An Author’s Afternoon, presented by Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with Taj Bengal and Shree Cements hosted Koral Dasgupta. Dasgupta has published 5 books ranging from comedy to classic. Her 4th book, a comedy called ‘Summer Holidays’ has been optioned for screen adaptation. Her 5th book, Ahalya, is also the 1st of a five-part Sati series. She is a literary entrepreneur, discovering new voices through her laboratory, www.tellmeyourstory.biz Her work is recognised in the list of the Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2019.
In a conversation with her was Shraddhaa Murdia, Ehsaas Woman of Udaipur.
Welcoming them to the conversation was Esha Dutta.
Dasgupta candidly started the conversation by saying that Kolkata has disowned her, as there are times when Mumbai is written in front of her name. She says that there is special bond that she has with Kolkata, it is the city that has made her fall in love with words, literature, culture, music and rituals.
Dasgupta said that her love for books started during her childhood. She had a huge library at her home with some of the best collections of the book that was curated by her parents. Most of her time was spent in the library as both her parents were working and they had a nuclear family. Her family had always had discussions at length on the dinner table on different political ideologies, however there was never an unrest or animosity that one can see now, the hatred that people has can be seen by the animosity that grows today in the country and how it making the country weak from within.
Her love for books is what led her to write the stories that she had in her mind. For her writing was never about showing off her skills of writing, it was always about living the lives that she could not live in a lifetime. The things that she wanted to do, wanted to be and could not be were all that came out in the form of stories. Written books help her in living the journey.
“Dream is what spills out in the form of Art”
The worlds that we create in our dreams that we create in art in the form of music, dance and literature. The book series is a five-part about the Panch Kanyas or the Five Virgins. She said that in our scripters the point of view of the women have has not been written about, it has been ignored through centuries. These women have been called ‘Virgins’ not because of the purity of the body but because of the purity of their minds. The concept of ‘Purity of Mind over Body’ that we talk about now was still prevalent during those times, which goes on to show how the society was more progressive then.
Ahalya is the first in the book series. Her latest book, Ahalya, is from the point of view of the Ahalya, the wife of sage Gautam Maharishi. Ahalya was cursed by her husband for infidelity. Ahalya was seduced by Indra which resulted in her husband getting infuriated. All the stories have Indra in common and how the portrayal of Indra has changed from Rig Veda to the others. Indra in the Rig Veda was considered to be the most powerful God, a God more superior to Vishnu; however, in the later Vedas he hi described as a trouble maker, seducer, arrogant and ignorant. Dasgupta said that the philosophy of Hinduism has always fascinated her as in Hinduism, Nature is considered to be superior than Humans. The 5 women in the story are also connected to Nature in some way or the other.
She said that when writing the books, people had often told her to pray or meditate to get closer to God, but it was of no help to her, instead it made her more restless. Her mother then advised her that her work is worship and is meditation for her which made it easier for her to work and concentrate. God doesn’t like us interfering in the life that he has created for us. We should have faith and believe in him as he knows the bigger picture, the whole story of our life. We shouldn’t be discouraged by the hardships that come our way but learn from it and grow stronger.
The conversation shifted to feminism and her view on it, to which she replied that we have given up our feminine qualities in the lieu of feminism. Instead of embracing our qualities we sought out after things that take us further away from those qualities. For her financial stability does not always come from going out of the house and doing some work, it is also in taking care of the home. Being a home maker is not a taboo that we have created today. Home makers should also be given the same respect and the house should be considered as a contributor to the economy of the country.
When talking about infidelity, Dasgupta says that it should not be judged as a societal norm, it should however be looked at from a person to person perspective, it should be seen as circumstantial. Everyone should have the right to be happy, but should also be considerate about others. Attaining Wisdom is not against Chastity, the concept of chastity is just applied for women and not for men. Women are often told not to do certain things and are bound by the so-called rules of the society in the way of them achieving their dreams.
The conversation ended with Esha Dutta thanking Dasgupta and Murdia for the enriching conversation on Hinduism, Mythology and Feminism.
He believes that Sardar Patel is a misunderstood figure in India and has been for a very long time. He says that all historical personalities are a byproduct of the stories told about them, if their stories are not told in the right way then their importance diminishes. He believes that Sardar Patel is, and has been, a misunderstood person. The problem with his legacy is that out of the three people that were at the forefront of the Congress party when India got its independence, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, he is the only one that neglected to tell his own story. He believed in creating history and not writing it. Hindol believes this to not be true and to be a mistake. If in such a seminal event and such a seminal man does not tell his story, his story will remain untold unless one goes through the archives and writes their story. Even though there are letters written by Sardar Patel one does not know things from his perspective which is one the problems in why he is not so well known. Reading about Sardar Patel makes one realise how hard sovereignty is and what it took to build it.
Sardar Patel used to consider himself as Eklavya and Mahatma Gandhi as Dronacharya. Hindol believes that just as the sacrifice of Eklavya’s thumb, Sardar sacrificed the seat of the Prime Minister of India. Even though Sardar was a very stoic person but with every stoic person there is a vulnerability hidden deep inside a person and for Sardar, that vulnerability was Gandhi and his wife Kasturba. He had lost his parents at a very young age and they became maternal and parental figures for him.
Had it not been for Patel and his decision of sending the Indian Air Force to Kashmir to bring the instrument of accession, Kashmir would not have been a part of India. Even when he was sick and was dying slowly , Patel kept working hard until his last day.
He says that even though there was deep affection between Nehru and Patel, there is no denying that there were conflicts between them too. They were always a part of each other’s lives and neither one could have completely erased the other out of their life completely.