Book Review: ‘The Nirvana Express’ by Mick Brown

Embarking on Extraordinary Spiritual Journeys

Book Title: The Nirvana Express
Author: Mick Brown
Publisher: Vintage Books
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-0143464174
Date Published: Jan. 1, 2023
Price: INR 225

The Nirvana Express by Mick Brown Book Cover

Book Review

Mick Brown’s captivating exploration, “The Nirvana Express,” takes readers on a fascinating journey through the West’s evolving relationship with Indian spirituality. From the British Empire’s orientalism to the counterculture of modern times, Brown weaves a tale that begins with a yogi’s demonstration in 1897 London and spans to the Beatles meditating at the feet of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Victorians, both fascinated and suspicious of Indian religious practices, set the stage for a narrative that traverses a curious cast of scholars, seekers, charlatans, and saints.

In this enthralling account, Brown skillfully navigates through the eccentric history of Western obsessions with the Indian faith, touching on diverse themes such as bestselling epic poems on the Buddha, murder plots, magic, and the occult. The narrative unfolds with intelligence and empathy, revealing the West’s search for enlightenment as it unfolds against the backdrop of significant historical events. From the ‘hippie trail’ to Operation Cast Lead, Brown’s narrative captures the essence of Western entanglement with Eastern mysticism.

Praised as a work of compelling social anthropology, “The Nirvana Express” has garnered acclaim for its sober and intelligent portrayal of Westerners in the East and vice versa. With endorsements from reputable sources, the book promises an enlightening and sometimes troubling exploration of a subject that has shaped the spiritual landscape of both the East and the West. Brown’s storytelling prowess, combined with extensive research, offers readers a comprehensive and enjoyable journey through the intricate tapestry of cultural exchanges and spiritual quests.

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The Nirvana Express” is a captivating narrative that unfolds with riveting tales of extraordinary characters, expertly spotlighted by the author in a loving yet fair manner. Beginning at the close of the eighteenth century, Mick Brown seamlessly intertwines the social and cultural dynamics of British colonialism and Indian tradition, tracing their evolution over the next two centuries. The narrative explores Eastern religions, framed histories, and the intriguing figures that shaped them, offering truly fascinating insights into the interplay of these diverse elements.

What propels the book forward is Brown’s skill in capturing the essence of extraordinary individuals, whether Eastern or Western. Serving as a social history, the narrative vividly describes the beliefs, actions, and journeys of these remarkable figures, illustrating how their pursuits have driven the broader context of social history. For readers interested in quests and exploration, “The Nirvana Express” provides a non-judgmental yet lovingly told tale, enriched by the author’s meticulous research, making it an insightful and compelling read.

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