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In the early 1870s when a sturdy and stubborn teenager from a middle-class Bengali Hindu family joined a wrestling gymnasium in Dacca, little did his family and friends know that this young wrestler will be extolled in the distant future as the pioneer of the cult of physical strength and courage in Bengal. At the age of 23, to prove his masculinity and extraordinary fortitude and physical strength, Shyama Kanta Banerjee chose an unusual vocation – wrestling with wild tigers. For 17 years people across Bengal were captivated by the breathtaking circus shows of Professor Banerjee, the first tiger tamer of India. At a time when revolutionary movement in Bengal was in its nascent stage, through the tiger wrestling acts, Shyama Kanta covertly spread the message of fearlessness. Wrestling with tiger was a celebration of the new physical culture movement that developed in Bengal to encourage young men to prepare themselves for a revolution to break the shackles of servitude. At the peak of his fame, at the age of 41, Shyama Kanta underwent a complete mental transformation, and renounced the material world. He became a monk, and was renamed Soham Swami by his preceptor Nabin Chandra Chakroborty alias Tibbatibaba, an advaitin ascetic. Soham Swami now started the search for the true meaning of life. His quest was finally answered through the realization of the super-consciousness or the Absolute Truth in Samadhi. Now a recluse in the Himalayas, through his literary works the enlightened monk began expounding the truth he had experienced. In the last decade of his life he was involved in taming the tiger that tyrannizes the Hindu society in the form of superstition and religious orthodoxy. With courage and candour, that he was renowned for, Soham Swami challenged the irrational religiosity and the lies that are being promoted for centuries and propounded the bitter truth of life in the light of Advaita Vedanta.
The Monk Who Tamed the Tiger is the first definitive biography of Soham Swami. It provides a glimpse into the human mind, consciousness and super-consciousness. The biography is also a narrative of the early Indian nationalism and its association with Vedanta that served as the vehicle of fearlessness for the freedom fighters who never hesitated to sacrifice their lives to liberate a subject nation.