INDIA: Labyrinths in the Lotus Land by Shasti Brata

INDIA: Labyrinths in the Lotus Land

Email this review


The years of 1985-86 are reserved, it seems, for a ""Festival of India"" here in the United States. Rajiv Gandhi has already kicked this off with a trip to Washington, and we can expect to see a good many literary offerings about that mystic land. But it is unlikely that we will see one as interesting and informative as Brata's. An Indian journalist who left his home to ply his trade in England because he couldn't tolerate intolerance, Brata went back recently to see if things had changed. Well, they had and they hadn't. He found a nation where the most modern underpinnings of industry and technology mingled strangely with centuries-old taboos, customs, and rituals. As Brata puts it, ""Modernity and medievalism will live in the same body, both metaphorically and physically."" Brata surveys the entire society in his quest for the answer to the question: whither goest India? He relates sexual mores (any young Indian seeking erotic pleasure had best leave India), religious matters (Hinduism is like a gelantinous mass that subsumes everything in its way), the arts (they flourish in Calcutta, side-by-side with street-death, but censorship is heavy), the political future (is India's new leader too nice to lead a nation with so many problems?), and much more. The tone here is conversational, which makes for easy reading. The only quibble is that Brata has a disconcerting habit of making smart-alecky asides that spoil the objectivity of his tale. But overall, a fine work.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1985
Publisher: Morrow