are From Mars And Women Are From Venus.
Sensuality Vs Sexuality
In Anusual, Anu stated the difference between the erotic and pornography. She said, “One teases by showing a bit, by concealing, and the other aims at revealing with a vengeance. Let it all hang out. I prefer the erotic. Sensuality in sexuality. Not just sexuality in sexuality.”
Sensuality is about feeling senses. It is a feeling of being complete within oneself. It’s about exploring oneself through one’s senses. It’s the key to go beyond senses. It could be used to get established in the State of Highest Wisdom.
Sexuality, as the way it is normally used has negative connotation. It is the perverted form of sensuality.
In Geeta Chapter 7 Verse 11, Krishna said:
Dharmaaviruddho bhooteshu kaamo’smi
Which means I am Kama unopposed to Dharma. In nature, Kama isn’t conflicting with Dharma. In fact, Tantra uses Kama to attain Dharma. But humans, with perverted mind, contaminate its natural form and made it to conflict with Dharma. The perverted form of Kama is Kamavasana. Kama is the natural flow of creative energy within while Kamavasana is the obsession of idea of pleasure. Kama is about celebration while Kamavasana is about possession. Kama is about mutual enjoyment while Kamavasana is about sadism. I see Sensuality in terms of Kama and Sexuality in terms of Kamavasana.
Anu mentioned, “Anything may take place at any time ‘cause love does not care for time or order,’ believed Vatsayana, who penned the Kamasutra.”
Kamasutra, in parts of the world, is presumed or depicted as a synonym for creative sexual positions; in reality, only 20% of Kamasutra is about sexual positions. The majority of the book deals with the ways to have mastery over one’s life.
Well, 64 isn’t about the number of sexual positions one could have during intercourse; 64 is the totality of one’s life. If one’s life is taken and divided into four stages, each stage then gets divided into four branches of knowledge that one must acquire during each state, so that gives 16 branches of knowledge. And when divided each branch of knowledge further into four to cover all its aspects and one could get the number 64. So a complete knowledge of Kama is equated with complete mastery over one’s entire life.
Chen Lizra, in her talk, “The Power of Seduction in Our Everyday Lives,” said that the word seduction has been sexualized so many times that we cannot even imagine it as a positive skill set.”
In her talk, she also compared money with seduction. She said, “Some people say money is bad but money itself is not bad. It comes down to money gives power and power can be used for good or bad. It comes down to who you are inside. Seduction is exactly the same.”
In Darshan Shastras, human life is divided into four stages. For better personality growth, it’s emphasized for everybody to go through these stages in the prescribed order. These are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.
Dharma is stage of character building; it’s about accumulation of values; it’s about foundation of who you are inside. Then comes Artha. Artha is about accumulation of money and wealth. After that comes Kama. Kama is about family building and household life. The last stage is Moksha, which is about rising above all attachment and accomplishment of eternal bliss.
If you look at the order, first stage gives you a solid foundation of values. The second stage tests your values by evaluating how you handle the money. The wrong handling of money is less destructive than wrong handling of seduction power. When you learn to handle money properly, then comes the stage of handling seduction power. If you gain mastery over seduction power, then comes the stage to transform this seduction power into eternal bliss. This is a very scientific approach of living.
According to Chen Lizra, seduction is really about your untapped power that you aren’t using; that you want to unleash. It’s about charm, connection, vulnerability, pride, self-confidence, and appeal. She believed that seduction leads to self-confidence and self-confidence leads to success in all areas of life. Her mantra is: Master seduction and have anything you want in life.
Same is the opinion of Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill, in his worldwide famous book, Think And Grow Rich, which earned the status of Bible in self-help genre, devoted a full chapter on transmutation of sex energy. He said, “Sex energy is the creative energy of all geniuses…..The mere possession of this energy is not sufficient to produce a genius. The energy must be transmuted from desire to physical contact, into some other form of desire and action, before it will lift one to the status of a genius.” According to Napoleon Hill, the factor of personality known as Personal Magnetism is nothing more or less than sex energy.
Vatsayana’s kama, Chen Lizra’s seduction, Napoleon Hill’s sex energy, and Anu Aggarwal’s sensuality are same, as Anu mentioned in her memoir that during the shooting of Cloud Door at Neemrana fort sensuality exists in bathing, in acting, in eating, walking, sleeping. She said, “Explore your own sensuality…..Know your body, know yourself.”
Interesting Aspects of the Book
Erotic Scene of Cloud Door
Most of the books that have erotic scene in them, including the books of female authors, are pornographic in nature. They only present the physical side of act not its sensuality.
Anu described the sensual aspect of it. She also describes the emotional side of the act – how it helps in budding of love not physical desire.
Anu devoted a whole chapter titled, ‘The Men in My Life,’ in this regard. She talks about 12 men in the book. She didn’t describe the events in details. Her focus was more on the undergoing pattern of the affairs rather than on particular incidence in her life.
Out of Body Experience
The author also described her near death experience and out of body experience in the book briefly. The description isn’t as vivid as depicted by Jill Bolte Taylor in her book, My Stroke of Insight.
Some quotes from the book
- Any act performed with sincere gratitude cleanses the mind.
- Power wears many different masks but the essence of it is always the same—it pumps up the ego and deflates it when somebody in your surroundings does not respond to it as you see others do.
- I am an old tree standing on a hill top whose leaves respond to the wind and flutter, but my core stays grounded, rooted; it delights in the brush of the wind but does not get swayed by it.
- Time and again, history repeats itself. Another time, a different place, sees another love affair. Lovers change. Nothing else is new.
- I am here today not just because I could not leave the people, but because of their love—they wanted me here.