Archive for the ‘Books and magazines’ Category

Bible which draws from Vedas, Gandhi

August 17, 2008

A new version of the Bible published by the Roman Catholic Church has become a huge hit in Kerala.

References in the Indianised version of the Bible have been picked up from the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Manusmriti.

The characters in the Bible have also been dressed up in Indian clothes. A sketch shows Joseph wearing a turban and Mary in a sari. Mother Mary holds baby Jesus in her arms in the sketch.

However, the sketch is just one among the 24 sketches in the new Indianised Bible published by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Indianisation does not end with the sketches. The Bible not only contains commentaries with references to the Upanishads, the Gita and the Manusmriti, it also has references to Gandhi and Miraben.

Nevertheless, the text is the accepted Catholic version.

“I welcome this unprecedented step as long as the message of Bible is never compromised with. The Biblical version, which we have been reading in India, is mostly the translations by European scholars. For example, The Jerusalem Bible poem. However, the Indianised version is a new attempt by Asian scholars and theologians,” says Theologian and thinker, Professor PT Chacko.

The Indianised bible is a revised edition of the popular Christian Community Bible, which is produced by French priest Bernardo Hurault, for non-English speaking audience. About 30 scholars have worked on the Indian interpretations, which are published as footnotes.

“There are about seventy references to non-Christian texts in both the Testaments. About 30 scholars participated in making the commentary. Some of them have included Indian scriptures, while others have not,” says Spokesperson of Syro Malabar Church, Father Paul Thelakkat.

Meanwhile, the Church says the idea is to give a cultural relevance to the message of the Bible and going by the response in Kerala, it seems that the idea has been well received.

Chandamama goes digital with portals in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu; more to follow

August 4, 2008

Chandamama, the 61-year old children’s magazine, is now going ahead in its cyber avatar. The publication has launched its online portals in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. It already has a portal in English and will soon launch websites in Marathi and Oriya languages.

And if one is expecting only age-old, yet popular stories of Vikram and Betaal and other characters from mythology, then there is some pleasant surprise. The site has a contemporary look and feel, featuring stories in different categories like mythology, history, folk tales, humour, adventure, contemporary, etc.

This apart, the portal is a treasure trove for those brought up on Chandamama as it features an archive going back 60 years. At present, early editions the magazine in Hindi, English, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu can be found on the site. Other language editions as well as all the back issues in the past 60 years would go live soon.

Commenting on the archives, L Subramanyam, CEO, Chandamama, said, “There is a huge demand for classical Chandamama stories. By putting our archives up online, we hope we are in some way able to satisfy this demand. We have only put up six languages now, but eventually, our entire 60 years will be available online.”

On the launch of Tamil and Hindi portals, Subramanyam said, “We like to reach out to children in an environment they are most comfortable. The message of Chandamama is relevant across language and cultures. The Tamil and Hindi sites contain original stories written for the Tamil and Hindi publications, and in many cases these are different from the stories you will find on the English and Telugu sites.”

Confronting realities

August 1, 2008

Freedom’s Ransom traces the orbits of two distant worlds, India and Bharat, as they weave their different ways and finally overlap.

Freedom’s Ransom, Prafulla Roy, translated by John W. Hood, IndiaInk/ Roli Books, p.313 pages, Rs. 295.

Chhath, the holiest of the Hindu festivals celebrated in Bihar, climaxes with the worship of the rising sun on the fourth day of rituals. Though the post-Diwali observance is the more popular, another Chhath is marked just ahead of the onset of summer, in the month of Chaitra. In common with agrarian societies across the world, the festival pays obeisance to the sun for its munificence and magnificence.

Significantly, there is no mention of Chhath in Prafulla Roy’s Freedom’s Ransom (originally published in Bengali as Akasher Niche Manush, literally the People Under the Sky), though the action takes place in the height of summer. One of the reasons could be the fact that the sun that beats down on the human drama played across the fields of undivided Bihar is anything but merciful or generous. It is a cruel, unrelenting force of nature, as demanding and as unbending as any of the powers that rule the land.

The physical breadth of Roy’s novel is limited. At one point, one of his protagonists defines his world thus: “To the north was Manpatthal taluk, to the west was the Bijuri railway station, to the east was Hanthiagunj and to the south was Naosheraganj.” Within these boundaries lies the even smaller fiefdom of Raghunath Singh, archetypal old-school landlord who must now look to electoral politics for validation and protection of his heritage. And caught in vicious circles within that fiefdom are Raghunath’s bonded labourers, India’s most wretched.

Distanced world

Roy’s novel is curiously undated, a fact that works both for and against its narrative. India is independent, we gather from the mention of the five-year plans and the excitement over elections. For a narrower time-frame, we have to look to the introduction by translator John W. Hood, who says the novel is “set at the end of the third quarter of the twentieth century”. But since there are few identifiable trappings of the early-70s in the book, the timelessness works as a distancing factor as well: The modern reader would be hard pressed to regard the story as a reflection of the recent past, let alone anything more contemporary.

That is rather ironical, for, the purpose of the translation is surely to point to the existence of the land called Bharat beneath the glitter of the nation called India. As Roy states again and again in the book, in this tract of Bihar — or in any part of invisible India — there is no law but the landlord’s, no democracy but of the goons, no rights but of the rich. That’s the way it has always been; that’s the way it will always be.

Yet, when Dharma, one of Roy’s protagonists, lets it slip to the reader that he is collecting the two thousand rupees that will buy freedom from bondage for his and his betrothed’s families, a knot of tension builds up. It is a fight so uneven, so unfairly loaded, that you know the outcome even before the first salvo has been fired.

As Dharma collects his ammunition in secret, Raghunath Singh, his owner, prepares to fight a very public battle: that of the vote. While Dharma works overtime, trapping birds in the forest to feed the ever-hungry contractors building the other India’s roads and bridges, Raghunath plots and plans and manipulates his chances of victory. This, too, is a result one can predict long before the first vote has been cast.

Distant as the two worlds are, their orbits overlap the day Raghunath Singh appreciates that each of his bonded labourers — overlooked, ill-treated and dehumanised for generations — too, is a vote. Apparently overnight, he morphs from master to mendicant: Who is to know that the sudden humility comes with a catch?

No place for sentimentality

Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2003 for his novel Krantikal, Roy’s evenhanded story-telling is a lesson in objectivity. In depicting a relationship as skewed as the landlord-labourer one, it would have been easy to use broad brushstrokes in black and white. Roy resists the temptation — though he makes no secret of where his sympathies lie — but he respects the history that has shaped these people. Freedom’s Ransom is a compelling bit of story-telling not because of the suspense or the shock value of its pages, but because it looks reality unwaveringly in the eye. Sentimentalism or wishful-thinking does not have a place here: At the end of the novel, when Dharma raises his voice against Raghunath Singh, it has all the impact of a sledgehammer because it’s entirely plausible.

A novel that is so deeply rooted in the author’s first-hand experiences always runs the risk of losing something in translation and, in this case, it is perhaps the ease and immediacy of the vernacular. Hood is an Australian scholar who now spends six months a year in Kolkata; he has written extensively on Bengali art, cinema and has books on Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Buddhadeb Dasgupta to his credit. (Interestingly, Roy himself has been adapted extensively for the big screen.) But this book, somehow, leaves one with the idea that a second, less-literal reworking of the text would have erased some of the irritating Bengali-isms (the multiple references to “fourteen generations” of lineage, for instance) and made for a smoother read.

(Source: The Hindu)

Indian language books translated in Hindi for the young readers

July 23, 2008

The set of 10 books by Katha is a nice clutch of stories for the young reader. They are translations and adaptations from various Indian languages.

A short story by Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay titled Padak forms a part of the repertoire.

There aren’t too many sentences on a single page and they make perfect read alouds. Kokila ki mast matka is a lovely yellow book with a cheeky cat and a grinning pot on a stand gracing the cover. Take a look and it’s easy to see why you might want it immediately. Check out naughty monkey Mitji swinging from his tree and bothering everyone.

Jalebiya gives you a taste of what these syrupy golden rings can do you. They can make your eyes round and your mouth water.

The drawings are the highpoint of the stories. Carefully illustrated, they make each story come alive.

KAFUR by Manoj; BHIKU KI DIARY Mita kakodkar; PADAK by Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay; KOKILA KI MAST MATKA by Geeta Dharmarajan; MITJI by Kaveri D; JALEBIYA by Ahmed Nadim Kashmi, PITTI KA SABON by Sanjay Khati; DALAL by Ram Kisan; PANDRA by Ambai; DAGDU PARAB KA ASHWA MEDH by Jayant Kekini; Katha Publications, Rs 65

(Source: The Hindu)

Bi-lingual literary magazine

June 28, 2008

“Pratilipi” launches its second issue

Pratilipi is an online, bilingual (Hindi/English), literary magazine – possibly India’s first. It is, for the time being, a completely non-commercial venture running on the editors’ investments and on the works of like-minded contributors. It aims to provide space for conversation and debate between diverse sorts of writing and writers.

Contributors to the second issue, released this month, include, Uday Prakash, Ann Jäderlund, Staffan Söderblom, Wagish Shukla, Badri Narayan, Rustam (Singh), Malayaj, Krishna Baldev Vaid, Sampurna Chattarji, Teji Grover, Sara Rai, Sangeeta Gundecha, Udayan Vajpeyi, Chandrahas Choudhury, Purushottam Agrawal, Mangalesh Dabral, K.V.K. Murthy, Sheen Kaaf Nizam, H.S. Shiva Prakash, Sameer Rawal, Vivek Narayanan, Annie Zaidi, Madan Meena.

The magazine can be accessed at

Editors: Giriraj Kiradoo and Rahul Soni
Art Editor: Shiv Kumar Gandhi