Bridging Souls-A Journey from Mahabharata to Bharata is a thought-provoking and scholarly book that juxtaposes the events of Mahabharata with the socio-political environment of modern-day India. It is an erudite treatise that analyzes Mahabharata-related issues like the birth of the Pandavas, their use of various weapons in the kurukshetra war and the role of many other characters on the sidelines with wisdom as well as intelligence. It makes for racy reading as the narrative criss-crosses between the past and the present; with an endearing love story and a thrilling murder mystery intertwined with the cerebral interpretation of the Mahabharata. Radically unorthodox and hard-hitting, the book is likely to make the reader experience a major shift in his understanding of the Mahabharata.
This book is an attempt to take a fresh look at the episodes of past, recorded in the famous epic Mahabharata. It is bound to raise a few eyebrows and may be even shock a good number of faithful and believers but for change one may try to review to decide if we can accept those practices today?
Bridging Souls, a fascinating Travelogue penned by Arindam Nath, truly bridges innumerable souls and hearts across paninsular India; Nath’s labour of love also refocuses on the essential cultural continuity in this ancient nation down the annals of history. More remarkably, the racy fluent style of narrative makes the book unputdownable till the end
Arindam Nath, a senior officer of Tripura police, is presently serving as Assistant Inspector General of Police, Agartala, Tripura. A literature aficionado, his reading spans across all genres and categories; though he has been partial towards mythology. Before joining the police service, Nath taught physics at a government higher secondary school. His first book was a collection of Bangali short written under the title Tarmuj pagla O Anyanya Galpa. He regularly contributes short stories, plays and essays in newspaper and Journals.
The book Bridging Souls-A Journey from Mahabharata to Bharata makes a fascinating reading. Written lucidly in the form of a diary, it weaves a magical tale that takes the readers’ mind back and forth to the glory and grandeur of the epic period of Indian history and present-day realities. The characters in the novel are fictional but the book is grounded on the personal experience and perceptive vision of Arindam Nath, a senior officer of Tripura Police who travelled across the country as a chairman of Tripura Rifles Recruitment Board. The author Knowledge of the epics and his cultivated, discerning and scholarly mind come out through the Pages of the book.
The story comes out of the diaries written by one medical practioner, Dr. Ashamanja Bhowmik, who accompanied a recruitment team of Tripura Rifles, an elite armed police force of Tripura, all over the country. Through the pages of his diary, the author has spun a delightful tale that captivates the mind. The recruitment team traversed different regions of India, where about 5,000 years ago, some of the famous battles and events recounted in Mahabharata had taken place. Acts of heroism as well as frailties of the different ‘dramatis personae’ of Mahabharata are compellingly and evocatively recounted by one Ambujanaba Sharma, Commandant of the battalion, who headed the team. The pen portrait of the Commandant drawn by the author shows the qualities of his head and heart-a happy blending of scholarship and humanism. He narrated and interpreted in a new light and perspective, and with consummate knowledge to his accompanying colleagues, the characters and events of the Mahabharata. His vivid description of the valour of the heroes as well as deeds of princes and sages will grip the minds of the readers.
Mahabharata is not merely “a song of victory”, it is a Padma Samhita, a collection of old legends, and Itivritta or traditional account of noble kings, pious sages, of dutiful wives and beautiful maids. It is also Mokshya Shastra-pointing ways to salvation.
Mahabharata also lays down rules of conduct for attainment of three great aims animating all human conduct-Dharma of three great aims animating all human conduct-Dharma, Artha and kama.
Some of the characters in the novel are fascinating. Dr. Bhowmik is an ideal Boswell. He has painstakingly noted down the references, comments and perceptive observations of Sharma after the narration of different episodes of Mahabharata. However, some of the comments of Sharma on the nature of crimes committed by heroes of Mahabharata are somewhat trite and may not stand the glare of scrutiny. Some of the acts of the epic heroes now interpreted as crimes under the Indian Penal Code were not so in the days of yore. They were in accordance with the then prevailing customs.
Against this wider backdrop of acts and transgressions of the heroes of Mahabharata the author weaves a sub-plot of a love affair between the Bengali doctor Bhowmik and the Punjabi girl Dr. Harleen Bedi, a medical officer of CRPF Group Centre, Jalandhar. The pages of the diary unveil the tragic story of the death of Harleen’s fiancé, Aman who reportedly committed suicide, but actually was murdered. The untold story could be unearthed by Harleen with the help of the members of the recruitment board. Enchanting romance blossoms between the two doctors, hailing from two different parts of the country. It was indeed omnia vincit amor.
The book will enthral the readers and provide and them with glimpses of Mahabharata as well as many other events of the past and the present. Issues like Maoism, Gorkhaland agitation, etc, figure in the narrative. Common readers will also gather from the book, some interesting details of the methods of recruitment in the paramilitary forces and the pains taken to select appropriate candidates from different parts of the country. Arindam Nath deserves plaudits for writing an informative and interesting book, revealing his scholarly as well as analytical mind. I am sure that the book will be well received and widely read.
There is a saying, “In Mahabharata we breathe the united soul of India and individual soul of her people.”I was fascinated towards this ‘soul’ about twenty-five ago while reading a book this ‘soul’ about twenty-five years ago while reading a book Panchajanya written by an eminent Bengali writer Gajendra Kumar Mitra. Panchajanya is the conch gifted to Sri Krishna by Agni, a Brahmin for fulfilling his desire to destroy Khandav forest. I was a teacher of Physics in a higher secondary school then. I was a voracious reader of Bengali classics, including the works translated from other literatures.
I was exposed to the world of legal studies in Police Academy which I joined as a commissioned officer after clearing a competitive examination of State Police Service. Before that I had a stint of four years as a teacher. The subject of legal studies enthralled me; my skill in solving Mathematics problem and puzzles helped me a lot in understanding the provisions law. In particular, I liked Indian Penal Code (IPC) formulated by a British gentleman, Macaulay in 1833 and enacted in 1861. It is amazing that an Act enacted more than one hundred fifty ago is still serving our purpose in the 21st century, with very few amendments. Many a time, I used to toy with IPC sections, like, while travelling by a vehicle, it would invariably come to my mind what IPC offences can be constituted with the registration number of a vehicle.
My fascination towards the epic Mahabharata, and IPC enriched my imagination to a great extent. I started thinking what would have been the fate of the mighty Pandavas and the Kauravas in a democratic set up. I worte a short-story in Bengali, narrating my encounter with Eklavya in a dream. I heard the story of Eklavya whose right hand thumb was cut off as a reward for his percept master Dronacharya. In the story, I announced imprisonment for three years for Drona for his alleged abetment. The story earned good acclamations, especially from my friend Manas Paul, senior journalist and writer of The Eyewitness, the most trusted book on the ethnic conflicts in Tripura. He insisted upon me to write a book by portraying other such events in the epic which might attract penal provisions of law. He urged me to write it in English in order to attract attention of a wide cross-section of people, as the work would be extraordinary.
After receiving such inspiration from my friend, I tried best in the next few years to put up some draft. But every time it failed to satisfy me as it appeared to be a narration without any life or humour. My poor knowledge of literary English also proved a stumbling block for me. In 2008, I got a chance to visit states like Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and west Bengal, in the course of recruitment in Tripura State Rifles (TSR), against the outside state quota. I was the Chairman of Recruitment Board, and our team could touch almost all the historic places where events of Mahabharata had taken place than five thousands years ago. It was a maiden experience for me by road more than ten thousands kilometres.
As an ardent reader of prolific writer satyajit Ray and his immoral creation, ‘Professor Trilokeshwar Shanku’, I decided to weave my fiction, Souls: A Journey from Mahabharata to Bharata, in the form of a diary. Anyone acquainted with Ray’s work will appreciate the simplicity of his writing style. I tried to emulate his of writing to overcome my shortcomings of literary English.
I have narrated the journey in the novel similar to the itinerary of TSR Recruitment Rally. While acknowledging the hospitality of CRPF, BSF, ITBP, State Police Forces and other organizations, I would like to state with confidence that characters portrayed in my fiction which have acquaintance with these august houses will not injure their reputation. These characters in the novel are fictitious and any resemblance with individual’s personal life or organization will be a mere coincidence.
The book will appeal to a wide cross-section of people, who will not only find it interesting but also informative.