Demystifying a mystic heritage

Shyam Banerji and Jagjit Singh at the release of "Hindu Gods And Temples: Symbolism, Sanctity and Sites" in New Delhi. Photo: S. Subramanium.  

THE HINDU religion has a large number of Gods, who represent the different forces of nature in one form or another. Helping to unravel the complex and sometimes conflicting facets of Hinduism is a new publication, "Hindu Gods And Temples: Symbolism, Sanctity and Sites" by Shyam Banerji. A book that takes you on an insightful journey into the colourful world of Hindu deities and places of worship, it was released at The Knowledge Store in South Delhi this past week.

The book is all about interpreting the profound philosophy projected by the sages and seers of ancient India. Well illustrated in a picturesque manner, it also unravels beliefs, myths and legends connected with some of the most popular temples and shrines in India. "This book is a result of eight months of hard work, as it is always very difficult when you try to touch the issues which are very sentimental as well as close to heart, and at the same time you do not want to hurt anybody's sentiments and their beliefs," declares the author, who has featured 47 popular images and shrines of Hindu deities in his work. It is claimed that the book uses images seen in calendars, hand painted by those traditional craftsmen who have mastered this art and have authority on the subject.

The writer says, "Before writing the book I have gone through major specialisation works on the subject and visited several places of worship, specially in North India. Each picture is the subject of the book and these are not imitations but the original ones, related in the context of time. There is no playing around with the words, no ambiguity, but a direct description. Things are explained in a simple manner."

Associated with leading organisations in heritage conservation and art and culture in India, he adds: "The book brings out the philosophy, myth, beliefs and truths of life, simply, in eye opening and interesting nuggets - like, why does Ganesha, the god of wisdom, have an elephant head? What is the symbolism of Krishna's flute? What is the Bhagawad Gita and what are the legends behind the foundation of some of the most famous Hindu temples and shrines. It is all about celebration of the great ethos that is called Sanatan Dharma, or eternal way of life." Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh who released the book said: "In a time specially when the younger generation is forgetting our culture and rich heritage, bringing out this book is a welcome and appreciable work. It will teach people the value of life. Religion is not only worshipping the Gods through recitation of prayers, offering of sacrifices and performing rituals but also your way of life and working. While dealing with such issues we should also take into consideration modern technology like animation as these technologies has far reaching impact, the way it has been done abroad."

Priced at Rs.995 this mystical and profound book is worth the read.