Title: Ten Great Stories of The Decade - An Anthology of Short Stories
Editor: Dr. Ram Avadh Prajapati (Author)
Paperback: 96 pages. Price: Rs. 120/. Publisher: Notion press
Sold on: Amazon. ISBN-10:1649196237 ISBN-13:978-1649196231
I read the anthology with insight. A question arose “How and Why these stories are great?” To search the answer, I traveled back a long-time distance of around 6000 years to the feet of ‘Rig Veda'. I narrate my travel experiences.
India, that is, Bharat authored Rig Veda, the first book in the library of man in the world, around 6000 years ago. The Indian creative literary story, that is. Bharatiya Katha, took origin in Rig Veda in verse. The essence of two stories from it is given below to know its origin.
1. Yama was brother. Yami was his sister. They discussed about the relationship that should be between the brother and sister. The soul of the conversation that took place between them is that a man should have love with sexual desire for offspring with his wife only and with all other women with motherly love and respect in the true spirit of “Matru Devo Bhava”. This is the root and foundation for peaceful and harmonious social living and is the origin of human culture on the earth. The story was in complete conversational technique. (10th mandalam-61st suktham-6-7 mantras)
2. It is a story of love between Urvashi of Devaloka and Pururava of Bhuloka. They loved each other, lived together and gave birth to a child. In her love, Pururava neglected his duties and Dharma as a ruler. Urvashi observed it, handed over the child to Pururava and went back to her Devaloka so that he could perform his duties and Dharma as a ruler with dedication freed from lust. This story clarifies the difference between love and lust. (10th mandalam -10th suktham-14 mantras.)
These stories indicate the Indian literary culture of directing living with secular Dharma for peaceful and harmonious social living for all the people as a whole from the very beginning of literary era, 6000 years ago.
The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata which came around 4000 years ago, have many creative literary stories using animals, birds and men and women as protagonists. The creative story genre took roots in complete form and shape and style with literary values and literary culture. They throw light on the glimpses of realistic social, political, economic and cultural worldly secular life of those times with human values. A moral code of conduct was framed to ensure peaceful and harmonious social living for all classes of people. A harmonious relationship between all classes of people and the people and the ruler was developed. The moral code of conduct and harmonious relationship came up to build secular cultural unity amongst the people for security, safety and welfare of all the people and the kingdom. The ethics and dharma were made as two eyes of social living. The creative literary stories of Buddhism and Jainism also contributed immensely with the similar objectives.
Thus, the greatest contribution of the stories is that it developed the literary culture that made beginning in the Rig Veda and the function of literature was directed to building Cultural Unity among all classes of people as a whole for well-being.
In the later times, many books of creative story genre came to light beginning with Panchatantra of around 3rd century before Christ. The Panchatantra created revolution of enlightenment of worldly secular life of those times with realities and truth with transformations in content and style of writing. An era of ethics and many such secular social values began strengthening the relationship among the people. Living styles of life as seen by the eyes is portrayed with realities and truth. The immoral and wrong doings are brought to light so that they could be prevented for well-being. The story books that came till the beginning of Modern Short Story in the middle of 19th century made their contributions for building Cultural Unity among all classes of people.
Modernity, modern literature as part of Modernity and Prose as integral part of Modernity and Modern literature rose as peoples’ movements in the middle of 19th century around the times of First Independence Movement of 1857. The objectives of the Movements were rousing awareness and consciousness among the people and make them participate actively and voluntarily in the peoples’ Movements for social reforms and political independence from the British. The Modern literature built a very strong Cultural Unity, unbreakable and indivisible, to achieve the objectives. (Please refer to the article “Modernity in India - A brief Research by Paparao Jayanthi
The Indian short story was not borrowed from the Western or British short story. It was not a new genre at all. The Bharatiya Janapada Katha and Bharatiya Pracheena Katha were modified and modernized for and from the people's movements. It is the origin of Indian short story. (Please refer to the article “Origin of Indian Short Story - A brief Historical Research” - by Jayanthi Paparao published in Contemporary Vibes of Oct - Dec, 2017).
We, thus, observe that the heart and soul of Indian literature from the Ancient times on wards to the contemporary modern times is to build strong Cultural Unity among the people of all classes, castes and regions and religions for security, safety and welfare for all the people without any discrimination and the Nation
Yes, I got the answer through my travel for the question “How and why these stories are great?”" I will attempt to give the answer.
There are ten stories in the anthology, out of which one story is from Cameroon country in South Africa and the rest are from different places and regions of our Nation. The Anthology speaks itself of secular nature of our democracy as one story portrays the living conditions and situations of Muslims, another one on Christians and the rest on others with realities and truths.
We understand from the stories that our 72 years of democracy failed to achieve true democracy for the people because of corruption, scams, economic crimes, terrorism, intolerance caused by discrimination of region, religion, caste, class and gender. The foremost cause for such failure is that the political power and the economic power both were in the hands of some political professionals of some families. It is high time that a new leadership should come up from the youth to build cultural unity and true democracy without any discrimination and with egalitarian equality for peaceful, harmonious and happy social living for all the people.
The sincerity and the honesty of the writers contribute to arouse such thoughts as said above and there lies the answer as to How and Why these stories are great.
A short story tells less and makes the readers to think more. That is lacking in some stories.
Kshemendra, the Kashmiri poet of 11th century explained “Even if the literature is charming, if the good hearted (Sahriday) are not there, its very soul remains in darkness as the lighted lamp in the well which is far away from the place where people live” (11th century - Bodhisatvavadana Kalpalatha - 53rd pallavam - by Kshemendra - published by Royal Asiatic Society in 1920)
Kshemendra wrote 35 books of historical importance including Bharata Manjari, Brihat Katha Manjari and Bodhisatvavadana Kalpalatha.
The authors do not write for themselves nor for the critics. They write for the people and the readers. Kshemendra’s words suggest that it is the people and the readers who ultimately protect and develop the Literary Culture and thereby the Cultural Unity of the people and the Nation. It is ultimately the readers who judge the literary work and give their judgment. The Anthology, therefore, welcomes the readers for their valuable judgment.
From the ancient times onwards, we observe that every author, every editor and every literary work contributes to the ‘Lighted Lamp’ mentioned by Kshemendra; at least a small drop of oil to make the ‘Lighted Lamp’' shine like the Moon and Sun to building the Cultural Unity of the people and the Nation for their well-being and peaceful living.
This Anthology of Short Stories contributes such a small drop of oil to the Lighted Lamp. The editor, Ram Avadh Prajapati deserves all the praise for his valuable contribution.