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BOOK CORNER: “READING GANDHI–Perspectives in the 21st Century … by Ranu Uniyal, Nazneen Khan and Raj Gaurav Verma

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     This treasure of essays is edited by Ranu Uniyal, Nazneen Khan and Raj Gaurav Verma. All are distinguished academicians. The trinity teaches English at Lucknow University. The book is a publication of Pencraft International published in 2022. The price of the book is Rupees 800. The spine of the book is less than 200 pages. Let me begin by saying that the book is too complex for an average reader. It is an assortment of fourteen articles written by renowned academicians. Perhaps their normal diction would also be complex for the average reader, I guess so. And I only wish the content was simpler and easy to read just like the simple persona of Gandhi.  

    Gandhi is a revered surname in the world. The subject book explores the relevance of M. K. Gandhi in contemporary times and also links it up with times to come. It covers the dispensation of justice, human rights, conflict and peace-building, along with his evergreen mechanism of non-violence and Satyagraha which were focal to him. The essays in this volume focus on inner strength, brotherhood and self-discipline. His persona becomes a rendezvous a nukkad for discourse in the post-colonial era. Practical ideas on food, dress and day-to-day living are included in this study so also his impact on world literature. His philosophical ideals and spiritual experiences reflect his views on truth, identity and nationhood. The book covers the impact of Gandhian thoughts on late capitalism, neo-colonialism and post-truth. It opens debates on many significant issues troubling mankind. Therefore, it will be of interest to scholars of postcolonial literature, gender and cultural studies. Simply put, the book coaches you on the Gandhian way of living and reacting in today’s utopian and dystopian world.

    The august trinity has edited some painstakingly written articles by historians, academicians and writers such as Bhikhu Parekh, John Thieme, Neelam Saran Gour, Pritish Acharya, Alok Kumar, Papia Sengupta, Hardeep Ranjitsinh Gohil, Neena Gupta Vij, Roopa Vijay and Meenakshi Vijay, Amrita Sharma, Suchitra Awasthi, Vishakha Sen, Fatima Sahrish and Raj Gaurav Verma. After reading the book I wondered if the learned authors had simplified the dhoti-clad half-naked fakir called Mahatma Gandhi or complicated him. The title of Mahatma was bestowed upon Gandhi by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Mahatma is a simple soul as we all know. But being simple is not so simple, as it generates complexities for others, perhaps. Surely, this book is not for an average reader but more for academicians who already know Gandhi and it’ll help them in further hair-splitting on his larger-than-life persona.

    The narration gives a full-circle view of Mahatma Gandhi. It offers you the following: The title starts with an introduction by the trinity. Thereafter, the cynosure, Gandhi, is discussed in various articles and in various ways. There are several silhouettes of him. Then comes the juxtaposition of R.K. Narayan, Politics and Gandhi, and isn’t it amusing when a child labels Gandhiji as a man who kept three monkeys and made salt, says the next article titled, ‘On Gandhi.’ Gandhiji became renowned because of the Champaran Satyagraha. He used to walk for 18 km a day which he did for many years. In the process, he may have walked more than 59000 km. Then comes, Truth, Ethics and Theory: Gandhi and the Heuristics of Living. A mental shortcut to living. These are all improbable-sounding words in today’s context. Despite all our ideological compulsions why does it seem so difficult to disown Gandhi completely? Writing about Gandhi in the twenty-first century, to begin with requires a good amount of ground-clearing.  There is so much muck in the air because of the language row in India. But Gandhi had his own thoughts on a Common Language for India. The Ramayan and the Bhagwat Gita were very dear to the Mahatma and he had done two Gujarati translations of the Bhagwat Gita which is mentioned in the article titled, ‘The Purpose and Perfection: Two Gujarati Translations of Bhagwat Gita by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.’ Mahatma Gandhi is seen as an exceptional force in world politics because he fought with a technologically superior imperial force without resorting to modern weaponry. Gandhi had a diet chart for every Indian in his book titled ‘Gram Swaraj.’ The article ‘Gandhi and Food’ says it all in its narration. What a personality Gandhi was. His dress code had the lusciousness of a fakir that became the national symbol and his sartorial flavour also had the insignia of Colonial Protest. On a true vibrant civilization and the real edifice of education Gandhi’s book ‘Hind Swaraj’ still stands out.

There are so many descriptions of Gandhi by so many researchers in the book. The book is well-edited with a good flow of sentences. There is relevant day-to-day information about Gandhi in the narration for eg he used to write 700 words every day and used to walk 18 km a day. Since the book is a recent publication I would desist from being a spoiler so I won’t reveal more. But yes unlike violence Gandhi’s non-violence acted silently and slowly, and took its own time, but in the end, it delivered.

The book needs to be simplified for an average reader. The articles are well-researched and give you a plethora of facts about Gandhi that will entice you to read the book. There should have been a summary at the end of each chapter to simplify the deliberations. Who could imagine a 5ft 5 inches tall person weighing about 46.7 kg with a BMI of 17.1 kg—which means underweight will lead India to freedom from the fierce British Raj? But why should anyone read this book? Well if you want to know if Gandhi was responsible for the partition read this book. In the same manner, if you want to know more about Gandhi here is the book.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

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Our Publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai; Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida; India. Shoolini University, Yogananda Knowledge Center, Himachal Pradesh and Azim Premzi University, Bangalore).  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K; Herrick District Library, Holland and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, USA; Black Gold Cooperative Library Administration, Arroyo Grande, California).

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his way through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available on Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day-to-day life. The book is available on Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

AWADH ASSAM AND DALAI LAMA … The Kalachakra

(The story of the man who received His Holiness The Dalai Lama and his retinue in 1959 as a GOI representative when he fled Tibet in 1959. The book was recently launched on 21st November 2022 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama).

Short stories, Book reviews and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: 1. Reality and Perception, 15.10.19; 2. Sending the Wrong Message, 31.5.20; 3. Eagle versus Scholars June, 15 & 20 2020; 4. Indica, 15.8.20; 5. The Story of King Chitraketu, August 31 2020; 6. Breaking Through the Chakravyuh, September 30 2020. 7. The Questioning Spouse, October 31, 2020; 8. Happy Days, November 15, 2020; 9. The Karma Cycle of Paddy and Wheat, December 15, 2020; 10. Power Vs Influence, January 31, 2021; 11. Three Refugees, March 15, 2021; 12. Rise and Fall of Ajatashatru, March 31, 2021; 13. Reformed Ruler, May 15, 2021; 14. A Lasting Name, May 31, 2021; 15. Are Animals Better Teachers?, June 16, 2021; 16. Book Review: The Gram Swaraj, 1.7.21; 17. Right Age for Achievements, 15.7.21; 18. Big Things Have Small Beginnings, 15.8.21; 19. Where is Gangaridai?, 15.9.21; 20. Confront the Donkey Within You 30.9.21; 21. Know Your Strengths 15.10.21; 22. Poverty 15.11.21; 23. Top View 30.11.21; 24. The Bansuriwala 15.1.22; 25. Sale of Alaska 15.2.22; 26. The Dimasa Kingdom 28.2.22; 27. Buried Treasure 15.4.22; 28. The Kingdom of Pragjyotisha 30.4.22; 29. Who is more useful? 15.5.22; 30. The White Swan from Lake Mansarovar 30.6.22; 31. Bhool Bhulayya 15.9.22; 32. Good Karma 30.9.22; 33. Good name vs Bad Name 15.10.22; Uttarapath—The Grand Trunk Road 1.12.22;

(ALL THE ABOVE BOOK TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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STORY- THREE TESTS

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

three tests 2 three tests three tests1

Maharishi Vashist was a renowned Mahatma. Many people from far of places used to come to him for help and guidance in education and spiritual knowledge. One day a visitor who had come to see him said, ‘Maharishi I have heard a lot about your spiritual powers. I want to learn Brahma-gyan (complete-knowledge) from you, so kindly bless me with the knowledge.

On hearing this all the shisyas (pupils) who were present there started smiling sarcastically thinking it was not all that simple as they too were at the service of the Maharishi with the same objective for years now. Maharishi heard the request and peacefully said, ‘sure! I will definitely pay attention to your request but for that you need to first do tapasya (intense meditation) for a year, and after completing that come to me. The Bhakt (disciple) turned visitor was extremely happy considering the spiritual knowledge that some people couldn’t attain all their lives was now going to come to him in a year. And assimilating Maharishi’s advice he left the place happily for his mission when all other pupils out there looked stunned.

After completion of a year the Bhakt came back to the ashram and along with other visitors he was waiting to meet the Maharishi. But while he was waiting one pupil who was carrying litter in a basket slipped and fell and the entire litter fell on him. This enraged the Bhakt and he bashed up the shishya for dirtying him. Later he met the Maharishi who then smiled and said, ‘son you have failed in your first test.’ Shunning violence is the first lesson of Brahma-gyan. Your entire tapasya has gone for a waste but I will still give you one more opportunity. Go and perform tapsya for one more year and then come back to me.’

The Bhakt was quite dejected. But obeying the command of the Maharishi was his duty so he left for the second round of tapsya for a year. After a year he returned again, but as ill luck would have it this time one servant by mistake poured dirty water that drenched and dirtied his clothes.

Although, the visitor remembered and regretted what he had done last time, he did not beat up the servant but he reprimanded him nice and proper. Later he met the Maharishi and complained about the servant and conveyed to him of the incompetence and indiscipline in the ashram.

Maharishi said, ‘son again this time you have not succeeded in your exams, because to shun anger, should be the second biggest step towards your objective where you’ve failed. So again your tapasya has gone for a waste. But I will give you one last chance. Go back and perform your tapasya for another year.’

This time the Bhakt was filled with repentance and gloom and started doubting if he really required this Brahmya-gyan for the journey of his life. But since he didn’t want to cross the Maharishi, he again set himself out for the tapasya and after a year he returned again. This time also by an unfortunate chance the dustbin of the kitchen in the ashram fell on him.

But, the surprising part this time was neither did the Bhakt get angry nor hassled on the contrary he cheerfully started helping the shishya who was carrying the dustbin to clean up the place; and he didn’t even mention about it to the Maharishi. And some other pupil informed the Maharishi about this incident.

When the Maharishi met the Bhakt he smiled and said to him, ‘all the three tests were taken at my behest. And I’m happy this time you’ve cleared your test and now you are heading towards your objective. Now you are away from anger, violence and hate. Your mind is filled with love, trust and kindness. My best wishes are with you.’

Upon hearing this the Bhakt fell on Maharishi’s feet and offered his pranam and thereafter he very happily left; so happy that he didn’t even enquire about Brahma-gyan. Rest of the shisyas were dazed at this behaviour of the Bhakt. They enquired from the Maharishi; the objective with which he came to the ashram was not even fulfilled so how could he leave before that.

Maharishi very politely said, ‘any person who is peaceful about himself and the world and trusts his Guru completely and who has love for mankind need not run after Brahma-gyan. In fact Brahma-gyan will run after him. A righteous person gets knowledge and wisdom even from the best wishes of his Guru.

This story tells us how we can obtain Brahma-gyan without running after it.

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SHORT STORY: IN LOVE WITH YOUR GURU

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    In ancient times there lived a Mahatma by the name of Maharishi Kanad. He had the absolute distinction of exponentially increasing the treasure base of Indian knowledge by scripting the Vaishesik Sutras. That determined the rights and the wrongs in a human life. In terms of discovering the absolute good, required for the betterment of man. He had many shishayas (pupils) that included both men and women, and they all owed, their esteem allegiance, to the Mahatma.

    Among his shishayas there was a beautiful woman also. Who used to look after the Mahatma with all sincerity. But slowly. She started feeling as if she was falling in love with the man. But was unable to express her feelings in front him. Moreover, she was even scared that the Mahatma might suddenly shun her. If she expressed her feelings and that will also give an opportunity to other shishayas to make fun of her.

    But, still, one day when she was alone with the Mahatma. She gathered guts and said, ‘My dear Swami. I have started loving you from the bottom of my heart. I want to sacrifice everything of mine, just for my love, which is you. So, can you not accept me in life?’

    The Guru was shocked at what the lady had just told him. Because of which, he went quiet. And the unexpected utterance of the lady, had even spread like a ‘jungle fire’ in the hermitage. Now, all the shishayas were eagerly waiting to know, what would be Mahatma’s reply.

    Guru smiled and said, ‘I’m happy that you love me. But you should also know. That I love the entire world, and in that even you are included. And Devi (respected lady), you also should know, that all my shishayas love me. So, then what is so special about your love?’

    The lady was now in dilemma, because she couldn’t really figure out. How to convey what she actually wanted to. For she had all the hesitation in communicating her deep love to the Mahatama. Moreover, she was also cautious about the fact that so many unseen eyes and ears must be waiting for the much awaited answer from him. Mahatma waited for sometime and then said to her, ‘When you say you love me, and you want to sacrifice everything for me. It also means, you want to control me. Which goes to show that you are not conversant with the real meaning of Guru. But since you are a devoted shishaya. I don’t want you to be unhappy, so you can have my love. Tomorrow, when, I am alone in the cottage. You come to me.’

    Upon, hearing these lovely words of acceptance. The lady was on top of the world. She came out of the cottage. Where, the rest of the female shishayas, were now jealous of her. As they too wanted to share her luck.

    Next day after decking up when she felt no one is in Mahatama’s cottage. She entered. But, rest of the shishayas were keeping a constant track of her. When they saw her entering the cottage. They quietly assembled to ascertain what was going on.

    The lady could see that the Mahatma was in samadhi and all around him, there was a halo of light. In that he appeared like the bright Sun that excited her. She suddenly ran towards him in full enthusiasm trying to embrace him. But alas: What was that? She then saw, she was only embracing herself. When, suddenly, she felt the Mahatma was all over the sky. Where, she, just couldn’t hold the sky nor could she embrace the sky. Even after trying from all the ends she could only experience, as if she was trying to catch hold of the endless sky. But all was in vain. And after a little while. She was tired and stood there wonder struck. She then heard a loud laughter in the cottage.

    And that is when the Mahatma said, ‘my dear shishaya. You forgot the basic essence of life. Guru is not a personal property of anyone. In fact he belongs to everyone. He is divine, who is everywhere, but not visible. He is the route to your destiny. But not your destiny or your kismet. Guru, makes you farsighted. So share me with everyone. And don’t try to control me. Feel my wisdom and knowledge within you.

    After hearing such divine sermons from the Mahatma. The lady who until some moments back, was dull and gloomy. Immediately, cheered up, and with her fellow shishayas started celebrating the occasion, and praising the Guru. Thereafter, slowly the Mahatama returned to his embodiment. When he too joined the celebrations.

    This story is lifted from a mythological article. It conveys. Our relation with our Guru, which is quite different than our relations with others.

    Today is Guru-punima. Therefore a tribute to every Guru.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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SHORT STORY: GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES

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    In primitive times there was a Mahatma who lived in a village located on the banks of a river. Where, many villagers, from in and around and even far off places used to come to him for help and advice.

    One day a moorkh (simpleton) from the nearby village came to the Mahatma and started weeping. And, upon Mahatma’s enquiring about the cause he replied, ‘Guruvar, people in my village are very bad, they always misbehave with me. So what should I do to protect myself from such rogues. Please advice to help me out.’

    Mahatma consoled him and politely said, ‘don’t you worry and have confidence in God, for he will set everything right.’ And upon hearing this, the moorkh was happy and soon he left for his home.

    After a few months there were severe floods in the village when everyone started running helter-skelter to save themselves, but the moorkh was cool. He just climbed the roof of his house and started praying to God. And when the flood water started touching the roof a kind person spotted him and extended his hand to help him. But he refused to hold his hand and said, ‘I don’t trust you but I’m confident God will help me.’

    In the meanwhile the flood waters had climbed further and reached up to his neck and seeing this, some people perched in a passing boat offered to help, by asking him to jump but he again refused and said, ‘I only trust God.’

    After sometime he started drowning, when some kind people finally rescued him. They helped him back to consciousness. But the moorkh instead of thanking them, went up to the Mahatma and started complaining, ‘you had asked me to have faith in God, but this tip of yours nearly killed me, for he never came forward to help me.’

    Mahatama smiled at him and sweetly said, ‘Hey you simple soul, in response to your prayers only these people and the boat were sent to you, to save you. But you refused to take any help. Even then God almighty who wishes and desires everyones welfare, to save you, sent some kind people, otherwise by now you would have been dead.’ But Mahatma was not finished as yet when he further sermonized, ‘always remember in response to your earnest prayers God will not come and do your “karma” for you. He has given you brains and you need use it.’

    This story is from Puran (Hindu holy script) and conveys a simple message–“God helps those who help themselves.”

Share if you like it

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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