The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan - that Institute of Indian Culture in Mumbai — needed a Book University, a series of books which, if read, would serve the purpose of providing higher education. Particular emphasis, however, was to be put on such literature as revealed the deeper impulsions of India. As a first step, it was decided to bring out in English l00 books, 50 of which were to be taken in hand almost at once.
It is our intention to publish the books we select not only in English, but also in the following Indian languages: Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
This scheme, involving the publication of 900 volumes, requires ample funds and an all-India organization. The Bhavan is exerting its utmost to supply- them.
The objectives for which the Bhavan stands are the reintegration of the Indian culture in the light of modern knowledge and to suit our present day needs and the resuscitation of its fundamental values in their pristine vigour.
Let me make our goal more explicit: We seek the dignity of man, which necessarily implies the creation of social conditions which would allow him freedom to evolve along the lines of his own temperament and capacities: we seek the harmony of individual efforts and social relations, not in any makeshift way, but within the framework of the Moral Order; we seek the creative art of life, by the alchemy of which human limitations are progressively transmuted, so that man may become the instrument of God, and is able to see Him in all and all in Him.
The world, we feel, is too much with us. Nothing would uplift or inspire us so much as the beauty and aspiration which such books can teach
In this series, therefore, the literature of India, ancient and. modern, will be published in a form easily accessible to all. Books in other literatures of the world, if they illustrate the principles we stand- for, will also be included.
This common pool of literature, it is hoped, will enable the reader, eastern or western, to understand and appreciate currents of world thought, as also the movements of the mind in India, which, though they flow through different linguistic channels, have a common urge and aspiration.
Fittingly, the Book University’s first venture is the Mahabharata, summarised by one of the greatest living Indians, C. Rajagopalachari; the second work is on a section of it, the Gita, by H. V. Divatia, an eminent jurist and a student of philosophy. Centuries ago, it was proclaimed of the Mahabharata: “What is not in it, is nowhere.” After twenty five centuries, we can use the same words about it. He who knows it not, knows not the heights and depths of the soul; he misses the trials and tragedy and the beauty and grandeur of life.
The Mahabharata is not a mere- epic; it is a romance, telling the tale of heroic men and women and of some who were divine; it is a whole literature in itself, containing a code of life, a philosophy of social and ethical relations, and speculative thought on human problems that is hard to rival; but, above all, it has for its core the Gita, which is, as the world is beginning to find out, the noblest of scriptures and the grandest of sagas in which the climax is reached in the wondrous Apocalypse in the Eleventh Canto.
Through such books alone the harmonies underlying true culture, I am convinced, will one day reconcile the disorders of modern life.
I thank all those who have helped to make this new branch of the Bhavan’s activity successful.
THE Stories of Vikramaditya are among the oldest collection of folk tales centering round the personality of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. First written in Sanskrit, a number of slightly differing versions are extant in all the major languages of India. The stories are most interesting.
The main purpose of these stories is to illustrate the generous deeds of a model king and emphasize moral lessons. In this light they are didactic, but in their ingenious plots, dramatic situations, portrayal of real life and correct appraisal of human character, they are superb. As the reader can easily notice, human nature has not changed a whit after a thousand years at least.
The original authorship of these stories is unknown, even as their date; but they are generally believed to have originated during the period 11th to 13th centuries.
“Simhasana Dwatrimsika” or Thirty-two Tales of the Throne, is a series of stories related by the statuettes on the throne of King Bhoja. They were first published in the Bhavan’s Journal and proved very popular. A sister volume to these "Stories of Vikramaditya” is also published under the caption of "Vetala Panchavimsati
Back of the Book
Author, journalist and scholar, Shri Aiyer is given to, by aptitude and training, a wide range of studies extending from Astrology to Vedic researches, starting life as the Editor of a Music Journal in the pen thirties, he was a school teacher for two years. The lure of the pen drew him again to the editorial department of daily newspapers of Ceylon, Madras and Bombay successively.
He joined the Bhavan in 1952 and served as Associate Editor of the Bhavan’s Journal since its inception for 15 years till 1968, when he went over to Bangalore in 1968 as the Director of Bhavan’s Bangalore Kendra. Presently, he is engaged in producing Cultural Readers and other literature for children at the Bhavan.
His published works include a book on Astrology and a couple of books on Palmistry, beside Stories of King Madana Kama, Stories of King Bhoja and Hindu Shastras and Samskaras published by the Bhavan.
The STORIES OF VIKRAMADITYA are among the oldest collection of folk tales centering round the personality of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. First written in Saskrit, a number of slightly differing versions are extant in all the major languages of India. The stories are most interesting.
The present author has retold them in English for the modern man.
The main purpose of these stories is to illustrate the generous deeds of a model king and emphasize moral lessons. In this light they are didactic, but in their ingenious plots, dramatic situations, portrayal of real life and correct appraisal of human character, they are superb. As the reader can easily notice, human nature has not changed a while even after a thousand years.
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