Did You Know Buddha Led a Revolt for Justice and Equality?

Buddhism is the main focus of the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2013  and the Dalai Lama is one of the chief attractions this year.  So in keeping with that, I am sharing here some excerpts from the Buddhist period  in my book  Sex and Power (Sect II, pp.67-110). I know that the literary festival as indeed a lot of the global discussions on Buddhism focus on ahimsa (non-violence), with this idealistic vision of a harmonious society. [Read the 2nd excerpt from my book on how Buddhism impacted on social perceptions of women and sex here].

But in my book I look at how Buddhism actually was a powerful social revolution in India that became popular among the masses because Buddha openly and strongly challenged the caste based hierarchy and the superiority of the Brahmin and upper castes, as well as their social and economic exploitation of the lower castes and poorer people.

Buddhism changed the whole power structure of Indian society in the period from about 500 B.C. to 100 A.D. in a manner that was hugely radical. And even though most modern Buddhist practitioners talk about non-violence (more…)

The Book that Measured My Life and Growth

David and his nurse Peggoty. Drawing by Jessie Willcox Smith (1910)

My Happy Birthday! post for Charles Dickens, one of my all time favorite authors (who’d be 200 if he was alive today)! Given that my grandmother is edging close to a 100, it doesn’t feel that old really!

My love affair with Dickens began with my 10th birthday, when a bachelor friend of my parents’, who had been invited to my birthday party, handed me the first thing that came his way: an unabridged version of Dicken’s David Copperfield.  Recently, when I asked a 10 year old if he had read David Copperfield, he said, “No, but I’ve seen him on T.V. He’s cool!”  I realized he was talking about the magician!

But Dicken’s David Copperfield was really my childhood magician.  (more…)

The Nightmare of Book Festivals in India

The Small publishers at the Book Fair

Rita Banerji©. All Rights Reserved.

Yesterday I went to the annual Book Fair here in Kolkata.  It is one event that I look forward to all year.  I can devour books…I have eaten, breathed and lived them from the time I think I developed consciousness!  (more…)

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