Professor Hari Shanker Adesh, sitting centre, holding his 1,500 page Raghuvansh Shiromani Shri Raam, and assisted by his son Pandit Vivek Adesh and daughter-in-law Shrimati Kadambari Adesh. In the background are actors who took part in a drama during the launch of the book at Shri Adesh Ashram, Aranguez. Photo: Phoolo Danny-Maharaj
By PHOOLO DANNY-MAHARAJ
ARANGUEZ – A 1,500 page book described as a “super-epic” and compared to the Hindu religious text The Ramayana was released in Trinidad recently.
The book Raghuvansh Shiromani Shri Raam, (Sri Raam, the gem in the crown of the Raghu clan) was written by India-born award winning Trinidadian Professor Hari Shanker Adesh and described by local Pandit Jeewan Maharaj as, “of the caliber of the scriptures.”
Dr Naresh Mishra, Dean, Faculty of Humanity at the Maharshi Dayanand University and at the Central University of Haryana, India, who launched the book, described it as “superlative literature, published in 18 volumes to serve as a guide for the masses in this modern age.”
He said the author has put to rest, unanswered questions that were raised in other copies of The Ramayana.
“He has tried to find a solution to all those controversies and has proved ‘just’ in its approach” said Mishra.
The text is already being used by universities and spiritual leaders in India where it was printed.
The launch was held at the Shri Adesh Ashram, Aranguez, on October 13, the birth anniversary of Sage Valmiki, the Sanskrit poet who wrote the first Hindu epic The Ramayana in the 5th century BCE.
A “son of the soil,” Adesh arrived in Trinidad with his family in 1966. He took up duties at the office of the High Commission of India in Trinidad and Tobago.
However, answering the calls of locals involved in Hindi and music, he adopted Trinidad as his home and founded the Bharatiya Vidya Sansthhaan (BVS) (Institute of Indian Knowledge) in November 1966.
He offered free classes in Hindi, music, religious knowledge, dance, drama and later organised an annual cultural camp, which still exists today.
Over five decades in TT, he was inspired to produce hundreds of books, songs, poems, dramas and seven epics.
In 2001, he was awarded the National Humming Bird (Gold) Medal for his dedicated service to Trinidad and Tobago.
At the launch of the book, Adesh said with the blessings of his parents, his life had been “immersed in Shri Raam and Ramayana” from childhood, even when he did not understand its meaning.
Adesh revealed that some 35 years ago, he received the darshan (vision) of God Hanuman who inspired him to write this new super-epic “to present the cleanest picture of Shri Raam and all other characters,” of The Ramayana.
Since that time, he has been engaged in his labour of love for several hours every day to complete this masterpiece.
Adesh said, when he first arrived in Trinidad, he was amazed at the love the people had for music and the religion of The Ramayana (story of Lord Raam) and the Hanuman Chaalisa (40-verse praises to god Hanuman). The Ramayana had been the backbone in the lives of the indentured labourers and now their descendants.
He was inspired to see “in Trinidad, there was no discrimination, where even Muslims used to sing Ramayana…”
Encouraged by this love, Adesh started giving discourses on The Ramayana.
Adesh said: “This process of musical discourses inspired me to compose various songs related to topics in The Ramayana,” and resulted in his first epic Lalit Geet Ramayan written in various songs, ragas and taals (musical modes and meters).
He has since written other epics, including Shankuntala, Maharani Damyanti, Nirvan, Devi Savitri and now the “super-epic” Raghuvansh Shiromani Shri Raam, which he stressed, “is not for one sect or religion, but is meant for the upliftment of all human beings in the world.”
The BVS is celebrating its 53rd anniversary in November.
Among those attending the launch were, Dr Savitri Devi (Inida), vascular surgeon Professor Vijay Naraynsingh, Hindu activist Raviji of Hindu Prachaar Kendra and Hans Hanoomansingh.