Letters to Seekers
Ramanandji (collected & translated by Shiela Gohri &
Vijay Bhandari). Sadhana Dham, Haridwar. Pages 365. Price: not
One of the
beauties of Hinduism is its total lack of regimentation. Even
while emphasis on rituals exists, there is complete freedom for
evolution of one’s mind. The thought processes are not sought
to be conditioned in any predetermined manner. One may note that
debate, questioning of extant beliefs and practices as well as
presentation of new ideas — no matter how zany these might be
— were encouraged in our ancient gurukuls. The guru
interacted with his disciples on various levels, viz., personal,
intellectual, spiritual, temporal and metaphysical.
While reading the
Swami’s letters, so well translated from Hindi, one is
transported back to the hoary past. He interacts with seekers on
subjects that could be as mundane as allusion to a fruit tree in
his backyard, or as esoteric as a dissertation on an abstract
philosophical-spiritual concept. What is striking is the tone of
the letters. He does not talk down to those who seek knowledge.
Instead, his tone is conversational, friendly and soothing. Read
it in solitude.
of a Caste Movement
Basu. Manohar. Pages 153. Rs 350.
stratification is generally denoted by caste. Indeed, political
and economic power has a symbiotic relationship with a community’s
place in our caste based multi-denominational society. There
have been several instances when a social group’s caste was
upgraded or lowered on the basis of its waxing or waning
influence with the priesthood.
into one such social stratum’s quest for regaining its
standing in the hierarchy as Kshatriyas. Rajbansis are a
predominant Hindu group in north Bengal. Basically
agriculturists, they were deprived of their land and wealth by
the upper caste Bengalis, who came there much later on.
Downgraded to a lower order, Rajbansis have been demanding a
separate Kamatipur state in order to regain their lost glory.
The author systematically examines various documents, literature
and local lore to trace this community’s search for its
A valuable source
material for sociologists and anthropologists alike.