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This Our Paradise: Stories of Longing and Belonging in Kashmir

Stories from Kashmir always tug at the heartstrings, and we have something truly exceptional for you! In This Our Paradise by Karan Mujoo, follow the lives of a Hindu and Muslim family from Kashmir as they navigate the storm of political unrest. Through the innocent eyes of an eight-year-old boy and the challenging journey of a young man named Shahid, this novel reveals how their worlds are forever changed by the forces beyond their control. 

 

This Our Paradise
This Our Paradise || Karan Mujoo

***

Clocks ticked. Hairs sprouted. Voices deepened. Harvests passed. Calendars changed.

 

And Shahid leapt from adolescence to teenage. He sat for his twelfth standard exams in 1985 and barely passed. There was only one government college in Kupwara, and admission there followed a certain pattern. You would get a seat if you were a brilliant student with exceptional marks. You would get a seat if an influential politician made a phone call on your behalf. You would get a seat if you greased the palms of the education department officials.

 

Shahid and his family failed to meet these criteria. Corruption had seeped into the cracks and now was running riot in the Valley. Every government official, whether senior or junior, asked for bribes unabashedly. This culture was born during the reign of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. Having taken over from the Sheikh as the prime minister in 1953, he had opened industries, provided subsidies, improved healthcare and made education accessible. But he had also turned a blind eye to the greed and malpractices of those close to him.

 

Once he set this precedent, it was gleefully followed by everyone else.

 

It became clear to Shahid that there was no room for people like him in Kashmir. Every door he knocked on was rudely shut in his face. The few jobs available in Zogam involved manual labour or farming. But Shahid was clear he did not want to stoop so low. He wanted a life of dignity. A life independent of the mood swings of weather gods.

 

Since there was no work or college to go to, Shahid began whiling his hours away at Rajeshji’s shop. Every morning, after breakfast, he would leave his house and head over there.

 

After ordering a cup of tea, he would sit on a stool and read the newspapers. He was not the only aimless, unemployed boy searching for succour at the shop. Scores of boys from Zogam and Kupwara, who had been shunted out by the system, came there to smoke and gossip.

 

Rashid was one of them. Shahid often heard him talking to his entourage, among other things, about the Quran and Hadiths. His eyes shone passionately as he discussed the various ayats. While giving these mini-sermons Rashid smoked like a steamer ship. He lit up Capstan after Capstan, often mid-sentence. Due to the relentless smoking, his incisors bore brown tobacco stains. Some of the boys jokingly called him the smoking prophet, which both offended and pleased Rashid. One day, he asked Shahid to pass a matchbox and the two became, at first acquaintances, and then friends. When they started talking, they discovered they had much in common. Both of them were frustrated by the corruption in society, both were unemployed, both were dismissive of menial jobs. For the first time in his life.

 

Shahid could call someone a friend. Over long sessions of tea and cigarettes (Shahid started smoking under the influence of his new friend), their bond thickened. They confided their fears and dreams to each other. They tried to come up with ways to jumpstart their stagnated lives. Rashid was certain the society needed an overhaul. The privileged and corrupt had to be shaken up. The playing field had to be leveled.

 

One day, a boy from Kupwara came to the shop to smoke a cigarette. He was carrying a few files, which indicated he had a government job. It was unclear what sparked the confrontation—a grazing of the shoulders, a challenging stare—but for some reason Rashid started slapping the boy, accusing him of stealing jobs and paying bribes. Unaccustomed to violence, Shahid froze for a moment. But then he too saw red. He lunged out with his leg and caught the boy squarely in
his ribs. The boy groaned and collapsed on the ground. Rajeshji ran out of the shop to help him. Rashid and Shahid, their hearts pounding, their veins surging with adrenaline, ran away towards the fields.

 

‘The bhatta deserved it,’ Rashid said breathlessly. Shahid had not noticed the narywun which had marked out the boy. But it did not matter. The system had to be dismantled. Even if it was one kick at a time.

 

Brawls, abuses and loutish behaviour were frowned upon in Zogam. A small council of elders, both Muslims and Pandits, turned up at Shahid’s house and requested his father to reign him in. Such incidents were not good for the village, they said. Shahid’s father and Zun were shocked by their son’s  involvement in the fracas. They convinced the group that Shahid would never indulge in such behaviour again. After they left, Zun crumpled and sobbed quietly. When Shahid came home later that night, his father admonished him.

 

‘You have humiliated us in front of the whole village. I had to bow my head and ask for forgiveness on your behalf.’ Zun, teary-eyed, said, ‘Shahid, you have always been such a gentle boy. From where did this fire erupt in your chest? It must be those scoundrels you keep hanging around with at the shop. Swear by me that you’ll stop meeting them. Swear by me!’

 

Shahid heard their complaints quietly. He had nothing to say. He went to his room and lay down on the hard bed. Deep in his heart, he knew he had done no wrong.

***

Get your copy of This Our Paradise by Karan Mujoo on Amazon or whereeve books are sold.

Heartbroken? Find Healing in Rithvik Singh’s ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’

Loving someone who doesn’t love you back is something many of us have experienced. Rithvik Singh‘s I Don’t Love You Anymore offers solace to those who feel deeply and love unconditionally. Here are five powerful selections from the book, each one a gentle embrace for the heart, reminding us that healing and letting go are part of the journey. Dive in and let Rithvik’s words be the comforting companion you need on your toughest days.

 

I Don't Love You Anymore
I Don’t Love You Anymore || Rithvik Singh

***

If you ever knew someone who loved you enough to be terrified of losing you, I hope you know how rare it is to find someone like that. Someone who would leave flowers on your dining table, kisses on your forehead and the scent of love in your heart. Someone who would gently hold the pieces of your heart on days when life gets too hard. If you ever knew someone who loved you the way the sky loves its stars, I hope you didn’t end up breaking their heart.
And if you did, I hope life breaks your heart too.

 

***

You’re not the kind of flower
that can be plucked
and put in someone’s hair.
You’re the kind of flower
people find too pretty to pluck.
The kind of flower that deserves
to keep blooming. 

***

 

Things are hard with people who don’t love you hard. People
whose love isn’t the ocean but its waves. The ones who always
leave you confused. They don’t tell you that they love you, but
they also don’t accept that they don’t. They hold your hand but
refuse to hold your heart. They lend you space in their heart,
but they don’t let you stay in it.

***

 

I’ll watch nine episodes of a show in one day, but keep postponing
the last one. When things change. When fate changes. I avoid
watching it. I try not to make it to the end. I bury my curiosity
and start another show. I go out and meet a friend. I do
everything I can to not let the show end. But I know I’ve got to
face the ending, no matter how much it terrifies me, or how far
I try to run away from it. I know the show has already ended. I
know the ending won’t change.
This is not about the shows.

***

 

Love
It’s in having tea at midnight with someone who is used to
having it at night, only to give them company.
In forgetting the distance between cities and crossing it with
a smile on your face—only to put a smile on the face of the
person you love.
Seeing a flower shop and immediately getting a few for someone.
Sitting on video calls at night and not talking to each other
because you’re both tired, but never being too tired to not
make some time for each other.
Holding hands in busy streets and holding them tight at the
end of a busy week.
It’s in refusing to let distance change your feelings. In ensuring
that love never leaves.

***

 

Get your copy of I Don’t Love You Anymore by Rithvik Singh on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Here’s Why Harinder Sikka is India’s Very Own Jeffrey Archer

It is in Harinder Sikka’s stories that ordinary people find themselves thrust into the most extraordinary circumstances and emerge victorious. The following three excerpts, each from his unputdownable bestsellers, showcase Mr Sikka’s masterful storytelling.

 

In Gobind, we meet a young man born into poverty, whose determination to rise above his circumstances leads him to join the Indian Navy. Yet, beneath his shining success lies the weight of unfulfilled promises and unrequited love. There are decisions he must make and promises he may have to break.

 

Vichhoda reveals the story of Bibi Amrit Kaur whose life is shattered by the violence of the 1947 riots, propelling her into a new existence in a foreign land. Despite the pain and loss she endures, her spirit remains unbroken!

 

Calling Sehmat, inspired by true events and adapted into the hit film Raazi starring Alia Bhatt, is the extraordinary journey of a young Kashmiri girl thrust into the world of espionage. Sehmat’s tale explores the sacrifices made in the name of patriotism and the indomitable courage of an unsung heroine.

 

Read the three excerpts below to discover more!

 

Gobind
Gobind || Harinder Sikka

 

As the sun emerged from the distant horizon, the fields too began changing colour. The rapidly strengthening sun rays turned brighter with every passing minute, turning the dark and dense looking crops into a lush green landscape. Tiny golden-yellow flowers on top of the crops looked as if each plant had been knighted with a golden crown by mother nature. All kinds of birds emerged from their deep slumber and filled the atmosphere with a burst of chirpy sounds.
The entire village was soon bathed in different hues. Not to be left behind, the animals too began walking around their territories, marking, urinating on every pole, tree and bush. The farmers too began making a beeline on the snake-like thin track to their respective fields. Their farming tools hung from their shoulders like weapons saddled on the shoulders of soldiers enroute to the battlefield. Nature in its full glory was like a beacon of peace, love and tranquility all round.

 

Gargling and spitting the water out, Ranjit Singh accepted from his wife an old piece of cloth that was once a garment, re-stitched to serve as a face napkin. While handing it back to Amrita, he looked at her inquiringly, ‘Where’s Gobind?’

‘Oh, he has already left for the fields. Says he will come back in three hours and go to school afterwards,’ she replied.

 

The cloth napkin slipped out of Ranjit’s hand and fell on the wet floor between them.

 

‘Which fields?’ he asked, his face filled with shock and surprise.

 

‘To work in Bihari Lal’s field. Before leaving home, he told me that he wished to earn while he studied. I couldn’t stop him. He just left without discussing it further.’

 

Ranjit was speechless. His young, school-going teenage son had taken a decision to work part-time, without even consulting his father.

 

‘I don’t know what to make of all this. Working part time isn’t wrong. In fact, I am happy for this will inculcate discipline in him. But all of a sudden? I will ask Bihari ji what’s he up to.’

 

Amrita bent down to pick the cloth from the floor. Then, flapping it in the air repeatedly, she tried to remove the excess water it had absorbed from the wet floor and flung it on the clothesline to dry. She turned towards her husband and looked straight into his eyes. ‘Maybe we should leave him alone. Let him discover himself. He didn’t sleep well. He even sat up on the cot in the middle of night to say his prayers. He was unsettled last night after your stern talk. But he looked different this morning and very charged up when I met him, before he left quickly. There’s this visible change in him that I have never seen before. I am happy and worried.’

 

‘Prayer? Gobind? And how do you know he has changed?’ Ranjit’s face was now filled with confusion.

 

‘Because I am his mother.’

 

Ranjit’s eyes followed Amrita as she went inside the room. Then, wiping his hands on the cloth napkin that Amrita had just hung, he turned his attention outside. He lifted himself up on his toes and looked in the direction of the large haveli with vast green fields where his son was supposed to be working. His eyes scanned the horizon but couldn’t see Gobind. Turning back, he walked inside to find Amrita standing at the entrance, watching her husband.

 

‘Please stop worrying. You’ll get late for work. Get ready; I will get your breakfast. Your tiffin is also ready. Please don’t forget to take it along.’

 

Amrita’s affection-filled instructions relaxed Ranjit to some extent. Stepping into the room, he sat down on the floor while Amrita served him breakfast. It was the same food that he had eaten last night. He ate in silence. But his mind was racing in many directions while Amrita rotated the hand-held fan on its swivel. Before leaving home for work, he stood before the lord’s picture hung on the wall, joined his palms and murmured so softly that even his own ears couldn’t hear his own words.

 

‘With your permission, dear lord, I wish to go to work. It’s a new day, an amazing one at that. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Only you, dear Guru Gobind, can help my son, Gobind.’

 

***

Vichhoda
Vichhoda || Harinder Sikka

In 1950, after three years of Partition, the prime ministers of the two warring nations, Liaquat Ali Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru, signed a treaty which gave freedom to the women of both countries to return home. Bibi opted to stay back in Pakistan as her world revolved around her two beautiful children and doting husband. But destiny had something else in store for her. Even though Bibi had mostly confined herself to the four walls of her home, word of her mesmerizing and breathtaking sharp features had spread in the region. Given her marital status and the enormous respect her husband commanded, no one had dared cast an evil eye on her. Yet, there were men who never missed an opportunity to look at her discreetly and sigh lustfully.

 

Following the government’s directives, the station house officer (SHO) of the district issued orders to all villages, directing the women of Indian origin to confirm in writing their decision—live in Sadali as Pakistani citizens or return to India. Sakhiullah was away on a business tour for a few days. Bibi read the circular and signed the documents, confirming Muzaffarabad in Pakistan as her choice of residence. The havildar, who came to collect the document, was awestruck by Bibi’s beauty—her sharp but delicate features, porcelain skin and petite figure. He found it difficult to take his eyes off her and was filled with desire. Sensing his intention, she picked up her children and rushed inside. Her behaviour rebuffed him for the time being. However, the havildar couldn’t stop thinking about her. Back in the police station, he recounted the incident to his colleagues.

 

Unknown to the havildar, the SHO, Irfan Chaudhary, was eavesdropping on his poetic description of Bibi’s exquisite features. He was so intrigued by what he heard that he felt compelled to see her. The next day he drove all the way to Bibi’s home and knocked at her door. Bibi opened the door—her head covered, her nine-month old son resting in her lap. Their eyes met. He had not seen anyone quite as pretty, elegant and desirable as Bibi. Recovering somewhat, he managed to ask for her residential status. By now, Bibi had sensed something in his reaction as well. She responded uncomfortably, ‘My husband is coming home tonight. He will personally come to your office tomorrow and complete all the formalities.

 

The SHO smiled shamelessly, enjoying the many shades of pink that were appearing on Bibi’s face in quick succession. ‘No, no,’ he replied with an intention to extend the dialogue. ‘I don’t want to bother your husband. This is just a small formality, yet it must be completed at the earliest. There’s a police chowki in this village itself. You can come and sign the documents and be done with it. That will close the matter once and for all. Now that you are legally married to a Pakistani national and have two sons, the formalities won’t take much time,’ he added slyly.

 

Bibi was perplexed. She tried to think and then looked at the SHO’s face, who smiled hopefully and repeated, ‘It has to be done today, Bibi, otherwise I wouldn’t have troubled you. Please have mercy on me. There are many more homes to go to.’

 

Bibi couldn’t think of a suitable excuse. She had no choice but to go to the police chowki within the next hour. The SHO left, smiling cunningly.

 

Bibi hurriedly finished her daily chores and discussed the matter with the elderly women in her locality. Given the circumstances, she felt it was best to consult others as well. At their advice, she requested her next-door neighbour to babysit for her. However, another neighbour decided to accompany her to the police station. Bibi felt relieved that she wasn’t going alone. A local tonga was hired and the two burqa-clad women reached the police chowki, which was located on the outskirts of the village. To their surprise, they found a policeman eagerly waiting for Bibi’s arrival. However, seeing an elderly woman accompanying her, he stopped them at the entrance and went inside the small, makeshift chowki. They waited. A short while later, the policeman came out again. He walked towards the duo and asked the elderly lady to wait outside while he took Bibi inside to sign the papers

 

This seemed reasonable enough, so Bibi went in. She found the SHO sitting across a table—his eyes glued on Bibi, as if trying to pierce through the black veil. A bunch of papers and an inkpot with two wooden pens dipped in the holder were lying on the right side of the large wooden desk. Bibi sensed his intentions and grew uncomfortable. The SHO quickly removed one of the pens from the inkpot and placed it in front of Bibi. She hurriedly signed the documents without even reading them. Then she stood up in a hurry and was about to leave when the SHO rushed to the door and bolted it from inside.

 

Bibi,’ he said, looking at her lustfully. ‘What you have just signed is sufficient for me to send you back to Hindustan. It says that you’re not interested in living in Pakistan and would like to go back to your country. But if you do wish to live here, then spend the next hour with me . . . I’ll make sure you stay here with your sons and their father, or else . . .’ he looked straight at her. ‘It’s up to you. Decide quickly.’

 

***

Calling-Sehmat
Calling Sehmat || Harinder Sikka

 

Sehmat was the only child of Tejashwari Singh and Hidayat Khan, a successful and rich Kashmiri businessman settled in the Valley for many decades. Tej, as Tejashwari was fondly called, belonged to a rich Delhi-based Punjabi Hindu family.

 

Hidayat and Tej fell in love during her visit to Srinagar. On a cold winter afternoon Tej was walking around the serene surroundings of the Himalayan paradise and, on an impulse, entered one of the boutiques selling pashmina shawls. The beauty of the designs was such that they pulled her towards themselves and soon she was looking through the many that were displayed inside the shop. Tej was wondering what to take back to Delhi for her friends, when a pleasant voice drew her attention from behind.

 

‘May I help you?’

 

Turning around, Tej found herself looking into the light brown eyes of a stranger. He was tall, about an inch or two above six feet and wore an off-white Pathani suit. She was struck by his openness and simplicity.

 

Smiling, Tej asked him about the famed Kashmiri shawls on display. The man moved about the shop with a quiet authority, which made Tej believe that he was the owner of the sprawling emporium. After selecting a few delicately woven pashminas, Tej made for the cash counter to settle her bills.

 

‘Are you visiting Kashmir for the first time, Ma’am?’ His voice was now soft and inquiring.

 

She stopped to respond.

 

‘No, I have come here before and it is always peaceful and soothing,’ Tej replied, a slight smile playing on her lips. Wanting to hear more of his rich voice, Tej went on to tell him about her holiday and how she loved the Valley.

 

Conversation between the two flowed easily. Soon, they introduced themselves to each other. ‘I’m Hidayat,’ he said.

 

‘And I am Tejashwari. My friends call me Tej,’ she responded.

 

‘Can I call you Tej?’ he was quick to ask.

 

‘Please do,’ she replied, clutching her packet of shawls and moving towards the payment counter. She glanced at the bill, looked at it again, and then at Hidayat questioningly.

 

‘Can’t make profit from friends, can I? Hence the discount,’ he responded smiling.

 

Hesitantly, Tej paid the money, thanked her host and headed for the large door of the emporium. A slow warmth filled her heart as she walked out. Somewhere deep inside, she was surprised that a brief meeting with a complete stranger could arouse such strong feelings in her. With a sinking heart, Tej realized that this could be the last time she would see him or hear his alluring voice.

 

Hidayat stood at the door of his shop with a bemused expression on his face. He could not hold himself back.

 

He addressed her again, the door chime tinkling in the background. ‘Can we meet in the evening? I could take you to some interesting shops to select souvenirs to take back home.’

 

Tej found her voice caught in her throat.

 

So this was not the last time she would meet him?

 

Silently, she nodded. Her heart was wildly beating as she walked away. There was a strange excitement in her heart and a desire to meet him again. She walked some distance, then stopped and turned back to look at the boutique, only to find Hidayat still standing at the entrance, waving at her. She lifted her hand in acknowledgement and moved on. The melodious door chime was still ringing in her ears when she entered her hotel.

 

That evening, Hidayat rushed through his daily chores of balancing the shop accounts and locking up the emporium. He arrived at the hotel well before sundown and found Tej reading a magazine in the plush hotel lobby. That she was surprised to see him at the hotel was visible on her face. Knowing that her parents would not take kindly to a stranger taking their daughter on a guided tour, she hurriedly went up to him and asked him to wait while she convinced her parents about a short trip to the marketplace by herself. She was able to do that and in a few minutes Tej was back in the lobby, her face slightly flushed.

 

Slowly the two made their way to the marketplace. They took a leisurely walk around the lake, dodging tourists. Their slow-paced walk was often interrupted by locals who greeted Hidayat, some even asking him for his advice on investing in business and personal matters. It seemed strange to Tej that a man so young was so sought after by not only those his age, but by older people as well. Tej realized that Hidayat was not only respected but also loved by the folks in the city.

***

Get your copy of Gobind, Vichhoda, and Calling Sehmat by Harinder Sikka on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Revolution or Ruin? The Jaw-Dropping Events of ‘The Politician Redux’

Ever wondered what politics looked like in India during the 1970s and 1980s? The Politician Redux by Devesh Verma has all the answers. Join Ram Mohan’s journey as he lands on the UP Public Service Commission, having been denied a cabinet position. Against the backdrop of the JP movement shaking up the Congress regime, Ram Mohan’s story unfolds amidst significant changes in Indian history.​

 

Read this excerpt to experience the political intrigue, societal upheaval, and relentless pursuit of power in this thrilling sequel to The Politician.

The Politician Redux
The Politician Redux || Devesh Verma

***

There had been signs of popular unrest and political turmoil across an enormous chunk of India, and the way it came to grow in scope and intensity was staggering. Ram Mohan was thankful to Saansadji, the Chief Minister, for sending him to the Commission. Handpicked by Indira Gandhi, no Congress CM had the resources of his own to handle a crisis of this nature. It had all begun in the state of Gujarat, this flaring up of popular rage at inflation, where, incensed at their increased mess bill, students at an engineering college assaulted a college official, and put the canteen to the torch, following it up with another bout of destruction of college property. The trouble metastasized to other educational institutions Students were baying for the sacking of the state government led by one of the most corrupt Congress leaders, Chimanbhai Patel, who had procured massive funds for the party through questionable means. That inflamed the situation on the price rise front. Then, Jayprakash Narayan, an esteemed socialist figure, decided to lend his support to the agitation in Gujarat. Having been associated with the freedom struggle, he had once been invited by Nehru to join his cabinet. He had declined and quietly settled down in his home state, Bihar, emerging now and again from his retirement to pick up odd causes. Soon to be known as JP, he hailed the Gujarat students’ angst, seeing it as a force that could bring about the redemption of the country from corruption infesting the Indian polity.

 

With the students’ anger winning public endorsement, the situation in Gujarat became one of pandemonium. Violence and vandalism were rampant. The opposition latched on to the agitation, and Indira Gandhi had had to remove the Chief Minister placing the state under President’s rule while the opposition clamoured for the dissolution of the assembly and fresh polls. She was unwilling. Forcing her hand was a fast unto death to which her old foe Desai, the tallest leader of Gujarat, had resorted. Meanwhile, students in the lawless Bihar had put together their own movement with the opposition in tow, the grievances being the same as in Gujarat: corruption, price rise unemployment.

 

With rioting, arson vandalism becoming the order of the day, Bihar was thrown into anarchy. There was also this strike by railway workers when hundreds of thousands of them stopped work, demanding pay parity with other government employees. A little prior to this twenty-day-long, debilitating strike that had to be broken up by the government, JP had agreed to take up the reins of the Movement. Sensing general discontent, he resurrected his old idea of ‘total revolution’ and, with the opposition rooting for him, took the Movement beyond his home state, appealing to people, chiefly the youth, to rise against the misrule of Indira Gandhi. In the meantime, Saansad-ji’s reputation took a knock when the Congress lost a by-election for Allahabad, the parliamentary seat from which he had resigned to become member of the state legislature.

 

It was against this backdrop of growing bitterness of the Congress rule that Ram Mohan went to see Saansad-ji in Lucknow. He wanted to thank him for the Commission that had inaugurated a delightful chapter in his life ‘This was the best I could do in the circumstances and take my word, it’s one of the most coveted non-political positions. As Member Public Service Commission, you’ll have a term of sixyears during which nobody can touch you, whereas no political
office can be immune to instability.’ ‘Yes, I have a large family to provide for. I need stability. But whenever I’m needed in active politics, you’ll find me standing right behind you.’ Saansad-ji laughed. A listless laugh. His heart wasn’t in it.

 

You’d remember that within four months of my taking over as CM, Jayprakash ji came to UP to campaign for his total revolution. I didn’t try to stop him. I declared him our state’s guest, arguing that not only was he a renowned freedom fighter but a crusader for the good of the common man. This, I did, to restrain the rabble-rouser in him. Look at the response he’s getting wherever he goes! But Indira-ji listens to Shukla-ji’s wily Uncle Uma Kant Shukla and the like. These two things the way Congress was licked in Allahabad by-poll and the welcome extended to JP by my government didn’t go down well with her. There’s something else. She hasn’t taken kindly to my style of functioning . . . No Congress CM is supposed to govern in a manner that casts him as a leader under his own steam. Your only objective as minister or chief minister should be to keep the masses glued to the thought of her person,’ Saansad-ji paused to sip his tea. ‘JP is heading a movement out to undermine the Congress regime, and my action was nothing but a calculated move, a gambit. That’s what I tried to explain to her coterie. Some agreed. What I should worry about most, Ram Mohan, is the misgiving she might have about my motive. That’s why somebody advised me to avoid the trap of going after personal popularity.’

 

***

Get your copy of The Politician Redux by Devesh Verma wherever books are sold.

Roommate from Hell? Get Ready to LOL with this ‘Funny Story’

Step right into the hilariously messy world of Funny Story by Emily Henry, where love lives next door to awkwardness. Imagine this: Daphne’s ex-fiancé is now dating her childhood friend, Petra. And guess who’s her new roommate? Yep, it’s Petra’s ex, Miles.

 

Read this exclusive excerpt to experience the comedy and chaos firsthand.

 

Funny Story
Funny Story || Emily Henry

***

Everyone around Peter Collins and Petra Comer knew their history: How they’d met in third grade when forced into alphabetical seating, bonding over a shared love of Pokémon. How, soon after, their mothers became friends while chaperoning an aquarium field trip, with their fathers to follow suit.

 

For the last quarter of a century, the Collinses and the Comers vacationed together. They celebrated birthdays, ate Christmas brunches, decorated their homes with handmade picture frames from which Peter’s and Petra’s faces beamed out beneath some iteration of the phrase BEST FRIENDS FOREVER.

 

This, Peter told me, made him and the most gorgeous woman I’d ever met more like cousins than friends.

 

As a librarian, I really should’ve taken a moment to think about Mansfield Park or Wuthering Heights, all those love stories and twisted Gothics wherein two protagonists, raised side by side, reach adulthood and proclaim their undying love for each other.

 

But I didn’t.

 

So now here I am, sitting in a tiny apartment, scrolling through Petra’s public social media, seeing every detail of her new courtship with my ex‑fiancé.

 

From the next room, Jamie O’Neal’s rendition of “All By Myself” plays loudly enough to make the coffee table shiver. My next‑door neighbor, Mr. Dorner, pounds on the wall.

 

I barely hear it, because I’ve just reached a picture of Peter and Petra, sandwiched between both sets of their parents, on the shore of Lake Michigan, six abnormally attractive people smiling abnormally white smiles over the caption, The best things in life are worth waiting for.

 

As if on cue, the music ratchets up.

 

I slam my computer shut and peel myself off the sofa. This apartment was built pre–global warming, when Northern Michiganders had no need for air‑conditioning, but it’s only May first and already the apartment turns into a brick oven around midday.

 

I cross to the bedroom hallway and knock on Miles’s door. He doesn’t hear me over Jamie. I escalate to pounding.

 

The music stops.

 

Footsteps shuffle closer. The door swings open, and a weed fog wafts out.

 

My roommate’s dark brown eyes are ringed in pink, and he’s in nothing but a pair of boxers and a funky knitted afghan wrapped around his shoulders like a very sad cape. Considering the overall climate of our hotbox apartment, I can only assume this is for modesty’s sake. Seems like overkill for a man who, just last night, forgot I lived with him long enough to take a whole‑ass shower with the door wide open.

 

His chocolate‑brown hair sticks up in every direction. His matching beard is pure chaos. He clears his throat. “What’s up.”

 

“Everything okay?” I ask, because while I’m used to a disheveled Miles, I’m less used to hearing him blast the saddest song in the world.

 

“Yep,” he says. “All good.”

 

“Could you turn the music down,” I say.

 

“I’m not listening to music,” he says, dead serious.

 

“Well, you paused it,” I say, in case he really is simply too high to remember more than three seconds back. “But it’s really loud.”

 

He scratches one eyebrow with the back of his knuckle, frowning. “I’m watching a movie,” he says. “But I can turn it down. Sorry.”

 

Without even meaning to, I’m peering over his shoulder to get a better look.

 

His TV, though, is what catches my eye. Onscreen is the image of a thirty‑year‑old Renée Zellweger, sporting red pajamas and belting a song into a rolled‑up magazine.

 

“Oh my god, Miles,” I say.

 

“What!” he cries, a little defensive.

 

“You’re watching Bridget Jones’s Diary?”

 

“It’s a good movie,” he says.

 

“It’s a great movie,” I say, “but this scene is, like, one minute long.”

 

He sniffs. “So?”

 

“So why has it been playing for at least”—I check my phone— “the last eight minutes?”

 

His dark brows knit together. “Did you need something, Daphne?”

 

“Could you just turn it down?” I say. “All the plates are rattling in the cabinets and Mr. Dorner’s trying to bust down the living room wall.”

 

Another sniff. “You want to watch?” he offers.

 

In there?

 

Too big of a tetanus risk. An ungenerous thought, sure, but I have recently tapped out my supply of generosity. That’s what happens when your life partner leaves you for the nicest, sunniest, prettiest woman in the state of Michigan.

 

“I’m good,” I tell Miles.

 

We both just stand there. This is as much as we ever interact. I’m about to break the record. My throat tickles. My eyes burn. I add, “And could you please not smoke inside?”

 

I would’ve asked sooner, except that, technically, the apartment is his. He did me a huge favor letting me move in.

 

Then again, it’s not like he had many options. His girlfriend had just moved out.

 

Into my apartment.

 

With my fiancé.

 

***

Get your copy of Funny Story by Emily Henry wherever books are sold.

Here’s What Really Happened in the 2G Spectrum Scam!

Ever wondered what really happened behind the scenes of the infamous 2G spectrum scam?
Just a Mercenary? by D. Subbarao unveils the truth, inviting you into the dynamic world of bureaucratic processes, policy decisions, and public perception. In this exclusive excerpt, Subbarao shares his firsthand experience with the 2G spectrum controversy, offering a raw and honest look at the challenges of decision-making in Indian governance.

 

Continue reading to immerse yourself in an account brimming with insight and introspection.

Just a Mercenary
Just a Mercenary || D. Subbarao

 

In 2007, the Department of Telecom (DoT) under the ministerial charge of A. Raja of the DMK, a partner in the UPA coalition, determined that there was a case for licensing more 2G operators in each of the twenty-three telecom circles in the country in order to encourage competition in the sector. The department consulted TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), and TRAI, in turn, endorsed the need to increase the number of operators and recommended that fresh licensees should be given spectrum at the same price at which incumbent operators had gotten it, which was the price set in an auction in 2001. The absence of a level playing field, TRAI argued, would disadvantage fresh entrants and defeat the goal of deepening telecom services.

 

The 2001 cabinet decision stipulated that all future pricing of spectrum would be decided jointly by DoT and the Ministry of Finance. When the issue came to the finance ministry for opinion, I took the view that it would be inappropriate to sell spectrum in 2007–08 at a price set in 2001 and that we must rediscover the price through a fresh auction. My opinion was informed by the experience in India and around the world during the intervening years that spectrum was a scarcer commodity than originally believed. It was only appropriate that the government should garner a part of that scarcity premium by rediscovering the price through a fresh auction.

 

The DoT wrote back to say that they saw no reason to revisit the pricing issue and that they preferred to go along with the TRAI recommendation. For sure, there was some logic to the DoT position. If the objective was to deepen telecom penetration, it made sense to keep the price of spectrum low; competition among operators would then ensure that the lower price was passed on to customers.

 

Even as this disagreement on pricing remained unresolved, the DoT went ahead and invited applications for licences in September 2007 and awarded 120 licences to forty-six companies on 10 January 2008. Although these licences were given away at the 2001 price, the licence agreement contained a clause that the price could be increased later to accommodate the possibility of the finance ministry’s view prevailing.

 

The whole licencing process turned out to be controversial and contentious. There were allegations of arbitrarily advancing the cut-off date for receipt of applications, abrupt announcement of the successful applicants, tampering with the first come, first served principle and allowing a very narrow window for payment of the licence fee to favour some parties. This licensing part was an issue in which I was neither involved nor had any locus standi.

 

In July 2008, some six months after the licences were issued, the two ministers, Finance Minister Chidambaram and Telecom Minister Raja, reached an agreement that this round of 2G spectrum would be given at the 2001 price while all future spectrum, including 3G, which was then on the anvil, would be auctioned. Both ministers presented this agreed package to the prime minister at a meeting where I was present. I recorded that decision in the file.

 

In the months after the issue of licences, stray reports began appearing that spectrum had been given away at a throwaway price. These reports gained momentum when two of the licensees were able to sell equity to foreign investors at a huge premium, suggesting that the true value of spectrum was much higher than what was reflected in the 2001 price.

 

Very soon the trickle of allegations of corruption turned into a flood. That the government had ignored the advice of its own finance secretary added fuel to the fire. There was a furore in the parliament. The decision was attacked in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) ordered a CBI investigation, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) decided to take up a special performance audit and a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court. This meant that the 2G issue was simultaneously the subject of a CBI investigation, a PAC inquiry, a CAG special audit and a Supreme Court probe. And subsequently, it would be the subject matter of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) inquiry as well.

 

The CAG report, signed off by Vinod Rai, incidentally my IAS batchmate, was tabled in the parliament in November 2010. Its most important conclusion was that the government had incurred a ‘presumptive loss’ of Rs 1.76 trillion by selling spectrum at below market price. This huge number, as much as 3.6 per cent of GDP, was explosive and turned the 2G issue into a full-blown scam.

 

***

Intrigued to know if Subbarao was a hero or villain in the 2G scam?

Get your copy of Just a Mercenary? by D. Subbarao wherever books are sold.

An Exclusive Glimpse into the Life of ‘Gobind’

Embark on a journey with Gobind by Harinder Sikka, a story filled with love, loyalty, and tough choices. Born in poverty, Gobind rises through the ranks of the Indian Navy, but his success is shadowed by unfulfilled promises and unresolved love. When faced with a new challenge and a tempting encounter in Russia, Gobind must choose between duty and desire.

 

Read this exclusive excerpt to get a glimpse into the early life of Gobind and taste the thrill of a love story, a saga of passion, and human endurance all wrapped in one!

 

Gobind
Gobind || Harinder Sikka

***

As the sun emerged from the distant horizon, the fields too began changing colour. The rapidly strengthening sun rays turned brighter with every passing minute, turning the dark and dense looking crops into a lush green landscape. Tiny golden-yellow flowers on top of the crops looked as if each plant had been knighted with a golden crown by mother nature. All kinds of birds emerged from their deep slumber and filled the atmosphere with a burst of chirpy sounds.
The entire village was soon bathed in different hues. Not to be left behind, the animals too began walking around their territories, marking, urinating on every pole, tree and bush. The farmers too began making a beeline on the snake-like thin track to their respective fields. Their farming tools hung from their shoulders like weapons saddled on the shoulders of soldiers enroute to the battlefield. Nature in its full glory was like a beacon of peace, love and tranquility all round.

 

Gargling and spitting the water out, Ranjit Singh accepted from his wife an old piece of cloth that was once a garment, re-stitched to serve as a face napkin. While handing it back to Amrita, he looked at her inquiringly, ‘Where’s Gobind?’

 

‘Oh, he has already left for the fields. Says he will come back in three hours and go to school afterwards,’ she replied.

 

The cloth napkin slipped out of Ranjit’s hand and fell on the wet floor between them.

 

‘Which fields?’ he asked, his face filled with shock and surprise.

 

‘To work in Bihari Lal’s field. Before leaving home, he told me that he wished to earn while he studied. I couldn’t stop him. He just left without discussing it further.’

 

Ranjit was speechless. His young, school-going teenage son had taken a decision to work part-time, without even consulting his father.

 

‘I don’t know what to make of all this. Working part time isn’t wrong. In fact, I am happy for this will inculcate discipline in him. But all of a sudden? I will ask Bihari ji what’s he up to.’

 

Amrita bent down to pick the cloth from the floor. Then, flapping it in the air repeatedly, she tried to remove the excess water it had absorbed from the wet floor and flung it on the clothesline to dry. She turned towards her husband and looked straight into his eyes. ‘Maybe we should leave him alone. Let him discover himself. He didn’t sleep well. He even sat up on the cot in the middle of night to say his prayers. He was unsettled last night after your stern talk. But he looked different this morning and very charged up when I met him, before he left quickly. There’s this visible change in him that I have never seen before. I am happy and worried.’

 

‘Prayer? Gobind? And how do you know he has changed?’ Ranjit’s face was now filled with confusion.

 

‘Because I am his mother.’

 

Ranjit’s eyes followed Amrita as she went inside the room. Then, wiping his hands on the cloth napkin that Amrita had just hung, he turned his attention outside. He lifted himself up on his toes and looked in the direction of the large haveli with vast green fields where his son was supposed to be working. His eyes scanned the horizon but couldn’t see Gobind. Turning back, he walked inside to find Amrita standing at the entrance, watching her husband.

 

‘Please stop worrying. You’ll get late for work. Get ready; I will get your breakfast. Your tiffin is also ready. Please don’t forget to take it along.’

 

Amrita’s affection-filled instructions relaxed Ranjit to some extent. Stepping into the room, he sat down on the floor while Amrita served him breakfast. It was the same food that he had eaten last night. He ate in silence. But his mind was racing in many directions while Amrita rotated the hand-held fan on its swivel. Before leaving home for work, he stood before the lord’s picture hung on the wall, joined his palms and murmured so softly that even his own ears couldn’t hear his own words.

 

‘With your permission, dear lord, I wish to go to work. It’s a new day, an amazing one at that. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Only you, dear Guru Gobind, can help my son, Gobind.’

 

***

Get your copy of Gobind by Harinder Sikka wherever books are sold.

Demystifying Needs, Wants, and Desires in ‘The Autobiography of God’

Learn the true meaning of self-discovery in ‘The Autobiography of God’ by Lenaa Kumar, where desires go beyond mere wants and needs.  In this book, Lenaa shares her remarkable story spanning eighteen years—a journey of overcoming anxiety, depression, and the constraints of the rigid psychiatric system. ​

Read this exclusive excerpt to uncover the keys to profound self-discovery and unlock the answers to life’s most pressing questions.

 

The Autobiography of God
The Autobiography of God || Lenaa Kumar

 

A major side effect of Self-Realization is the loss of any need, want or desire due to the experience of One-Self as all-there-is!

 

Many have stopped at that level of mind where logic and reason become unnecessary.

 

This is where I am grateful to my family and friends for putting me in psychiatric care. Due to this, Desire could arise once again, and I am living out my potential rather than wandering as a bliss bunny!

 

As long as one is in a body on earth and identified with the body, the experience is always ‘duality’.

 

That of knowing I am One and whole, Infinite and Eternal and yet experiencing my-Self as separate and individual, finite and mortal. Mastering this balancing act is the Mastery of Life.

 

In the rest of this book, I will share with you all the techniques and tools I used to balance duality and reach a high integration of Conscious and Subconscious, Body and Mind, Energy and Consciousness.

 

Some basics first:
Need signifies the lack of something.

Want signifies the choice to have something.

Desire signifies a deep wanting, hopefulness and wishfulness with the added emotion of longing and imagination of having it.

 

The Paradigm Shift of Desire
Where does desire come from?
Putting aside the commonly believed idea that desire arises from within the mind, let us look at desire as a command to achieve or create or experience something, coming into the mind, in the form of vibrations, from the unknown or rather from the I/Life, and being translated by the intellect as an idea that then becomes a desire, that is then sent as an impulse in the body to Do something.

 

This paradigm takes away all the stress of having chosen a particular decision and instead the mind is able to focus on the task that it has been entrusted with by Consciousness/ I/Life.

 

This leads to a clear alignment of body, mind and I. I/Consciousness/Life gives a command to the mind that appears as a desire, which then prompts action from the body so that the being, moves towards achieving that desire which leads to the experience that I wants the mind to have, so as to break the identification of I with body/mind/intellect.

 

Every true, deep and intrinsic desire one feels is a command from Life itself to this mind so that the body may do what is needed for Life to experience itself, as Consciousness Bliss.

 

Desire vs Need
If you find yourself living in a box of needs, then you are in one of the boxes in Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of needs.

 

Pyramid of Needs

One must have a clear idea of one’s needs. However, desire is the thing that makes one get out of bed in the morning (especially, to go to work). To beat depression, one must desire something.

The desire for self-esteem is a paradox. We try to impress others with our material possessions and with how worthy they should think we are of their holding us in high esteem when the very need is for self-esteem, which only you can give to yourself.

 

 

Two modern-day issues with this area are:
1. Self-esteem is confused with social standing or status. This has to do with borrowed desires. They are the root of all misery. You can never enjoy their fruit, because the seed wasn’t yours, to begin with. If social media or peer pressure is the source of your desires in life, anxiety, stress and depression come free with it.

 

2. Not knowing what you truly want. Unless you take time with yourself to cut out everyone else’s desires that are filling you, your true desires will not surface. They are buried somewhere deep down along with your childhood memories.

 

While biological and psychological needs demand their fulfilment rather drastically, aesthetic needs are just as painful as all others when unfulfilled. Here, the dilemma is that it doesn’t look as important as a need, but it is an overwhelming personal need.

 

The desire for creativity, freedom and expressing authenticity and knowing the truth is the highest of human needs. Existential angst and the heights of anxiety about the unknown accompanied by the depression of not fitting in, not knowing how to evolve, confusion about truth and searching, without knowing what for, are the hallmarks of this stage. It is at this stage of our desire for deeper meaning that we feel most alone and at times lonely. This stage of anxiety and depression is a luxury. You get here only when the other levels of needs are satisfied and not escaped. Congratulate yourself if you are at this stage because desire takes on a whole new meaning from here.

 

Waking up to the meaning of desire from this stage we see it as a sign or force that rises within us to propel us in the direction of evolution, truth and destiny. Like all pure creativity, desire comes from a source beyond our limited perceptions of self. Then desire is seen as the fuel to unleash one’s true and individual potential. Desires are signs that lead to higher synchronicities, showing us the way to our higher self.

 

***

Get your copy of The Autobiography of God by Lenaa Kumar wherever books are sold.

Curious About Investing in Crypto? Here’s All You Need to Know

Curious about investing in crypto and diversifying your investment portfolio? Mukesh Jindal’s Crypto the Disruptor sheds light on the transition from traditional money to digital currencies, offering valuable insights and tips for beginners and experts alike. Despite regulatory challenges, India’s crypto market is buzzing with innovation and there’s no better time to get into it than now. So, if you’re keen to explore crypto investments,  read this exclusive excerpt to know everything about this hottest currency trend.

 

Crypto the Disruptor
Crypto the Disruptor || Mukesh Jindal

***

Although investing in crypto assets is not illegal in India, the government heavily taxes and regulates it. The Finance Bill 2022 imposes a 30 per cent tax on crypto holdings and transfers, making it costly to trade crypto in India. The government has also expressed its intention to create a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and ban private cryptocurrencies. However, despite these challenges, india is one of the fastest-growing crypto markets in the world, with over 100 million crypto owners. some of the most popular crypto assets in india are Bitcoin, ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano and XRP.

 

The indian crypto market is witnessing a surge of innovation and entrepreneurship as more and more crypto projects and platforms emerge and gain traction. some examples include Polygon, a layer-2 scaling solution for ethereum; WazirX, a leading crypto exchange and platform; CoinDCX, a crypto investment app; and instadapp, a DeFi aggregator and manager. if you are a beginner and want to start investing in crypto assets in india, you need to follow five basic steps:

 

1. Choose a crypto exchange or broker that is registered with the Financial intelligence unit (Fiu) and complies with the tax and regulatory requirements. An Fiu is a national agency that collects, analyses and disseminates information on suspicious or unusual financial transactions that may be related to money laundering, terrorism financing or other crimes. Fius also cooperate with other domestic and international agencies to combat financial crimes. The Financial intelligence unit-india (Fiu-inD) reports directly to the finance minister-led economic intelligence Council. some of the leading cryptocurrency  exchanges in india are WazirX, CoinDCX, ZebPay and unocoin. They allow users to buy, sell, trade and store various digital tokens, such as Bitcoin, ethereum, Ripple and more. They also offer different features and services, such as crypto lending, margin trading, peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions and educational resources.

 

2. Create an account on the platform and verify your identity and address. You may need to provide your Permanent Account number (PAn) card, Aadhaar card, bank account details and other documents.

 

3. Deposit funds into your account using your preferred payment method. You can use the unified Payments interface (uPi), bank transfers, debit cards or credit cards.

 

4. start purchasing crypto assets of your choice. You can either buy them at the current market price or place a limit order to buy them at a specific price.

 

5. store your crypto assets in a secure wallet. You can either use the platform’s wallet or transfer your crypto to an external wallet, such as a hardware wallet or a software wallet.

 

As previously stated, there are two sorts of cryptocurrency wallets: software-based hot wallets and physical cold wallets. Hardware wallets, a sort of cold wallet, are one of the most secure methods of storing cryptocurrency. They function by keeping your private keys on a physical device (often a usB or Bluetooth device).
some of the benefits of using a hard wallet are:

 

• Control: You have full ownership and control of your funds as you manage your private keys without relying on any third-party service.

• security: Your private keys are kept offline at all times, which makes them immune to hacking, malware or phishing attacks.

• Compatibility: As long as the device supports them, you can store and access thousands of different cryptocurrencies with a single hard wallet.

• Convenience: You can easily connect your hard wallet to your computer or smartphone and make transactions with a simple click or tap.

 

Online platforms like TradingView can assist cryptocurrency traders and investors. They are platforms that provide advanced charting tools, market data and social features for traders and investors in various markets, including cryptocurrencies. They also support trading directly from the charts through various brokers and exchanges, such as Binance, Coinbase and Kraken.

 

Crypto investing offers a wide range of assets, pairs and derivatives to choose from. However, not all of them have the same performance and potential. Therefore, it is advisable to diversify the portfolio across different categories, such as Bitcoin, altcoins, stablecoins and tokens, as well as across different sectors, such as DeFi, nFTs, gaming and the metaverse. This way, one can reduce the correlation and dependency on a single asset or market and increase the chances of earning consistent returns.

 

***

Get your copy of Crypto the Disruptor by Mukesh Jindal wherever books are sold.

What They Don’t Tell You About Women in Mythology!

Step into the captivating world of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain lore with Sati Savitri by Devdutt Pattanaik where women rewrite the rules and redefine their destinies beyond patriarchal norms. From ancient scriptures to modern-day interpretations, Pattanaik offers a fresh perspective on liberation, revealing how patriarchy and feminism have coexisted throughout history.​

 

Read this exclusive excerpt to dive into the feminist side of mythology like never before!

Sati Savitri
Sati Savitri || Devdutt Pattanaik

***

Images of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, are often placed in libraries, right next to the board that says, ‘silence please’. No one notices that the goddess always holds a musical instrument called veena (lute) in her hand. The irony is lost on many who look at sacred images without actually doing darshan.

 

Darshan is the act of seeing that generates insight and results in reflection. For example, the sight of the veena grants us some insight into the human ability to make music and musical instruments, and this makes us reflect on how music made by humans is different form the music made by birds. The music of birds is specific, to enable survival. It is designed to attract mates and draw attention of fellow birds to food or predators. Human music, on the other hand, is not necessary for survival. But it adds beauty to life and makes us wonder on the meaning of existence, by making us aware of various rhythms and emotions.

 

Unlike other goddesses, there are not many stories about Saraswati. She is more the embodiment of a concept.

 

Saraswati is draped in a white sari indicating she has distanced herself from the materialistic world, represented by colourful fabrics. While Lakshmi nourishes the body with food, Saraswati nourishes the mind with knowledge and the arts. Lakshmi’s wealth is contained in a pot; Saraswati’s knowledge is expressed through words, through songs, stories and music, dance and arts. In Jain art, the more austere Digambar monks compared Saraswati to a peacock while the white-clad Shwetambar monks compared her to a goose (hamsa). In Indian folklore, dancing peacocks attract rain clouds, while hamsas are able to separate milk from water, like fact from fiction.

 

▪️ The peacock links Saraswati to art, dance, music, theatre and entertainment.

 

▪️ The hamsa links Saraswati to ideas embodied within, and communicated through, sounds, songs, stories, songs, symbols and gestures: the knowledge of maths, science, literature and philosophy.

 

Saraswati is therefore linked to both, the peacock like courtesans as well as the swan-like philosophers. In modern society, the courtesan has been erased from history; her contributions to the world of art appropriated by men.

 

In popular Hindu mythology, Saraswati is called the wife of Brahma. But she is also called the daughter of Brahma. This can be confusing. The confusion comes from our failure to appreciate that mythology is metaphorical. Gods and goddesses are given supernatural forms so that we appreciate the idea, the symbol and do not take things literally. That Saraswati is shown with four hands, and Brahma with four heads, is the clue provided by the artist that these figures embody ideas, not entities.

 

Human ideas are complex. Words are often not enough to communicate an idea. We need grammar. We need sentences. We need punctuations. We shift from prose to poetry, we use music and melody, even gestures and symbols, to communicate subtle refined ideas. Language has metaphors where known words are used to explain and elaborate unknown ideas and inexpressible emotions. Still ideas resist transmission. What is conveyed by the source is not received by the destination.

 

To communicate Vedic ideas to people, the sages decided to compose stories. Ideas then become characters. The relationship between ideas is communicated through relationships among characters. Characters have gender, and so the relationship between ideas ends up being expressed in sexual terms. When the characters are gods, indicated by their supernatural form, they serve as metaphors. They are vehicles for ideas that resist simple communication.Veda, which means knowledge, pays a lot of attention to reality that is visible and reality that is not visible.

 

▪️ Food is a reality that is visible. It is visualized in female form as Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune. The name Lakshmi is derived from ‘laksha’ which means target.

 

▪️ Hunger is a reality that is invisible. It is visualized in male form as Indra, the master of paradise, where all fortune is cornered.

 

▪️ The name Indra is derived from ‘indriya’ which means sense.

 

▪️ Indra chasing Lakshmi is then a metaphor for hunger chasing food. Indra rides elephants. The aroused, excited, uncontrollable elephant in the state of masht is how the poets describe Madan, or Kama, the god of uncontrollable craving.

 

▪️ Shiva who burns Madan then embodies the mind who controls craving. Shiva also beheads Brahma’s fifth head that sprouts as he chases Saraswati. Here, Brahma views Saraswati as entertainment to be consumed, rather than knowledge that will help him evolve.

 

▪️ In wisdom, Brahma realises that the point of creation is to feed the other. Animals eat and are eaten, but humans need to feed and be fed. This applies to food, as well as power, as well as knowledge. Saraswati created must be given away. In the process we gain insight and reflection.

 

Male forms are consistently used to depict mental states:
1. Brahma for craving
2. Indra for insecurity
3. Vishnu for empathy
4.Shiva for indifference
5. Kartikeya for restraint
6. Ganesha for contentment

 

Female forms are consistently used to depict material states.
1. Kali for the wild
2. Gauri for the cultivated
3. Lakshmi for resources
4. Saraswati for communication
5. Durga for battle
6. Uma for household
7. Annapurna for kitchen
8. Chamundi for crematorium

 

Why are male forms used to depict the invisible reality of the mind and female forms for the visible reality of matter? The reason is relatively simple if one appreciates the male and female anatomy from the point of view of the artist and the storyteller, who carry the burden of communicating Vedic ideas.

 

***

Get your copy of Sati Savitri by Devdutt Pattanaik wherever books are sold.

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