Rare scripts are a collectors’ delight

It was a rewarding experience to read "Scroll Down the Ages" by Usha Bande (Spectrum, Sept 25). The writer is right in saying that an ancient manuscript written on bhojpatra or a parchment, scribbled with a quill, is a collector’s delight. Quite a few libraries exist in India where old manuscripts have been kept with care.

We have the Lalchand Research Library of Indology in DAV College, Chandigarh. The library has over 8,000 ancient manuscripts-6,000 in Devnagri and the remaining in South Indian scripts- dating back to 15th century. We have clinically treated, scanned and digitised all manuscripts.

Honorary Director,
Lalchand Research Library,
DAV College, Chandigarh.


Ladakh beckons

This refers to "Ladakh: Not for the Faint-hearted" (Spectrum, Sept 25) by Sneh Wadhwaney. The article made captivating reading and sustained my interest throughout. The travelogue was informative and it beautifully captured the natural beauty of Ladakh.

I have been acquainted with followers of the Buddha. Though they lead a slow and relaxed life, it is meaningful. Surrounded by snow-clad mountains, Ladakh beckons the courageous but not the faint-hearted. Its wilderness has not been tamed and remains frightening. Yet it does not have the solitariness of Sahara or Antarctica. It is regrettable that the Leh Palace is crumbling and no effort is being made to preserve it. The writer has described the varied aspects of Ladakh in an absorbing manner.



Kartar Singh Duggal’s write-up "Virsa Vihars: Hub of art and culture" (Spectrum, August 21) is an eye-opener about cultural and literary activities in Punjab and neighbouring states.

The writer has drawn attention to many a literary and cultural figure of Punjab. However, many more can be included like Pt Amarnath, well-known music director of Dassi and Mirza Sahiban fame. Among the film composers, the first film composer duo, Husanlal-Bhagatram, O. P. Nayyar, Hans Raj Behl, S. D. Batish, Shardul Kwatra and Harish Chander Bali were from Punjab. Bali had introduced the legendary singer K. L. Sehgal to R. C. Boral, noted composer of the now-defunct New Theatres.

The Language Department of Punjab should bring out monographs on writers from Punjab in English, Hindi and Punjabi. The late Devendra Satyarthi, renowned folklorist, had included some interviews with writers in his book Kala Ke Hastakshar in Hindi.


Verses on wine

Apropos of Khushwant Singh’s translation of two couplets in his write-up "In praise of wine" (Saturday Extra, Oct 9). I share my literal rendering of these couplets with the readers.

Saaqi ga’i bahaar par dil mein rahee havas/Too minnaton sey jaam dey aur main kahoon ke bas (Gone is the spring season, O Saaqi/Yet remains a desire in the heart of mine/I say "enough, no more of it"/When with soothing words you give me a cup of wine). Saaghar-e-mai hai saamney Shaikh sey kaih rahey hain sab/Dekhta kya hai har taraf mard-e-khuda charha bhee ja (They all ask the Shaikh earnestly/When lies before him the wine cup/Why you look on all sides/O Man of God quaff it up).

While writing verses on wine, many poets of yore did not spare even holy places of their faith. For instance: Raat pee Zam Zam pe mai aur sub’h-dam / Dhoey dhabbey jaama-e-ehraam key (Ghalib). (At night I swigged wine at Zam Zam-a sacred well in Mecca-and in the morning washed its stains from the pilgrim robe). Jahaan ham khisht-e-khum rakh dein binaa-e-Ka’aba parti hai / Jahaan saaghar patak dein-e-Ka’aba parti hai / Jahaan saaghar patak dein chashma-e-zam zam nikalta hai (The foundation of Ka’aba is laid where I place a potsherd of wine pitcher. The spring of Zam Zam comes into being where I throw the goblet) and Zaahid sharaab peeney dey masjid mein baith kar / Ya voh jagah bata ke jahan par khuda nahin (O ascetic, allow us to drink wine in the mosque, or tell us the place where God is not present). It is surprising that no mullah issued a fatwa against any of these poets.


‘Magical’ treatment

Though I appreciate Amita Malik’s weekly column in Saturday Extra as she writes on a variety of subjects and programmes shown on various television channels, I am surprised that she never comments on programmes like "Kaal Kapaal Mahakaal".

Such programmes do more harm than good to society. This programme shows various babas administering ‘magical’ treatment to mentally ill patients. This is an offence under the law. Besides, these babas get their programmes recorded and beam them on local cable channels all over the country to do brisk business. This calls for an inquiry by the law-enforcement agencies. I am surprised that few people raise their voices against such programmes.


Film titles

The write-up "Title claims" (Spectrum, Sept 18) has it that Dushman, Fareb and Dillagi are the most favoured titles in Bollywood as at least five movies have been made with these titles so far. Next come Baazi and Ankhen as four films have been made with these titles, the item claims. This is incorrect.

In fact, the most-favoured titles in Hindi films so far have been Bhakt Prahlad, Laila Majnu and Heer Ranjha. Seven movies have been made with these titles so far. Next come Kismat and Sohni Mahiwal. Six movies have been made with each of these titles so far.

Incidentally, in another write-up, Guide has been described as a film of Chetan Anand. Actually, it was made by Dev Anand under the banner of Navketan International with Vijay Anand as its director.


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