This westerner is Martin Buckley, a well known and respected Journalist and Travel Writer. Ever since Martin Buckley bought the Ramayana as a 22 year old, he had a dream – to retrace the route of Sri Rama from his birthplace in north India to the climax of his confrontation with Evil in Sri Lanka. 25 years later he fulfills his dream and his book “An Indian Odyssey” is all bout his travels through India, using the Ramayana as the compass.
Here is a part of his interview that was published in The Hindu.
Q: Also, there’s a definite nostalgia about the India that was, a sense that the nation is losing some essence of Indianness.
A: I feel that India is at a point of cultural crisis. I see that the English-speaking classes, the secular classes, are very patronising of religion, and there’s this notion that somehow to have the secular state, you can’t embrace Hinduism. Certainly you shouldn’t persecute any minorities, but why this knee-jerk rejection of what is the richest, continuous, unbroken culture of its kind in the world? Hinduism is just a deep, deep well of wisdom and I hate to see the English-speaking sophisticates turn their back on it.
Q: If there was one thing you’d want the reader to take away from this book, what would it be?
A: The fundamental message of the book is that the Ramayana is an eternal story, such as the Odyssey or the Iliad. Another huge purpose of the book was to talk about spirituality. I had a deeply spiritual experience in India, which was a turning point in my life. I believe that people who don’t have a spiritual dimension have a lack in their lives; I think Western culture has a ghastly hole in the middle of it.
The entire article from the Hindu can be read here.
Myth, travelogue and holy writ, the Ramayana – the Journey of Rama – is India’s best-loved book, an inspiration to schoolchildren, monks and movie-makers. It’s one of the world’s great epic tales, yet is largely unread in the Western world.
An Indian Odyssey – A rich account of a country bursting with piety and mysticism. Travelling by land, sea and a small plane Martin Buckley recreates one of the great journeys in world literature, the Ramayana.
Some pages from the book “An Indian Odyssey” can be read here.