AN APPEAL TO THE LORD
kausalyāsuprajā rāma pūrvā saṃdhyā pravartate/
uttiṣṭha naraśārdūla kartavyaṃ daivamāhnikam//
O Rama, son of fortunate Kaushalya, the eastern twilight (dawn) is breaking. Arise, O lion among men, the daily morning rituals need to be performed.
With these stirring lines begins the near-ubiquitous Hindu prayer, the Venkatesa Suprabhatam. An appeal to the Lord to arise and save the world, the Venkatesa Suprabhatam is the first of four recitations that are sung together every morning in the Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala, where it was originally sung. Prativadi Bhayankaram Anna, who composed this prayer in the fifteenth century, was a saint, a poet and an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. The poet’s devotion shines through, most unforgettably in MS Subbulakshmi’s rendition, which rings through many south Indian homes in the mornings.
Venkatesa Suprabhatam: The Story of India’s Most Popular Prayer is a translation of the prayer, a journey through its verses and also a deep dive into the history of its composition and the circumstances of its author.
So whether you have grown up listening to the Suprabhatam or are just curious about such matters, this book — scholarly and yet accessible — is a compelling examination of the cultural phenomenon.
UNLOCK YOUR SENSES
A fascinating and revelatory look at how we can unlock the true potential of our five senses and use them to vastly improve every single part of our lives. How can colour prime you for creative thinking? What kind of music helps you run faster? Which scents can help you fall asleep? Our senses have a powerful effect on how we think, feel and behave; yet we don’t use them to their full potential. For over a decade, multisensory marketing expert Russell Jones has been using the science of the senses to design products, brands and retail environments that tantalize our senses in revolutionary ways. In this incredible new book, Jones takes research from the worlds of neuroscience, experimental and behavioural psychology and beyond, and shows you how to live more multi-sensorially; paying attention to the sounds, scents, colours, objects, shapes and textures that constantly surround you, to profoundly impact and improve every aspect of your life. Whether it’s helping you feel energised in the morning, get the most from your worked-out, be efficient at the Office, avoid getting caught in the traps of savvy retailers or creating the perfect sensory background to enjoy your food with. And, finally, he helps you have the most restful evening and Night’s sleep you possibly can. Sense is a fascinating and revelatory look at how you can use your senses in a way you never have before.
“Babu Sahib! You must have heard of a Phoolsunghi — the flower-pecker — yes? It can never be held captive in a cage. It sucks nectar from a flower and then flies on to the next.”
When Dhelabai, the most popular tawaif of Muzaffarpur, slights Babu Haliwant Sahay, a powerful zamindar from Chappra, he resolves to build a cage that would trap her forever. Thus, the elusive phoolsunghi is trapped within the four walls of the Red Mansion.
Forgetting the past, Dhelabai begins a new life of luxury, comfort, and respect. One day, she hears the soulful voice of Mahendra Misir and loses her heart to him. Mahendra too, feels for her deeply, but the lovers must bear the brunt of circumstances and their own actions which repeatedly pull them apart.
The first ever translation of a Bhojpuri novel into English, Phoolsunghi transports readers to a forgotten world filled with mujras and mehfils, court cases and counterfeit currency, and the crashing waves of the river Saryu.
Pandey Kapil (1930-2017) was a doyen of Bhojpuri literature, best remembered as the long-serving visionary editor of Bhojpuri Sammelan Patrika and the founder of Akhil Bharatiya Bhojpuri Sahitya Sammelan (est.1973). To promote young authors, he established his own publication house, Bhojpuri Sansthan (est.1970), which brought out some of the best writings in Bhojpuri. Phoolsunghi is his finest work, and perhaps, of Bhojpuri literature too.*
*All text from press releases.