Born and raised in India, Shri Yannam moved to the U.S. in the 1980s as a
"software slave" - a sort of indentured servant programmer whose job had been
secured by a broker in India. His dissatisfaction with life as a cog in the
American corporate machine played itself out as a reckless need for speed on the
road. His addiction to daredevil antics came back to haunt him karmically when,
driving sedately in late 1990, he crashed his motorcycle and was instantly
paralyzed from the chest down.
The accident kick-started Yannam's quest for a deeper spirituality. Now
living in Dallas, Texas, he went through a series of relationships - including
an ill-fated marriage to the woman he had just started dating when he wiped out
his cycle - that no matter how hard he tried to make work seemed somehow always
to end unhappily. It is during the throes of the presidential election mess of
late 2000 that he experiences a life-altering epiphany. A tornado touches down,
ripping apart his home and whisking away his beloved pets, yet leaving him
somehow able to stand and walk unassisted once more. There, where his living
room once stood, is a cobra twined around the shaft of a still-whirling tornado
That is where Serpent's Dance begins. The cobra is the
manifestation of Yannam's soul, and man and snake begin a journey of spirit
through a surreal but powerful dialogue. The serpent asks the author to tell the story of his life, and
stripped naked literally and metaphorically by this unprecedented event, Yannam
begins. As he remembers aloud, the serpent comments on the deeper meaning of his
feelings, actions and relationships, offering the "Secrets of Self-Mastery"
described in the book's subtitle.
It is a raw account, and Yannam sees honestly and clearly for the first time
how, even in his attempts to convert himself and others to a more pure spiritual
wholeness, he has been holding himself back by not letting go of inhibitions,
guilt and the need to control. The conversation is fascinating, and the memoir
aspect is punctuated by necessarily didactic instructions as each secret is
revealed and explained.
The author's Eastern upbringing is palpable in the spirituality (not
religion) that is discussed - Yin and Yang, female and male principles, Feng
Shui and Vastu are mentioned often. Yet a Western influence becomes apparent,
too, as one tastes a hint of Carlos Castaneda near book's end. But one needs no
initiation into ancient spiritual practices or traditions to find meaning for
their own life within the pages of this first book of Serpent's Dance.
Through the retelling of select episodes in Yannam's life, the succinct
principles that are the serpent's secrets are introduced in easily understood
terms and through several different lenses, including simple formulas and
yin/yang metaphors. What most of these "Secrets of Self-Mastery" come down to is
as simple as letting go and becoming receptive to life.
Serpent's Dance continues the tradition of accessible spiritual self-help and
revelation made so popular by books like The Celestine Prophecy by James
Redfield and Neale Donald Walsh's Conversations with God series. It
earns its place in the libraries of contemporary readers seeking to tap into a
more holistic relationship between themselves, others, and the world.