An Interesting Lesson in the History of Punjab || A Review of Khushwant Singh’s ‘Maharaja in Denims’

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Book Reviews, General Reading | 8 comments

Khushwant Singh is an author, columnist, and TV Show Host

Khushwant Singh is an author, columnist, and TV Show Host

I had heard about the book Maharaja in Denims by Khushwant Singh much before I actually got down to reading it. The title is catchy, but nothing prepares you for what lies inside those innocuous looking covers. The book starts right in the middle of love-making between Hari and Gaitri, and it is obvious that things are headed downhill between them right from the time Hari ecstatically cries out “I’m coming, Lily.” A fuming Gaitri gathers her clothes and storms out, all this while hurling choicest of Punjabi abuses at Hari, who himself is as shocked by this mysterious turn of events as Gaitri and the readers.

“Lily”, one of the names that keep flashing in Hari’s mind, is his connection to his more illustrious past life – none other than that of the “Lion of Punjab” Maharaja Ranjit Singh. As the novel progresses, Hari meets Suzanne, the girl with whom he would eventually fall in love, and the flashes from his past life keep getting more frequent, clearer, and sinister. Suzanne, who is a psychology student, takes Hari through sessions of past life regression, thinking that it would cure him of  his extraordinary predicament. But these sessions end up revealing much more than either of them had bargained for.

The story slowly graduates from merely enjoying the antics of a rich, spoilt punjabi brat, to a serious investigation of Punjab’s past, present, and even the future. Nothing will prepare you for the unexpected end. I will keep it to myself and leave it up to you to find out. I can only say one thing – it feels like a hard punch in the stomach.

It can only be attributed to the brilliance of Khushwant Singh’s writing that the story effortlessly moves back and forth in time, interweaving several abominable historical events with the present. The depth of the narrative and the revelations show that the author has put in considerable research, and that the story is the result of years of hard work. But despite this, the book is an easy read. So much so that you won’t realize what  you have got yourself into until you are so deep in it that you cannot turn back.


  1. It is very nice noval written by late khuvant sing

  2. Hi Deepa, The author of this novel is not the Late Khushwant Singh, but the younger one. Here is a link where you can read more about him:

  3. Sounds like a very interesting novel. Initially, I thought it’s author was the late “Sardar”, but later discovered that it was his “Namesake”, who is having a ball confounding his readers. I have read a Book on Past regressions titled “Many Masters Many Lives” by Brian Weiss. Somehow, not convinced with this theory 🙂

    • Thanks Jayanthi! I know! It is a bit difficult to comprehend. But I think like everything else in the spiritual world, we will never find out till we are destined to…

    • And, by the way, there is something known as future life progression too. 🙂 World just gets weirder and weirder…

  4. Future life progression??? Ha, Ha – that’s what astrologers do, roaming around the Besant Nagar beach in Chennai, fleecing innocent beachgoers 🙂

  5. Really interesting review. And the book “Many Master Many Lives” has deep meaning of spiritual world since each incident in our life is related to our learning process in this physical world.

  6. The book sounds interesting. Hopefully will be able to read it soon. History of Punjab is something I am not familiar with, so it would be enlightening.

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