Saturday December 16, 2017

Revealed: The story behind the series on Lord Ram by author Amish Tripathi

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New Delhi: “It was an argument with a woman on Lord Ram at a literature fest that upset me immensely. That was when I had decided my next series would be on Ram,” said banker-turned-author Amish Tripathi on his upcoming book – “Scion of Ikshvaku”. Through this series, the author said, he needed to give his interpretation of Lord Ram, who the woman thought had mistreated his wife, Sita.amish-tripathi

After his successful Shiva Trilogy, the author explores his version of the Ramayana through the Ramchandra series, which he said could entail five to six books.

“I think the incident was meant to happen to me to help me make up my mind,” Tripathi told IANS in an interview on the side-lines of the launch of the first chapter of his new work.

“The idea behind giving out only one chapter of the book is to give the readers a sense of what the book could be. We are offering the free chapter through Amazon Kindle or their app. Through the online chapter, we aim to spread it out and keep the excitement up among the readers,” said Tripathi, who debuted with “The Immortals of Meluha” in 2010 – the first of the Shiva Trilogy.

He soon broke into the top-seller charts, within a week of its launch.

Talking about the idea behind his books, he said: “In all my books, there is a core philosophy which I try to convey. For the Shiva Trilogy, it was to find out what evil is and for the Ramchandra series, it is to know what an ideal society is,” adding that he was unsure of what he was going to write when he signed a contract with his publisher around two years ago.

When he was asked if he was under pressure to deliver a promising first chapter, he replied sternly: “When I am writing, I don’t care about the publishers or critics or, frankly, even readers. When I write, I only write for myself. Once I am done with writing, I focus entirely on marketing.”

A good book does not sell itself, he remarked. Teamed with his wife, Preeti Tripathi, the couple have changed the way Indian books marketed themselves. The marketing campaigns ranged from video trailers before the book launch to releasing one chapter of the book as an appetizer.

Facing rejection for his first book’s manuscript by 20 publishers, Tripathi said he never thought of an alternative, where he would give up on his book. So, he had decided to self-publish it.

Attributing his knowleamish-tripathi (1)

dge of mythology to his family, he mentioned that his grandfather, who was a pandit, and his parents taught him many things on the subject, adding that the long debates with his family on mythology helped him with his books. A voracious reader, he has been reading at least 4-8 non-fiction or mythological books every month since his teenage years.

Graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, he had worked with reputed banks in the country before he turned into an author. “I left my job only after my second book had released. Since I do not come from a wealthy background, it was important for me to ensure that I could pay my bills. I used to write my first book on weekends and in my spare time,” he said.

“I have enough fiction ideas to keep myself busy for the next 20 years. And if all of them keep selling, hopefully, I can keep writing. Else, I have to go back to banking,” he added with a laugh, talking about his future plans. (IANS)

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Does Soma-Rasa bring Human Beings closer to Hindu Gods? Find out its Spiritual Significance!

One of the original and popular beliefs is that somras made the Gods immortal

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  • Somras itself has been used in the Rig Veda in multifarious forms and is attributed to mean light, dawn, the reason for the sun to shine, and even as the King
  • Soma-rasa is believed to have been consumed by Hindu gods in order to gain immortality
  • Modern researchers have been trying to find the origin plant, Soma, but there are various possibilities and none have been yet confirmed

Since time immemorial, there has been a debate regarding the significance of the origin of Somras, or Soma-Rasa. Mentioned in the Hindu text, Vedas, it was brought to light by Amish Tripathi’s The Shiva Trilogy. However, like everything mythical that is deconstructed by Tripathi, only reading about it in the books might leave gaping historical holes in the masses’ information.

Somras’ origins can be traced back to the Vedic era and the term was first found mentioned in the Rig Veda, an Indo-Iranian scripture. It is said to have been extracted from the sacred soma plant and was originally believed to have been consumed by Hindu gods. Soma itself has been used in the Rig Veda in multifarious forms and is attributed to mean light, dawn, the reason for the sun to shine, and even the King.

The reasons for the consumption of somras are yet to be confirmed. One of the original and popular beliefs is that, like Grecian ambrosia and Aztecan mushrooms, it made the gods immortal. Other popular myths that glorify its uses are that it was a necessity for priests, to use in holy rituals as an offering to the gods, and even to compose chants and hymns. Other specifics also mention that Somras was used by the god Indra to gain strength before battles. Some sources also mention that when used in a non-ritualistic setting, it can make the consumer alert and energetic.

Rigveda. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Rigveda. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The uncertainty of its history does not end there. According to a paper by Sachidananda Padhy and Santosh Kumar Dash, published in 2004, the origins of the soma plant are unknown. In order to fully understand its ethnobotanical facts, various Mandalas and hymns occurring in the Rig Veda have been studied to identify the plant’s characteristics. However, this has not been easy due to the ambiguity of the ancient texts. According to the paper, modern research has focussed on 20 different plants that are believed to be the fabled Soma. This list, though, is said to be neither exact not exhaustive, as there are various interpretations of the Vedic texts.

It is interesting to note that there are many who believe that Somras is simply milk or honey, and yet others who believe it is an elixir containing hallucinogens. In fact, according to much older (1974) research by B.G.L. Swamy, various researchers have made points from as far back as 1921 that Cannabis Sativa, more commonly referred to as Bhanga in Vedic mythology, could be this infamous Soma.

– by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: @VarshaGupta94

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Ancient caste system not attributed to one’s birth: Amish Tripathi

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New Delhi: When India is still in agony about the Dalit research scholar’s suicide, the best-selling author Amish Tripathi is trying to convey the message that in ancient India the caste system was not rigid and was not attributed to one’s birth.

Tripathi, who deftly weaves in threads on women’s empowerment and the caste system in his interpretations of Indian mythologies, preferred to reserve his judgement on the Hyderabad University issue since it’s under investigation.

But he concedes that oppression continues despite the progress country has made in the last almost 70 years since independence.

Rohith Vemula’s death on January 17 in Hyderabad University after being suspended for allegedly assaulting an ABVP leader has resulted in mass protests across India.

“As far as specific incidents are concerned, learning from the Delhi church attacks and Ranaghat nun rape case (in West Bengal), it turned out the incidents were not how they were portrayed; so we should stay calm and wait for an investigation to conclude.

“At a broader level, there is no doubt oppression does take place. We have made improvements in the last 70 years but there is still a long way to go,” Tripathi, who burst onto the scene in 2010 with the popular Shiva trilogy, said in an interview during the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet.

The banker-turned-writer had some huge success like “The Immortals of Meluha”, “The Secret of the Nagas” and “The Oath of the Vayuputras”  based on Shiva trilogy. His latest “Scion of Ikshvaku” is the first book in the Ram Chandra series – his take on the Indian epic Ramayana. The second book is in progress and talks are on for movie adaptations.

“In my books, I actually speak about the caste system. If you see the genetic research that is coming out, it’s very clear the caste system was not based on birth. In ancient times it was not rigid,” the 41-year-old IIM-Calcutta alumnus contended.

As examples, he says Maharishi Valmiki who wrote the Valmiki Ramayana was not Brahmin born.

“The Maharishi who composed the Mahabharata, who compiled the Vedas, was not born a Brahmin, he was born to a fisherwoman. He became a Brahmin… not just a Brahmin… he became a rishi (sage),” Tripathi underlined.

In addition to the textual proof, he also lays strong emphasis on current genetic research.

“Research shows till around 1,900 to 2,000 years ago, there was heavy intermingling in India between all groups. That’s the first sign of caste system… there is no inter-marrying. Something happened between 1,500 to 2,000 years ago when the inter-marrying stopped. So some people assume that is when the caste system became rigid.

“In ancient times, most of the evidence points to the fact that the caste system was actually not rigid and that is what I am trying to bring out in my books. It was not based on birth. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna clearly says: I created the four varnas based on ‘guna’ and ‘karma’ based on your attributes and on your karma, not on birth.”

Ascribing his knowledge of mythology and scriptures to his family (his paternal grandfather was a pandit and taught at Banaras Hindu University, his maternal grandmother was also a teacher), Tripathi admits his love for India doesn’t mean he can turn a blind eye to issues that need to be dealt with.

“I am a deep patriot. I love my country but I also believe patriotism should not blind us to the things that need to be improved and, of course, one doesn’t like to be told about our country by Westerners, most of them likely have no love for our country; they just want to come and judge us.

“There’s a difference in the attitude of someone who deeply loves his or her own country and there are things which he feels needs to improve,” Tripathi signed off.(IANS)