Book: My Village My Country
Author: Durga Prasad Dash
Genre: Culture & Philosophy
Format: Kindle Edition
Price on Amazon: INR 99
“When some other lands were ruled by monkeys and bears, India was the country exploring highest forms of science and mystic experiences”. The soul of such a country of ‘what it was’, ‘what it is’, and ‘what potential it beholds to become’, is insightfully and engrossingly presented in the book “My Village My Country” by an author of seven books, a ‘yogic guru’, and a polymath who has his heart beating to the tune of Hindustan’s life that thrives in its villages.
I was introduced to his ingenious writing during Blogchatter A to Z challenge and his book had to be in my top To-Be-Read list. I am delighted that I had the honor of reading this book.
Know the Author
Author of several books and a volume of poetry, Durga Prasad Dash has been a soldier, educational trainer, and yoga teacher. He has toured and resided in various parts of India exploring the country’s immense wealth of landscapes, landmarks, cuisines, cultural roots, and spiritual practices.
He has an in-depth understanding of life and his vast knowledge spans through ancient scriptures to the modern nuances including areas like- history, culture, yogic practices, spirituality, geographical attributes, politics, and much more. He has published seven books in multiple genres and writes regularly for his own Blog and other publications.
The Cover and the Title of the Book
The book cover is alluring, charming, and mesmerizing. The color of the sky and sea, and a symbol of depth, stability, and intelligence, ‘Blue shade’ of the book-cover soothes the senses immediately. Complimented by the thirteenth century Dakshineswara temple near the author’s native village ‘Nua Mahulia’, a temple that is marked on the Google maps, the cover instantly emanates a feeling of tranquil and nostalgia. The streamers in the backdrop elevate the celebratory spirit of the book, its cover and the title.
The Title of the book is aptly suited to the content of the book. As the author aims at presenting the heartbeat of our country through its rural spirit, and along the process, he also portrays broader aspects that build up our nation, the Title of the book could not have been better.
Depicting the ‘pulsating spirit of India in general and Odisha in particular’ through the ‘nostalgic journey to his childhood village Nua Mahulia, symbolizing a lost world of unworried existence, languor and innocence’, and which also ‘include other points of view on the subjective issues’ of Hindustan, the book grabs your attention and holds it right through its first word to the end of the elucidation.
The chapters of the book are alphabetically ordered and the title of each chapter is intriguing and instantly spikes curiosity, the content that follows is equally entrancing and exceeds the expectation set by its title. Interesting facts about the place, topic, and its essence are penned in the endnotes in many segments.
‘Odisha’ was also known as “Utkal”, which means excellence of art! From the historical details of the place to its cultural spirit, and geographical specifics, the author has elaborately presented Odisha beyond the ‘Golden triangle of tourist circuit comprising of Puri, Bhubaneshwar and Konar’, in a captivating manner in the very first chapter.
‘Hollywood could have been renamed as Eollywood and Hindi film Industry as Hollywood’, How?
And what is the B Town connections of the author? To know this, glide on to the next chapter.
‘Music fuels the intensity of our emotions’
This is the segment where the author enlightens about the ‘Relationship of music with geography’, and where he also intelligently quizzes if Indian classical music can heal an ailment.
‘It is only logical that after the article on music, the subject of dance should come up’.
Learn all about ‘Danda Nacha’, which the author says, ‘Is not about repentance. It is more about penance’. It is heartening to discover how the author’s grandfather composed several of his songs during Danda Nacha, and what special connect he had with the festival.
From the comforting land of music and dance, you are then flown to our obsession with the English language and British-raj and BPO culture in India. ‘Along with mastering English, can we do something for the preservation and development of our native languages’. The author renders this thought-provoking insight through this section of the book. One could take inspiration from the author’s father-in-law who dedicatedly studied Sanskrit along with English.
‘Odisha has a sweet dispute with its neighbor West Bengal’. And what is that? Move to this segment of the book to find out.
In this chapter, the author smoothly carries you through the flavors of temple food to local cuisines and festivity foods, and then also compels you to ponder about the ones who have nothing to eat.
“India lives in its villages”. This is the essence of the book and this chapter, where the author shares his thoughts about the Bollywood portrayal of villages and the movie that lasted only a day or two in the box office, the name of the movie ironically meaning ‘un-erasable mark’. He also points out how ‘adopting good western values like honesty, scientific temper and adventurous spirit’ is righteous, however, ‘we have restricted our imitation of western elements to superficial things’.
Your mind would have only begun contemplating this datum, the author then traverses you through the “Missing History of Hindustan’.
‘Missing links in Indian History that evoke either wild speculation from vested interests or deafening silence from the seekers of truth’
The author induces you to understand that more than focusing on the facts and figures, we should converge on the lessons and mystic messages taught by our epics.
The author also presents a comprehensive and perceptive review of the book ‘India: a sacred Geography’ in the next segment.
In the next chapters, drift through the fact, how ‘Juggernaut comes from the Hindi word Jagannath’ and what role does ‘Jagannath Rath Yatra’ play here, to the author’s desire to ‘take a leisurely bike journey along the river Kaveri’, and what makes him think,
‘Quite often in our country, folklore and social stereotypes merge with mythologies to give a local twist even to the legends of divine descent.’
Talking about Lord Krishna being considered as the first liberal of Hindustan, elaborating on the L word and the types of Liberals, the author then transports the readers to take a virtual tour of Mughal India through his book review of ‘Beyond the three seas’.
“Small is my village. You may not find it mentioned in geography or any other book but ….”
How this school poem relates to the author’s native village Nua Mahulia, and to know him through the interesting stories from his early years spent here, cruise through this segment where the author concludes,
‘Thorough city-bred may feel he is in another galaxy after spending a month in our village’
The endearing pictures complimenting the description of the village are a visual delight.
Take cognizance of the eminent classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, and her journey through the dance of Odissi in the next chapter. How Odyssey and Odissi are connected, and what does it have to do with the dancer’s journey? Find out in this engrossing section.
Move on to the following section to learn how the stories from our epics reach the masses and how did we learn our Puranas. Learn all about Pala Nacha here.
Spiritualism is not escapism but there were some quitters of Hindustan who brought the ‘gradual downfall of Odisha’s empire and glory’, the ones who practiced it wrong and neglected their duties. If only people could understand the real spiritualism and interpretations and messages from our Puranas! The author shares his insight and instances from his life to highlight how one should not ‘choose ascetic life to escape trouble’.
‘British drained the wealth of India, the Mughal rule was a period of intellectual drain’.
Was the British Raj a necessary evil? Find out in this segment ‘Making Sense of the British Raj’.
Ascertain how the significance of a philosophical language of Hinduism is distorted because ‘Indians grow up reading the interpretation of our mythologies and other scriptures of only western authors and then grow up to become self-styled experts in it.’
In the next chapters, travel with the author, in the Indian Railways that connects the remote and difficult parts of India, and has been on a continuous path of progress, and disembark to the land of Odisha to discover some unknown, unique and ugly aspects of the place.
‘The ancient seers realised and emphasised the inter-connectedness and the oneness of the existence.’
Trail the sketches of some villains from the Vedanta and Epics where the author brings some grey characters from the Vedic ages and shares some important thoughts from Hindu philosophy.
From the foundations of Indian philosophy and spirituality, the author remarkably navigates to the mystics of mathematical concept and its significance in the evolution of the Indian thought system.
Encountering a range of inter-related subjects about the nation, you could not miss the ‘X factors of Hindustan’.
‘There is no need to blindly accept everything of past. At the same time, it does not make sense to consider everything of past as useless.’
The author fetches Yoga from the Vedas and other epics, presents its varied dimensions, and emphasizes that believing in God is not a pre-requisite to become a Yogi.
The concluding segment manifests on how ‘Dhyana’ and Meditation are similar yet different, and how is Dhyana connected to the Japanese word Zen.
The book is very well researched and an astounding result of the vast knowledge of the author in varied subjects. The crux of which is brilliantly presented in this book through his fluid, humor-tinged, and occasional sarcasm-oriented writing that holds the attention of the reader throughout. The topics are powerful, soul-stirring, and stimulating.
Although the matters are diverse, they are beautifully weaved through a central idea which makes them inter-connected and corresponding.
You would not want the book to end, and it is worth multiple readings to truly imbibe the essence of it.
A note to the Author
The acknowledgment in the book lists the names of fellow-bloggers whom the author has extended his appreciation. I feel extremely honored and couldn’t feel more humbled to see my name being included in the list. I extend my sincerest gratitude to him. It has been a pleasure, and an enriching experience reading his inspiring posts through the A to Z challenge.
Get your copy of the book here.
Here is a list of books written by the author
I feel connected to ‘My village my country’ in many ways, and more so, because it talks about the significance of remaining connected to our roots. Only when we are held tightly to our roots can we spread our wings and fly around as in my book Around the world…through my lens.
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