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Renuka Narayanan

Renuka Narayanan is a commentator and columnist on religion and culture.

Articles by Renuka Narayanan

Review: The Collected Stories of Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury

Human beings, animals, birds, fish, insects and super-natural beings mix as equals, talking to each other and being mutually understood in The Collected Stories of Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury

A scene from Satyajit Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, which was based on a story from Golpomala by his grandfather, Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury. (HT Photo)
Updated on May 24, 2024 10:51 PM IST

Review: Aryans by Charles Allen

In this posthumously published book, Charles Allen, author of works on Ashoka and Rudyard Kipling, among others, investigates who the Aryans were by drawing on linguistic theories, archaeology, and studies of human migration and genetics

A performance of the Ramayana ballet at the Prambanan temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock)
Updated on Mar 23, 2024 05:44 AM IST

Review: Green Pearls of India by V Sundararaju

Describing 27 trees considered sacred in India, this book provides information about their habitat, distribution, usage and environmental, economic, historical and religious significance

A 75-year-old banyan tree in the Baba Nayaram Das temple in Manesar, Haryana. (Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jan 05, 2024 10:21 PM IST

Essay: The Mahabharata – beyond the harrowing angst

First published in 1965, Kamala Subramaniam’s excellent 870-page translation attained a fresh awareness of the life code laid out in Vyasa’s epic

A performance in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, of the play ‘Doot Ghatotkacham’ Ghatotakacha, son of Hidimba and Bheema, who wreaks havoc on the Kauravas. Episodes from the Mahabharata continue to inspire creative expression. (Deepak Sansta/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Feb 09, 2023 09:59 AM IST

Re-reading the Ramayana of Valmiki

Reading Kamala Subramaniam’s English translation of the grand epic is a rewarding journey into the natural beauty of old India and into the emotional landscape of the heart

A scene from the Ramlila held at the Kavi Nagar Ramlila Grounds in Ghaziabad on 2 October 2019. (Sakib Ali/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Dec 05, 2022 08:45 AM IST

Kamala Subramaniam: An epic life well-served

Kamala Subramaniam’s detailed and lucid renditions of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam have helped generations of readers discover the depth of these epics in English

Artists performing at a Ramlila in New Delhi. (Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Sep 28, 2022 06:44 PM IST

Excerpt: Learning from Loss by Renuka Narayanan

This extract from a collection of stories on death, heartbreak and loss from Hinduism’s many traditions retells one of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s parables

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated on Aug 17, 2022 07:19 PM IST

A month of fasts, feasts and reaching out: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Take a cue from stories, old and not so old, to mark this time with kindness.

The many moods of May: Mahavishnu’s fourth avatar, Narasimha, had manifested in Adhik Maas to save his devotee Prahlad.(Getty Images / iStock)
Updated on May 06, 2018 09:23 AM IST
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The beauty of a job well done: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

It’s easy to scoff and make light of them, but it takes tonnes of discipline and commitment to do what real princesses must do.

British royals William and Kate wave to photographers hours after the birth of their third child.(Tim Ireland / AP Photo)
Updated on Apr 29, 2018 09:51 AM IST
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Accepting our errors, expressing remorse: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Each one of us can and must do what we can to make things better.

People from across communities participate in a peaceful march in Kolkata to condemn the rape and murder of an 8-year-old in Kathua.(Samir Jana / HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 21, 2018 04:52 PM IST
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A curious old tale for a new cycle of time: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

A quaint story from the annual Kapalishwar festival of Mylapore is a reminder that the Eternal God is far above human conflicts and quarrels.

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)
Updated on Apr 15, 2018 08:40 AM IST
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The many metaphors hidden within a feast: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

In a time of food wars, we would do well to remember that God’s grace is reflected in every plate and palate.

In Babette’s Feast, sumptuous dishes like the cailles en sarcophage (quail in puff pastry shell with foie gras and truffle sauce) become a metaphor for the perceived conflict between pleasure and piety. You can read Karen Blixen’s elegant short story online, and watch the film on YouTube.
Updated on Apr 08, 2018 08:57 AM IST
Hindustan Times | By

From an epic hero, lessons in humility: SheBaba by Renuka Narayanan

The verses glorifying Hanuman are more about ‘personality development’, meant to inspire the reciter to become a positive person and an asset to society

Hanuman in Lanka, by Raja Ravi Varma. Indians love the ‘action hero’ personality of Hanuman, but the wise and gentle giant is also upheld as an ideal of humility and devotion despite being a superstar.
Published on Mar 31, 2018 06:44 PM IST
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A living river of sermons, stories, songs: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

The Harikatha, a piece of inner India, draws from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Here’s why we need it more than ever today.

How stories unite us: The Pandavas depicted as shadow puppets at an Indonesian museum.
Updated on Mar 25, 2018 11:42 AM IST
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A mystic moment of historic holy flow

Thanks to the Kanchi Srimatam’s efforts, we have properly-trained Vedic priests and scholars today.

Jagadguru Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya.(HT Photo)
Updated on Mar 16, 2018 10:01 PM IST
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The lost-and-found realm of a great goddess: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

In our forgotten links to common deities is a reminder of the unity that we all culturally share.

Lalita Tripurasundari is worshipped across India, from Tripura in the northeast to Tamil Nadu in the south.(Wikimedia Commons)
Published on Mar 10, 2018 05:20 PM IST
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Of a brave, old bird that died in the woods: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

There’s still a lot to learn from the epics, about virtues and discipline, and the importance of God-awareness.

Jatayu Moksham: The epics teach us to look closely at the dynamics of love, duty and discipline. To ask why Jatayu, who was just another bird of prey, died with his head on Rama’s lap, reciting Rama’s name
Updated on Mar 04, 2018 08:48 AM IST
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No zari curtains on Valmiki’s Ramayana: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

The root Ramayana didn’t have a ‘Lakshman rekha’ or a terrible last parting, but the versions after it have been revised to suit the writers

In later versions of the Ramayana, no one could handle the thought of Ravan laying hands on Sita and so they respectfully or prudishly changed it.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Feb 24, 2018 04:58 PM IST
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When you (fairly) civilly disagree about God: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

There is a crucial difference between the ‘godly’ and the ‘godless’ regarding what actually constituted ‘godliness’

All nature, all creation is pervaded by God, says the Isha Upanishad.(Shutterstock)
Updated on Feb 17, 2018 10:40 AM IST
Hindustan Times | By

Many languages maybe, but a common prayer

The Naam Samkeertan tradition centred on Vitthala that originated with the great medieval Marathi saints, is hugely popular across the Deccan or Indian peninsula.

Pandharpur temple town, Solapur district in south Maharashtra, 400 km from Mumbai.(Hindustan Times)
Published on Feb 02, 2018 12:18 PM IST
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To good thoughts, good deeds, and rain: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

From Ramayana’s Rishyashringa to Honi, the Circle-Drawer of Galilee, legends of seers who could make it pour abound.

A downpour in New Delhi. Rain-making, at its heart, even in our oldest myths, is about faith and good intentions.(HT File Photo)
Published on Jan 27, 2018 09:41 PM IST
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An easy path to a happier you: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Spring is a time to celebrate Sarasvati, the patron deity of knowledge and the arts. And also to ask, how well do you really know yourself?

Raja Ravi Varma’s Sarasvati.
Published on Jan 20, 2018 05:16 PM IST
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A sweet way to hit refresh on friendship, unity: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

A significant positive aspect to Makara Sankaranti is that it unites the regions of India in a profoundly meaningful but baggage-free way.

Along with festivals like Buddha Purnima, Vesak and Kartik Purnima, Makara Sankaranti is another ancient festival shared by regions across South and South-East Asia - with the added benefit of kite-flying thrown in!(iStock)
Published on Jan 13, 2018 07:25 PM IST
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Understanding the purpose of human life: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

As we start a new year, let’s remember that our true purpose is to show loving kindness to all.

Published on Jan 06, 2018 07:47 PM IST
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May we be kinder, better in the new year: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Let us cultivate the patience and good humour we need to keep us from going to pieces when tired or unhappy.

(Illustration:Shrikrishna Patkar)
Updated on Dec 31, 2017 08:29 AM IST
Hindustan Times | By

Visions of a feast in the time of Christ: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

It is believed Jesus and his disciples ate simply. As Christmas draws closer, a look back at feasts of the old Judeo-Christian tradition.

The Bible tells us that Jesus ate bread, wine and fish. Scholars say other chief crops during Christ’s time were wheat, grapes and lentils.(Getty Images / iStock)
Updated on Dec 24, 2017 09:54 AM IST
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There is good in us all, even despite ourselves: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

As Christmas draws near, tales about the nature of God-love come to mind with renewed joy.

Updated on Dec 17, 2017 03:56 PM IST
Hindustan Times | By

The mother and mother-goddess as the teacher: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

The mother is revered as one’s first guru, who not only teaches us the basics of existence but also our human duty.

It said in religious discourses that the Dharma Shastras hold duty to one’s mother paramount.(Shutterstock)
Updated on Dec 09, 2017 11:13 PM IST
Hindustan Times | By

It’s not just what, learn how to give too: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

On the anniversary of the revelation of the Bhagavad Gita, revisit its lessons on generosity, charity.

Published on Dec 02, 2017 07:35 PM IST
Hindustan Times | By

Take a moment to tune in to the Sun: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

One can chant the Aditya Hrudayam as a prayer of praise to the Sun, or enjoy it as inspiring Indian poetry.

Attributed to Agastya, the Aditya Hrudayam praises the Sun in its many aspects, and reaffirms it as a giver, sustainer and taker of life.(Getty Images / iStock)
Published on Nov 25, 2017 06:08 PM IST
Hindustan Times | By
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