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 13 must-read books recommended by Dr David Frawley:
(Dr David Frawley is an American born Hindu acharya and thinker, who has written numerous books on topics spanning the Vedas, Hinduism, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology. In 2015, he was honored by the Government of India with the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India.
Dr Frawley, the founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies at Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a former President of the American Council of Vedic Astrology. He often publishes in pro-Hindutva vernacular newspapers in the UK and is a strong advocate of the Hindu Holocaust hypothesis. He is a practitioner of Ayurveda, and recommends the practice of ascetic rituals along with moral purification as indispensable parts of the Advaita tradition.)
1. Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swami, by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj, one of the most inspiring spiritual figures of modern times and the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, is the inheritor of a legacy of Gunatit gurus hearkening to the early nineteenth century. Pramukh Swamiji became a friend of the eleventh president of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Together they created an unparalleled spirituality-science fellowship.In Transcendence, Dr Kalam and Arun Tiwari map a journey of self-realization reflected in the eyes of Pramukh Swamiji, painting a delightful fusion of spirituality, science and leadership.His candid vignettes from life on the centre stage of Indian technology and societal missions,Indian politics and world affairs are interwoven with revelations of a profound connection with Swamiji.Through the life of Pramukh Swamiji and the history of the Swaminarayan mission, Dr Kalam traces the great rise of the Indian diaspora across the world. Drawing from the lives of great scientists and creative leaders, Transcendence captures the spiritual essence of all religions and is as much a fountain of inspiration and a treasury of wisdom as it is a tribute to the multi-faith Indian society. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25931454-transcendence-my-spiritual-experiences-with-pramukh-swamiji
2. Swami Chinmayananda: The Journey of a Master by Nancy Patchen
This biography Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993) is for anyone who wants to get a perspective of a different mindset and a unique way of life. In telling the story of one master’s training and evolution in the Himalayas and his subsequent mission to his countrymen, the author enlightens you on the essence of India’s culture, philosophy and religion. His story will surely educate you, inspire you, and broaden your horizons of the meaning of life.
By teaching directly the wisdom of their ancient scriptures, he gave the listeners confidence and inspiration to move forward in business and in creating charitable endeavors for the uplifting of the downtrodden of the country. Through 200 centers in India, his devotees have built and operate schools, hospitals and clinics, nursing homes, retirement homes and training centers for nurses and teachers, as well as spiritual training centers.
3. The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History by Sanjeev Sanyal
In a first-of-its-kind attempt, bestselling author Sanjeev Sanyal tells the history of this significant region, which stretches across East Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia and Australia. He narrates a fascinating tale about the earliest human migrations out of Africa and the great cities of Angkor and Vijayanagar; medieval Arab empires and Chinese ‘treasure fleets’; the rivalries of European colonial powers and a new dawn.
The Ocean of Churn takes the reader on an amazing journey through medieval geopolitics and eyewitness accounts of long-lost cities to the latest genetic discoveries about human origins, bringing alive a region that has defined civilization from the very beginning
4. Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 by Vikram Sampath
As the intellectual fountainhead of the ideology of Hindutva, which is in political ascendancy in India today, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is undoubtedly one of the most contentious political thinkers and leaders of the twentieth century.
Drawing from a vast range of original archival documents across India and abroad, this biography in two parts-the first focusing on the years leading up to his incarceration and eventual release from the Kalapani-puts Savarkar, his life and philosophy in a new perspective and looks at the man with all his achievements and failings. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50767759-savarkar
5. The Man Who Saved India by Hindol Sengupta
There is perhaps no political figure in modern history who did more to secure and protect the Indian nation than Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. But, ironically, seventy years after Patel brought together piece by piece the map of India by fusing the princely states with British India to create a new democratic, independent nation, little is understood or appreciated about Patel's enormous contribution to the making of India.
With fiercely detailed and pugnacious anecdotes, multiple award-winning, best-selling writer Hindol Sengupta brings alive Patel's determined life of struggle and his furious commitment to keep India safe. This book brings alive all the arguments, quarrels and clashes between some of the most determined people in Indian history and their battle to carve out an independent nation. Through ravages of a failing body broken by decades of abuse in and outside prison, Patel stands out in this book as the man who, even on his death bed, worked to save India. Hindol Sengupta's The Man Who Saved India is destined to define Patel's legacy for future generations. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40661184-the-man-who-saved-india
6. Swami Vivekananda: Hinduism and India’s Road to Modernity by Makarand Paranjape
Swami Vivekananda revolutionized Hindu faith traditions by turning them into a repository of rational, universal philosophy. This book tries to get to the heart of Swami Vivekananda's legacy and his relevance in the contemporary world. It examines hitherto lesser-known aspects of Swamiji's life and work including his contributions to practical Vedanta, universal religion, science-spirituality and inter-religious dialogue, dharmic secularism, educational philosophy, poetry, and, above all, to the problem of Indian modernity. Despite the abundance of literature available on him, Swami Vivekananda is still not understood adequately, remaining somewhat of an enigma. A fresh reading of the life and times of the Swami by someone who has studied him closely, Makarand R. Paranjape's detailed, thought-provoking account shows that in Vivekananda's visionary thoughts lay the seeds of the creation of a modern India. This book reclaims Swami Vivekananda's stature as a pioneer of contemporary Hindu thought and nationalism. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22481306-swami-vivekananda
7. Immortal India: Articles and Speeches by Amish by Amish Tripathi
India, a culture that witnessed the dawn of civilisation. That witnessed the rise of other cultures and watched them turn to dust. It has been celebrated and attacked. Admired and vilified. But through all these millennia, after all the ups and downs of history, it's still here! And now, after a few centuries of decline, it's driving a new dawn once again. Ajanaabhavarsh. Bharat. Hindustan. India. The names may change, but the soul of this great land is immortal.
Amish helps you understand India like never before, through a series of sharp articles, nuanced speeches and intelligent debates. Based on his deep understanding of subjects such as, religion, mythology, tradition, history, contemporary societal norms, governance, and ethics, in Immortal India: Young Country, Timeless Civilisation, Amish lays out the vast landscape of an ancient culture with a fascinatingly modern outlook. (Read more about the book: https://www.amazon.in/Immortal-India-Articles-Speeches-Amish-ebook/dp/B073ZY5ZNW
8. Krishna Yogeshvara: The Dice of Kutil Dharma by Sanjay Dixit
Krishna Yogeshvara, the second volume in the Lord Krishna Trilogy, seamlessly weaves a mystical, awe-inspiring narrative of the leela of Krishna through the least explored aspect of his life-the years in between the killing of Kamsa and the start of the great war of Mahabharata.
The book explores the deep recesses of the minds of the various characters and how they interact with Krishna. The author intertwines the narrative of traditional Krishna stories with a touch of realism, using the technique of Uddhava's narration with his own. As the two paths converge, the villains and antagonists of the great epic also come to the fore and are vanquished strategically by Krishna's brilliance. Kutil Dharma, so brutal earlier, transmogrifies into a subtle but more devastating form; yet, he cannot escape the sharp eye of Krishna. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49047329-krishna-yogeshvara
9. How I Became a Hindu by Sita Ram Goel
An intellectual biography of Sita Ram Goel, an eminent writer and historian. It is not sufficient to be a Hindu by birth. One must be a convinced and conscious Hindu to be able survive when Hindu society is under attack from several Quarters. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9590808-how-i-became-a-hindu
10. Secret of the Veda by Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo breaks new ground in interpreting the ancient Vedas. His deeper insight into this came from his own spiritual practices for which he found vivid allegorical descriptions in the Vedas. The hidden meaning of the rig Veda is revealed with numerous translations and commentary. Many have been perplexed by the reverence accorded to the Vedas when they read past commentaries or translations. Sri Aurobindo was able to uncover the mystery of the double meanings, the inner psychological and yogic significance and practices and the consistent, clear sense brought by this psychological view of the Vedic hymns. Finally, the true inner meaning of the Veda and its relevance to the seeking after self-realization and enlightenment is revealed. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1370475.Secret_of_the_Veda
11. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Autobiography of a Yogi is at once a beautifully written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. This acclaimed autobiography presents a fascinating portrait of one of the great spiritual figures of our time. With engaging candor, eloquence, and wit, Paramahansa Yogananda tells the inspiring chronicle of his life: the experiences of his remarkable childhood, encounter with many saints and sages during his youthful search throughout India for an illumined teacher, ten years of training in the hermitage of a revered yoga master, and the thirty years that he lived and taught in America. Also recorded here are his meetings with Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Luther Burbank, the Catholic stigmatist Therese Neumann, and other celebrated spiritual personalities of East and West. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/639864.Autobiography_of_a_Yogi
12. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna translated by Swami Nikhilananda
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna translated by Swami Nikhilananda is an English translation of the Bengali religious text Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita. The text records conversations of Ramakrishna with his disciples, devotees, and visitors, recorded by Mahendranath Gupta, who wrote the book under the pseudonym of "M." The first edition was published in 1942.
Aldous Huxley wrote in his Forward to the Gospel, "...'M' produced a book unique, so far as my knowledge goes, in the literature of hagiography. Never have the casual and unstudied utterances of a great religious teacher been set down with so minute detail. Swami Nikhilananda wrote that he had written an accurate translation of the Kathamrita, "omitting only a few pages of no particular interest to English-speaking readers" and stating that "often literary grace has been sacrificed for the sake of literal translation. (Read more about the book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gospel_of_Sri_Ramakrishna
13. Adi Shankara: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker, Pavan K. Varma
Jagad Guru Adi Shankaracharya (788–820 CE) was born in Kerala and died in Kedarnath, traversing the length of India in his search for the ultimate truth. In a short life of thirty-two years, Shankaracharya not only revived Hinduism, but also created the organisational structure for its perpetuation through the mathas he established in Sringeri, Dwaraka, Puri and Joshimatha.
Adi Shankaracharaya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker is a meticulously researched and comprehensive account of his life and philosophy. Highly readable, and including a select anthology of Shankaracharya’s seminal writing, the book also examines the startling endorsement that contemporary science is giving to his ideas today. A must read for people across the ideological spectrum, this book reminds readers about the remarkable philosophical underpinning of Hinduism, making it one of the most vibrant religions in the world. (Read more about the book: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/39290567-adi-shankaracharya