How my book is rated

Present Ratings Amazon India 5.00 stars with 5 ratings. Amazon US 5.00 stars with 2 ratings Goodreads 5.00 with 3 ratings

Posted by Our Heritage Revisited on Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The cover of the book is a collage of various ideas and experiences related to the topic. The pictures below reflect the “guru shishya parampara” (गुरु शिष्य परम्परा) in our culture. All knowledge is said to be learnt by the shishya or student from a guru or teacher, which has then to be absorbed by deep meditation and thought. The word Upanishad too means to be seated at the feet of a guru to receive teaching. Our ancient texts are generally in the form of dialogues / explanations between a guru and a shishya, or sometimes as a discourse between two rishis one of whom is the giver and the other a recipient of knowledge.
Thus the Bhagwad Gita is Krishna’s teachings to Arjun, narrated by the charioteer Sanjay to King Dhritrashtra. The Upanishads have a similar approach - the Kath Upanishad is Yam’s teachings to Nachiketa, the Prashna Upanishad is rishi Pippalad explaining to six disciples etc. The Mundak Upanishad has the conversation between the Angiras and Shaunak (representing the householder or the student-rishi).Then the Yog Vashisht is the teachings of rishi Vashisht to Sri Ram when the latter was young, but presented in the form of narrations and conversations between other guru/shishyas.
Amongst the later Smriti texts, the author is telling us (the reader) but again through narrations - usually several of the commentaries running parallel.
The Ramcharitmanas has three discussions interspersed – Shiv to Parvati, Yagyavalkya to Bharadwaj and Kakbhushandi (a sage in the form of a crow) to Garud (an eagle and Vishnu’s vehicle). The Mahabharat is narrated by Ugrashravas (उग्रश्रवस) to Shaunak (शौनक) in Naimisharanya (नैमिषारण्य), a forest well-known in our culture as being the venue for several discourses. Within this, is the narration of the Bharat kings by the rishi Vaishampayan to the Kaurav King Janamejaya, as also the narration of the Bhagwad Gita. In the Bhagwat Puran too, several discourses run simultaneously : Sut ji to Shaunakadi (Shaunak etc. as disciples) again in Naimisharanya, then by Sanakadi (Sanak etc. - Brahma’s sons) to Narad, Maitreya to Vidur and Shukhdev (the son of Ved Vyas) to Parikshit, the grandson of Arjun.

This peculiarity of our ancient texts is thus depicted by these images in the book cover.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Rituals and Mantras in our Hindu religion

Our Hindu ancient books are generally not taught in any schools, perhaps for fear of being bandied anti-secular. And they are not formally read at home either - they are too tough or too long or ... And yet, almost all Hindus know of the Ramayan and the Mahabharat and have read tales of it. The stories are so interesting and enticing and there are so very many of them. So they are widely covered in the comic books - Amar Chitra Katha to name one series. And then we have the huge coverage on television. And some extracts of these in various other forms.

But come to the mantras chanted in our prayers, and the source changes - these are from various parts of the Veds (Vedas). Thus the Gayatri mantra and the Mahamritunjay mantra are both from the Sanhita of the Rig Ved. Prayers like "Asto Maa Sadagamaya", "Om Purnamidah" etc. are from the Upanishads. Our National motto "Satyamev Jayate" is from the Upanishads. And of course the huge importance that we give to "OM" is from the Upanishads. The first I have read about reincarnation, departure after life either to heaven or the attaining of moksh are also in the Upanishads.

But come to rituals - they are followed so very differently in various parts of the country, in various sects or even in families. How come? Where do rituals come from? My research when writing my book did not go in this direction except to indicate that rituals are elaborated in the Brahman portions of the Veds. And yet the little I have read of the Brahmans does not elaborate on rituals. But they did lead to one very interesting piece of knowledge that I did not have earlier - that of the Agams (agamas).

My daughter read the draft on the Shruti texts  and asked a basic question - the mantra portion of the Veds have the various gods of Nature but not the Trinity. The Upanishads all talk of one Supreme God - Brahm. And then suddenly the Purans have Brahma, Vishnu Mahesh. How come?

All my efforts have not come up with an answer which is satisfactory to me. The Agams, which are also considered Shruti texts, are ancient and closest to our present rituals. But they are in Granthi - an old form of Tamil. So how do we account for the rituals practiced in the North. Also the concepts of Yantra have not really percolated to us.

Even today, Agamic literature is not really available in English or Hindi. Efforts are on in Pondicherry and France to collect the old texts and to translate the Agams into Sanskrit and French.

Does anyone have more ideas on this matter?

But if you want a quick and simple read of which are the classes of our Hindu texts and what is the difference between them, read my book "Our Heritage Revisited : A glimpse into ancient Indian texts". If your knowledge of these is rather basic, I promise you will be astounded at the variety and depth we have in our literature. Reviews and comments on it can be seen here

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Our Heritage Revisited : Reviews and comments on facebook

Since most of the sales of the book have been through orders placed directly on me, they do not get reflected in any on-line statistics. Comments on the book are also sent to me directly, hardly any are available on Amazon, which is effectively the other direct source of some little sale. 

Reviews etc. on the book can be found at facebook. This page is in the public domain and you do not need to be my friend to view it, or even to post on it.

Do visit this page, like it, and add your comments or your questions here.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Our Heritage Revisited - Reviewed in Hindustan Times

Yesterday's edition of HT City - of Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh, has carried this review of my book
  • 8 Aug 2015
  • Hindustan Times (Delhi)
Scriptures, simplified

Mythological scriptures are heavy stuff. So it’s a refreshing change when there’s a handbook for those who are genuinely interested in the sacred texts, but too scared to dive into those fat pages unabridged. This simple, informative guide to Hindu texts such as the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, The Puranas, Upanishads and Shastras, among others, offers an easily understandable introduction, and decodes tough-sounding Sankrit terms into philosophies you grow to love. It takes ancient learnings from sounding complicated to simple and relatable, and puts on the table a consolidated modern capsule for young people who wish to revisit their roots. Title: Our Heritage Revisited Author: Anju Saha Price:  350; available online

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Reading what is in the Bhagvad Gita : Chapter I, Vishad Yog

My book is in the nature of a primer, an introduction to our amazing ancient Hindu scriptures, covering a span of about 2000 years in just 66 pages.  Of necessity, therefore, the book had to restrict information on the individual texts to the barest minimum. I thought, through this blog, I would elaborate some more on the basic information of our books.

I start with the Bhagvad Gita. It is the dialogue between Arjun and Krishna in a situation where the warrior Arjun throws down his arms, dejected at the thought of the ensuing war with his relatives and respected elders on the other side. The book, in Sanskrit verses, has eighteen adhyayas or chapters.

The first adhyaya is called ‘Vishad Yog” (विषाद योग). Vishad here means despondency. It starts with the blind King Dhitrarashtra asking his charioteer and advisor, Sanjay (who has been given divine vision and hearing) to narrate what is happening in the far-away battlefield of Kurushetra. The entire Bhagvad Gita is Sanjay’s narration before the start of the war.

The Kaurav prince Duryodhan, the eldest of the hundred sons of Dhitrarashtra, accompanied by Dronacharya, the guru or teacher of the princes of both sides, surveys the army of his opponents - the Pandavs (his cousins).  It is a mighty army with several brave and strong warriors led by Arjun, the third son and an archer par excellence, accompanied by the second son, the mighty Bheem. Duryodhan  is confident of victory when he compares them with the might and valour of his own army, which includes the patriarch Bhishma. There is a fearsome sound as the leaders of all the armies blow their conch shells before the start of the war.

Arjun requests his charioteer Krishna, the eighth incarnation of God Vishnu, to drive to the middle of the battlefield so he too can take stock. He is dismayed on seeing all his near and dear on the other side – his guru, his respected elders, close relatives and even dear youngsters, his in-laws, friends and others close to his heart. And so starts his dismay, confusion, worry, apprehension and anxiety – how can he possibly fight against them and kill them – his own family?

He tells Krishna, that not for the three worlds would he embark on a journey that can only be considered sinful, and here at stake is only a part of the earth. Such a course would doom his entire kin. The other side had not thought of the unpardonable crimes that would be committed by this war, but that could be no reason for they themselves not to see this.

His weapons fall to the ground and Arjun is ready to give up.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

"Our Heritage Revisited" reviewed

I had found some reviewers on the Net, obviously persons I do not know, and had asked them to review my book “Our Heritage Revisited “ A glimpse into ancient Indian scriptures”. The first one sent back this message after reading the book:

"Anju a work very well done seriously!
Hats off to you for this one :)"

The full review has appeared in the August issue of their e-zine and can be read at

The review has been done by Namrata whose website is .  Many thanks, Namrata, not only for reading my book and publishing the review, but also for your various mails to me, repeatedly endorsing your view that you have really liked my book

Do read the reviews, and comment if you feel inclined.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Distortion of Indian words due to their spelling in English

A reader, after reading my book Our Heritage Revisited : A glimpse into ancient Indian Texts has raised the point about the right / recommended way of mentioning Sanskrit words.  He said that generally Vedas, Puranas, Moksha, Karma are used but, in the book it was Ved, Puran, Moksh, Karm which may sound correct in spoken Hindi, but is not commonly seen in texts.  And in Sanskrit, usually the words are spoken with vowel at the end so, he thought, the words ending in 'a' may be closer to the original Sanskrit word sounds.

His point was genuine - I do feel that in spellings, the matter is debatable. Hanuman ends with a halant and hence never becomes Hanumana. If it had, instead of giving it the sound of the whole consonant 'n', we would have added the 'aa' maatra on our own and pronounced it as Hanumanaa the way we have started saying Ramaa.

Let me try and explain, using some examples, why I have preferred different spellings in my book. Take Dharm or Dharma. The latter spelling is right, if you consider the first 'a' in 'Dha'. But by spelling the word as 'Dharma' the pronunciation has become 'Dharmaa' which is incorrect. 

Now let us take what I consider a good example. The word in Sanskrit is पुराण. Using the IAST style, the correct spelling is purāṇa. Here notice the diacritical mark above the first ‘a’ but not above the second (thereby clearly indicating that each 'a' has a different pronunciation), and notice the mark below ‘n’. If these marks are omitted, which is frequently seen these days, the spelling becomes ‘purana’ and the pronunciation distorted to पुराना or ‘purānā’ - since both "a" have the same pronunciation, both now would have the mark above in this pronunciation, and the sound of 'n' has also changed. Similar distortions take place due to the absence of the diacritical marks (the dot below the ‘s’) in Shiv and Vishnu etc.

Another recognised style of writing the words in English is the ITRANs transliteration where a different sort of difficulty is faced. Here again Veda is correct but Garud Puran becomes garuDapuraaNa, Smriti becomes smRRiti, Vedang is vedaaN^ga, Krishna is kRRiShNa.

So IAST spellings distort pronunciation, unless diacritical marks are ensured. And ITRANs does not make for smooth reading. Both thus had their own issues. I preferred to keep it simple for the reader and as close to the Indian pronunciation as possible and so gave the Hindi/Sanskrit words alongside.

Incidentally, on International Yoga Day, on TV, I heard David Frawley, whose pronunciation was good. I also heard an Indian expert who used the more common spelling 'asanas' to pronounce the word as 'asanaas".

How much can we distort our own Indian words?