David Michie has written several books on Buddhism, with his primary focus being the hectic urban brigade, and those who would like to know more about the concepts behind this spiritual practice. His books have been very successful, and have explained Buddhism in a relatable, practical manner. The Dalai Lama's Cat was a resounding success in terms of its unique approach, and his most recent book, The Dalai Lama's Cat and the Art of Purring too, is quite promising.
The book is written from the point of view of HHC, or His Holiness's Cat. HHC is a beautiful feline creature who is as pampered by her master as she is by everyone else at the service of the Dalai Lama. However, her love for the Dalai Lama pervades that between a master and a pet. She loves the Dalai Lama with a devotion that is at once special and astounding, and it is her unique connection with the Dalai Lama which makes her inquisitive about everything else which a cat does not concern itself with. The book follows a part of the life of this cat as she indulges herself in misadventures and the petting of all those who have grown fond of her. However, through these days, she also learns to understand and pay heed to various philosophical matters which she ultimately connects with the everlasting pursuit of peace and happiness.
Rinpoche, as HHC is also known, is playful and precocious at the same time. There are moments when she loves nothing than to do what all cats love doing. Ambling about, sleeping, grooming herself, running past open doors and eating good food takes up most of her time, but she also observes various people, including her owner, the Dalai Lama, as she struggles to understand the concept of happiness. She encounters different theories, which she recounts in an autobiographical way, and each of these theories, coupled with her own observations, help her understand what happiness is, and how intrinsic it is to Buddhism. She also begins to understand Buddhism, its scientific rationale, its all-pervading beauty and universal applicability.
By making the cat the narrator of his book, David Michie has been successful in translating various essential Buddhist principles into something more simple, relatable, and comprehensive. The point of view of HHC has been used to its advantage, adding the right amount of playfulness to a piece of work which would otherwise have been a very cumbersome read for those not prepared to study the theology behind Buddhism. The basics of the faith have been explained beautifully from the point of view of the cat, and these basics have been punctuated by witty anecdotes which make the cat seem more real, more animal, and therefore, still connected to its instincts. The cat as the narrator also reduced the risk of the book sounding too preachy and this elimination of self-importance is also something which endears the reader to the book.
Well-paced and well-written, this book, with HHC as its narrator, also brings out the perception which the Dalai Lama's followers have towards him. HHC goes beyond loving her master because of his default relationship with her. Her reverence for him, her love, devotion and faith towards him is very apparent, and very beautifully portrayed throughout the book. For those even mildly interested in Buddhism and its concepts, this book is definite winner in the way that it presents the very same to the reader.
Author: David Michie
Publisher: Hay House India
Price: Rs. 399