New Nirala Release : Indian Portraits

Eight Christian Encounters with Hinduism

by Yann Vagneux

Indian Portraits : Eight Christian Encounters with Hinduism by Yann Vagneux

ISBN 978-81-951915-8-1 2021 Rs. 795 Indian Paperback

Foreword by Bettina Sharada Bäumer Translated from the French  by Roderick Campbell Guion, Caroline Malcolm & William Skudlarek

Yann Vagneux’s Indian Portraits is a seminal book depicting the lives of eight Christians who have experienced a deep encounter with Hinduism through a bold spiritual quest. Each of them has become the seed of a reconciled world. This may be through a luminous service of the poor as with Mother Teresa, the Jesuit Pierre Ceyrac, Jean Vanier and the L’Arche communities, or through the silence of a hidden contemplative life as with Swami Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux) and his two disciples Ajatananda and Sister Thérèse, Vandana Mataji or the hermit Prasanna Devi. Known or unknown, these deep voices are an inexhaustible source of inspiration leading us to discover our own spiritual path in a world signed by plurality and a desire for a greater communion.

Spun out of Yann Vagneux’s deeply lived experiences earned during his travels on the paths of his devotional sojournin the holy city of Banaras and mystic heights of Himalayas, the book is a must read for all those interested in understanding the unique mosaic of faiths that forms the very basis of spirituality in India.

These eight Indian portraits are the fruits of Father Yann’s own contemplation and lived experience as one who travels alongside such human saints and shares their vocation of a Christian life in India. There is indeed a ninth portrait in this book, revealed in the brushstrokes of its author, which is equally inspiring.
– Carrie Lock, Foundress of Aranya Kutir, an interspiritual and contemplative ashram in Rishikesh

Higher spiritual experiences are neither Hindu nor Buddhist nor Christian. Even though the experiences themselves may have originated among the followers of one of these religions, these experiences take spiritual aspirants beyond the boundary of the traditions to which they belong. The very purpose of sadhana (spiritual practice) is to attain the highest freedom.
Indian Portraits is worth reading for both the enquirers and the followers of all traditions. Despite legitimate differences of opinions which may exist, they can gain a great deal from this book as it gives us a unique vantage point on the experiences of eight mystics who went beyond the frontiers of their own religion as they lived contemplative and service-oriented lives in the Holy Land of Bharatavarsha (India).
Swami Ekarthananda, President and Spiritual Head, Ramakrishna Ashrama, Nepal

Indian Portraits draws us into the edifying stories of eight spiritual personalities, Western or Indian by origin, who strove to live up to the ideals shown them in the Gospels and by pioneering monastics such as Jules Monchanin and Henri Le Saux. Persons as familiar to us as Mother Teresa and lesser known pilgrims come to life in these pages. Together, they are members of a wide and deep spiritual community that reached from the West to the East, thriving in Indian soil. The volume as a whole is the meditation of Yann Vagneux, himself a young Christian monastic in India who seeks to live in the 21st century the ideals he narrates to us. Indian Portraits helps us to remember saintly figures of the past, but also to re-imagine for ourselves how we might be wiser and more spiritual in the diverse and changing world of today.
– Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Parkman Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School

It is amazing how Indian society, which is predominantly Hindu, has always been open to wisdoms flowing in from the entire universe. With communicative words, Yann Vagneux has painted several portraits of Christians who have totally identified with the deepest spirit of India through friendly encounters across religious boundaries. In them, Hinduism and Christianity have been interacting and conversing in honesty with a desire for mutual understanding and enrichment, overcoming mutual suspicions which have not been lacking throughout history. This book shows what human beings have in common and what can promote fellowship among them. Here are rays of hope for a society of peace and harmony, not only in India but far beyond.
– Felix Machado, Archbishop of Vasai and General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India

In a world riddled with seismic religious fractures, Yann Vagneux’s work is a reflection of virtues he embodies as a person. As we are confronted with suffering and pain, Yann’s Indian Portraits offers us a way to heal. It comes from his compassion, love, and a deep understanding of India and what it has to offer to the world. Highly recommended.
– Rahul Pandita, Journalist and Author of Our Moon has Blood Clots

Himself touched by the same spirit of openness to the religious other, Yann Vagneux offers a moving account of the lives of Christian women and men who have ventured into the heart of India and Hinduism and who have drawn timeless wisdom from the experience. This book will be a source of inspiration for anyone seeking to broaden their spiritual horizon and learn from spiritual pioneers who have gone before us.
– Catherine Cornille, Professor of Comparative Theology and Newton College Alumnae Chair, Boston College

When we struggle to understand a person intimately, we enter a journey within ourselves. When we are in the company of eight persons then we are blessed far more than we expected. Yann is promising us a foretaste of the eschatological banquet.
–Subhash Anand, Emeritus Professor of Indian Philosophy and Religions, Jnana Deep Vidyapeeth

This excellent book brings to the reader the joys of experiential religion. Here is a gifted writer who understands that building bridges across culture, languages and religions is the need of the hour globally. The lucidity of YannVagneux’s language brings to us the sense of shared journeys and sustained archival research.
– Susan Visvanathan, Professor of Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Indian Portraits bursts forth with a gentle brave voice, unravelling a religious and spiritual practitioners’ India. The gentleness is in the description of the great Christian personages, the bravery is in YannVagneux’s expression of a language of a new spiritual theology. Unsurprising then that this focused account has behind it more than two decades of the author’s exploration of spiritual geographies in the subcontinent, lit and perfumed by the candle and the camphor.
– Ravi Nandan Singh, Professor of Sociology, Shiv Nadar University

Indian Portraits carries the memory of all those who, often in silence and with great courage, have widened the spaces of love. It is not a book depicting only the past, but above all foreshadowing a future in which all of us have to enrol in order to hasten the advent of peace, understanding and greater communion between people and religions. Thanks to Father Yann, who came among us along the banks of the Ganges a decade ago, for reopening so many sources of inexhaustible inspiration.
– Raphy Manjaly, Archbishop of Agra and Member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

Yann Vagneux’s work makes a vital contribution to the study of Christianity in India and of the Church’s encounter with Hinduism. Among the eight persons whose stories are told here are familiar ones such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta; but Vagneux also recounts the spiritual journey of a few figures whose stories have never before been told in print. These portraits are informed not only by his grounding in theology and Christian spirituality, but also by his experience of India, especially his years of study in Varanasi, the sacred centre of Hinduism. The friendships he has nurtured in South Asia have made him one of the most prominent and effective voices in the Church’s dialogue with Hinduism.
– Gregory Sharkey SJ, director of the Boston College Nepal Program and professor of Nepalese Religions at Kathmandu University.

No one else other than Yann Vagneux could write this delicate and scholarly book, infused by his own path and experience. My own first name, François-Xavier, from the Jesuit missionary, is not the only reason why this book did not leave me indifferent. Nor the fact that the interreligious dialogue is obviously a crucial part of mutual understanding between people. Indeed, as a diplomat, I feel that, like the lives depicted in this book, we have to accept being uprooted but also remaining deeply rooted; to express a sincere sense of respect to foreign cultures while keeping our own identity and the sense of our mission; to give high value to dialogue but keep a time for silence and in-depth reflection. As these women and men of faith, we also embark upon a life long journey having the unique privilege of experiencing the hospitality and the interior richness of so many people.
– François-Xavier Léger, French Ambassador in Nepal

Indian Portraits illustrates how authentic dialogue and inner conversion, sometimes excruciating, characterize the experience of Christians who open their hearts and minds to the spiritual wealth of Hinduism. In reading YannVagneux’s portraits I was struck by the quality and the depth of his meditations on the lives of eight pioneers in this encounter, whose lives have been particularly impacted by this encounter. It was for me an inner voyage as rewarding as it was demanding. As a ‘bonus’ I discovered a very inspiring and powerful ninth ‘Indian portrait’ – that of the author himself. An essential book!
–Dennis Gira, Buddhologue and Specialist of Interreligious Dialogue (Catholic Universities of Paris and Lyon)

Yann Vagneux

Distinguished scholar, Yann Vagneux was born in 1976. His family comes from the region of the French Alps near to the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse. He is a Catholic priest and a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society who has studied in Paris, Rome and New York. His Doctorate Dissertation in Theology was published in his book Co-esse (DDB, 2015) which set out the Trinitarian Theology of Jules Monchanin, a pioneer of the dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism.

Vagneux first discovered India in 1997 whilst living in a slum area of Madras (Chennai). Fifteen years later, he settled in the multi-religious holy city of Varanasi (Banaras) where he has followed the path of a contemplative Christian presence to Hinduism as had originally been traced by Jules Monchanin and Swami Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux).

Deep friendships unite him to the traditional world of the Brahmin Pandits, with whom he continues his Sanskrit studies and engages in a fruitful inter-religious dialogue. His book A Priest in Banaras (ATC, 2020) recounts his early years on the banks of the Ganges.

He lectures in India and France, sharing his life between Varanasi and Kathmandu, at the heart of the main religions of Asia.

Indian Portraits is a token of gratitude towards those who have sculpted his spiritual bond with Hinduism.

Now Available at

AMAZON USA, FRANCE, UK, GERMANY, CANADA, INDIA, POLAND, ITALY AND MEXICO

USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

India: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

Italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

Poland: https://www.amazon.pl/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

Mexico https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

France : https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

Spain: https://www.amazon.es/dp/B09C1NB93K?ref=myi_title_dp

Upcoming Nirala Book : Acknowledging LOSS : Poems by Amarendra Khatua

Acknowledging LOSS  : Poems by Amarendra Khatua, Art by Arpana Caur

ISBN 978-81-951915-2-9 Rs. 695 Indian

Amarendra’s Poems mix memories with haunting words and etch superb pictures of love and despair, waiting and melancholia’.

– Graciela Aroaoz, Poet and president, Argentina Writers Association

 Khatua’s Acknowledging Loss epitomises the dynamic lifetime of a poet/bureaucrat who has now delved deeper into the forest of silence to create poems of inconceivable heights, a castle of cravings inside the forest of his lonely bones where “heart asks simple questions/And body will seek sinful offerings.” Here the poet’s fingers grow feathers and love oozes out of his each pore to conjure up these brilliant ruminations on life, loss and regeneration.  A splendid feat of imagination.”

– Yuyutsu Sharma, Himalayan Poet & Author of Annapurna Poems & A Blizzard in my Bones: New York Poems

Agony of losing in love, seeking definition of eternal waiting and defining depths of human relationship in well- crafted imagery  Amarendra’s Poem resembles the familiar tradition imposed by Neruda’s tradition’.

– Juany Rojas, Poet, Chile

Vivid Portrayal of love and longing, exile and waiting.

– Jorge Paolantonio, Poet & Novelist, Argentina

In Amarendra’s magical précis of words, corralling disparate emotions into the concentrated elixir of poetry, he offers us a rich tapestry of the colors of life’s desires, some muted, others vibrant. He takes us along on his rollercoaster of restlessly twisting and stretching through the unfathomable waves of love and loss – remembered, misremembered, relived, reconstructed. A timely comfort as we collectively acknowledge loss.

– Sharon Lowen, major international performing artist, columnist, writer and art historian

Poetry of lost relations and savage longing.

– Aleyda Rojas, Poet, Ecuador

‘Silence is a forest’ like Amarendra’s poems. Brilliant. Pierces the core. He is an innovative modernist. Profane, yet in the same breath, sacred, brimming with disillusion, yet layered with hope. The man who suffers, and the mind that creates -dissecting and scrutinizing, yet consumed by love and its messy darkness. Amarendra’s poems begin with him, and do not end with the reader, but continue beyond, in their relentless, endless sojourn into the forests of infinity, leaving in their wake a lingering wistfulness – restless and thirsty.

– Sohini Roychowdhury, Major Bharatnatyam dancer, motivational speaker, women and social issues activist, Founder & Director, Sohinimoksha World Dance & Communications  & Sohinimoksha Artes de La India, Madrid

There are very few writers (are there?) who can express so accurately my own feelings better than myself. The masks we wear are torn apart by his images, for they are true, intense, inescapable and therefore liberating. His words throw a light over our darkest shadows and they remind us of a certainty: we cannot live without poetry. An exquisite writer, an impeccable professional, a very dear friend. He is the eternal poet.

– Mira Tevsic, eminent musician, journalist, poet and translator, Croatia and Argentina

In Acknowledging Loss the renowned Indian poet, Amarendra  Khatua  presents us with a bouquet of poems that he wrote during  his stay in Argentina as his country’s Ambassador (India).The first thing that strikes you  in these poems that flourish in the world, not only as a physical existence, but also as a mirror that reflects the concerns  and losses of the self. Nature, memory, love alignment, absence and darkness represent a horizon through which the poet passes towards where he isolates himself in this poetic prophecy.

In this, the poet is not far from the Indian cultural and spiritual heritage, which is present in the poem, even if he wrote them in Argentina. Between Indian and Argentina, the poet forms a wonderful poetic imagination provided with images, revelations, metaphors and expressions from various cultural and poetic references, but they are reconciled in the poems in a harmonic and wonderful  way.

– Mohamed Ahmed Bennis, Moroccan poet, translator and critic

Poems in this collection, invigoratingly inspiring, presents human nature in disorder with deft precision and beauty and raises a banner of optimism to confront desolation of loss. Love, dreams, desire and waiting are the paths to our journey into truth and meaning of life. Like a guide with life’s experience, the poet presents in his poems the emptiness and the feeling of loss of any contemporary man and his journey into self discovery, through love and lifelessness

– Stella Maris Ponce, poet, jazz and tango singer, author of

The Rituals Of The Night and The Voice

Reflection of cosmic and regional experiences is conspicuous in Khatua’s poetry. Every word in his poems beads on a contemplative thread. With both asynchronous and contemporary themes, the poet seems estimating and acknowledging the loss that he himself and the world incurred. Poetic devices run through every line as spontaneous as a fountain. The uses of apt imagery and diction transport the readers to some metaphysical world as if they were hobnobbing with speaking pictures. Reading of his poems gives a feeling of waking and open-eyed meditation.

– Vivekanand Jha, Air Force Veteran, Indian English Poet, Translator and Editor

Poems in this book meanders through light and darkness. There is a sense of loss as one goes through the book yet there is also an overwhelmingly bright hue which brings back the love for life. Outstanding imagery in every poem this book will inspire readers to practice calm and solitude in the midst of mayhem.

– Prabal Kumar Basu, Indian poet

Mincing no words on depths of words, silence, loss, loneliness, acceptance of unfulfilled dreams, imperfect life, social inequalities, yet rays of hopes are visible in the poems for the antagonist to cling on to live, to come back home to face the dark, shadows, or brokenness with equanimity and willingness to search till eternity. Choice of words is impeccable and their impact is great.

–Mohan Chutani, Indian Poet

Amarendra Khatua is a distinguished Indian poet and Senior Diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. He has served both as the Indian Ambassador to Argentina, and as the Indian Ambassador to Ivory Coast. A widely traveled author and culture critic, Khatua has forty published collections of poetry in English, Odia, Hindi, and other Indian dialects and international languages.

Upcoming Special Pratik Issue : The Ghosts of Paradise — Special Los Angeles Double Issue

Editor: Yuyutsu Sharma  Guest Editor : Tony Barnstone Summer/Fall 2021 Vol. XVII No. 2-3, 2021 ISSN 2615-998

EIGHTY EIGHT POETS FROM LOS ANGELES  

Alexis Rhone Fancher  Alice Pero   Alicia Vogl Saenz   Ambika Talwar   Amin Esmaielpour   Amy Uyematsu   André Naffis-Sahely   Ariel Horton   Arthur Vogelsang   Bilal Shaw   Bill Mohr   Blas Falconer   Brenda Yates   Brendan Constantine   Caley O’Dwyer   Carine Topal   Carol Muske-Dukes  Carol V. Davis   Cathy Colman   Cati Porter   Cece Peri   Cecilia Woloch    Charles Harper Webb   Charlotte Davidson   Charlotte Innes    Deena Metzger   Dennis McGonagle   Dorothy Barresi   Douglas Manuel   Elizabeth Iannaci   Elline Lipkin   Elena Karina Byrne    Frank X. Gaspar   Gail Wronsky   Genevieve Kaplan   Grant Hier   Gregory Brooker   Hélène Cardona   Ian Randall Wilson   James Ragan   Jeanette Clough Jerry Garcia   Jim Natal   John Menaghan   John Brantingham   John Fitzgerald   Judith Pacht   Judy Kronenfeld   Karen Kevorkian   Kate Gale    Kevin Durkin   Kim Dower   Laurel Ann Bogen   Lavina Blossom   Leilani Hall   Leslie Monsour   Lois P. Jones   Lory Bedikian   Luis J. Rodriguez   Lynne Thompson   Mariano Zaro   Marjorie Becker   Mark Irwin   Marsha de la O   Martha Ronk   Mary Fitzpatrick   Maurya Simon   Melissa Kerry   Micah Chatterton   Michael C. Ford   Michelle Bitting   Mike Sonksen Patty Seyburn   Ralph Angel   Ramón García   Rick Bursky   Ron Koertge   Sarah Maclay Scott Noon Creley   Shannon Phillips   Sherman Pearl   Sholeh Wolpé   Stephanie Brown   Susan McCabe   Suzanne Lummis   Terry Wolverton   Timothy Steele   Tony Barnstone   Vandana Khanna   William Archila   Yvonne M. Estrada   Zaria Branch

ESSAYS BY

Dana Gioia : Los Angeles as a Cultural Home, Tom Lutz Coming to LA: Images of the Migrant City  with an assist by Juan Felipe Herrera, Elena Karina Byrne :HOME, HOME, HOME & Elizabeth Iannaci : Angelenos Keep Watching the Detective

ART BY

 Alexandra Eldridge, Amin Mansouri, Caley O’Dwyer, David Sloan

Upcoming Nirala Book News: Preparing the Apology : Poems By American Poet, Mike Graves

Preparing the Apology : Poems by Mike Graves ISBN : 978-81-951915-0-5 2021 pp 88 Demy. CoverArt by Vivian Tsao

Mike Graves evokes empathy and in so doing, rises to a transpersonal plane. His is a great gift, speaking of people in poems that become poetry about all our own lives. Here’s a book to take personally–a book to enjoy and share.

– Dr. David B. Axelrod, Poet Laureate, author of All Vows

Mike Graves’s longstanding and outstanding contributions as an arts administrator, notably the series of readings he has masterminded, have been invaluable. In his new book,  Preparing the Apology, he extends his previous contributions as a poet in his own right through moving dialogues between mythological and spiritual worlds on the one hand and the gritty details of everyday life on the other. All these worlds are evoked through subtle sound effects and images like one of my favorites in the book, “ You might pound on the doors of his words / While the meaning lay like a drunkard in stupor / Behind them forever.”

– Heather Dubrow, John D. Boyd, SJ Chair in  Poetic Imagination, Fordham University & Author, Lost and Found Departments, Poetry Collection

Michael Graves writes startling poems employing arresting imagery that is precise yet expansive. He’s the master of presenting his desires, doubts, dreams, and dreads in exact, deliberate language that is always working towards a deeper clarity, a “stepping inward,” as he remarks in one of his poems. In Preparing the Apology, Graves crystalizes the heightened moments in life: his fears, longings, dead ends, conflicts, betrayals, and missed opportunities, offering “generous praise” for all outsiders, especially the dispossessed, misfits, and washouts, who are always winking from the shadows beyond midnight of city streets, park benches, and empty churches that comprise the backgrounds of these poems. Out of his never-ending argument with death and God emerges Graves’ most poignant revelations concerning the Sisyphean nature of our struggle as human beings in poems that neither provide facile answers nor useless prayers. These poems are self-effacing, serious, urgent. They risk everything; their honesty is exacting and terrifying. They express the great arc of human life from exultation in ecstasy to desolation in grief. But, above all, they find redemption through loving acts!

– Bill Wolak, poet, collagist, photographer, author, Love Poems the Hands: Selected Love Poems

Michael Graves’ poems in Preparing the Apology combine an unflinching look into the darkest corners of life, and a kind of caustic wit in response to what the poet finds there.  The title poem illustrates Graves’ dark humor: the limp “apology”, thrice repeated, contrasts hilariously with the lover’s warmth and energy, with the evocation of lust and lust spent, a sly kind of self-awareness.  The dark visions of “Sisyphus Hill” – the terror at the “Hawk-Father” and the bleak despair of the myth – are immediately countered by the perfect aptness of the poet-Sisyphus “Lugging a tombstone / To the top.”  There is a kind of resignation here, but also mysteries both sacred and profane – Judas forgiving Christ, someone on the way to work suddenly “Expecting to fly”, the poet seeking “A sense of grateful wonder” – as well as precise and economical portrayals of people (“Dusk”), place (“Departure”), and sensations like a cat’s purr (“A Graceful Celebrant”).  And there is much more here – this collection repays repeated reading.

– Chris Brandt, Americsn poet and translator

Reading Michael Graves’ poetry brought me back to my days in college, studying poets and poetry, wishing I could master the art that flowed from the WORDs. Mr. Graves has accomplished this feat with his work. His use of precise language creates images bringing the reader into his observations, memories, and introspections portrayed in snapshots of life. He wields his art well, saying the most with the least. Readers will find his poems deep, thought provoking, and at a measured pace. Poets, students of poetry, and lovers of poetry will find Michael Graves’ Preparing the Apology a remarkable read.

– Peter V. Dugan, Nassau County Poet Laureate 2017-19

Michael Graves is a poet old and young, old and new.  He has a past, a memory, a sharp eye and a good ear, a thing about snakes and a foxy way with rhyme, an American’s voice, an Irish-American’s family issues, and an Irish-American’s lapsed Catholic’s history of uneasy commerce with guilt and the Four Last Things

– John Gordon, Professor Emeritus University of Connecticut

Written over a quarter of a century, these poems reflect a consistent poetic voice and the best of Michael Graves.  He balances metaphor and theme to provide a powerful and convincing perspective on the perduring pyschological struggles of being.

– A. Nicholas Fargnoli, President, The James Joyce Society, Professor of Religion and English, Molloy College

Michael Graves’ poetry seems to me to be genuine. I say that cautiously, for though lots of talented people write verse, perhaps even poetry there are only few who qualify as genuine literary artists with a strong sense of commitment to their role as poets. I think that Michael Graves is one of them.

– Maurice Beebe, Founding Editor, The Journal of Modern Literature

Michael Graves is the author of four chapbooks, two of which are digital, and three full-length collections. The chapbooks are Outside St. Jude’s (R. E. M.,1990), Blatnoy (madhattersreview3.com, 2005), Illegal Border Crosser (Cervena Barva, 2008), and Fifteen Villanelles (Robert Perron.com 2020). The full-length books are Adam and Cain and In Fragility (Black Buzzard, 2006, 2011) and A Prayer for the Less Violent Offenders: Selected Short Poems of Mike Graves (Nirala, 2017). He has published fifteen poems in The James Joyce Quarterly and has read from his “Joycean Poems” to a gathering of the James Joyce Society at the Gotham Book Mark, April 12, 2002. His poem “Apollo to Daphne” appears in Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (Oxford, 2001) The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation awarded him a grant in 2006. He organized the conference, Baptism by Fire: The Work of James Wright at Poets House, NY (March 27, 2004). And he has been coordinating and hosting the Phoenix Reading Series for about twenty years.

Taiwan born, American painter Vivian Tsao has exhibited her oils and pastels at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Butler Institute of American Art, Tenri Cultural Institute, Queens Museum, The National Arts Club and Ceres Gallery in the U.S. She has also exhibited at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and The National Museum of History in Taiwan. Based in New York, Tsao received an M.F.A. degree in painting from Carnegie Mellon University. A recipient of the Artist-in-Residence grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, her art and writings in both Chinese and English have appeared in books such as Pratik Magazine in Nepal in 2019, 100 New York Painters by Cynthia Dantzic and Paintings by Vivian Tsao published by the National Museum of History.

Vivian Tsao

Upcoming Nirala Book – SOS: Surviving Suicide – a collection of poems that may save a life

SOS: Surviving Suicide: A Collection of Poems that may Save a Life Edited by Dean Stalham Foreword by Carlotta Allum ISBN: 978-81-951915-1-2 Pages 159 Demy

USA : https://www.amazon.com/dp/8195191517?ref=myi_title_dp UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/8195191517?ref=myi_title_dp India: https://www.amazon.in/dp/8195191517?ref=myi_title_dp

Surviving Suicide is an astonishing collection of poems that delves into often tabooed subject of suicide with its connected mental health issues. It showcases over sixty poets from four continents who pay homage to those who have lost lives and to those who have survived. British poet, art collector and philanthropist Dean Stalham, in collaboration with Stretch Charity,  brings together a very special anthology of survival methods expressed through the medium of poetry. A must read for all those interested in caring, sharing and helping others in their most dire hour of need. This collection offers a rare opportunity to see things connected to suicide from all sides and angles. Many people are and have been touched by suicide in many different ways. This anthology is a testimony to the turbulent times we live in. 

The work that Dean Stalham does is invaluable – he brings to animating the artistic impulses of society’s dispossessed and downtrodden, offering a rare sympathy, he’s been to a place of condescension. He believes passionately in the role art in saving lives, always making good on his promises. His projects in the visual arts, performance and education give people who have lost their way back their dignity, enabling them to move forward.”

–Will Self, celebrated English novelist, journalist, political commentator and television personality, author of Dorian, an Imitation &  Great Apes

Whether they are about, for or by the marginalised, Dean Stalham’s projects and collaborations never fail to pulse with originality and, most of all, passion. This collection of heartfelt verse brings together the unheard and well-known with the common aim of extending a hand, often right through your chest.

–Iain Aitch, distinguished British journalist, author of A Fête Worse Than Death &  We’re British, Innit

This first of its kind collection celebrating life in the times of Pandemic deserves ample applause and attention.  Surviving Suicide shall be treasured as a modern-day survival kit by its readers all over the world.

–Yuyutsu Sharma, renowned Himalayan poet, author of Annapurna Poems and A Blizzard in my Bones: New York Poems,

“The empathic approach Dean uses in these creative initiatives pulls together highly creative people in such a way that it’s compassionate and inspirational. This anthology celebrates his creative energy, a genuinely brilliant work!

–Keith Brymer Jones (Dr of Arts) – Head of design for Make International, and master potter. Television presenter, and Judge on Channel 4 ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down

“Dean had a vision for a collection of work that was not about the poets or the egos of particular artists, but about honest raw responses to a mental health crisis. A book that could  perhaps make somebody think, somebody stop or save a life.”

–Carlotta Allum, Director, Stretch in the Foreword

The SOS Anthology Poets

Ravi Shankar dPart Banu Ercon Danielle Butters Christopher Southgate Roy Barker Benjamin Zephaniah Tim Tomlinson Karen Little Sadie Maskery  Anon Wendy Young Mike Graves Sophie Cameron Alby Stockley Karen Corinne Herceg Eve Mcdougall Megan Garrett-Jones Mat Lloyd Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas Carrie Magness Radna  Martin Head Jason Wisteria Jeremy Reed Anne Casey  Agnes Marton  Suzanne French Pat Leacock  Aka PdLpoet Madeleine F. White Henry Madd Patrick Lyons Rory Paddle Aka Rawbynature David No One  Sam Rapp Agnes Meadows Gil De Ray Simon Miles David Erdos Dave Mankind Gill Fewins Kirsty Alison Judith Mok David Axelrod Bill Wolak James Ragan  Catherine Alice Woods Fern Angel Beattie Amar Aakash Tim Kahl Gerard Beirne Timothy Gager Sandra Yannone Yogesh Patel Anna Halberstadt Megha Sood Patricia Carragon Dariusz Tomasz Lebioda  Amanda Govan John Prastitis Luke Sullivan Yuyutsu Sharma Carlotta Allum Dean Stalham

Dean Stalham is a British artist, poet and writer currently living in Margate in the UK. Since leaving prison Dean has written and produced a number of plays to critical acclaim. Dean has always been a campaigner for the arts and its ability to give people a voice. He founded the charity Art Saves Lives and recently worked with Stretch as a curator and project coordinator creating a platform for Outsider Art. Dean is currently writing a book and is regularly sponsored by the Arts Council in England. Dean is a published poet and this project came from his desire to use the format to say something about people in these difficult times.

Editor Dean Stalham

New Nirala Release : Distinguished Nepalese historian Shreeram Prasad Upadhyaya’s A Short History of Nepal : From Ancient to Modern Times

 

A Short History of Nepal :From Ancient to Modern Times by Shreeram Prasad Upadhyaya ISBN-13 : 978-8182500037 Rs. 595 Pages 259 Demy

Amazon India : https://www.amazon.in/dp/8182500036?ref=myi_title_dp Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/8182500036?ref=myi_title_dp

A Short History of Nepal by renowned Nepalese historian Shreeram Prasad Upadhyaya is a comprehensive  and updated account of Nepalese history ranging from Ancient to Modern times. Nepal’s history  is unique and different from the rest of the world. The Gopal dynasty in Nepalese history represents agricultural age of human civilization. Originally, it’s believed  Nepal valley (Kathmandu) was a lake. Manjushri from the north and God Krishna along with other gopals from south made this valley suitable place for human settlement.

Dr. Upadhyaya in a nutshell covers the history of the Gopals, the Kirats and the Lichhavis in ancient period, the Mallas in Medieval period, the Shahs and the Ranas of Modern period along with rulers of the Republic in the contemporary Nepal. In his opinion, the Vedic history has great influence on the Nepalese way of life. The tradition and culture of the people of Nepal had great impact on the formation of civil court and their practices. The Gopal period of Nepal was important in the agricultural development whereas the Kirat period played momentous role in the expansion of trade and industry. The Lichhavi period was popular for moral values and the Medieval period for art and architecture. The modern period of Nepal saw many changes. Prithivinarayan Shah made great contribution by unifying Nepal and the Rana period was significant in the preservation of  national sovereignty and integrity, in spite of its despotic nature. The democratic changes after the fall of atrocious Ranas brought Nepal in touch with the outside world. The continuous struggle and strife of the people of Nepal brought forth the current Republic form of Government. The people of Nepal are keenly watching the activities of Federal, Provincial and local Government with a hope to peace and prosperity ultimately ushers into the world’s youngest republic.

Short History of Nepal is a wonderful book meticulously sketching the major events in an efficient manner, doing the amazing task of introducing the great Himalayan nation to a beginners as well as an expert alike.

Dr. Upadhyaya in a nutshell covers the history of the Gopals, the Kirats and the Lichhavis in ancient period, the Mallas in Medieval period, the Shahs and the Ranas of Modern period along with rulers of the Republic in the contemporary Nepal. In his opinion, the Vedic history has great influence on the Nepalese way of life. The tradition and culture of the people of Nepal had great impact on the formation of civil court and their practices. The Gopal period of Nepal was important in the agricultural development whereas the Kirat period played momentous role in the expansion of trade and industry. The Lichhavi period was popular for moral values and the Medieval period for art and architecture. The modern period of Nepal saw many changes. Prithivinarayan Shah made great contribution by unifying Nepal and the Rana period was significant in the preservation of  national sovereignty and integrity, in spite of its despotic nature. The democratic changes after the fall of atrocious Ranas brought Nepal in touch with the outside world. The continuous struggle and strife of the people of Nepal brought forth the current Republic form of Government. The people of Nepal are keenly watching the activities of Federal, Provincial and local Government with a hope to peace and prosperity ultimately ushers into the world’s youngest republic.

Short History of Nepal is a wonderful book meticulously sketching the major events in an efficient manner, doing the amazing task of introducing the great Himalayan nation to a beginners as well as an expert alike.

Shreeram Prasad Upadhyaya
 

Muna Madan: A Play in the Jhyaure Folk Tradition

By Laxmi Prasad Devkota

Translated from the Nepali by Ananda P Shrestha

ISBN:  978-182500877 Paperback 2017 4th Edition pp 64 Rs150 Indian

Written in popular Jhyaure folk tradition, the play weaves a moving tale of Madan who goes to Lhasa to earn an honest dream of bedecking his beloved wife, Muna, with ornaments of gold and of fulfilling the final wishes of his ailing mother. On his way back home, Madan falls sick. Drama then unfolds to capture the agony of a human life caught up in the twilight of dreaming and knowing. Nepalese translator Anand P. Shrestha for the first time brings alive the immortal music that reverberates in the bloodstream of Nepalese people. “Muna Madan is a story of migration, of a movement outside the vale of mind, the geopolitical compulsion of moving out to labor and come back to live to the rhythm of the Himalayan hills…” –Yuyutsu Sharma in Foreword “Here is perhaps first ever authentic English translation of Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s magnum opus, Muna Madan… comes as a watershed in the history of Nepali literature… –The Kathmandu Post “A perfect job… the translator’s eighteen years devotion to the completion of this work deserves appreciation for maintaining rhythm, theme and rhyme of the original… Commendable.” The Independent, Kathmandu

Previous Edtion :

ISBN: 978-8185693941 Paperback 2007 3rd Edition pp 56 Rs 95 Indian

”The Guardian’ feature on celebrated Himalayan poet Yuyutsu Sharma collaboration along with nine other celebrated writers at London’s Royal Kew Gardens, London!

KEW GARDENS

‘A journey around the world’: Kew Gardens offers visitors an escape

Travel the World at Kew series will showcases plants from 10 countries across six continents

Caroline Davies

Thu 20 Aug 2020 14.36 BSTLast modified on Fri 21 Aug 2020 04.37 BST

Children looking at humpback whale sculpture

Those unable to satisfy their wanderlust in these uncertain days of lockdown and travel quarantine are invited to immerse themselves in the sights, smells and spirit of faraway places – in a botanical sense at least – here in the UK.

From colossal Californian redwoods, those imposing ancient giants of the plant kingdom, to the balmy fragrance of Mediterranean rosemary and lavender, visitors to Kew Gardens in London will be transported to 10 countries across six continents within just a few hours as part of its Travel the World trail experience from next week.

The essence of a tranquil Japanese tea garden and delights of the Himalayan flora of an undulating Rhododendron dell are still within reach, for a tiny fraction of the real cost, with visitors’ senses heightened by accompanying prose, poetry and illustrations specially commissioned from talent across the world.

Sophie Rochelle walk past beds of asterids in the Agius Evolution garden within Kew Gardens, London.

 A visitor walking past beds of asterids in the Agius Evolution garden within Kew Gardens. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

“In a year when many holidays and travel plans have had to change, Travel the World at Kew will offer visitors a chance to experience the next best thing, a journey around the world inside the safety of our walls,” said Richard Barley, the director of horticulture, learning and operations at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

“Visiting 10 special locations dotted throughout our 320-acres landscape is a perfect way to reconnect with nature after months of lockdown.”

Kew’s Great Pagoda towers over plant specimens collected in China’s Sichuan province. South Africa’s bergs and kloofs are replicated in a rock garden stippled with cascading waterfalls. Eucalyptus trees arouse thoughts of Australia, as do spectacular mountain gums.

The monkey puzzle trees – “coiled succulent pine / with saurian arms, bony plates / on reptilian back” in the words of the Latino-British poet Leo Boix – are redolent of the time of dinosaurs. They evoke, too, Argentina’s “sub-Antarctic forests” and rivers of “the most radiant turquoise I’ve seen”, writes the Kew scientist Dr Laura Martinez-Suz in her accompanying prose.

Britain’s native woodlands of tall grasses, wildflowers and whispering beech and hazel are also on show. Meanwhile, Óscar Martín Centeno’s poem The dance of sunrise in the Mediterranean Garden is a dreamscape of flowers swaying in the light of a rising sun.

A centrepiece will be a large-scale humpback whale botanical living sculpture, created by the winner of the Netflix series The Big Flower Fight and on display from 22 August – 18 September.

The specially commissioned poetry and prose by literary award-nominated writers, with a strong connection to each country, are displayed alongside vibrant illustrations by artist Mark Boardman.

Visitors walk past flowering beds along the Broad Walk, Kew Gardens, London.

 Visitors walking past flowering beds along the Broad Walk at Kew Gardens, London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

Writers include Joe Cottonwood, who lives in the coastal mountains of California, whose words read: “because a redwood with its power / will never preach / makes no demands / sips from the clouds / swallows the sunlight …”

The world-renowned Himalayan poet Yuyutsu RD Sharma has penned Rhododendron’s Suitor, which includes the lines: “an eternal lover / jilted by the silver-barked / suitor of the steep cliffs, / the Nepalese alder …”

Paul Denton, the head of visitor programmes at Kew, said the trail highlighted some of the “hidden gems” of Kew Gardens. “You can be reading a beautiful piece of poetry at the same time as seeing the landscape, so you can get a real sense of place and space,” he said. “It’s like taking the perfect holiday snap.”

His favourites? “I love the Californian redwoods. There is something about the colossal nature of these trees. And the monkey puzzle tree, which just has such a strangeness about it.”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/aug/20/a-journey-around-the-world-kew-gardens-offers-visitors-an-escape

A photo of a panel with Yuyutsu Sharma poem, “The Rhododendron’s Suitor” installed on site

New Nirala Release : Rajinder Arora’s Kailash: Jewel of Snows

Kailash: Jewel of the Snows by Rajinder Arora ISBN: 978-8193936719 Paperback pp 268 pages with 68 colour pictures + maps. Rs. 895/- Indian

Kailash: Jewel of the Snows is an enthralling account of a Delhi-based mountaineer,
and creative entrepreneur, Rajinder Arora. This is one of the first few expeditions to
Mt Kailash after the Chinese government permitted the entry of Indians to the sacred
land of Lord Shiva, highly venerated in the Hindu-Buddhist scriptures.
Extremely captivating narrative of a young atheist, Kailash sketches Rajinder’s
journey to Mt Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, 4,600m above the sea level. Starting his
sojourn in the Indian Himalayas, he crosses over the rugged Kumaon territory and
enters the Tibetan terrain with a group of 16 individuals. Arora strays on the
forbidden trail in the Tibetan wilderness. Along the perilous trail, he moves in search
of faith and meaning in life and narrates, with awe-inspiring details and anecdotes, of
survival in the high Himalayas, exploring the cultural diversity and saga of ancient
travel along Silk Road. Having encountered the grand vision of Mt Kailash,
completely awe-struck, he stumbles his way back home with a new-found reservoir
of spirituality that had lain dormant during vagrant young years.
Profusely illustrated, embellished with highly evocative accounts of fauna and flora,
breathtaking landscape and enviable life style of the nomadic tribes, the book is a
treasure to be preserved for posterity. A must for mountaineers, spiritual believers
and non-believers alike including all those interested in keeping a true account of the
fast changing Himalayan landscape and people struggling to keep it beautiful and
sacred in the centuries to come.

An atheist takes a religious yatra and comes back with a new religion for the
mankind. Kailash’ by Rajinder Arora is a fascinating account of an arduous 30-days
high-altitude trek to the land of the Gods. In one of the sections in the book he sums
up “Ecology is Religion”. Rightly so, the mankind has endlessly exploited earth, thus
brining upon it the wrath of nature. Environmental degradation is wrecking havoc
all around the world. We should follow his advice in preserving our beautiful
planet. Mt Kailash and the Holy Lake Manasarovar is the abode of Lord Shiva – the
Himalayas, with all their splendour and beauty are nothing short of God. Let us all
join hands in protecting the Himalayas for generations to come
.

Padma Shri Capt MS Kohli, Everester and the leader of Indian expedition to Everest in 1965. Chairman, Himalayan Environment Trust.

A mountaineer, trekker, photographer and collector of all sorts of memorabilia, Rajinder Arora is a graphic designer by profession. His adventure travelogues have been published in Indian Mountaineer and online journals. His publications include an illustrated volume on Everest Base Camp; three poetry booklets for children in Hindi; besides short stories in English and Hindi. A passionate reader, Arora lives with his wife and children in Gurgaon, India.

Kailash: Jewel of the Snows by Rajinder Arora, Now on Amazon India, UK, Canada and USA

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