I grew up with a lot of fairy tales and folk tales drawn from different cultures. Grimm’s Fairy tales, those of Hans Christian Anderson, moral tales from Aesop and Panchatantra, Classical Greco-Roman mythology, Hindu Mythology, Biblical stories and many more. My Mom was an amazing story teller and her narration was so natural that I never realised when I slipped into my world of imagination and dozed off to sleep.
In my school days I loved to read poems and somewhere behind the back of my mind I wanted to be a poet. Whenever I tried to compose on a particular subject and read it to my friends, none of them really appreciated my compositions. For them it was just a discouraging ‘okay’. However, when I wrote a poem spontaneously my friends would appreciate in utter disbelief as if I had picked it up from somewhere else’s as my own. Plagiarised, as we say. Obviously for a long time I shied away from sharing my poems with anyone.
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Chasing a dream was an absolute ‘no’ in those days. “Go and study and make a future” was apparently the only suggestion. One day in utter disgust I burnt my secret diary. As I watched the devouring flame fray, curl and reduce to ashes the pages, the phoenix of the poet in me rose and I resolved to write poems once again. I shared them with my friends. When I was doing graduation in English Literature, I showed one of my poems to my Professor and she snubbed me saying, “Now don’t tell me that it’s yours!” Disappointed? No, not the least. Quite the contrary, I was overwhelmed with her negative certification of appreciation. From there began my poetic journey, contributing to Campus Verses, Philosophy journal, newspapers, Office Magazine and so on.
For me Navaratri used to be just another Hindu festival, with shops flooded with photos of Maa Durga, her laced and red sequin bespangled dresses, headdress ‘chunris’, items of worship, cosmetics and utensils for rituals, seasonal fruits and off course a whole range of incense. However, as happens in India, with increasing age one tends to turn a little more devotional, I too am no exception. I bought a copy of Durgasaptshati, stammered the original Sanskrit version and then read the Hindi version. It was then that I realised that there might be thousands like me who would love knowing about the Durga Saptashati, its history and its narrative, its philosophy, particularly how the treatise of a battlefield could become a sacred work. I realised the richness of Sanatana Dharma and the need to spread it in a linguistic medium which across the world is comfortably understood. For the first time the seed of re-writing the Durga Saptashati in English germinated and it took nearly three years for the sapling to grow into a tree of knowledge. The tree named, ‘Joy Maa Durga’, each leaf of which is a compendium of apparent mythology and deep-seated philosophy.
I have posted a couple of mythological blogs on the Times of India website and intend to restart it, but this book, ‘Joy Maa Durga’ is my beloved creation and very special to me because I have optimally expended myself in creating at least what I personally believe is a masterpiece. I wish Maa Durga blesses me in making it a national and international success. At a time when the world is being bulleted by terror, peace is being shattered to pieces, selfishness is at its zenith and morality is at its lowest ebb, let India enlighten the path of the world and this small book help dispel darkness of ignorance and sin.
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I would suggest my fraternity to write blogs and anthologies on Hindu mythologies and folklores, and make the world aware of the richness of the Hindu Sanatana Dharma, our cultural diversity, our liberalism, thoughtful legacy and our motto that the world is one family.
I thank the Literoma team for publishing my book and look forward for their unflinching cooperation in making ‘Joy Maa Durga’ a success, both nationally and internationally.