Sushil Kumar's Blog

straight from my heart and soul

Archive for the category “For the sake of book-lovers”

Bharti Bhawan Library

It’s my 100th post, so I have to write about my first love… er love for books.

I owe my reading habit to Allahabad’s ‘Bharti-Bhawan Library’ which was once a hub for freedom fighters. Next month I will go to Allahabad and click few pics and will add to this post. Bharti-Bhawan Library is small but beautiful library now situated amidst busy market of Loknath, Chowk where I read loads of gems of Indian literature two decades back.

To enter this library you have to tread your way on bull’s shit (not bullshit), I fondly remember that I had to stand my bicycle on heap of bull’s shits for months. And yes, bulls and cows are treated as very sacred animals in Hindu mythology and even calling them animal is sometimes blasphemous, so that is not a big issue.

It is the place where I got acquainted with the literary world of Sharad Chandra Chattopadhyay (it’s really amusing that I typed his name minus any mistake) and his novella Parinita, Kabir and his vast words which I found nowhere, Sharad Joshi and his Jeep par Sawar Illian (Leeches riding the Jeep), Harisankar Parsai’s satires, thought provoking articles of Taslima Nasreen and Osho.

This library has huge collection of rare manuscripts and neatly preserved Sanskrit-Hindi-Urdu books, it was established in 1889 by the joint efforts of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and Mr. Bal Krishna Bhatt.

You can get a glimpse of this library in the beautiful poetry by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra from the book: Both Sides of the Sky, published by National Book Trust and edited by Eunice de Souza –

“Bharati Bhavan Library, Chowk, Allahabad”

A day in 1923.
The reading room is full.
In pin-drop silence,
Accountants, homoeopaths,
Petty shopkeepers, students, clerks
Turn the pages
Of the morning papers.
At the issuing desk,
Some are borrowing books:
A detective novel in Urdu
In two volumes;
A free translation
Of a poem by Goldsmith
Printed in Etawah,
Titled Yogi Arthur.

The books
Are still on the shelves,
Their pages brittle
And spines missing.
New readers occupy the chairs,
Turning the pages
Of the morning papers.
Turning pages too,
But of dusty records
In a back room,
Is a researcher from Cambridge, England.
It’s her second visit,
And everyone here knows her.
She’s looking at Indian reading habits
In the colonial period.

On the pavement,
Is a thriving vegetable market.
Amidst the stalls,
A knife-grinder sets up
His portable establishment
And opens for business.


Delhi Book Fair 2012

In my childhood days of small town Allahabad, I was delighted in awe to watch news on Doordarshan about Delhi’s Book Fair. Those days even boring news were so colourful in B&W television. So, friends Delhi’s Pragati Maidan which is managed by ITPO – India Trade Promotion Organisation holds book fair of many kinds. Most popular are ‘World Book Fair’ which is biannual during February – March every next year and ‘Delhi Book Fair’ every year in the month of September, promoted by National Book Trust. Besides these two book fairs, Bengali book lovers organize Bengali book fair in West Bengal pavilion of Pragati Maidan.

Sahitya Akademi’s stall

Rajpal and Sons stall

Moti Lal Banarasi Das’s stall

Al Hasanat Books (Pvt.) Ltd.

Bhartiya Jnanpith

Gautam Book Centre’s stall

I want to add that most of the upper-caste people hate Dr. Ambedar and have a prerogative and prejudiced opinion that he was father of reservation in India. But that is not the truth, although he was not interested in upliftment of Hindu religion and he embraced Buddhism in his later life. He has done more good than Swami Vivekananda and Raja Ram Mohan Roy for annihilating caste hierarchy and renaissance of Hinduism. It is written in Bhagvad Gita that Varna-Ashram is created on the basis of ‘Guna-Karma-Vibhag’ means property; work and distribution of work but vested interest had turned it as most heinous system of caste and class found in any civilization. Now we see that a boy born in Brahmin family becomes a Brahmin by birth but not by his deeds.

Vani Prakashan’s stall

Hind Pocket Books stall

National Book Trust’s stall

Gita Press Gorakhpur’s Stall

Kitab Ghar Prakashan

Uday Prakash – 21st century’s Prem Chand

Sandeep Publisher & Distributor

Charles Dickens, the undisputed king of story teller of all time.

Bapu – the ultimate darling of book lovers.

In this book fair, I have keenly observed that two Mahatmas (noble person) – Mahatma Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi have emerged as triumphant in the category of all-time favourite authors. It is a victory of non-violence, compassion and truth. It proves that book lovers have special feelings for the heroes who have changed the path of History. If you visit to any book stall, then you find Bapu attracting you with his witty smile. And Buddha was most enlightened person who walked in this world. He never claimed to be a God or messenger of God. He was just a teacher who showed right path to the truth seekers. No doubt, books on the teachings of Buddha are still selling like hot-cakes. But these person were not story tellers or novelist, how they are inspiring whole world is a surprising puzzle. These great souls had no artificiality in their thoughts. They did what they preached. That’s the reason why they are real Mahatmas!

My prized possession.

Though I don’t know what the literal meaning of secularism is and I don’t know either what a secular person is. But I got books from three different religions – Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. In last book fair of February, I got bundles of books on and of Bible.
I have very fond memory of last book fair when I got tired and felt hungry and nothing suitable food item was available inside Pragati Maidan other than dirty & unhygienic sandwiches. So, there was a Sikh religious Khalsa-panthis from Punjab who were there to support their book stall and they distributed four ladoos to everyone and it was really out of world and yummy ladoos!
As a book lover, the best compliment I got from a book seller friend who said I must be a Bengali who used to spend a lot of money on books!
© Sushil Kumar

World of books, books and only books

All that glitters is not gold. But that doesn’t glitters and comes in black & white package are books and they are sometimes more worthy than all the treasure of world. Only a book lover can understand how few words play in their life. For a book lover nothing is more beautiful in this world than books and he is not amused by e-books which have no smell of gum, ink and paper and sometimes smell of moth infested pages.
Here I am giving you an example of few people who are in this trade of books and they don’t have a roof and four walls, glossy bookshop and rather snubbed as kabadiwallah or book-seller of cheap, pirated books. But that is not the truth. They live with a cause to serve book lovers. This bookshop is on pavement of a computer market in Nehru Place, Delhi where you can get only original books which are custom-confiscated or auctioned by American libraries or sometimes second-hand books. It is not the fault of book-seller that customers presume the books as pirated only because they are piled on road. The owner of this shop is Mani (literal meaning jewel) whose father is in this business since thirty years back from the days of his stint in upmarket – Khan Market. You ask for any book by Homer to Robert Ludlum, he has every book under his nose. You might be lucky to get Nobel Prize winner book, Pulitzer, Man-Booker, Orange Prize winner books. Prices are very nominal, ₹ 50/- to ₹ 100/- for classics, and ₹ 100/- to ₹ 300/- for fictions, novels, biographies, memoirs, travelogues, etc. Books for children costs just ₹ 30/- to ₹ 100/-.
You may be more than happy to buy very expensive books which may cost above ₹ 2000/- at a showroom or by Flipkart on an average of just ₹ 200/-. The icing on cake is that you may return the book after reading it and get your fifty per cent money back. But I love my books so much that I never tried this option. The only glitch is that you will not get Indian author’s books and particularly not the gossips of Chetan Bhagat which he doesn’t care to sell despite huge demands neither do I care to read. If you are interested, then call him on his cell no. – 9650748526 to know the availability of book in his stock before paying a visit.
I want to conclude my words with the words of another wordsmith Marcus Tullius Cicero that ‘a home without books is a body without soul.’



Preparing a canopy to cover books on a rainy day

Sahitya Akademi

Very few Delhiwallas know that there is a paradise for book lovers in Central Delhi which is very near to Connaught Place. It is Sahitya-Akademi, an autonomous organisation of Government of India.
The pictures show a marvellous bookshop which is hard to believe that it is Government owned bookshop. This shop provides flat 20% discount on already subsidized books. The books are generally literary work of par excellence and ranges from regional works translated in Hindi and English and vice-versa and also translated works from world famous languages.
It has state of art library and membership fee is ₹ 250/- for consultation without book borrowing facility and ₹ 1000/- with book borrowing facility.
The Sahitya Akademi publishes three journals; ‘Indian literature’ in English a bimonthly journal, ‘Samakaleen Bhartiya Sahitya’ in Hindi a bimonthly journal and ‘Samskrita Pratibha’ a half-yearly journal in Sanskrit.
Five years back I came to know that these journals are highly subsidized and ‘Samakaleen Bhartiya Sahitya’ which bears a cover price of just ₹ 25/- has a printing cost of ₹ 80/-.
Every year Sahitya Akademi confers an award of ₹ 1,00,000/- to the most outstanding book of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Akademi.
The Sahitya Akademi offers two fellowships which are:-
1. Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy Fellowship and
2. Premchand Fellowship
It has regional offices at Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai. Sahitya Akademi’s New Delhi address is:
Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road,
New Delhi-110001
Nearest Metro station is Mandi House. So next time if you visit Delhi then please pay a visit to this den of book lovers.
For more information surf the website of Sahitya Akademi-








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