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Posts Tagged ‘gods’


Ganesha on the Dashboard
V. Raghunathan & M.A. Eswaran| Penguin| Rs 299

Aisa lagta hai ki Indra devta hamse naraaz hai,” [It seems Lord Indira (rain god) is unhappy with us] said Delhi’s CM Sheila Dixit, replying to the delay in preparations for the Common Wealth Games in 2010. There is something wrong with Indians, say the authors of this book, when people accept that appealing to god is perfectly justified for the government. Could this be because Indians lack a scientific temper? Raghunathan, a banker, who writes a column for a daily economics newspaper, and Eswaran, a retired nuclear physicist, come together to collate their responses to our nation’s obsession with gods and god men, astrology, numerology, rituals etc. Especially readable is Eswaran’s ruminations on science’s relationship with god.

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The Magic
Thonda Byrne| Simon & Schuster| Rs 399

Fifteen years ago, Rhonda Byrne, suggested in her book The Secret that simply thinking about a thing one can manifest its existence. Therefore, positive thinking, she argued, created a positive life. Her subsequent two books, The Power and now, The Magic has taken the argument to the moral plane. In The Power Byrne argued that change could only be powered by thought and now in the latest book,  The Magic she says that magic is powered by gratitude. In the words of science, one’s existence is a factual reality. The thoughts and emotions that guide you, spring from the moral universe that surrounds you. In other words, divinity is a matter of faith.

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Fish in a Dwindling Lake
Ambai| Penguin| Rs 250

Fish in a Dwindling Lake is Ambai aka Dr. C. S. Lakshmi’s third collection of short stories to appear in English. In these stories, the writer uses the female body as tool to make sense of love, longing and life among Mumbai’s Tamil community. “The only reality is the body…,” she tells her translator Lakshmi Holmstrom, “We exist, because the body exists.” Ambai, who writes in Tamil, is known for her criticism of 1970s Tamil literature that focused on “male angst and alienation”. As a feminist, her interest has been to bring the woman, as an independent powerful entity, back into contemporary Tamil narrative.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 11 March 2012)

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Portraits From Ayodhya
Scharada Dubey| Tranquebar| Rs 295

“Can we permit politics to use emotional triggers like ‘faith and ‘identity’ to amass followers?” asks Dubey in this excellent compilation of oral history, drawn from the interviews conducted with Ayodhya’s famed residents. Returning to the city two decades after the demolition of Babri Masjid, Dubey unflinchingly records the city’s multi-layered existence. “Even before 1949, there was a gang of five people who used to go around establishing temples in place of Muslim graveyards. My father was one of the five,” Vineet Maurya, a dalit farmer living next to the remains of the Masjid, tells the author. Don’t mistake this book for a travelogue it’s a socio-political document that deserves to be read.

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The Forest of Stories
Ashok K. Banker | Westland |Rs 295

After writing the immensely appreciated ‘Ramayana Series’, Banker returns with the retelling of the great epic, Mahabharata. A work, that is part of a larger project in which the author wishes to recap ancient Indian texts dealing with ‘mythology, itihasa, history and future history’. “Unlike my Ramayana series, where I often took great creative liberties,” says Banker, this version of the Mahabharata sticks closely to Vyasa’s Sanskrit epic. He reminds the reader that the famed epic is, “not a religious polemic. Not a historical document. Not Itihasa.” But just “a great story”. For those who have always wanted to read it in accessible English translation, it’s a welcome treat.

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Grandma’s Bag of Stories
Sudha Murty | Puffin| Rs 199

Sudha Murty’s books for children create an aura of magic that’s at once charming and riveting. In this book, Murty, retells the stories she had heard from her own grandmother, Krishtakka, while growing up in Shiggaon, a sleepy town in north Karnataka. Her stories are tales of everyday life encountered in a world free of  modern technology – there are kings here, thieves, monkeys, mice and gods. Each story has a moral and a lesson for tiny tots, and each is accompanied by lively illustrations drawn by Priya Kuriyan that any child will enjoy spending time with.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 26 February 2012)

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