Haimavathabhuvil released in 2007 is a landmark in Malayalam literature, that has received both critical and popular acclaim. In its grand sweep from the serene Himalayas to the banks of the river Nila in Kerala, the non-linear work synthesises legends and mythologies, history and geography, cultures and arts, spirituality and politics, capturing the diverse fecundity of Indian civilization. There are musings on our fragile environment, the disastrous potential of dams, the emergent water crisis and the issue of waste disposal. It has been hailed as an incandescent feat of the imagination suffused with spirituality reminiscent of the author's education at Vivekananda College, Chennai. The book has won many prestigious awards, including the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award and the Moortidevi Award, instituted by Bharatiya Jnanpith.
M.P. Veerendra Kumar Born on July 22, 1936 in Kalpetta, Wayanad district, Kerala, M.P. Veerendra Kumar has a Master's Degree in Philosophy from Vivekananda College, Chennai and M.B.A. from Cincinnati University, Ohio, U.S.A. He is the Chairman & Managing Director of the `Mathrubhumi'. The author of nineteen works in Malayalam, many of which have been translated into Hindi and Tamil. Kumar was conferred more than 100 awards, including the Kendra and Kerala Sahitya Akademi awards, the Moortidevi Award instituted by the Bharatiya Jnanpith, fellowship offered by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi and the Kusumanjali Sahitya Samman. He served thrice as the Chairman of the Press Trust of India; currently a Director and, is a former President of the Indian Newspaper Society. He is a Press Institute of India trustee, International Press Institute Member, Commonwealth Press Union Member and World Association of Newspapers Executive Committee Member. A staunch socialist, he took membership in the Socialist Party from Jayaprakash Narayan and has been inspired by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia. A political prisoner during the Emergency, he had a brief tenure as Minister for Forests and was a MLA in Kerala Assembly. He has also served in the Union cabinets of Prime Ministers Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral. He was president of the state units of Janata Dal (S) and Janata Dal (U). Presently, he is an independent member of the Rajya Sabha.
I have had opportunities to travel widely across five continents. I have roamed the summits and valleys of mountain ranges like the Alps. I have spent time on the banks of rivers like the Mekong, Amazon, Nile, Zimbani, Rhine, Mississippi and others. Foreign cities, towns and villages have attracted me very much. Their images are embedded in my heart as everlasting memories of those cherished journeys.
But my rambles across the various parts of our land are quite different from all these travels. The rapturous bliss that beatified me while travelling across the Indian villages, hamlets, the Himalayan summits and valleys and the river banks was unique and novel. The 'Himalaya' is not just a majestic mountain, it is part of a great cultural legacy. It is a sacred gift from nature that has served as inspiration for many gems that embellished the various spheres of creative expressions like philosophy, poetry, music, painting and sculpture. Lord Krishna said thus in the Bhagavad Gita: 'I am the Himalaya among the mountains.
My journey down these paths has sought the sources of our rich heritage and heterogeneous culture. I have had the fortune to visit the Haimavatabhu (land of the snow') many times. My wife, Usha and some of my colleagues at Mathrubhumi accompanied me 813 on a couple of my trips. The joyous bliss this Vedic land creates in my mind is beyond vocal or verbal expression. This book aims at sharing my experiences of the Himalayas.
Rivers Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Pindar and Nandakini emerge from the Himalayan glaciers. The sacred Ganga and Yamuna, the beauty among the rivers, also have their embouchures in the Himalayas. On their banks were born human habitations over the manvantaras (ages). They gave rise to a great civilization. The progress of this civilization was not hindered by the geographical diversity, disparities in lifestyle and language, differences of caste and communities or the climatic disaccord. Where else in the world can we see a harmonizing refinement like that of the rich Indian culture?
The legends, myths, folk tales, folksongs, dance forms and sculpture linking the Himalayan ranges and valleys, the seats of the Chaturdhams (the four abodes) of the Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, and also the rivers that cascade across them, are part of the reality that is India. The Himalaya is the abode of Shiva and Parvati. The bank of the River Yamuna is the playground of Krishna.
The Puranic characters including Ram, Sita, Krishna, Radha, Shiva and Parvati do not remain confined to the Himalayan regions. Their sagas echo across and around the whole land of India right from the Himalayas up to Kanyakumari. The Puranas, epics, legends, myths and folk songs, are the warp and weft of the Indian philosophies, thinking, creativity and life at large. They are tenaciously rooted in the Indian psyche for generations, outliving the disparities and differences of the vast land that is India.
Possibly the knowledge and experience gained from the journey across the Himalayan ranges pervaded my mind thanks to my familiarity with the myths, legends and folk tales, enlivening the history of various places including Kerala and the mutual accord between them. When the journey started from Delhi, I was thrilled to set my mind on the Puranas that sing the greatness and glory of Indraprastha, the majestic city built by Maya. While moving on to Lutyens and Baker, the architects of New Delhi, the contributions of the Mughal emperors lit up my thoughts. Dara Shikoh, the son of Shah Jahan and his sister Jahanara, almost moved me to tears while I was peeping into the history of the Mughals. I felt as if the throbs of history were following us, humming their soft melodies throughout our journey. I have gone to Haridwar and Rishikesh many times.
The sacred land aroused in me thoughts that took me back to my own home, Kerala. Bhartruhari the genius, his brother Vararuchi and wife Panchami and their children identified as Parayi Petta Panthirukulam' (a popular Malayalam folk tale about a pariah matriarch who gave birth to twelve children who were adopted by different communities), the River Nila and the Vedic ground of Thrithala have links with Har Ki Pauri, the sacred bathing ghat of Haridwar.
We will be engulfed in grief to realize how many rivers including the Ganga are moving to their graves due to selfish commercial raids. Environment hazards, invasion of the multinational corporate and deforestation are sure to make us aggrieved.
Rishikesh on the banks of the Ganga is a land blessed by the footprints of Ram and Lakshman. Doon Valley and Mussoorie are the mirrors that reflect the beauty of nature. It is impossible to pass Mussoorie without remembering Ruskin Bond, the storyteller of the land. The visit to the Vasishtha Gufa located between Rishikesh and Devprayag was a different experience. Swami Chaitanyananda hailing from Kerala is the spiritual head of the Vasishtha Gufa.
The River Yamuna is part of the sanctity of the Yamunotri temple. Just lend your ear to her; you can hear the beautiful stories of Radha and Krishna from the sacred river. The saga of Ganga, her joys and vows throb on the banks of the river. Afterthoughts about the threats from global warming and the evanishing of glaciers depressed my spirit. The connotations of development raise innumerable questions in the background of the dams of Garhwal.
The sacred confluences of Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Sonprayag, Karnaprayag, Nandaprayag, Vishnuprayag and Keshavprayag enraptured us in unforgettable spectacular delights.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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