Master O is a futuristic novel with a twist. It is thoroughly enticing, though chilling, exhilarating but whacky and hyperrealistic, yet deeply embedded in the realism of the mysterious nature of human existence in the universe. It is a blend of futurism, thriller, and suspense with a plot centered on seemingly innocuous creatures who have taken on greater responsibility to correct human history. So, while this history and its mysteries unfold at a moderate pace, the plot turns and bends at various junctures to churn out incidents and characters that will resonate with the Indian audience at multiple levels.
This has a lot to do with the politics of representation and representative politics that are significant to the contemporary Indian scenario. In this sense, Master O is highly revolutionary and thrusts its points in a circumlocutory manner and in understated tones, which only goes on to highlight the depth of thought that has gone into the making of this book. This is also reflected in the book cover, which comes with a look that will immediately strike a chord with readers who love sci-fi or futuristic novels and are tech-savvy, but also with readers who have watched the Matrix trilogy.
The cover, surprisingly, states in the subtitle of the novel that it is an epic of the future, which is not to be taken as a loosely used term for the book balances well between the classical usage of the term and its modern implications in creating a whole new world of fiction that is at once eerie, fascinating, frightening, and relatable. It is perhaps this mix of emotions that creates a reading experience at par with writers like HG Wells and JK Rowling in terms of rattling the senses and uniqueness in being innovative. The storyline revolves around a group of species who are akin to elephants and who live somewhere in the future and have stumbled upon the secret of time and time traveling. This makes them meddle with time and enter and exit time zones, which gives them a sense of power and privilege of being able to control that which is not to be seen yet felt so deeply in everyone’s lives. One of the elephants is under the notion that he is Buddha Vajradhara and takes it upon himself to fulfil his self-claimed destiny of bringing about radical changes in the world order that will affect the functioning of the world.
His target is the elite and powerful who, throughout decades, times, and ages, have gone away without accountability. These are also the same people who have a lot of influence over the masses, like political leaders such as the Prime Minister, the Minister of Emotions, or a television show host, to name a few. One of these targeted characters is Master O, who is a self-proclaimed Godman that the mutant Buddha Vajradhara wants to bring under his control and expose the ill practises of Master O.
This is the central conflict in the plot, and Master O seems to be posing as the chief character and a mix of a hero and an anti-hero, someone who is omnipotent of sorts and has many charms up his sleeves.
Most of all, he has the ability to learn the secrets of humankind and life in general. The major climax comes in the form of the villains, who are known as the Ibharis. They are a breed of elephant who have a higher intellect than humans, but the major plot twist rests in the reason behind the need for elephants to take revenge on humans. This is what builds up the suspense and takes the novel to a higher dimension with a fantastic writing style.
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Parikshit singh explain the eternal relevance of Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo and Philosophy is one of the finest tributes to the Saint of Pondicherry. The author, Dr Pariksith Singh, has skillfully talked about Sri Aurobindo, both as a philosopher and, as Sri Aurobindo himself believed, as a non-philosopher. This book is an introspective read that gives the readers a detailed view of the life and teachings of the great philosopher.
The five separate sections that have been explained thoroughly talk about Sri Aurobindo’s contribution to Indian Philosophy; Western Philosophy; Literature and Linguistics; Religion, Culture, and Political Thought; and Psychology. Dr. Singh cleverly states and proves Sri Aurobindo’s exceptional thinking and eternal relevance in each section.
Sri Aurobindo had quite a unique contribution to India’s freedom struggle. Dr. Singh talks about how the philosopher based his teaching on the most integral Vedantic vision. The kind of role he played in India’s independence can only be fully understood after reading this comprehensive book. When one finishes, one will most definitely say that the way Sri Aurobindo looked at India’s struggle for freedom clearly indicates how philosophical yet practical his teachings were.
The author calls Sri Aurobindo a bridge between Western philosophies and Indian darshanas. While transforming Indian philosophies, he also addressed Western ideas in such a way that people started comparing him to numerous great philosophers like Amal Kiran, Sisir Kumar Maitra, Rhoda LeCocq, and more. His ideologies are not just limited to India but cater to all humanity. It is both pragmatic and distinctive. It is modern, yet the spirit and ethos of Vedanta are embedded in it. His convictions can, as the author believes, offer solutions to many modern-day challenges. Hence, learning about his values and tenets becomes all the more important.
With this in mind, Dr. Singh writes this unique book, in simple language, about his lesser-known philosophies. What also makes this book unique is that it is not written in the form of monotonous prose. Rather, the author has used a lucid and relatable language style and will have you in awe several times. Dr. Singh realises that it is not always easy to understand the lofty thoughts and the phenomenal mind of Sri Aurobindo. Thus, his primary aim in writing this book has been to deconstruct the depth of Sri Aurobindo’s writings so as to make them easier to comprehend, thus making this great philosopher.
Intentions and actions of elders captures the hearts of the children
A deeply moving and inspirational book that offers nine principles for living a life that inspires and enriches the lives of your children while also strengthening family bonds. The Wisdom Bridge (Penguin Random House India) by Kamlesh D. Patel, affectionately known as Daaji, was released in early October and is the perfect guide to stress-free parenting and raising resilient children and happy families.
A Village Is the People, Not the Place
A nuclear family is a self-reliant unit, and it offers personal privacy and freedom. The influence of the extended family does not figure much. For example, in most families today, when the children start earning, their finances are separate from their parents’. I am not suggesting that it’s good or bad. It’s simply different from the past. High disposable income, personal freedom, and the advent of technology have made it easier to spend money. Today, at the click of a button, one can buy anything from a cup to a condo on Amazon.com.
For most families in the past, life was simple but not easy. Today, for a nuclear family, life is easy but not simple.
Parents in a nuclear family are responsible for getting everything done on their own. If a child falls sick, there is often no help. If the school has a snow day, who would watch the children while the parents go to work? Simple things like meal planning and play dates have become stressful because the support system is lacking. The cushion is gone. The DIY lifestyle can feel like an assembly line of chores. Even a minor slip-up and the chores begin piling up. I see many young families toiling away every day to keep it all together. Mothers doing the double shift of working as professionals and homemakers Fathers working multiple jobs But what stresses out the parents is not the work, it’s the lack of support.
And for a couple with a newborn, it can get overwhelming. Welcoming the new baby home is a beautiful feeling, but it’s also expensive and stressful. These are not the typical words associated with the joy of welcoming a child into the family. According to the Max Planck Institute of Demographic Research in Germany, the decline in happiness experienced by parents in the first year after the birth of their first child is greater than when experiencing unemployment, divorce, or the death of a partner. 3 Raising a family is an ennobling experience, but doing it all alone can suck the joy out of it.
In the past, whether a family was rich or poor, everyone had a support system to lean on. Everyone had a cushion in case of a fall. Today, the rich can buy themselves a village. They can hire a nanny, a cook, and a cleaner. But a middle-class family is stuck in the earning-to-afford-daycare syndrome. For families with low incomes, the situation is worse. Most parents are struggling with prolonged work-ism to take care of the family. And while they do that, the children who spend a lot of time on screens sometimes end up wandering alone into scary digital ghettos.
The isolation in today’s nuclear families affects all of us. Isolation creates loneliness, which becomes a public health issue. The health risks of prolonged loneliness are equivalent to those from smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. According to an AARP survey in 2018, one in three adults over the age of forty-five in the USA feels lonely. 4 For poorer families, this number is one in two. Other developed countries, such as Japan and the UK, also show alarming levels of loneliness. In the UK, the government created a special ministry and appointed a minister of loneliness.
Loneliness might evoke an image of a grandmother looking down from her apartment window with a blank expression on her face. But the picture is gloomier. A 2018 survey of 20,000 adults by health services company Cigna showed that the loneliest demographic is Gen Z.5 It’s our children who are suffering the most from loneliness.
In a world with fewer villagers, how do we raise happy and resilient children? To find a solution, we need to go back to what made human beings the most evolved species on earth.
Together We Thrive
We human beings are unique in what we call collective learning. It refers to the sharing, storing, and accumulation of information over time and across generations. Information was initially passed down through gestures, then verbally, then with symbols.
The Excerpt is taken from the book The wisdom bridge written by Kamlesh D. Patel
HarperCollins presents the second edition of Hyderabad, The Partition Trilogy
Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, is the Nizam of Hyderabad, the largest Princely State of the Crown. It sits in the belly of newly independent India, to which Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel want Hyderabad to accede.
The Communists have concurrently mounted a state-wide rebellion. But the Nizam’s family has ruled Hyderabad for 200 years. As the wealthiest man in the world, whom the British consider numero uno amongst India’s princes, he will not deal with two-penny Indian politicians! An ancient prophecy, however, hangs over the Nizam.
The Asaf Jahi dynasty will last only seven generations. So, he keeps his jewel-laden trucks ready for flight even as he schemes with his army of militant Razakars.
Meanwhile, in the palace thick with intrigue, the maid Uzma must decide where her loyalties lie: with the peasantry or the Nizam. Among the Communist recruits, Jaabili finds love in unexpected quarters. Violence escalates and lawlessness mounts. Caught between a volatile Nizam and a resolute India, what price will Hyderabad pay?
Author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar says, “In the riverine border town where I grew up, Lahore had been left behind on the other side of the Sutlej in 1947. But it remained in my town’s countless tales with the same denouement: Partition. All my writing has been an attempt to bring to paper stories I grew up with, stories that spoke of an undivided land and time, stories that I didn’t find in books I read. The Partition Trilogy is the culmination of a two-decade quest to research and write about a cataclysm at the margins of our collective memory, yet wholly resonant with our times.”
She further shared, “Whilst Lahore, Book 1 of The Partition Trilogy, is set in the months leading up to independence, in Hyderabad, Book 2, I uncover the forgotten story of how the largest Princely State became a part of India – not on 15 August 1947, but a year later, through annexation via a ‘Police Operation’! It’s a pulse-pounding story in which the Nizam of Hyderabad, beset by a terrible prophecy, manoeuvres for freedom amidst mounting violence, palace intrigue, weapons smuggling, and a raging Communist rebellion that threatens a newly-independent India and the princely state alike.
“I’m excited that this is my fifth book with HarperCollins India, who continue to be great partners in my writing journey,” she added.
Prema Govindan, Senior Commissioning Editor – Literary, HarperCollins Publishers India, says, “Hyderabad brings to life the tense negotiations to bring one of the wealthiest Indian kingdoms into the fold of the Indian state during the rearrangement of states that followed India’s independence and partition.
From jewel-leaden trucks to reckless aviators on stealth missions, to Communists clashing with the Razakars, Manreet’s book is a breathless glimpse into an epochal era.
On the 75th anniversary of the transfer of power from the Nizam to the Indian government, Harper Collins Publishers India presented Manreet’s second book of The Partition Trilogy to their readers.
‘The 3I Effect’ unveils the tried-and-tested ‘formula’ to lead a well-rounded life
Abhishek Agarwal, President, Judge India and Global Delivery, launched his first book, titled “The 3I Effect”. The launch was graced by Dr Ravindra Shukla, former Education Minister of Uttar Pradesh, International President of Hindi Sahitya Bharati, national poet, and litterateur.
Introducing his first-ever book, Abhishek Agarwal said, “The 3I Effect is written with a motive to solve a staggering problem in the modern era—the lack of a well-rounded and happy life.’
The author has discussed his tried-and-tested 3I method in this book, which can be used at any stage of life and regardless of the direction one is headed. “From one’s younger years to professional endeavours and marriage, this book can act as a guide. The formula is simple — intent, intelligence, and integrity. This 3I formula can assist the masses in channelling their inner motivation, finding balance, and living a well-rounded life,” added Agarwal.
Individual chapters have been dedicated to high school graduates, college students, job seekers, employees, leaders, and men and women in marriages in the book.
Intent is described as the intention of performing a particular act. It is deliberate, requires consciousness, and is pertinent to leading a successful life. Without intent, there is no goal or vision. If someone has ambition but doesn’t focus on making their actions intentional, s/he is just a dreamer with no plan. The first of the 3Is is necessary because it communicates the importance of one’s actions towards a goal.
The second of the 3Is, Intelligence, is a way to display intent correctly and efficiently. Intelligence is defined as the ability to learn and consistently improve oneself to deal with complex situations or as an ability to apply knowledge. Constant and consistent learning is the only way to ‘be’ intelligent as one can attain this trait. Another important aspect of intelligence is emotional intelligence, which helps to build relationships, navigate the tumultuous waters of the professional and personal world, and handle one’s behavior.
The last of the 3Is is Integrity. It is described as consistency in words, actions, thoughts, and beliefs. A person who is intentional and intelligent also needs to develop trust in his or her environment and reflect on the beliefs that s/he abides by. Integrity is made of traits like honesty, reliability, and consistency. People with integrity are highly valued in all circles of life.
The book establishes that success and wholesome existence are the results of simple actions practiced on an everyday basis because success is, after all, the by-product of intentional efforts made with intelligence and integrity.
Abhishek Agarwal is a Wharton alumnus who has worked with globally recognised names such as The Judge Group, L&T Infotech, Capgemini Invent, Birlasoft, and Genpact for more than 20 years. He is not only a pioneering industry leader but also a mentor, a people person, and an adventurer. He has taken lessons from his extensive career and condensed them into a book to assist others in leading successful and fulfilling lives. This book is the culmination of his dedication and diligence.
The book launch event was hosted on 17 September 2022 and was attended by eminent leaders and dignitaries from various sectors, as well as Judge India Solutions, clients and partners. A fascinating Q& A session with the author and a sumptuous wine and dine with the guests were held after the book launch.
BOOKS TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEK
Saundarya Lahari: Wave of Beauty
HarperCollins India, Rs 359
Saundarya Lahari is a popular Sanskrit hymn celebrating the power and beauty of sakti, the primordial goddess. In one hundred verses, it underlines the centrality of the feminine principle in Indian thought.
Attributed to adi sankaracarya, Saundarya Lahari is a valuable source for understanding tantric ideas. Every verse is associated with yantras and encoded mantras for tantric rituals, and specific verses in the hymn are considered potent for acquiring good health, lovers, and even poetic skills.
Mani Rao’s Saundarya Lahari is an inspired, lyrical translation that renders the esoteric immediate and the distant near.
Arundhathi Subramaniam, author of When God Is a Traveller, said, “‘Mani Rao’s translations have a hard-won simplicity and ripeness. This joyful rendition of an iconic text will offer its share of literary delight, as well as a key to a deeper alchemy. These translations, with their ease and lightness of touch, will resonate with lovers of poetry as well as travellers on the path of the Divine Feminine.”
The Progressive Maharaja
HarperCollins Publisher, Rs 2994
Hints on the Art and Science of Government was the first treatise on statecraft produced in modern India. It consists of lectures that Raja Sir T. Madhava Rao delivered in 1881 to Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III, the young Maharaja of Baroda. Universally considered the foremost Indian statesman of the nineteenth century, Madhava Rao had served as dewan (or prime minister) in the native states of Travancore, Indore and Baroda. Under his command, Travancore and Baroda came to be seen as ‘model states’, whose progress demonstrated that Indians were capable of governing well.
Rao’s lectures summarise the fundamental principles underlying his unprecedented success. He explains how and why a Maharaja ought to marry the classical Indian ideal of raj dharma, which enjoins rulers to govern dutifully, with the modern English ideal of limited sovereignty. This makes Hints an exceptionally important text: it shows how, outside the confines of British India, Indians consciously and creatively sought to revise and adapt ideals in the interests of progress.
This edition contains newly rediscovered, original lecture manuscripts and an authoritative introduction.
COVIDiaries of SIGAR
Xlibris Publishing, Rs 1433
In the last few months of 2020, lives across the globe have been disrupted in an unprecedented fashion since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Lives and livelihood have been lost in an extraordinary turn of events, never seen before in the history of peacetime for humanity. Since the lockdown was first announced in India on 24th March 2020, the author has been maintaining this COVID blog diary. Inspiring all and sundry, especially an estimated quarter of the world population operating under lockdown, that this is not the end of the world, and there will be another new world AC (After Corona), COVIDiaries seeks to be a friendly digestive pill end of the day for the global readers. The book is further a treasure hunt for those seeking lifestyle and dietary twirl for holistic and mental wellbeing. Besides on a personal front, being technically single, looking to explore Euphemism in a mild manner to probably attract some intrigued like-minded potential partners. An exotic mating call of sorts.
The second part of the book explores the intriguing version of the game of Darts, which goes by the name of 301, a barroom’s delight. Via a slight twist in the 2 nd part of COVIDiariesof SIGAR, the author seeks to explore how to achieve holistic Authentic Intelligence rather than the trend towards Artificial Intelligence based solutions.
India, Bharat and Pakistan
J. Sai Deepak
Bloomsbury Publishing, Rs 574
India, Bharat and Pakistan, the second book of the Bharat Trilogy, takes the discussion forward from its bestselling predecessor, India That Is Bharat. It explores the combined influence of European and Middle Eastern colonialities on Bharat as the successor state to the Indic civilisation, and on the origins of the Indian Constitution. To this end, the book traces the thought continuum of Middle Eastern coloniality from the rise of Islamic Revivalism in the 1740s following the decline of the Mughal Empire, which presaged the idea of Pakistan, until the end of the Khilafat Movement in 1924, which cemented the road to Pakistan. The book also describes the collaboration of convenience that was forged between the proponents of Middle Eastern coloniality and the British colonial establishment to the detriment of the Indic civilisation.
One of the objectives of this book is to help the reader draw parallels between the challenges faced by the Indic civilisation in the tumultuous period from 1740 to 1924, and the present day. Its larger goal remains the same as that of the first, which is to enthuse Bharatiyas to undertake a critical decolonial study of Bharat’s history.
‘3 Rays’ is one more testimony to Satyajit Ray’s genius
Satyajit Ray was a Bengali motion-picture director, writer, and illustrator who brought the Indian cinema to world recognition with Pather Panchali (1955; The Song of the Road) and its two sequels, known as the Apu Trilogy. As a director, Ray was known for his humanism, his versatility, and his detailed control over his films and their music.
There is unanimity among different sections of polemists who regard Satyajit Ray as the man who heralded realism in Indian cinema and whose contribution is strongly felt in India and the world, not only in the cinematic arena but in the overall movement of realistic art.
Ray was a thinker, a writer, and a gifted speaker, which made him distinctively creative and appealing to a different class of observers.
At a different point in time, Rabindranath Tagore induced Ray’s mother to send him to receive an art education at Shantiniketan, which Ray happily joined to live under the shadow of Tagore rather than earn formal recognition in art.
After Tagore’s death, he felt living on the campus was purposeless and thus left his art training in the final year in favour of travelling across India with meagre resources but the rich company of a few like-minded friends. Ray, like Tagore, was always drawn to the lovely aspects of life and work.
The motion-picture director also established a parallel career in Bengal as a writer and an illustrator, especially for young people. He revived the children’s magazine Sandesh (which his grandfather had started in 1913) and edited it until his death in 1992.
Ray was the author of numerous short stories and novellas. His stories have been translated and published in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere.
On his centenary birth anniversary, “3 Rays: Stories from Satyajit Ray”, the first book in The Penguin Ray Library series, opens a window to the brilliance of this Renaissance man. With more than forty stories and poems along with many unpublished works, autobiographical writings, and illustrations by Ray, this volume offers a unique glimpse into Ray’s creative genius.
The story-telling prowess of all three Rays is known to all Ray lovers; their spectrum was vast, enchanting on one hand, and thought-provoking on the other. Between them, the trio elevated Bangla literature to a level that is difficult to match, leaving a veritable treasure trove of poems, stories, plays, songs, and illustrations for future generations to grow up with, learn from, be fired by, and be horribly proud of The book 3 Rays: Stories from Satyajit Ray is a treasure trove. The book covers the works of three generations of the Ray family. Starting with Upendrakishore, moving on to Sukumar, and finally Satyajit.
As a filmmaker, he met the acclaim he deserved, though his contributions as a writer remained subdued under the deep canopy of the former.
The Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives, which had been formed in 1994 to preserve Ray’s works and disseminate them to a wider audience than what had been hitherto possible, is the chief driver of this compilation. Some of Ray’s writings on cinema are collected in Our Films, Their Films (1976). His other works include the memoir Jkhona Chhota Chilama (1982; Childhood Days).
According to Sandip Ray, Satyajit Ray’s son, Ray had translated his grandfather’s, his father’s, and his own works during his protracted film-making years.
The works translated by Satyajit Ray himself give a brilliant insight into the literary brilliance of the Ray family. The highlight of the book is the two original stories written by Ray in English. His short stories were published as collections of “Twelve Stories,” in which the overall title played with the word “Twelve.” Ray’s interest in puzzles and puns is reflected in his stories.
Ray’s short stories give full rein to his interest in the macabre, suspense, and other aspects that he avoided in film, making for an interesting psychological study.
The book 3 Rays: Stories from Satyajit Ray has Sukumar Ray’s illustrations of his Abol-Taabol poems. Only Satyajit Ray could have translated the very delightful Abol-Taabol, retaining their inimitable, endearing humour and unmatched language kaarigari.
The same is true for Upendrakishor’s stories. The book has the film treatment of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, replete with all its iconic illustrations.
Ray had translated to English his own stories for Sandesh, his grandfather’s children’s magazine that he restarted and edited from 1961 onward. As we know, his grandfather passed away six years before his birth.
A very young Satyajit was fascinated by his printing press, U. Ray & Sons, in their house and got acquainted with Upendrakishore through his books, drawings, and a few bound volumes of Sandesh, the magazine he went on to revive.
I absolutely loved revisiting them all as well as re-studying all his impeccable illustrations. A must-read for those who love Ray’s writings.
Satyajit Ray, through his life, philosophy, and works, offered a unique aesthetic sensibility that took Indian cinema, art, and literature to a new height. An ace designer, music composer, illustrator, and gifted writer, Ray gave us the awe-inspiring sleuth Feluda and the maverick scientist, Professor Shonku—two iconic characters loved and revered by millions of readers.
For the book 3 Rays: Stories from Satyajit Ray, the effort put forth by Sandip Ray and the team to chronicle the journey and compile the writings of his father, original English prose, translations of his stories, plotlines, and a brief history of the family provides a masterpiece for those who hold on to them and the memories they represent.
If you want to fire up your imagination, see the squeal of delight at those clever stories and fantastic illustrations which you feel while reading the book and are captivated by the genius all-around storytelling skills.
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