Saturday, September 30, 2023

Shiva Purana, Vol.1, tr. by Bibek Debroy

Shiva Purana, Vol. 1, tr. by Bibek Debroy

Shiva Purana, Vol, 1 is the first of a three-volume unabridged English translation of the Shiva Purana, accompanied by more than one-thousand explanatory footnotes. 

In the corpus of religious texts in Hinduism, the Puranas are classified as smritis (remembered texts), as opposed to the Vedas, that are classified as shruti (those that are heard and divine and timeless in origin). Purana literally means old. They are encyclopaedia texts on many, many topics. Specifically, a Purana is supposed to cover five topics—sarga (cosmogony), pratisarga (cosmology), vamsha (genealogy), manvantara (cosmic cycles), and vamshanucharitam (accounts of royal dynasties). 

There are eighteen major Puranas, also called Maha Puranas. There are minor, or upa, Puranas, and then there are local, or sthala, Puranas that are devoted to sites of religious importance. The Shiva Purana is, interestingly enough, sometimes not counted as one of the 18 major Puranas, mostly on account of the fact that much of this purana is also to be found in Vayu Purana. However, the Shiva Purana is counted as a maha Purana in most enumerations. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

SoufflĂ©, by Anand Ranganathan—Review

Soufflé, by Anand Ranganathan

At under 200 pages, Anand Ranganathan’s fiction thriller-mystery novel is an ideal read on a Delhi-Mumbai or Bangalore-Delhi plane ride. The book starts off in India’s business capital, Mumbai, where, at a lavish party at a luxury hotel, business tycoon Mihir Kothari takes a spoonful of Michelin star chef Rajiv Mehra’s soufflĂ© and drops dead. The police find Rajiv in his hotel room’s bathroom, barely alive after what looks like an attempted suicide. CCTV footage shows him adding what is later confirmed to be cyanide from a vial to the soufflĂ© marked for Mihir Kothari. An open-and-shut case, with a speedy trial and a death sentence guaranteed. Except he is not guilty. He cannot be guilty. Could he? Is he?