Author Background: Haribakth is the pen name of author Ravindra Rao who has written a very well-documented book on Gita – 19th Akshauhini: Algorithm of the Gita. The co-author or the illustrator of the later part of the book is his daughter and an architect by profession – Vaishnavi. The book has generally received a positive response from the readers as well as reviewers. This book has secured a place for Haribakth in the category of spiritual authors from India.
Que. Let me first congratulate you for your book. I am really curious to know, how did get this idea of keeping a fiction background for something like Bhagavad Gita?
Haribakth: Firstly, accept my obeisance and gratitude for acknowledged Gita as Non-Fiction (History). I have accomplished half the purpose of publishing the book. Before venturing into penning the book, I was confronted with following issues. How to transit from one chapter to another? How to make all chapters cohesive and inter-related? How to enunciate principles from the existing slokas? Having enunciated the principles, how to substantiate what I have posited? How to make the book appealing to heterogeneous readers with different levels of perceptions? My cousin, Sukumar Muthya pointed out the need for cohesion and inter-relation of chapters. I could find only one solution which addresses all the above issues. Create a fictional background and characters and use it and them to resolve issues.
Que. Tell me something about your two protagonists; Haripriya and Christina?
Haribakth: As answered in previous questions, they lend voice to the Author. Haribakth (Haripriya’s Dad) conceptualizes, Haripriya establishes and Christina executes. They say parents live and realize their dreams through their children. Here, Haribakth realizes his dreams through Haripriya and her extension- Christina. In Non-fiction environment, Haribakth is the Author and Haripriya is the Co-Author/Illustrator. The Author is speaking to the readers through the characters.
Que. How did you chalk out the background of your book?
Haribakth: The background consists of incidents, places, and persons. All of them which are found in the Gita are real and non-fictional. Other places are existent. Other persons and incidents are fictionalized accounts with adaptation of persons and incidents to bring home the truth. That the places exist and persons hold, and expressed their beliefs in conversations and in discussion, formed the background. A word of caution, the words “adapted and fictionalized” is of utmost importance. This made things easier.
Que. There is a statement in your book; earth is a storehouse of miseries. What are your personal views on this?
Haribakth: That statement is a quote from Bhagavad Gita, uttered by the Lord. So, it is absolute truth without scope for interpretation. Realization or otherwise of the same gives rise to divergent views. My personal view, though insignificant, is in accord with His utterances.
Que. What are your religious views? Are you an orthodox?
Haribakth: My book is the answer for the first part of the question. From my book, you can see that I am not only un-orthodox but also radical and revolutionary in thought. I am a non-conformist in thought. In actions, I am pragmatic and don’t step on others toes, keeping in view their sensibilities.
Que. I believe you’ve read Bhagavad Gita; how much Gita has influenced your life?
Haribakth: I have read Bhagavad Gita. It hasn’t influenced my life, because, it is my life. The gaps you may find in my claim and my personae is due to having read the Gita and not studied it.
Que. Which is your favorite chapter?
Haribakth: No clear favorites. Still hearing Vanraj Bhatia reciting chapter 10 wherein God’s glories are described has ecstatic effect. Reading the last chapter gives a feeling of the relief and joy. This can be best explained by comparing it with the joy we derive on our nearing destination during a train or bus journey. Only, exponentialize it manifold.
Que. Tell us something about your writing journey?
Haribakth: There is only spiritual journey. Writing is a call to fellow travelers to join each other and traverse the path together.
Que. Who are your target audience? Who do you think will be most benefitted by this book?
Haribakth: It is easier to answer who is not targeted and not benefitted by this book. One word answer Atheists/Non-believers.
The target audience and beneficiaries include and not restricted to Gita Lovers, Krishna Lovers, Students of Comparative religious studies, Theistic rationalists and Logicians, Researchers of scriptures and philosophy. Institutions researching/offering courses in Religious/Hindu studies, Gen Next who seeking a rational explanation of scriptures before accepting them, Readers who are interested in eastern/Indian philosophy and Libraries holding reference books. Even Agnostics may read the book. Theists or believers needn’t necessarily be a Hindu or believer of Hindu gods. Any believer would benefit.
Que. Who or what has influenced you to tread on these spiritual topics?
Haribakth: I don’t know. I suppose that I am continuing from where I had left in my earlier birth. He is also giver of memory and forgetfulness. My memory of journey ahead was revived through the books of Srila Prabhupada & through the person of Pejavar-Shri Vishvesha Thirtha. How and why, I am attracted to Pejavar Shree even before seeing, hearing, or reading about him is a mystery even to myself.
I thank Mr/Ms for his/her time and thought-provoking conversation. I also thank Critic Space/Literature Today for lending their platform to air my views.
Author Name: Ravindra Rao
Book Title: Aksara Bhagavad Gita
Interviewed By: Aashi Vats at Criticspace Journals