Vikram Seth: Balancing Autocracy and Bhakti with Hanuman Chalisa Launch

Eminent author and poet Vikram Seth highlighted the current political landscape post-18th Lok Sabha elections, noting a limitation on autocracy through leaders like Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu. At his new book launch— a translation of the 'Hanuman Chalisa'— Seth discussed political misuse of religious imagery and the challenges of free speech.


PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 22-06-2024 16:04 IST | Created: 22-06-2024 16:04 IST
Vikram Seth: Balancing Autocracy and Bhakti with Hanuman Chalisa Launch
  • Country:
  • India

Eminent author-poet Vikram Seth on Friday remarked on the political landscape after the 18th Lok Sabha elections, saying there is now a "limitation on autocracy" with leaders like Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu playing crucial roles. Speaking at the launch of his new book, a translation of the 86-line Hindu hymn 'Hanuman Chalisa,' Seth emphasized that these leaders could balance governance, similar to how the Samata Party and George Fernandes managed during the early National Democratic Alliance (NDA) period.

"We live in a better situation now than a month ago. If the previous political climate was a trailer, we now have some balance by Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu, both fairly secular leaders," said Seth, an award-winning author.

Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 240 seats in the latest elections, failing to reach the 272-seat majority mark and forming the government with allies, Seth, who recently turned 72, warned that the political "problem" is far from over. He highlighted concerns around free speech, citing the persecution of author Arundhati Roy, who faces legal issues under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her alleged provocative speeches.

Seth discussed the politicization of Hindu deities' imagery, noting changes in how Hanuman is portrayed. Initially, Seth postponed the launch of his 'Hanuman Chalisa' translation to avoid political entanglement during the election period. Reflecting on the translation dedicated to Bhaskar, a character from his book 'A Suitable Boy,' Seth called the process of translation akin to "learning to dance with chains."

The 'Hanuman Chalisa,' written by 16th-century poet Tulsidas, remains one of the most revered Hindu hymns, consisting of 40 verses recited by millions for courage and solace. Published by Speaking Tiger, Seth's book is priced at Rs 399.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback