The experience of life

The launch of ‘The Forest of Stories : Mahabharata Book One’ by Ashok Banker was quite unlike other book launches. The podium was moved out and the author chose to sit among the people and interact with them. He wanted to make the book reading as informal and interactive as possible. This was his first book launch ever and he was keen on making it different.

Ashok Banker

Ashok began by talking about himself. He said he was born to a British mother and an Indian father. His parents separated soon and he grew up with his mother where he was exposed to not just the British way of life but also Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. He went to a Jewish school and was brought up in a Christian home with all Christian influences.

But Indian culture, religion and way of life had always fascinated him. He follows no particular religion and prefers to call himself an Indian. “I had no preconceived notions of caste. I chose to call myself an Indian. So in that sense I was free to explore and embrace all religions and traditions without conforming myself to any particular religion,” explained Ashok. He opined that people must be allowed to think freely and embrace any religion of their choice.   
 
‘The Forest of Stories...’ is book one of Ashok Banker’s long-awaited ‘MBA’ series that takes one into the haunted jungle of Naimisha-van. Ashok has knit together several stories and happenings in this book. “The flora, fauna and setting of one forest may be different from another. Similarly, the treatment of one story to another may be different but the base remains the same,” reasoned Ashok Banker. Based on the original Sanskrit shlokas with vivid action-packed narration and descriptions, this book brings to life all the magic and majesty, wonders and violence of the world’s greatest epic.

Ashok confessed that Indian epics have always fascinated him. “I have tried to narrate the stories in the same spirit and interest with which the original writer of the epics would have wanted to tell the tale,” he said. “There are a medley of voices that unites all tellers of different tales in the book. This book is the first in the series of 18 books,” he added. Talking about the challenges he encountered when writing the book, he said, “Trying to find authentic translation on the epic was my greatest challenge. But the efforts have all been worth it.”    

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