Books for Life

September 27, 2014

I have been collecting books (and of course reading them!) for a long time now and realized that lately I have acquired quite a few “complete series” kind of books. Now when my existing book shelf
is unable to accommodate the new additions, I thought of writing about a few books that are close to my heart.

Sriman Mahabharata

This is a monumental work that provides simple Kannada translation of Vyasa Mahabharata. Published by Bharatha Darshana, this work consists of 32 volumes with more than 600 pages in each volume. I have been looking for this kind of work in Kannada which provides just the faithful translation of the original Sanskrit Shlokas and nothing else. Though this work doesn’t list and provide full translation of 100000 Mahabharata Shlokas, it includes quite a few shlokas in each of the version. Bharatha Darshana staff tell me that they have included only the important Shlokas but for the rest only the translation exists in the books. For those who want basic translations without any
interpretation of all 100000 Shlokas of Mahabharata, Gita Press provides such a series, but it is in Hindi.


This entire series costs Rs. 2300 which comes to around Rs 75 per book. Needless to say that the price is heavily subsidized.


Srimadvalmiki Ramayana

Last year I purchased this 3 volume series of Valmiki Ramayana in Kannada from Gita Press. These books provide basic Kannada translation of all the 24000 Shlokas from 7 Khandas of Valmiki Ramayana. I am actively reading this work from last year and till now completed Bala, Ayodhya and Aranya Khandas. I always wanted to read and understand the original Shlokas of Ramayana and this book is exactly serving the purpose. I have now acquired enough hold in Sanskrit language that I can follow the Sanskrit Shlokas with some help from the Kannada translation present in this book. I am
thoroughly enjoying this book both from Kavya perspective and the Sanskrit language learning perspective and I usually manage to read and understand at least one Sarga in a day. After reading 3
Khandas, I am realizing that we have been fed with many wrong interpretations of Ramayana which I plan to write about separately some other time.


This 3 volume set costs around Rs.600 which is of course heavily subsidized considering the paper and printing quality.

Kumaravyasa Bharata

Sometime back I happened to read Kuvempu’s autobiography Nenapina Doniyalli which includes hundreds of his poems. This inspired me to read (and of course write!) Kannada poetry and I bought Kumaravyasa Bharata edited and translated by A R Seturamrao. This book provides Kannada translation/interpretation of Kumaravyasa’s (aka Gadugina Naranappa) epic work Kumaravyasa Bharata aka Gadugina Bharata. In Kumaravyasa Bharata, Kumaravyasa has retold Vyasa Mahabharata in the form of Kannada poetry composed in Bhamini Shatpadi meter. For Kannadigas, this is like what Tulasidas Ramayana is for Hindi speaking population and it used to be the primary source of Mahabharata for my parents’ generation where singing, listening and interpreting the verses from Kumaravyasa Bharata used to be favorite evening pass time in many households.


The liberal amount of Ganjifa art work throughout the book by Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhatta is an added attraction in this book.

Anything related to Mahabharata must be huge and so is this book comprising of 1300 pages. With high quality paper and printing, this single book costs Rs. 2500. This is the most expensive single
book that I have invested in till now!

Rigveda Samhita

The word Veda is so commonplace to us that I am sure most of us don’t know or never had opportunity to really know what’s in Vedas.  In 1950s, Mysore Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar brought together a team of Vidwans led by H. P Venkatrao to provide a version of Rigveda for Kannada speaking population. This monumental work resulted in a series of 36 books which are now being reprinted by Kannada and Culture Department, Government of Karnataka. This book lists each Rigveda Mantra, with word by word listing of the Mantra, description of it from Sayanacharya’s Bhashya, word by word meaning, translation, English translation, special notes and grammar notes.


This is a collector’s item and over last few years, I have managed to collect all 36 volumes with the intention of reading them after my retirement 🙂 However quite a few retired people are advising me to finish this reading before retirement as their experience tells them that such work can’t be done with reduced mental faculties of old age!


Each volume has more than 750 pages with high quality print and paper. Each volume is available for a subsidized average price of Rs 250 per volume.

The History and Culture of Indian People

I picked up this series from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan mainly as a reference book and not really for page-to-page reading. This is a set of 11 books covering Indian History from Vedic age till



Shivaram Karanthara Sahitya Shreni

This is a series of books over 25 volumes that aims to include the complete works of Kannada writer K Shivaram Karanth. This was published by Kannada and Culture Department, Govt of Karnataka. Most of his novels and plays are included in these books. Each book has 2 novels and when I bought this, each book was available for as low as Rs.50!



The complete works of Swami Vivekananda

This is a set of 9 books (when I bought long time back) that includes Swami Vivekananda’s writings, lectures, discourses and more. Published by Advaita Ashrama Kolkata, it is generally available in Ramakrishna Ashram book shops.



DVG’s Jnapaka Chitrashale

This is a series of 8 books written by D V Gundappa (of Manku Thimmana Kagga fame) which describe certain aspects of DVG’s association and experiences with different kinds of people whom he came across throughout his life. He has categorized them into different categories like “common people”, “Patrons of Art” etc. This series should give a good insight into the life of DVG