*V Raghunathan*

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A delightful exercise in lateral thinking There could be no three more disparate things than locks, mathematics and the Mahabharata. However, as Locks Mahabharata Mathematics shows, this is as entertaining a combination as any. Given here is a treasure trove of stories drawn from all three subjects. What could be more beguiling than a book that mixes Draupadi, a lock with five keys, and the quirky world of polynomials? Or Jarasandha who could be split apart but whose two halves could never be kept separate - split locks and symmetries? The Mahabharata is known for its stories. Lesser known are the fascinating combinations of locks which Dr Raghu - an avid collector - throws light upon, or the esoteric world of pure mathematics that he conveys for a lay audience. Divided into ten chapters, Locks Mahabharata Mathematics has stories ranging from that of Draupadi, to Yudhishthira's gamble, to Shukrayacharya and Kacha. Keeping them company are chancy locks, interacting keys and binary stars. Profusely illustrated with drawings of locks from his personal collection, this is a neatly original book like few others. Recalling books such as The Mind's I, Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul, The Tipping Point, and Godel, Escher, Bach ..., underlying it is a simple principle, one might say: Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit, as Antoine de Saint-Exupery said. These are tales that combine reason with fantasy to elevate the spirit.