Book Release by IIMB Faculty & Alumni
“Write It, Work It, Publish”
Nityanand Misra, PGPM 2007, works as an execution consultant in the financial industry. Outside of work, his interests include languages, grammar, literature, music, prosody, typography, and book design. Misra is passionate about Indian culture, especially classical and medieval Indian literature, classical and folk Indian music, and traditional fine arts and performing arts of India. His research and writings are primarily focused around Hindu religion, Hindu scriptures (Veda-s, Purana-s, and Itihasa-s), and Hindu philosophy. He has edited or authored eight books in Sanskrit, Hindi, and English that have been published. He has just finished his ninth book which is about to be published and he plans to author another three by 2019. He recently authored a book named – ‘The OM Mala’.
Brief overview of the theme of your book (context, genre, etc.)
‘The OM Mala’ is a multi-genre non-fiction book covering several fields: Hinduism, spirituality, philosophy, Yoga, and linguistics. The mystic sound OM is one of the shortest Sanskrit words, and yet it is considered the most powerful word and a mystic mantra in Hinduism. OM is extolled in many Hindu traditions and also in other Indic religions like Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. This book gives eighty-four names of OM as per classical, epic, and medieval Sanskrit texts and explains their various meanings in 109 sections which correspond to the 109 beads in a ‘mala’ (108 chanting beads and one ‘sumeru’ bead). Each bead (section) of this ‘mala’ (book) presents simple meaning(s) of one name (or more than one related names) of OM and offers an explanation along with listing the relevant traditions, the etymology, and quotations. The book covers rare names of OM like ‘shrutipada’ and ‘rasa’ as well as its common names like ‘om’, ‘udgitha’, and ‘pranava’. Both popular meanings (e.g. the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) and rare meanings of OM (e.g. inhalation, holding the breath, and exhalation) are included. The book presents teachings and narratives from Hindu scriptures in the context of OM. The use of OM in religious and spiritual activities like Yogic breathing and meditation is explained. Simple English translations and explanations are offered for many common Sanskrit words, phrases, concepts, and verses. The book also contains many teachings from poems, plays, and works on music and Ayurveda. Overall, the book is like a mini-encyclopedia on OM and associated concepts in Indian religions and culture.
Where do ideas come from?
For most non-fiction books, ideas come from in-depth research. While I was aware of the many names and meanings of the word OM for a long time, the inspiration behind writing this book came from the beginning of a Sanskrit commentary titled ‘Raghava-kripa-bhashya’ on the ‘Isha Upanishad’ where 19 meanings of the word OM are explained. Intrigued by this, I spent several months researching many Sanskrit texts for names and meanings of OM: Veda-s, Aranyaka-s, Brahmana-s, Upanishad-s, Grihya Sutra-s, Smriti-s, Purana-s, Itihasa-s (the Ramayana and the Mahabharata), the Gita, texts of various Hindu traditions (Yoga, Tantra, Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, etc) and sciences (phonetics, grammar, music, etc), poems, plays, dictionaries, commentaries, and even rock inscriptions. Most of the ideas in the book are a result of this extensive research. The design of the book is inspired by the design of a chanting ‘mala’, which has 109 (108 + 1) beads.
What exactly about writing excites you?
Writing enables me to utilise my literary creativity in order to share what I have learned over years of self-study with a large audience of readers. Non-fiction authors have the power to influence and inspire minds with their writing, which is very exciting. Most of all, the gratitude, praise, and love I get from unknown readers all over the world makes it a very fulfilling activity.
How do you manage to write books while engaged in a professional career?
Writing, or rather publishing, is not merely a hobby or a pastime for me, it is a passion. A hobby is something which one pursues when one finds time, but a passion is something to pursue which one finds time. This is why I am always able to find time to write. I write early in the morning and late in the night. I write when I am on a flight, and while I am travelling to and from my office. In addition, I design and typeset all my books myself.
Do you have any role models (author role models) whose work inspires you?
There are many, I would mention only three here. My father, Dr. J. B. Misra, has published more than 100 scientific papers and has authored several books and book chapters. My mother, Rama Misra, is a published short-story writer and also a poetess. My Guru, Swami Ramabhadracharya, has authored more than 150 books on Hinduism and Indian literature, culture, and philosophy.
Has the IIMB education helped you in any way as an author?
Most certainly. I was introduced to the APA style guide by Prof. Rahul Dé, whose assignments required students to follow the APA citation style. I later co-authored a mathematical paper with Prof. Malay Bhattacharyya in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Quantitative Finance’ (London: Taylor and Francis Group). This valuable experience of technical writing and paper publishing at the international level honed my technical writing skills so well that I felt confident enough to edit, annotate, and even write books.
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Vikrant Pande, PGP 1992, is spearheading the TeamLease Skills University at Baroda. His keen desire is to see his favourite Marathi books being read by a larger audience saw him translate Raja Ravi Varma by Ranjit Desai (Harper Perennial). He is fluent in many languages including Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, and a smattering of Tamil and Kannada. He has recently translated a Marathi book authored by Ranjit Desai named as ‘Shivaji The Great Maratha’, in English.
Shivaji, the Great Maratha is a translation of Ranjit Desai’s all time Marathi bestseller Shriman Yogi. It is a fascinating tale of Shivaji but told in the genre of historical fiction. The magnum opus was written after years of painstaking research and is presented in Ranjit Desai’s typical dramatic style showcasing the life of Shivaji. Many of the historical events are now part of Marathi folklore and tend to get exaggerated over time. Ranjit Desai has taken care to present the dramatic and hair raising events of Shivaji’s life without melodrama. Harper Perennial has published his translation of the same in English.
“Any Marathi reader would have read Shriman Yogi multiple times and I realized it was a story which needed to be told to a much larger audience. For the sheer love of it, I decided to translate and edit the 1300 page book. I had to condense it to suit the publisher’s requirements,” said Vikrant.
When asked about, what exactly about translation excites him, he told “The most exciting thing about translation is the “creativity within a defined space. “ The original writer has set the tone and context and the translator has to ensure that he gets the same emotions without sounding like a transliteration. The writer has written instinctively. The translator has to do consciously and yet make it look instinctive. I enjoy this process. Secondly, the love for getting literature to the masses makes me feel satisfied. That I am doing a job which helps people to enjoy classics.” “Furthermore he added, “I love a lot of authors. But I don’t have a role model. The most untranslatable ones are PG Wodehouse in English and P.L Deshpande in Marathi. Humour is most difficult or impossible to translate. And most difficult to write. My most favourite author of all times is Rabindranath Tagore for his sheer range of poems, short stories, novellas, novels and art.”
“IIM B has not played a direct role in my translations and writing but the sheer network, the alumni support and the image of IIM B surely helps me to open doors and get connected to many unknown people. That has been a big contribution. I owe a lot to my alma mater,” said Vikrant when asked about the role of IIMB education for helping him,in anyway, as an author.