Lesser Turned Pages of India is all about India, but with a difference. It does not deal with any particular aspect of India, rather touches many. What makes it different from hundreds of titles presently flooding bookshops is that it focuses on information lesser Known or unknown about India. The soul of the book, however, is its rare photographs, illustrations, copies of hard-to-see old documents, letters, etc.
This book covers subjects like the great land of India, India’s cultural heritage, lost sciences and technologies of India, some less-Known facts of Indian history and Indian mythology. As one turns the pages of the book, one would discover many amazing facts about India.
Some such facts may have appeared elsewhere but not in one single book, under one cover for the convenience and benefit of readers.
People of all ages and professions, students, research scholars as well as those aspiring for the Civil Services will find a wealth of information in this book.
Born in 1938, Lt Cdr. KV Singh, Retd., was a commissioned Officer and served the Indian Armed Forces for thirty years. He was briefly in the West Bengal Civil Service (Executive) as Deputy Collector and Magistrate. He is widely travelled within the country and abroad.
Cdr. Singh has authored five books in English (Quiz India, The Indian Tricolour, From Coins to Credit Card, Our National Flag, Colorful world of Flags), three in Hindi (Tiranga Ki Gourav Gatha, Vishva Ke Prashidha Heere Jawahrat and Hind Manyataon Main Vigyan) and has compiled two books (An Insight into the World Religions and Rites and Rituals of Hindus and Muslims of Undivided India) besides contributing articles, stories and poems to national dailies and other periodicals. He has also been an anchor and participant in numerous television programmes.
Will Durant, the American historian, had said of India: “India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”
For centuries has India fascinated the world and her citizens alike. The sheer scope and diversity of India is said to be unparalleled and unique. The wealth of her soil, the myriad landscapes, the lush beauty and ancient architecture, the languages and cuisines, the sights and sounds, colours and smells, India is, whichever way you take it, unforgettable. Keith Bellows of the National Geographic Society summarized this well when he said, “I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.”
I strongly believe that India is not just a country; it is an adventure, one in which all avenues are open and everything is possible. “India”, wrote British historian EP Thompson, “is perhaps the most Important country for the future of the world. All the convergent influences of the world run through this society.... There is not a thought that is being thought in the West or East that is not active in some Indian mind.”
For Indologists, Indophiles and Indians looking to learn unconventional and interesting facts about the history of this country Commander KV Singh’s book, Lesser Turned Pages of India is a wonderful read. The Author’s Note sets the tone for the content of the book and the reader knows what to expect from the chapters that follow. Or so he thinks!
Did you know of Rani Chennamma of Kittur, South India’s answer to the North’s famous Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi? Chennamma fought and killed several English officers in opposition to the Doctrine of Lapse law before being captured and killed herself, years before the same heroic act made Rani of Jhansi immortal in the annals of history. Did you know that Bal Gangadhar Tilak introduced the Maharashtrian festival of Ganesh Chaturthi Puja during the British Raj, as a way of getting Indians together to stir patriotic sentiments in them? Or that the original name for the East India Company was a rather unwieldy “United Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies”? Peacock meat was considered a delicacy before the Mauryan rulers made it their totem and banned the bird’s killing. Did you know that our sastras stressed on the antiseptic and healing properties of pure organic cotton clothing? Cotton clothing if made according to Ayurvedic guidelines are “Ayurvastras” — and are to date made in Balarampuram, a little town in my constituency, Thiruvananthapuram.
Treat this book as delicious trivia or a simplified rendering of history, Lesser Turned Pages of India has information in it for people of all ages and all professions. A fact in the chapter on India’s lost sciences could make for interesting research amounting to a historian’s thesis. Seemingly trivial information on the length of India’s abridged National Anthem can be a winning point for a Civil Service aspirant. Quizzing at the dining table, on snippets of information can make for more informed children and most importantly, Indians looking to learn more about the glorious past of their country can turn to this book and take solace in the fact that theirs is a glorious history and that there is much to be proud of, spiritually or aesthetically.
I urge you to give this book a try — if not for its feel-good factor, then for its rare photographs; if not for its simplicity, then for its element of surprise. Go ahead. You owe this to yourself as Indians and Indophiles.
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