Coronavirus Lockdown Reading List #6: 12 must-read books recommended by Tarun Vijay #TheGreatIndianReadBookList #StayHomeIndiaWithBooks

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In the wake of preventive measures of the Government of India to curb the spread of Covid-19, and to encourage people to #StayHome, Organiser publishes a series titled ‘ #TheGreatIndianReadBookList ', a reading list recommended by India’s leading public intellectuals. The series aims to introduce to our readers a few books that every Indian must read in her/his lifetime.
Here’s a list of 12 must-read books recommended by Shri Tarun Vijay
(Shri Tarun Vijay is an author, columnist, social worker and journalist. He is the Chairman of the National Monuments Authority. He was the editor of Panchajanya, from 1986 to February 2008. He was also elected member of Rajya Sabha and President of Parliamentary Group on India China Friendship. A journalist since 1976, Shri Tarun Vijay began his career with Russi Karanjia at the Mumbai-based tabloid Blitz and then as a freelance journalist for major dailies and magazines before spending five years as an RSS activist in the country's tribal areas. He is also the president of the Students & Youth for Thiruvalluvar)
1. Thirukural by Thiruvalluvar
Thirukkural is a collection of 1330 Tamil couplets organised into 133 chapters, written by Thiruvalluvar, great sage, Tamil poet and philosopher. Each chapter has a specific subject ranging from ethics, political and economical matters, to love. The text is considered an exceptional and widely cherished work of the Tamil literature. (Read more about the book:
2. Foundations of Indian Culture by Sri Aurobindo
The book is a defence of Indian civilisation and culture, with essays on Indian spirituality, religion, art, literature, and polity. Sri Aurobindo began the 'Foundations' series as an appreciative review of Sir John Woodroffe's book, 'Is India Civilised?', continued it with a rebuttal of the hostile criticisms of William Archer in 'India and Its Future', and concluded it with his own estimation of India's civilisation and culture. (Read more about the book:
3. Jai Somnath by K.M. Munshi
Jaya Somanath is a historical romance written by Kanhaiyalal Maniklal Munshi. The shrine of Lord Somanath at Prabhas is a very holy place and people flock here for darshan and prayers. Chaula is a very young temple dancer when the story begins. She is just eighteen and has the honour of dancing in front of the Lord on an auspicious day. She is applauded by everyone. She comes across Bheemdev and falls in love with him. The temple is destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni and this book deals with the historical facts woven interestingly with a story. (Read more about the book:
4. India's First War of Independence by Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
The Indian War of Independence is an Indian nationalist history of the 1857 revolt by Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar that was first published in 1909. The book, initially written in Marathi, was penned by Savarkar in response to celebrations in Britain of the 50th anniversary of the 1857 Indian uprising with records from India Office archives and the whole project received support from Indian nationalists in Britain including the likes of Madame Cama, V.V.S. Iyer and M.P.T. Acharya, as well as Indian students who had dared not show their support or sympathy for India House openly. Published during Savarkar's stay in London at the India House, the book was influenced by histories of the French Revolution and the American Revolution, as much as it sought to bring the Indian movement to public attention in Britain as well as to inspire nationalist revolution in India. Karl Marx had published an article named The Indian Revolt in the New-York Tribune,1857 and later went on to write the book The First Indian War of Independence 1857-58 in the coming years. Savarkar had published the book only later in 1909. (Read more about the book:
5. The Mahabharata translated by Bibek Debroy
The Mahabharata is one of the greatest stories ever told. Though the basic plot is widely known, there is much more to the epic than the dispute between the Kouravas and Pandavas that led to the battle in Kurukshetra. It has innumerable sub-plots that accommodate fascinating meanderings and digressions, and it has rarely been translated in full, given its formidable length of 80,000 shlokas or couplets. This magnificent 10- volume unabridged translation of the epic is based on the Critical Edition compiled at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Volume 1 consists of most of Adi Parva, in which much happens before the Kouravas and the Pandavas actually arrive on the scene. This volume covers the origins of the Kuru clan; the stories of Poushya, Poulama and Astika; the births of the Kouravas and the Pandavas; the house of lac; the slaying of Hidimba and Baka; Droupadi’s marriage; and ends with the Pandavas obtaining their share of the kingdom. Every conceivable human emotion figures in the Mahabharata, the reason why the epic continues to hold sway over our imagination. In this lucid, nuanced and confident translation, Bibek Debroy makes the Mahabharata marvellouly accessible to contemporary readers.
6. The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent Before the Coming of the Muslims by Arthur Llewellyn Basham
The Wonder That was India takes a look at the country's history from the time of the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization. It explores the possible causes for the decline of the Harappan civilization and settlements. The book talks about the possibility of the Harappans having moved towards the south and settled in the peninsular region. The author also discusses the Aryan invasion theory, supporting it with various research papers and findings of that time. The evolution of Hindu religion is also talked about in this book--from the Harappan times, to the coming of the Aryans and the mutual influence that Hinduism and its off shoots Jainism and Buddhism had on each other. (Read more about the book:
7. Anandamath by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay
Originally written in 1882, by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee Anandamath takes the reader back to Bengal in the clutches of the famine, the backdrop of the pre-independence struggle and the turmoil of human lives caught in this frame of time. The plot of the novel reveals the various dimensions of life in the backdrop of the Sannyasi Rebellion—such as the plight of the people wrecked by lack of food and hunger that drove them to the brink of cannibalism, the militant rebels, and women’s participation alongside their husbands. It is considered one of the most remarkable works of Bangla language and Indian literature. The rebellion was fought by the sannyasi’s or monks and the common multitudes who took up arms against the tyranny of the British colonisers and their excesses, especially taxes in such a time of privation. Bankim also gave us the song ‘Vande Mataram’ which became the rallying call for rebels. The first two stanzas eventually became the National song of India. One of the gems of Indian Literature, ‘Anandmath’ carries a deep sentiment of nationalism which was the essence of the freedom struggle. (Read more about the book:
8. Vichar Navneet by M.S, Golwalkar, Shri Guruji
"विचार नवनीत" परम पूजनीय श्री गुरुजी के विचारों पर आधारित है। यह संकलन मूल अंग्रेजी ग्रंथ "Bunch Of Thoughts"का हिंदी अनुवाद है। "विचार नवनीत" के हिंदी अनुवाद का दुष्कर कार्य लखनऊ में बैंक अधिकारी श्री भारत भूषण जी आर्य ने किया। श्री विरेश्वर जी द्विवेदी (पूर्व संपादक, 'राष्ट्र धर्म' मासिक) ने इसे और अधिक सुस्पष्ट तथा संशोधित किया। बरेली कॉलेज के हिंदी विभाग के पूर्व अध्यक्ष डॉ० भगवान शरण भारद्वाज जी ने हिंदी अनुवाद को पूर्ण करने के काम में 15 दिन अहर्निश परिश्रम किया।
9. Mrityunjay by Shivaji Sawant
Best suited for those readers who are interested in the vivid stories of Indian mythology, Mrityunjaya is an epic book. It has a complex and rich plot, with multiple story lines taking place. This mystifying work by Shivaji Sawant, originally created in Marathi, is now finally available in the other languages. Mrityunjaya, an autobiography of Karna with his narration and speculation gathers interest from the very initial pages. It provokes curiosity and describes Karna's thoughts in a very unconventional manner. (Read more about the book:
10. Ram Katha by Narendra Kohli
Celebrated author, Narendra Kohli's novel borrows its premise from the Ram Katha and is an epic narrative in four parts spread across 1800 pages. This is the first novel in any language based on the entire Ram Katha. It changed the course of Hindi fiction and was widely celebrated. The goal of this story is to portray the sublime, higher and simpler aspects of life. (Read more about the book and buy here:
11. Rajtarangini by Kalhan
Rajatarangini (Rājataraṃgiṇī, "The River of Kings") is a metrical legendary and historical chronicle of the north-western Indian subcontinent, particularly the kings of Kashmir. It was written in Sanskrit by Kashmiri historian Kalhana in the 12th century CE. The work consists of 7826 verses, which are divided into eight books called Tarangas ("waves"). (Read more about the book:
12. Thoughts on Pakistan by Dr B.R. Ambedkar
Dr B R Ambedkar wrote Thoughts on Pakistan (Pakistan or the Partition of India) just a few months after the Muslim League's ‘Pakistan Resolution’ in 1940. Ambedkar minced no words in criticising the divisive tendencies of Islam as a political ideology. Dr Ambedkar believed that it is impossible for a non-Muslim to live in an Islamic republic. “Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is the brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is fraternity but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity,” Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote in his monumental work, Pakistan or Partition of India.