Recently on March 16, there was an event held at the St Augustine campus of University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. The event pertained to the book launch of Bhanmatee Sita Gobin, titled “The Bride from Bombay”.
Speaking at the event, Pro- Vice Chancellor Professor Clement Sankat said that this book launch comes at a very special juncture in the history of our country, as Trinidad and Tobago celebrates its 171st Indian Arrival Day, two months from now on May 30th! He added:”I have no doubt, that this book will be a great treasure for many others, including future scholars and researchers from around the world who are studying Indian indentured labourers into the Caribbean and the evolution of their lineage since then”.
Born in an idyllic village on the east coast of Trinidad and Tobago, Bhanmatee Gobin belongs to a selected generation of university-educated East Indian women whose forefathers migrated from the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the Caribbean as part of the Indian diaspora during the British taj rule. She is an educator by training and has dedicated and devoted her life to teaching and inspiring minds. Bhanmatee Gobin hails from an era of transition when East Indians in the West were struggling to balance the cultural norms and traditions with the progressive Western ideologies. She is one of the few modern-day authorities on the authentic East Indian experience in Trinidad and the West Indies through language, arts, music, and cultural traditions. She has lived in the United States for the past thirty years, where she has continued her career as an educator. This crossing of the Atlantic Ocean has given her a true and unique immigrant’s perspective into life in the West. This experience has given her the inspiration to return to her roots through her debut literary piece, Bombay Kay Dulahina.k.a The Bride from Bombay, a captivating historical memoir.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, a widespread migration took place as a result of British colonialism. This migration was known as the Indian diaspora. It was a time when millions of East Indians would jump ship and leave India to be taken as indentured laborers to the far corners of the world to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, and the West Indies-Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana. The circumstances that surrounded this for many of the migrants were poverty, famine, and hopelessness. In the case of those sailing to Trinidad, it was under the lure of “chenee dad”-the land where sugar flows. Bombay Kay Dulahin is a story beyond the grasp of the historians. It is one woman’s journey of overcoming the unthinkable through a vision and a dream. She was the daughter of East Indian immigrants in the emerging cosmopolitan society of Trinidad and Tobago. Cast off into an arranged marriage at the age of sixteen and possessing no more than a first-grade education, her strength, courage, and passion drive her to keep her vision and dream of breaking social and gender norms. The book discusses traditional East Indian arranged marriages, the age-old Hindu caste-system structure and traditions. It is a story that shows there are no boundaries and borders when it comes to the resiliency of human endurance, passion, and a mother’s unconditional love, ensuring that her loved ones and family are influenced positively for generations to come. A story about love, faith, and hope.
The book is a must read for all the Indians as well as the Indians living abroad.
‘GREAT MINDS ON INDIA’ is simply outstanding! I never knew that such a compilation exists and we all should be thankful to Mr. Salil Gewali! These great quotes should be embossed on plaques and displayed on the walls of our Parliament, State Assembly Halls, and at all our educational institutions. Most importantly, the material should be made a compulsory reading for all the school students.
–Dr. AV Murali, Houston (Former NASA Scientist)
The rise of the likes of Salil Gewali appears to be a real sunshine of hope. India, which was the fountainhead of the profound knowledge, has unfortunately been groping in the darkness of misinformation. Thanks to hordes of native scholars who love to undermine their own literary heritage and disseminated distorted history.
So, against this disquieting backdrop, Gewali’s exhaustive research-based book “Great minds on INDIA”, which originally published with the title named – “What is India”, is going to be a remarkable testament. The substantive document to inform one and all about the secular basis of Indian literature. The book is doubtlessly going to establish the universal essence of the Indian culture which hitherto misinterpreted by anti-nation forces.
The idea of a compilation of thoughts and opinions of the world top thinkers and writers occurred to Mr. Gewali during his late teens. His father – Krishna Prasad Gewali, who was an erudite scholar, inspired Mr. Salil Gewali and showed him the depth of the ancient literature. From early age, Mr Salil was much drawn to study Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. He reminiscence in one of his articles – “ I had encountered that a good many literary books published from the country, which deliberately undermine the ancient text and denigrate the cultural values of the home country, were held in high esteem. Those authors were only applauded, honored and awarded. Whereas, the ones who loved the country and wanted to uphold the traditional values and preserve the ancient and universal wisdom of the home country were considered as the cohort lost in the wilderness of jingoism”. Gewali could not stomach the rise of the forces which are going to be detriminantal to the nation.
Mr. Gewali made deeper studies of the ancient scriptures vis-a-vise the western intellectuals. He painstakingly picked up the pearls of gem scattered in the various books authored by western geniuses. Gewali’s prime objective was to discover what those western scholars had said about India and her wisdom. Gewali felt that only the opinions and thoughts expressed by the western intellectual can bring the Indian intellectual to the sense.
After a very long struggle, Gewali could bring out the compilation in the Xerox format in the year 1998. For his financial hardship, he could not publish the book in the print format for many years. However, after a long gap of 11 years, the first printed format was published in 2009.
This unique book immediately caught the attention of so many scholars across the world. The first edition, which was formally launched by the governor of Meghalaya – Shri Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary, the book also reached a NASA scientist – Prof. AV Murali. Later Prof. Being extremely awe-stricken by the contents of the book he remarked: “This compilation is simply outstanding! I never knew that such a compilation exists and we all should be thankful to Mr. Salil Gewali! These great quotes should be embossed on plaques and displayed on the walls of our Parliament, State Assembly Halls, and at all our educational institutions. Most importantly, the material should be made a compulsory reading for all the school students.”Prof. Murali is a former National Research Council Scientist at the Johnson Space Center in Houston of the (NASA). Murali also worked as a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston. The book has also fascinated the NASA Chief scientist, Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, who has offered to pen down the preface for the revised edition of the book.
Prof Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, a world-acclaimed novelist, whose famous novel, ‘The Mistress of Spices’ was released as a film directed by Paul Mayeda Berges starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott, applauded Gewali’s book : “An inspirational read that reminds us of our amazing ancient heritage and why we need to incorporate it into our lives as modern Indians.”
Starting from 2011 till the date Gewali’s book has been translated into eleven languages, mostly by prominent literary figures, bureaucrats and scientists.
The book translated in other languages as under :
Hindi: by Vishwa Mohan Tiwari, former Vice Air Marshal, Noida, Delhi and Dr. MP Jain, Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Malayalam: by Dr. M. Pushpangadan, Kerala and Smt. Mansi PA, Mumbai.
Telugu: by Satyadeva Prasad and BS Sharma, Secunderabad, Telangana
Gujarati: by Rekha Dave and edited by Jitu Patwari
Nepali: by Dr Govinda Raj Bhattarai, Prof of Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
Marathi: Deepa Joshi, Thane, Mumbai, Edited by Leena Mehendale, Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai
Kannada: by Dr. Mulliya Raghavayya, former Nuclear scientist, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Karnataka, Mysore.
Tamil: Dr. Pothy C Jayapal, Chennai.
Manipuri: by Sadashiva Singh, Senapati, Manipur.
Bengali, : by Prof. R.N. Das, MD, MRCP (UK), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), edited by Prof. Nirmal Maity.
Another scholar from California Ms. Anna Hourihan writes in her review: “Salil Gewali’s work puts a spotlight on the importance of the ancient teachings, which are imperative for our future existence in these crucial times. His book is a most worthwhile gift to all of us. But chiefly it’s for the people of India so that they may realize the importance of the role of India and Indians from early times, and which continues even today with its scientists, sages and also the Hindu Indian diaspora.”
Lastly, the efforts of a scholar like Salil Gewali should be acknowledged and appreciated in the highest terms. Government of India should take the initiative to spread this book before our children become secular and start hating not only the culture and but the country too. I would further add that ‘Great minds on INDIA’ doubtlessly shatters the limitations of mind by making it embrace the higher perceptions. It makes us rise above the false opinions of pseudo intellectuals, who believe that there is no point in looking back, particularly concerning ancient heritage. When one encounters Gewali’s testimonial work, one discovers new routes to unfold our glorious past. After all, we need a right path to arrive at the destination – the self realization. That is not possible with a flawed perspective. So, Salil’s book will be a magnificent light to show the truth in the right perspective which otherwise just undermined as old myth and fairy-tale stories.
The researcher of this detoxifying book — Salil Gewali was born in Shillong, Meghalaya. His father, (Late) Krishna Prasad Gewali was a very learned scholar and writer who was well versed in ancient scriptures. Gewali was first introduced to the ancient Indian literature by his father who also had a very in-depth knowledge of Sanskrit language. So, from an early age, Mr. Gewali was drawn to study Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.Gewali passed his School Leaving Certificate examination from ‘Mawprem Modern High School’, in 1986 and joinedSt. Anthony College, Shillong, Meghalaya for further studies. He completed his post-graduation in English Literature.