About Books & Novels

Books and friends cherish us a lot. This blog is a list of books and novels that I have read recently.
Hope you would enjoy the write-ups.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

India, Burma & Ceylon – An Elementary Geography

Yesterday night, I wanted to read something offbeat, something non-fictional. When I have searching my little library, my hands picked up a long forgotten antique “India Burma And Ceylon” written by Henry F. Blanford, published in 1904. So, this is the reminiscence of colonial India. I was bit intrigued with this thought.

I read this book almost twenty years back, when I was a student. Old memories about this book were faded and hence I could hardly recall what was there inside this book. As my resolution was to read something non-fictional, I settled with this book.

The first thing that I did was to glance through the book and when I was shuffling the pages, my memory cells were ignited almost instantaneously. My vision became clearer and with same childish fervor that moved me 20 years ago, I started enjoying the wonderful illustrations of this book.

I have collected some of them for you…


Henry opens the book by saying

We speak of India as of a single country, because it is under one supreme government; but it is really a collection of many countries, differing from each other in soil, climate, and productions, in the races that occupy them, in the languages, religions, and civilisation of their peoples, and in many other respects. Yet no country is more distinctly marked off by natural boundaries.

A typical statement from an imperialist author. This statement gives the hint about why and how British could successfully deploy “Divide & Rule” tactics. I can vouchsafe that Henry has faultered in the religious feelings of this country. Whether it is North or South, East or West, all Indians were celebrating certain common religious practices and festivals. Dussehara, Diwali, Holi etc. are some of the examples for the common festivals. Practicising the Homa, Havana, Vrata are examples of common rituals and performing daily Puja and prayers as prescribed by the ancient scriptures are some of the examples of common practices.

Even the Indian Muslims too were bound together with the common practices of their customs, traditions and festivals. So were the Buddhists, Jains and other religious followers. Hence India was diversified in religious believes but was unified with the common practices and mutual tolerance.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed the reading of this 109 years old academic book which was studied by my maternal great grandfather. 

Nice experience for sure to a text book of an ancestor. 

Akbar – Biography by Laurence Binyon

About Author

Last week, I read AKBAR, a biography of the most celebrated Mughul emperor by Laurence Binyon. This book was published by Rochhouse & Sons and the year of publishing is 1933.

Before reading this book, I was not aware who is Laurence Binyon but when I googled I understood that he was one of the famous poets and writers from the United Kingdom and he penned a famous poem called ‘For the Fallen’ which is an elegy written for the dead soldiers of Great War.

About the Book

“Akbar” is the short and crisp biography of the renowned Mogul emperor Jalal Uddin Muhammŕ°…d Akbar. This book deals with the most important events of Akbar’s life i.e. his birth, upbringing, rise to the power, battles fought, his children and finally the death of him. This book also covers an important aspect i.e. the spiritual and religious sentiments of Akbar.

I must admit that the narrative style of Laurence is quite engaging in terms of its vivid descriptions of the people, locations, situations etc. He has a captivating vocabulary and one can perceive his skillful selection of words while constructing the sentences.

Laurence ability lies in explaining the complex historical accounts whose accuracy is always doubtful. He uses “for and against” method and leaves the decisions to the readers. I loved this strategy as I, as a reader, am at the liberty of understanding Akbar which the facts and figures presented by the author.

Controversial Topics

Each historian (Indian & foreign) have written different versions of Akbar’s life, rule, religious sentiments et al. But what appeared to be controversial topic in Laurence’s Akbar is the predicament of Akbar to take-up Christianity. Laurence gives series of incidents that seem to be happened in Akbar’s life wherein Akbar had shown the signs of his willingness to embrace Christianity but somehow restrained from doing so.


It is a recorded fact that the British authors, especially those who wrote about India during their imperial rule of this country, have invariably shown affliction towards the erstwhile imperialists. This affection is much stronger with Moguls as British have dethroned and replaced them.

It appears to be that the then British administration has felt that if their authors criticize the previous imperial rulers, such writings may have a backlash on British themselves as they too are the imperial rulers of the Indian sub-continent. Hence even in Laurence Binyon’s Akbar, we can find the reminiscence of this “imperialist inclination”.

Nevertheless, I feel that Laurence Binyon’s Akbar can be a good reading for history and biography lovers and also for the academicians as well.

Read Laurence Binyon’s Akbar in Avakaaya.com