Book Reviews

Architectural Splendor, Spiritual Bliss
Author: Avey Varghese; Publisher: Niyogi Books
(Pp 520, ISBN 978-93-85285-37-0, Rs 2000)

One look at the book and you are bound to pick it up. The book is a complete package that is interesting, useful and informative. The photographs showcase not only the deities in the temples, but also the sculptures, paintings and architecture inside the Divya Desams. This pictorial journey into ancient architecture and the art of temple construction and sculpture with interesting trivia, is sure to take your breath away.

Beautifully produced, the book is a treat for the eyes. Every page is adorned with a beautiful picture of the temple, with wholesome information on the temples’ history, architectural brilliance, art forms, rituals, beliefs and landscapes. The temple legend, deity positions and other significant mythical specifications are also built into the text.

The book is aimed at connoisseurs of art, architecture and literature and will be cherished by adults as well as children, who wish to know more about our religious past.

Author: Munshi Premchand, Screenplay: Gulzar
Publisher: The Lotus Collection, Roli Books, New Delhi;
(ISBN 978-93-5194-105-7, Rs 795)

When we talk of Indian literature, we cannot fail to remember the writings of Munshi Premchand. Packaged beautifully, this two-book set is a treasure for all literature enthusiasts. The stories are realistic, focusing on the problems of the poor and urban middle class. Gulzar also needs no introduction. His screenplay has added charm to the whole script.

Written beautifully, these evergreen stories have come to life again. Set in a village in Uttar Pradesh, Godaan is the story of misfortunes of a poor farmer, who has his heart set on buying a cow but his life gets entangled in the web of debts and circumstances that never lets him come out of the throes of caste segregation and exploitation in an unequal society. Written more than eighty years ago, this classic adaptation by Gulzar is still relevant and brings to fore the fact that for the farmer or a labour in rural India, things are still the same.

The second book in the twin pack is a screenplay of Nirmala & Other Stories. Nirmala is about a young girl, who marries a widower. But, problem arises when the man sees his bride very friendly with his son, who is of the same age as her. All the stories are heart-warming and leave a lasting impression on the readers.

Author: Kalindi Charan Panigrahi
(Translated into English by Bikram Das);
Publisher: Niyogi Books, New Delhi
(Pp 136, ISBN 9789385285585, Rs 350)
Odia writer Kalindi Charan Panigrahi's novel Matira Manisha, now translated into English as Born of the Soil by Bikram Das, is known for its simplicity in narrating the story of a peasant family whose joy and sorrow in life are bound with the soil they belong. The storyline revolves around the main character Baraju Padhan, who heads the family after his father’s death, inheriting humanism by maintaining the tradition of joint family. But the twirl in the story crops up when Baraju’s younger brother Chhakadi, prompted by his wife Netramani, attempts to split up the home. And it is Baraju’s nobleness that makes Chhakadi admit to his fault and the family eventually unites again. Born of the Soil is remarkable for flawless portrayal of human values as well as deep cultural ethos of rural Odisha. Bikram Das has translated many Odia books into English, including Gopinath Mohanty’s Paraja for which he bagged his first Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize in 1989.

Author: Dinesh C Agrawal
Publisher: Pothikaar Books, New Delhi
(Pp 230, Rs 240)
The book takes the reader through the dawn of civilization to the threats of the present time giving some inkling about the concerns of the time. Though it is a work of fiction, it takes into account various facts and theories offered by archaeologists and also a good amount imagination. An interesting novel for the young and old!

Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Om Books, New Delhi
(Pp 278, ISBN 978-93-84225-76-6, Rs 350)
It is an engaging and inspiring account of Lord Hanuman, the fearless fighter who sets the city of Lanka ablaze with his burning tail, the humble messenger who informs Mother Sita of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, the noble fellow warrior who uproots Dronagiri, a mountain of herbs, to save Lakshmna’s life, et al. The book also has folk tales, local lore about Hanuman temples across India and Hanuman prayers. All in all, a very interesting book on our Monkey God.