This Collection of Tales is the book that most literary -minded citizens of Banaras mention when asked to recommend a modern work of fiction about their sacred city. The book's Hindi title, Bahati Ganga, means " the flowing Ganges," and as this river, which flows along one side of the city, is the source of spiritual and material richness to the people of India, so too this book is a source of richness in Banaras lore-its history, spiritual life, lifestyles, and prejudices.
The City where these stories are set offers its residents and visitors many different ways to enjoy its charms. Like the hundreds of thousands of Hindus who come to the city every year, one may go on a pilgrimage, visit the Important riverside ghats to bathe in the Ganges, and catch sight of lord Shiva's image at the main Vishvanath temple. One may sit in one of the city's hundreds of tea stalls and observe the frenetic energy of the streets and lanes- the rickshaw traffic jams, the shrouded dead bodies being carried to cremation grounds, the crowds of men gathered at the neighborhood Panchakarma shop gossiping, with heads tilted backwards so as not stain their clothing with the red betelnut mixture in their mouths. Or one may go to the " Other side," the far shore of the Ganges, grind some Bhang (hashish), wash one's clothes, cook a meal over cow dung cakes, and have a traditional Banarasi good time.
Back of the Book
This unique collection of short stories is the one book that most literary-minded citizens of Banaras unequivocally recommend as the best modern work of historical fiction.
The sacred city of Banaras is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites of the flowing Ganges. A place of Faith, death and cremation ghats for millions of believers since time immemorial, it is also a city of drugs, prostitutes, thieves and abandoned widows.
In these wistful, interconnected tales, translators, Paul Golding and Virendra Singh have given the English reader an experience of the inner life of the otherwise inscrutable Banaras and it inhabitants (both Hindu and Muslim) come alive, and its haunting sounds and smells almost tangible.
The translators draw on their vast scholarship and with introductory notes, explanatory postscripts and extensive glossary elucidate the original text so that the traditions of Banaras and its inhabitants (both Hindu and Muslim) come alive, and its haunting sounds and smells almost tangible.
In addition to revealing the mythology, customs and history of Banaras, these evocative psychological tales are also notable for their human tragedies of unrequited love and nostalgia for a romantic past that is gone with the flowing Ganges.
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