Search THE READING ROOM

Friday, July 26, 2013

An acclaimed young author, Skype... and Kalidasa's immortal Sanskrit epic

What greater comment could be made on the state of Indian education than a man sitting in India learning a dead Indian language through Skype?

The man sitting in India is author Aatish Taseer, the son of noted Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and Salmaan Taseer, the Pakistani politician who was assassinated by his own bodyguard in Islamabad two years ago.

The man teaching him a dead Indian language Sanskrit via Skype is his professor at Columbia University in New York.

And the excerpt above is from Aatish Taseer's fascinating piece on Kalidasa's epic, The Birth of Kumara, which I discovered very recently in the "You Must Read This" section on the NPR website.



Taseer, whose widely praised memoir, Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands, was published in 2009, describes The Birth of Kumara as "one of those miracles of literature in which the divine and the temporal; the symbolic and the real; and the big impulses and the exquisite detail run together seamlessly".

He then explains why this assignment is so important to him:

For me, with the cultural impoverishments of my colonial education, it meant something more: my first foray into a literary past that I thought was closed to me.

How well Taseer expresses himself! Read the column in its entirety to understand the power of words: "Cosmic Love: A Sensual Sanskrit Epic Revived". Check out the comments, too.
  • "You Must Read This" presents conversations with writers about the books they love to read and recommend. So, afterwards, feast your eyes on the other gems in this section. As for NPR, Wikipedia has a comprehensive page on this privately and publicly funded media organisation based in the U.S.