Archive for November, 2017


November 25, 2017



BOOK: MOHANDAS K. GANDHI, Thoughts, Words, Deeds and His Inspiration – Bhagavad-Gita by Ramnarine Sahadeo

BOOK REVIEW by Leonard Dabydeen (June 7, 2012) – Edited.

Published by Reprographic and Printing Services, 13/2, Rasoolpura, Secunderabad 500 003, AP,India, ISBN 978-0-9868393-1-3

(2012): Second Edition.


This second edition of author Ramnarine (Ramji) Sahadeo’s philosophical book: Mohandas K. Gandhi, Thoughts, Words, Deeds and His Inspiration: Bhagavad-Gita is a long overdue, guiding clarinet call to people of every religious belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or political interests to follow the non-violent principles of the indomitable Mahatma (Great One) Gandhi, in an attempt to seek peace, prosperity and happiness in our troubled world.

The book is a studied embellishment from the debut first edition, which was launched to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 – the unforgettable atrocities of the bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and the loss of thousands of lives of people of all walks of life. It is an attempt to point all of us to look at other 9/11s in history where visionary leaders have pleaded with human beings to live in peace, unity and harmony. Particular emphasis is highlighted in the speeches of Swami Vivekananda on September 11, 1893 to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, U.S.A. And more in grace to the guidance of famous world leaders, in the likeness of Martin Luther King (Jr.) and  Nelson Mandela is the speech by Mohandas K. Gandhi, The Moment of Truth, on September 11, 1906 in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Empire Theater. Gandhi , who is acclaimed the Father of Indian Independence (1947), displayed an impeccable stand for the principle of non-violence in the remarkable practice of Satyagraha “soul force”; “truth force”; “insistence on truth”.

What was essentially Gandhi’s inspiration ? It is this pertinent question that stirred Ramji to dwell in the body of the book on the Bhagavad-Gita. This is the scriptural poem that influenced and inspired Gandhi all through his life. In the end we come to appreciate the Mahatma (Great One) as one of the greatest souls that set foot on this earth. Readers will no doubt shuffle the pages of this book in its various sections and headings to look for answers to bring peace and harmony in their own lives. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

When disappointment stares me in the face and when I am all alone and I do not see even one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita.”

The author, Ramnarine Sahadeo, is a Guyanese-born Canadian Lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area since 1980 [Retired]. It is his fervent hope that this book will promote the change which people wish to see in their homes, their social environment and the world at large. In the back cover he writes:

“Justice systems would need fewer resources if residents can just avoid lust, anger, and greed, for these vices clog the courts with expensive, unpredictable, and unnecessary litigation. Health and social systems experience lower demands from those who exercise, perform yoga, meditate or follow a vegetarian diet, practices followed by Gandhi and recommended by the Gita.”

The book is set in three parts: Part I greets the reader with an overview of how the Gita reaches the West, with a distinction of Nine Elevens apart from September 11, 2001; Part II brings the reader to the core verses of the spiritual poem of the Bhagavad-Gita; and Part III offers power-point comments on the Gita by Gandhi, along with influences of the Bhagavad-Gita that shaped the destiny of this great soul. In the end there is a glorifying explanation of the universal greeting of Namaste for all of us.

For copies of this book, either for yourself or for distribution to friends and family as gifts or for social gatherings, you may contact the author, Ramnarine Sahadeo: By phone: 905-671-9233.

Author Ramnarine Sahadeo is also currently involved in the initiatives of establishing a Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship for students at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.


Leonard Dabydeen is the author of: Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems, Xlibris Publications, ISBN 978-1-4691-4802-1(2012). He is also listed in the World Poetry Movement’s BEST POETS & POEMS 2011 ISBN 978-1-61936-038-9 (2012); Hardcover.



November 25, 2017

BOOK: India and the Shaping of the Indo-Guyanese Imagination by Clem Seecharan

BOOK REVIEW: Frank Birbalsingh


Author(s) Clem Seecharan

ClassificationCultural Studies, History
SettingIndia, Guyana
Date published1 Dec 1993


When Indian indentured labourers first arrived in Guyana (or British Guiana as it then was) in 1838, most of the population consisted of descendants of Africans who had already worked on the colony’s Dutch and British-owned plantations for two and a half centuries. By the 1920s, as more Indians continued to come, a well-known Indian leader (Ayube Edun) could speak of Indo-Guyanese as forming 42 percent of the colony’s population, and therefore of being in a position – in the near future – to ‘dominate the political situation.’ This represented an astonishing, as it turned out – frightening – transformation in people who, on their arrival in Guyana, found themselves in an environment alien to them in every way including landscape, language, custom and ethnic composition.

In these circumstances it was perhaps natural that Indo-Guyanese should react strongly and intimately to India – their motherland. But not all their reactions were based on historical reality: some reactions were based on myths of religious significance, and yet others on the idea of a motherland that was, ambivalently, both an object of sentimental longing, and a convenient counterweight to be wielded defensively against encroaching social, cultural and political obligations in Guyana.
In the short space of 98 pages, 34 of which are Appendices, Clem Seecharan’s India provides an account both of the socio-intellectual background out of which these mixed reactions evolved, and of their impact on the Indo-Guyanese imagination.

Dr. Seecharan’s research is meticulous and his analysis penetrating. This is why, despite its specific Indian focus and slender look, India offers much insight into the broader history of Guyanese society as a whole. In the first place, by the early 1900s, after a century and a half as a British colony, India herself was going through a period of cultural re-discovery and renewal inspired partly by Indian reformers such as Ram Mohun Roy, and by European scholars like Max Mueller, who drew attention to a common Aryan ancestry that was shared by Indians and Europeans.

To impoverished Indo-Guyanese living in humiliating circumstances as mere plantation labourers or coolies, re-discovery of an illustrious Indo-Aryan past was enthusiastically embraced as a welcome source of newfound racial dignity and cultural pride.

The Ruhomon brothers – Joseph and Peter – played an important role in articulating this new, uplifting sense of Indianness which was also fostered by social and cultural activities, and by visits from prominent Indians, for example, Pillai and Tivary, Kunwar Maharaj Singh, and Rev. C.F. Andrews (an Englishman, but a close associate of Gandhi), all of whom came to Guyana in the 1920s.
In this climate of rekindled Indianness, an East Indian Cricket Club was founded in 1915, and an East Indian Young Men’s Association in 1919. In 1916, J.A. Luckhoo became the first Indo-Guyanese to enter the legislature. In 1922 the Hindu Society was formed, while a new Hindu temple was built in 1923, and a dharma sala (home for the poor) established in 1929. It is possible too that the formation in 1927 of an East Indian Ladies Guild with a woman president owed something to the example of Mrs. Sarojini Naidu being elected as president of the Indian National Congress. In fact, the whole Indian movement towards swaraj (home rule) and the nationalist agitation of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress helped to transform traditional Indo-Guyanese attitudes of loyalty to the British Empire and infuse them with a measure of political militancy.

Through analysis of such facts and events, and evidence of numerous statistics and quotations, Dr. Seecharan conclusively proves that Indo-Guyanese opinions and attitudes were profoundly influenced by social, cultural and religious ideas, and political events and personalities emerging out of India from the 1890s to the 1920s. Evidence of this shaping effect on the Indo-Guyanese imagination is also provided in extensive Appendices and Notes packed with rich details, anecdotes and observations drawn from an impressive variety of sources, including books, periodicals, official documents and rare publications like Joseph Ruhomon’s India: The Progress of her People at Home and Abroad,and How Those in British Guiana May Improve Themselves. (Georgetown, C.K. Jardine, 1894).

All this only confirms the exhaustive research that went into India. The scholarly penetration of the book is best illustrated by its last chapter ‘In the Shadow of Mother India: The Limitations of Indo-Guyanese Politics,’ where the author states that Indo-Guyanese identification with Mother India prolonged a sense of ambivalence towards the colony even among creolised, Christian Indians. It delayed the emergence of a comprehensive, unmediated loyalty to British Guiana. Above all it encouraged the Indo-Guyanese leadership to ignore the feeling of the Afro-Guyanese, and the political, economic, and cultural space this group was also demanding. Since Afro-Guyanese formed a majority in the colon when Indians first arrived, it is not difficult to imagine their feelings of apprehension, resentment and sheer fright when Indians came to surpass them in numbers, and looked like moving ahead in wealth, agriculture, commerce and the professions. In the Angel Gabriel riots of 1856 and the Cent Bread riot of 1885, Afro-Guyanese had already shown themselves frightened by the Portuguese who, like Indians, began to arrive in Guyana as indentured labourers in the 1830s.

This insight into the potential for ethnic conflict in Guyana is perhaps the most signal achievement of India, for this potential was later exploited by an unholy trinity of conspirators – L.F.S. Burnham, J.P. Lachmansingh and Jainarinesingh – who, in 1955, engineered a split in the People’s Progressive Party, while it was still a glorious movement of national solidarity led by Dr. Cheddi Jagan. This split inflicted grievous damage on Guyanese national and political development.
And when, in 1964, the same potential for ethnic conflict was again exploited, this time more cynically, by L.F.S. Burnham and a new conspirator – Peter D’Aguiar – to form another unholy political union, it precipitated Guyana into a dark age of domination by the People’s National Congress, lasting for 28 years and subjecting Guyana to even more grievous and perhaps irreparable damage.
India does not comment on these later events because they fall outside of its time period of the 1890s to the 1920s. But nothing illustrates the merit of this deceptively slender volume more than its ability to illuminate crucial events in Guyanese history that fall well outside its declared scope.



Author: Clem Seecharan

Professor Clem Seecharan, BA, MA, PhD is a writer and historian of the Indo-Caribbean experience, as well as a historian of West Indies cricket. He was born at Palmyra, East Canje, Berbice, Guyana, in 1950. He attended the Sheet Anchor Anglican School, Berbice Educational Institute and Queen’s College. He studied at McMaster University in Canada; and taught Caribbean Studies at the University of Guyana before completing his doctorate in History at the University of Warwick in 1990. He joined the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University) in 1993 and was the Head of Caribbean Studies there for nearly 20 years. In 2002 Clem was awarded a Professorship in History at the London Metropolitan University where he is now Emeritus Professor of History. He is the only person to have taught courses, in the UK, on the Intellectual History of the Caribbean, the History of Indians in the Caribbean and the History of West Indies Cricket. In 2003 he was awarded a Certificate of Distinction by the Guyana High Commission (London) ‘in recognition of his achievement in his profession in the United Kingdom’.

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Indian Arrival

November 21, 2017

Indian Arrival in British Guiana May 5 1838 JPEG.jpg(Arrival of Indians in Guyana [British Guiana], May 5, 1838)


bring you

shapes of fire

colour of skin

indentureship wakes from very bad dreams.




We Are All At Fault

November 21, 2017

We Are All At Fault

We are all at fault

you and I

and others too

in the canon of our trajectory

catapulting peace over perjury

harmony over angst

no one cooks rice

without sifting it

always some desirables

within complex webs

of our minds

where our karma revolts

or echoes involuntarily

in matrix of peace and sanctity

as we grapple with sinews

and seek bhakti

embellishing dharma

being this change we wish

for you and me

immersing melodic stotras

within gems of Bhagavad Gita.


Leonard Dabydeen: Author,  Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems, Xlibris Publications (2012); Searching For You, A Collection of Tetractys and Fibonacci Poems, Xlibris Publications (2015).











BOOK : A poem that painted the sky by Author Indira Babbellapati (2017)

November 7, 2017

NEW BOOK BY INDIRA B 2017 JPEGBook Review by Leonard Dabydeen

Author: Indira Babbellapati (India)

Book: A poem that painted the sky

Paperback: 73 pages       ₹ 1,022.73

Publisher: (7 June, 2017)

Language: English

ISBN: -10:9385944598X

ISBN: -13:978-9385945984


Cover Design and Illustrations: by Tabitha

Out of the esoteric palette of life, of the elements that nurture our colourful dreams and imaginings, comes a poem that painted the sky.


In this book, A poem that painted the sky, illustrious author Indira Babbellapati has captured a scintillating roller coaster olio of 60 poems, within a heart-throbbing 73 pages wrapped like a bouquet in a beautiful cover design. Most poems are imaginatively inked with illustrations by Tabitha. It was Rumi, the luminary 13th century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic that said, “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”                         (

Author Indira is absolute in this respect!

Moreover, author Indira brings to the fore in this book, A poem that painted the sky, her life exuberances in a wealthy symbiosis of atmospherics of nature and her ambivalences and coherences of everyday life. She has contingently immersed the elements of nature – especially in Ayurveda – of bhūmi (earth), jala (water), agni ) fire, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void) with life experiences. Then she expansively opens her mind’s imaginings in a palette of life to create poems as an artist. In the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SIU, Viman Nagar, Pune, India), the course outline reads:

One of the best ways of understanding the wealth in thoughts, ideas and culture of people and places is to study poetry. In many ways poetry is the purest form of expression – it gives an insight into a mind that constantly quests for reaching beyond simple thoughts and expresses what is beneath the façade.”


Once again, author Indira is absolute in this respect!

So also in a historic overture in this book, The Poetics of Symbiosis Reading by Shingeru Ozawa, the writer says of Seamus Heaney that he “holds his pen just as they (his ancestors) held their digging implements.”


Ref: The Poetics of Symbiosis: Reading Seamus Heaney’s Major Works

 Author Indira has magnificently utilized her pen to make brushstrokes (in poetry), painting the sky.

Author Indira also brings a thoughtful life experience in this book, A poem that painted the sky, with nuances reflective of Van Gogh’s painting of the Starry Night in 1889. According to Van Gogh’s gallery sources,

One of the biggest points of interest about this painting is that it came entirely from Van Gogh’s imagination. None of the scenery matches the area surrounding Saint-Paul or the view from his window. As a man who religiously paints what he sees, it’s a remarkable break from Van Gogh’s normal work.”


But unlike Van Gogh, author Indira’s mind-set imaginings are more conducive to her everyday experiences. Her brushstrokes are veiled often in real life situations. Many of these poems have also been crested in social media a few years hence, noticeably in under her pristine postings.


Let me take you through a random selection of poems in this book, A poem that painted the sky. In poem #1. Aditya Hridayam (p 7), author Indira is delighted in harnessing the glory of the Sun God against a back-splash of winter, spreading sun all over “earth to begin/yet another game of maya.” So illusive and magical,

On that early winter morning

the sun and I wiggled our way

cutting through the placenta

to touch the earth to begin

yet another game of maya.


In that hazy darkness

the thoughts of a life lived

rushed through the by-lanes

of unfathomable memory


Where were you?

Where are you?

I try in vain resurrecting

The faded memory.


How it eludes me on this earth…!


In my tears of joy and sorrow

I offer the sun born with me

on that early winter

a holy bath ever since.


The title of the poem, Aditya Hridayam, reflects on the empowerment of the stotra emerging as one of the key mantras based on the 107th chapter of the great epic war – Yudha Kanda – between the army of Lord Rama and the army of Ravana, as told in the Holy Ramayana. The stotra was elicited by Sage Agasthya to Sri Ram in harnessing the sun for greatest strength to defeat all enemies. (


In poem #2. Daughter of Dust (p.8), author Indira echoes a Tagore-like tone in a philosophic and emotional sarangi. Take a read of the second stanza,


Life left me to dream, though

it left a heart untouched:

a heart that can still sing

a melody of immense depth;

a melody that allays

my fears

my guilt

my shame

my tears,

mingling, them all

in the dust

under my seasoned feet.


And poem #12. Obsequies to a tear (p. 21, stanza 2) brings tear-drops to a burst,


Come, pay your respects

before the pyre is lit

before another tear is shed

and placed on the pyre.


In another poem #14. Of peace and strength (p.23), author Indira reflects a breath of Gandhian ahimsa principle,


That which allows one

to stay put amidst chaos –


That’s peace.


That which makes one stand

and walk straight in pain –


That’s strength!


Where there’s peace

There lies strength!


By general overlay and with meticulous ambulation, author Indira has netted her life experiences with rich imagery and emotional sensitivity in this beautiful bouquet of poems. Some of the poems, including #30. A wholesome mother (p.40), # 32. On a lonely monsoon night (p.43), Unfolding towards revelation (p.52), #41. A poem expecting rain (p.54), #43. A poem sliding down the glass-pane (56), #46. A poem on unexpected rain (p.59), #47. A poem that painted the sky (p.60), #51. A surreal moment (p. 64), #53. Call of desire (p.66), and # 56. Between birth and death (p. 69) have well-acclaimed postings among her 747 poems on the online blog. From her biographical exposé, she says “…to me writing poetry is strictly a business of the heart beyond the existential concerns of the here and now…”

This book’s title, A poem that painted the sky (# 47 on p.60) demonstrates the author’s “business of the heart” with her amazing life experiences,

Under a sky

that never touch

the earth…


In that virtual space

where none others

ever breathed…


There I hear

the unique raga

my breath resonates.


Between two breaths

lurks and exclusive dream

that I dream of you, for you.


This evening,

the dream morphed

into a bird…


The colorful wings

in multitudes flapped to flight

to paint the sky.


Back cover of this book, A poem that painted the sky, offers the reader with a vivid profile canvas of author, Indira Babbellapati. She is “a faculty in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences [Andhra Univ. Visakhapatnam, India]…is a widely published poet and translator. Her original poetry anthologies include affaire de Coeur, Vignettes of the Sea, echo, From the Biography of an Unknown Woman and Nomadic Nights. She translated all genres of literature except drama. Night of Nectar for the Sahitya Akademi, Asampoorna, the Incomplete, Into a Crowded Aloneness, in Telugu by Raama Chandramouli are some of the translated poetry anthologies. Her Own Way, a book of Akademi award winning short stories translated into English is under publication with the Sahitya Akademi. Gender Games and Other Stories, The Dusk, a novel in translation besides a few short stories have been published by the Translation Bureau of Dravidian University, Kuppam. Indira also coauthored English text books for Engineering Undergraduates. Indira’s poems are also anthologized in Roots and Wings, Suvarnarekha, Persona, Heaven 2014 and I am a Poet.

Prof Indira Babbellapati’s English poetry has been translated into Hindi, Bangla, Spanish and French. She made her presence felt at many national and international meets like Asia-Pacific Writers and Translators, SAARC Literature Festival to name a few.”

The collage of poetics and high literary acclaim resonates with excitement to rush any reader of poetry to get their hands on this book, A poem that painted the sky. Enjoy the read.