Book Review: Shanti Panna by Varalika Mishra

Reviewed by Tasnima Yasmin

Moving, mysterious and gracious, every word of Shanti Panna is dedicated to the soul of the reader. The idea behind writing this collection of long and short poems came up in the poet’s mind when she observed that every individual goes through a similar set of emotions. These emotions are universal and felt equally by all. However, every person goes through a different set of emotions at different instances. This is why it is important to understand the emotions, their basis and what they lead to. Hence, Shanti Panna is a quest for the solace of the soul through the power of words. Reading this collection assists in letting the soul transcend the difficulties of worldly existence and reach a point where they feel more connected with their inner being. This is the true meaning of life according to the poet. The collection is dedicated to her mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda. Structurally, the book is divided into various sections that have poems on similar themes clubbed together in them. The sections include Life, Light and Darkness, Love, Mental Health of My Soul, Self Care, Music, Comforting Chair-Grief, Periods, Friendship and Here & Now. Each section ends with a sketch of the Buddha and the question: “What are your thoughts?” 

The poetry is heart touching, soothing and soulful. It resonates with a sense of beauty that takes inspiration from the immediate surroundings of the poet. There is a sense of deep understanding of the meaning of struggle and it is through this struggle to get somewhere in life that one neglects the soul. This collection seeks to put everything else aside and bring the souls of individuals to the forefront. This is what is referred to as ‘the circle of life.’ The purpose is to allow and encourage them to connect with themselves which in turn helps them connect with one another. This makes them feel connected to their existence as mortals on this planet who will have to leave their bodies once their time is up. This brings out the need to focus on the soul which transcends boundaries and bodies to breach differences in time, place and mood. The poems are not set in any particular locale. They reflect universal sentiments.  However, the poems are not mystical or filled with fantastical elements that talk about other worldly things. Instead, the poems are bind humans together by giving them an insight into the turmoil of the soul. The idea is to identify that the true home of individuals is the soul that needs to be nourished, polished and looked after at all times. 

The poems don’t follow any particular rhyme scheme, metrical stances or structures. The lines flow in free verse like words uttered directly from a soul, but one that is of course highly experienced in the ways of the world. Some of them are two liners. Some go beyond that but regardless of the length, the poems have an aura of positivity and inclusivity. It welcomes all to take a peek into the inner workings of the soul, connect with their own souls and then feel the connection with humanity. There are words of caution interspersed with wisdom from experiences that cannot be put down into words. Yet, hope resonates from it all and time heals as the urge to learn and improve remain crucial. These are words that come from a soul that has borne the brunt of the harsh experiences of life, is highly observant and diligent enough to radiate the wisdom through words that don’t frighten or shatter but give hope. The reader is filled with a sense of awe that radiates hope despite the difficulties at hand. It is this note of optimism that resonates with the core purpose of the collection. On the whole, the collection is a rather quick read but speed reading such a mesmerizing collection can hurt the soul. This collection is meant to be devoured slowly, incorporating the insights, co-relating with one’s present stance in life and imbibing the guidance while keeping in mind the words of caution. It is definitely a book that needs to be read more than once while trying to soak in all that it has on offer.    

Tasnima Yasmin is an Indian poet and book critic. Her poetry collections include Silhouette and Other Poems (2019) and My Little Book of Nonsensical Poetry (2020). Her poetry has been published in Indian and international literary magazines, journals and anthologies. She is presently pursuing her PhD in India. She can be contacted at

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