In an interview with G20, author Lalitha Balasubramanian talks about the inspirations behind her recent book ‘On the Krishna Trail’, and how her journey as an author has unfurled so far.
Q. “On the Krishna Trail” is a religious and mythological travelogue with a theme. What made you think of writing this book?
A. I am a spiritual person and I believe that spirituality, faith and belief in the Supreme Lord can transcend all linguistic and cultural barriers. The search for peace and tranquility has never been more pronounced than in present times. The effect of Kaliyug can be seen and felt in every sphere bringing with it a trail of jealousy, mistrust and widespread unrest. The mystique of Sri Krishna, one of the most loved Gods of the Hindus, instantaneously invokes reverence and adoration in the minds of devotees and visiting the places rendered sacred by his footprints during his time on earth could soak them in the bliss and ecstasy of self discovery. This is essentially the thought behind writing this book.
To be frank though, when I first expressed my desire to visit Mathura and Vrindavan, I had no idea that I would actually be writing this book. It was my husband’s suggestion that we do not restrict our visit to only these two places but cover the entire Krishna trail. It then occurred to me that I could chronicle the events of the journey, and the book just happened.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself as a person and what inspires you in your writing journey?
A. I have been a freelance Journalist since decades and have always been a keen observer of people around me. I turned to writing books much later. Right from my childhood I have been listening to stories from our epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. This fuelled the passion to read some original and classic adaptations of these two magnificent epics. My love for travel and research drew me to places rendered sacred by virtue of their association with Hindu deities like Sri Krishna, Sri Ram, Mahadev and Goddess Shakti. My writing inspiration for spiritual travelogues is drawn from observing and conversing with the pilgrims who flock these sacred spots. I am inspired by the hard work and success stories of ordinary people which are reflected in my articles and short stories. I love children and their innocence and curiosity inspire me to write children’s fiction.
Q. Can you tell us more about your book?
A. As the title suggests, this book is an account of our journey following the trail of Sri Krishna. We start our yatra with Mathura, Sri Krishna’s birthplace and are enchanted while visualizing baby Krishna’s pranks at Gokul and Nandgaon. We stand mesmerized by the sight of the entwined Tulsi trees at Nidhivan, reminiscent of the everlasting love of the divine couple, Radha and Krishna. The various Ghats on the banks of the Yamuna, where the Lord vanquished several demons, the forests of Vrindavan where the enraptured Gopis danced the Maha Ras with their beloved Krishna, all transport us to that magical era around 5000 years ago when these events are said to have taken place. Braj Bhoomi’s charm is in its mystique and Lilas of the divine child Krishna, whereas Dwarka’s allure lies in its presence as the majestic kingdom of the Lord. Almost all of Sri Krishna’s adult days were spent here. Kurukshetra brings back memories of stories from the epic tale Mahabharata, be it Jyotisar with the old Banyan tree under which the famous Bhagwat Gita was delivered by Lord Krishna to Arjuna, or the Bhishma Kund, where Pitamaha Bhishma lay on the bed of arrows. The journey ends with Bhalka Thirth where the Lord left for the eternal Golokdham.
Q. Tell us about some interesting experiences that you encountered during your journey.
A. At Gokul, we were amazed to see the reverence shown by all devotees, as they crawled like small children on all fours to reach and swing the jhula of baby Sri Krishna. At the Rukmini temple at Dwarka, it was interesting to note that the most important offering is Jal seva or donation for water, where, as a result of a curse, the land is parched and dry. The most poignant moment of our journey was perhaps at Bhalka Thirth, where we could visualize the depiction of the Lord with an arrow pierced on his foot, magnanimously forgiving the hunter Jara who had mistakenly shot the arrow.
Q. What can readers look forward to in this book?
A. This book is a thematic travelogue. It is interesting to note that each of the 85 or more temples that I have visited have legends or stories attached to them. So, in this book, important travel information is juxtaposed with interesting legends, history and architecture. I have clicked and provided exclusive photographs wherever possible. Religious travelers who wish to undertake this journey in part or in entirety can use it as a guide to make their travel plans.
Q. As a writer of non-fiction, what are the elements that you focus on?
A. As my books are in the non-fiction category, based on mythology, epics and travel, my focus is on proper research and authentic information. For me, my readers are supreme. If I can touch a chord with my reader, I am happy. So, I try to keep my language simple so that any layman can also understand, imbibe and use the information given in my book.
Q. How has your journey as an author been?
A. My journey as an author has been a revelation of sorts. I have written and published four books in this genre and every day I am learning new things. Writing is comparatively easy. Finding the right publisher for your book is tough. My publishing journey has become a lot easier after being represented by Suhail Mathur of The Book Bakers Literary Agency. Locksley Hall Publishing has done a wonderful job in bringing out ‘On the Krishna Trail’ in hardcover, making it a veritable treasure to read and preserve.
Q. When can we expect your next book?
A. I am working on my next religious travelogue and hope to be able to complete the manuscript by next year. In the meanwhile, I am also writing a book for children, which I hope to finish this year itself.
Q. What advice would you give to budding authors?
A. My advice to budding authors would be to read more as reading widens your horizon apart from enhancing your vocabulary. And whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, a thorough background research is important. Have belief in your writing ability. Have patience, and a never give up attitude will take you places.