Bihar Books: Read through the Land of Monasteries

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Bihar’s antiquity is evident from its name, which is derived from the ancient word “VIHARA” (monastery). It is indeed a land of monasteries. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Sikh shrines abound in this ancient land where India’s first major empires rose and fell. Where the ruins of the worlds’ earliest university slumbers in the void of time. The passage of Ganga, flowing wide and deep enrich the plains of Bihar before distributing in Bengal’s deltoid zone.

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Read through the state known for giving the country most number of IAS officials, quite interesting politics, and the amazing Litti Chokha with these books.

Title: Phoolsunghi
Author: Pandey Kapil
Translator: Gautam Choubey
Publisher: Penguin Hamish Hamilton

Blurb: When Dhelabai, the most popular tawaif of Muzaffarpur, slights Babu Haliwant Sahay, a powerful zamindar from Chappra, he resolves to build a cage that would trap her forever. Thus, the elusive phoolsunghi is trapped within the four walls of the Red Mansion.

Forgetting the past, Dhelabai begins a new life of luxury, comfort, and respect. One day, she hears the soulful voice of Mahendra Misir and loses her heart to him. Mahendra also feels for her deeply, but the lovers must bear the brunt of circumstances and actions that repeatedly pull them apart.

The first-ever translation of a Bhojpuri novel into English, Phoolsunghi transports readers to a forgotten world filled with mujras and mehfils, court cases and counterfeit currency, and the crashing waves of the River Saryu.

Price: Rs. 258 || Pages: 192

Title: Charioteer of Rays
Author: Ramdhari Singh Dinkar
Translator: Dr. BN Mishra
Publisher: VL Media Solutions

Blurb: Rashmirathi (Rashmi: Light (rays) Rathi: One who is riding the chariot (not the charioteer)) of light is a Hindi epic written in 1952, by the Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’. The epic poem narrates the story of Karna who is regarded as one of main protagonist of the Hindu epic- Mahabharata. It is the most appreciated work of Dinkar, who is considered the Rashtrakavi or “the national poet of India”.

Price: Rs. 385 || Pages:

Title: Greatest Folk Tales of Bihar
Author: Nalin Verma
Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Blurb: There are human skulls speaking to men. There are demonesses falling in love with their prey. There is a jackal pretending to be a priest and a donkey that goes beyond his duty. These are stories from the soil of Bihar, from the land of Bhojpuri and Maithili—stories that have traversed centuries and created a catalogue of oral wisdom. The Greatest Folk Tales of Bihar is a collection of timeless tales that have been told through
generations, are adored for being a literature and treated as sacred testament of village wisdom. The stories are a source of joy for younger generations and a celebration of the past for the older ones. Firmly grounded in village life with characters both human and animals, The Greatest Folk Tales of Bihar is an enchanting read to draw you into a world of its own.

Price: Rs. 273 || Pages: 208

Title: Bihar Is In The Eye of The Beholder
Author: Vijay Nambisan
Publisher: Penguin India

Blurb: In this impressionistic and often darkly funny account of the sixteen months he spent in a small town in Bihar, Vijay Nambisan tries to understand what drives-or thwarts-perhaps the most talked about state in the Indian Union. Vicious poverty and caste wars, messy politics, corruption and lawlessness-the worst of modern India is in full display here. Yet, how different is Bihar from the rest of the country? And is it really on the brink of a spectacular collapse?

Looking beyond clichés and statistics, Vijay Nambisan has produced a remarkably perceptive and balanced portrait of the ‘hole in the heart of India’.

Price: Rs. 296 || Pages: 304

Title: Patna Blues
Author: Abdullah Khan
Publisher: Juggernaut

Blurb: Arif is the son of a sub-inspector in Patna. His once prosperous landowning family has slipped low down the class ladder. Arif ’s sole ambition in life is to crack the civil service examination and become an IAS officer. He believes this will restore the family’s fortunes and works hard at his studies.

Until his first glimpse of Sumitra, a voluptuous long-haired beauty. Married, Hindu and several years older than him, she is wrong for him in every way. It is the beginning of an infatuation that will consume his life.

Price: Rs. 231 || Pages: 312

Title: Maa, I’ve Become a Collector
Author: Rajesh Patil
Publisher: HarperCollins India

Blurb: Rajesh Patil was born to poor farm workers in the backward Khandesh region of Maharashtra. He worked as a child labourer picking cotton, selling bread, and doing small jobs. But what set him apart was that, unlike most of his peers, he was driven by an intense desire to improve his lot through education. Against great odds, he moved to Nashik for a B.Sc. and then to Pune for an M.Sc. in statistics – all this with the help of freeships, scholarships and the support of his teachers, friends and well-wishers. By dint of his hard work, he managed to get into the Indian Statistical Service, but the Indian Administrative Service was his goal. Unsuccessful at first, he persisted until eventually he cracked the competitive exams and qualified for the IAS. Maa, I’ve Become a Collector is the inspiring account of Rajesh’s struggles that has been a bestseller in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and Odia and motivated thousands of students in India’s hinterlands in their quest for a better life. At the same time, it is much more than one man’s story – it is a riveting and revelatory account of rural India.

Price: Rs. 342 || Pages: 344

Title: Contemporary Maithili Short Stories
Author: Murari Madhusudhan Thakur
Publisher: Sahitya Akademi

Blurb: Contemporary Maithili Short Stories edited by Murari Madhusudan Thakur, is an English translation of thirty Maithili short stories. The book is truly contemporary collection of Maithili short stories published from the decade of the sixties to the last decade of the twentieth century, which can be compared with any group of short stories from any modern Indian language. Both, in experiences they embody and the techniques they use, they show a vigour, variety and realism that stand witness to their being rooted in the soil of the Mithilia region and to their truth to contemporary experiences.

Price: Rs. 150 || Pages: 342

Title: Legal Fiction
Author: Chandan Pandey
Translator: Bharatbhooshan Tiwari
Publisher: HarperPerennial India

Blurb: A late-night phone call from his ex-girlfriend Anasuya forces writer Arjun Kumar to leave his wife and home in Delhi and travel to the mofussil town of Noma on the UP-Bihar border. The reason — Anasuya’s husband, Rafique Neel, a college professor and theatre director, has mysteriously disappeared.

Soon after he arrives, Arjun realizes that things are not as they seem: the police are refusing to register a missing-persons case, Rafique’s student Janaki has also disappeared, and the locals are determined to turn it into a case of ‘love jihad’. And when Arjun begins to dig deeper, what he finds endangers him and everyone around him.

Inspired by true events from today’s India, Legal Fiction is a brilliant existential thriller and a chilling parable of our times.

Price: Rs. 155 || Pages: 168

Title: The Aryabhatiya of Aryabhata
Author: Aryabhata
Translator: Walter Eugene Clark
Publisher: D.K. Print World

Blurb: Aryabhatiya or Aryabhatiyam, a Sanskrit astronomical treatise, is the magnum opus and only known surviving work of the 5th century Indian mathematician Aryabhata.

The Aryabhatiya presents many ideas that are foundational to modern astronomy and mathematics. Aryabhata asserted that the Moon, planets, and asterisms shine by reflected sunlight, correctly explained the causes of eclipses of the Sun and the Moon, and calculated values for π and the length of the sidereal year that come very close to modern accepted values.

Price: Rs. 205 || Pages: 107

This list of books is curated by Amritesh Mukherjee for Purple Pencil Project’s Instagram.

Anshika Jain

Anshika Jain

Anshika's existence revolves around books, caffeine, and Hindi songs (Bollywood and indie). When not reading, she'll be trying to persuade other people to either read A Suitable Boy or watch "tick, tick... BOOM!"

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